As one steps into many churches, they may notice, akin to our own setting, two candlesticks burning bright upon the altar or a table. It's an intriguing observation that numerous priests and pastors may not fully grasp the profound meaning behind this. Customarily, these two candles, specifically designed for Shabbat, are lit and left to burn out on their own. The essence of these candles is deeply symbolic, representing the twin Torah commandments related to Shabbat: “keep” and “remember.”.
The act of keeping Shabbat is perceived as a commitment to observe the holy day, while remembering Shabbat is linked to the preparation for it. For the Jewish community, these candles serve as a poignant reminder of their liberation from Egyptian bondage to the freedom of the Promised Land. In a Christian context, this symbolizes our journey from the captivity of darkness, a life devoid of Christ leading to spiritual death, to a life bathed in light, guiding us towards eternal life with Christ.
Our observance of the Sabbath is thus intertwined with the recognition of the grace of our salvation, a gift from Christ. This gift was imparted to us on the day we committed our lives to Jesus Christ. Lighting these candles is a ritual of remembrance, a moment to reflect on our salvation and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. In the gentle glow of these candles, we see not only the light brought into the world by Jesus Christ but also the presence of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, a fire within, burns in the heart of every Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It symbolizes the journey of every believer who has walked through the door of faith and embraced the new covenant with Christ.
Proverbs 20:27 (KJV)
“27 The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.”
This verse beautifully illustrates the candle of the Lord as a beacon that illuminates darkness, revealing our innermost being. The Holy Spirit is there to merge with our spirit, casting light upon the darkest corners of our soul, searching all its innermost parts.
Luke 24:30-34 (KJV)
“30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”
This passage beautifully captures the disciples' experience of their hearts burning within them as they listened to Jesus, a metaphor for the enlightening presence of the Holy Spirit. The spoken word of God, the Rhema word, brings forth this light, as does the written word of God, the Holy Bible, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is through these mediums that the light of Christ is disseminated, illuminating our paths and guiding us in our spiritual journey.
Thus, the simple act of lighting candles transcends mere tradition; it becomes a profound act of remembrance, reflection, and acknowledgment of the spiritual journey we undertake as followers of Christ. It symbolizes the light of Christ that dispels darkness, the warmth of His presence in our lives, and the continuous guidance of the Holy Spirit, leading us toward a deeper understanding and a closer relationship with our Savior.
From the sermon by Christiaan J. de Ruiter,
on the covenants, passing under the blood. February 23, 2013