“You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel.” “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Exodus 27:21-22; Matthew 5:14-16
From the establishment of worship in the tabernacle, God intended for light to shine. He gave the Levites the privilege of tending that light during the dark hours from dusk to dawn, which involved maintaining a regular supply of oil and watching over the fire. He gives us this same charge, both a privilege and responsibility, in the darkness around us today.
A call to shine our light requires we be where the darkness is, to recognize where vacuums of truth and hope lie and to be willing to go there. Jesus doesn’t call us to isolate ourselves, whether physically or in attitude, from those who walk in darkness, or do not share our lifestyle or opinions; rather, He modeled for us how to “pass through Samaria” and take the light to those around us. He was always winsome, always exhibited compassion, interest, concern, love. And He always spoke truth. A lighthouse stands tall on the edge of danger, at the very place where threatening nature and humanity meet, a beacon to those needing hope and direction in the face of darkness and tumult. (John 4:1-26)
Tending the light also necessitates being emptied of dark sin ourselves and filled with the Spirit. Checking our own hearts for disdain, favoritism, pride is vital to our being clean vessels for carrying God’s pure oil. Jesus’s parable of the ten virgins shows the wisdom of keeping flasks of oil at hand, anticipating need with our lamps ready. We never know what a day will hold, but decreasing self, and filling up every morning with the light of God’s truth and power of His Spirit, ensures we will be prepared for what He brings to pass– shocking news, an encounter with a difficult person, unfettered negativism, the need to be available, the sudden curveball of an emergency or hard diagnosis. All of these present a darkness that needs the light of grace, patience, kindness, wisdom. (Matthew 6:22-23; 25:1-13; Luke 11:35-36; 12:35-37; John 3:30; Ephesians 5:18)
Father of light, make me a faithful steward of the light entrusted to me. Give me boldness and compassion to enter dark paces with Your truth, Your irresistible love. Keep me filled with You that I may persistently, passionately, brightly shine Your light before men, that they recognize and adore and glorify You. (James 1:17)