Eternal Light

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One of the things you may find in traditional Jewish synagogue is the Eternal Light which is a lamp that is kept consistently lit to symbolize the menorah that was kept in the temple (Jewish Virtual Library, n.d).

Regarding the tabernacle, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ’Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually. Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning before the Lord continually; it shall be a statute forever in your generations.’” Leviticus 24:1-3. The lamps were not the only thing that was kept burning.

“And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out. Leviticus 6:12-13. The altar was used to accept offering made to the Lord for thankfulness and reconciliation. This Jewish tradition of keeping the light on shows us that God was always ready to make peace with us. The reason we don’t have a relationship with God isn’t because the Lord isn’t prepared to come to us but because we do not go to Him.

“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt… ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,’ declares the Lord.” Isaiah 59:1-20. The Jewish King David said of God “Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn and confirmed that I will keep Your righteous judgments.” Psalm 119:104-106. The Jewish prophet Isaiah warned of depending on our own “light” to guide us through life. “Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—this you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.” Isaiah 50:11

The Torah gives us an example of this. “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.  When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:23-24 “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke, saying: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.”’ So Aaron held his peace.” Leviticus 10:1-3

We must accept the light that comes from the Lord. However, in secular society it is becoming increasing common for people to boastfully claim enlightenment by replacing the light of God’s word with their own “light” produced by human rationalizations regarding moral behavior. Even many in congregations that claim to believe in the God of the Bible like the sons of Aaron act as if God’s light can be replaced with their own and God will find this acceptable because God is merciful. But love doesn’t mean disregarding sin. “…. ‘the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…’” Exodus 34:6-7 We cannot expect to enjoy the Lord’s presence while rejecting God’s light. The light on our congregations should always come from the Bible.

Reference:
Author Unknown, n.d “The Synagogue- Ner Tamid” Jewish Virtual Library received from
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ner-tamid

Picture originally found here

Picture originally found here

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