A friend came home from a trip to Israel with a souvenir, a genuine ancient clay lamp. It looked a bit like this photo.
Jesus would have been so familiar with these lamps and I think he used them as an illustration more than once. It’s a very good picture of the body, the soul and the spirit. The bible often refers to the human body as the “vessel”, in this case one made of clay – how apt, becuase God formed Adam from the clay and his name (Adam/Edom) means ruddy because the clay was red. Inside the lamp would have been two things working together to provide light, oil and a wick. Olive oil was used for the fuel and the wick was made of flax. This is a picture of the soul and spirit of a human being, bringing the vessel to life.
So the lamp itself is just an clay vessel. Empty and unlit it’s just an ornament really – pretty, interesting to look at, but essentially useless. Man without the illumination of the Holy Spirit is just a vessel. We all have a soul and a spirit but they do not function properly or give a pure light until the oil becomes the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. The fuel of our own spirits is dark and smokey, foul and smelly, and it gives a dim unhealthy light if any at all. (How can light be darkness? Read this verse: “take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.” (Luke 11:35-36)
When the wick is renewed and set alight by the power of God and the lamp is filled with the pure oil of God, suddenly there is sweetness and light! “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Cor 4:7-8) Then, most of you will be familiar with the comment that Jesus made about hiding your light: “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light”. (Luke 8:16-17) So this light of God is not a personal and private illumination but meant to give light to those around us. If it doesn’t, something is wrong!
Lessons can be learned from all these scriptural references but I feel one of the most important is found in Matt 25:1-13.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying,’Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
All those who thought the Lord would return one day started out in a state of readiness, because they ALL had oil-filled lamps. But only the wise went further. They made sure the light of the Holy Spirit was not only in their hearts and souls (the wick) but in their “vessels” also – that is, they topped up their lamps to make sure there would be enough for a long wait. The work of God has not just saved them and renewed them but had been allowed to mould and transform their OUTER lives also.
It’s glorious to be saved! Praise God for every man woman and child who is filled with the Spirit and had their sins forgiven. But these coming days also require endurance. “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Mark 13:13) Will your anchor hold in the storms of life? Not only our spirits, but everything else must be lit by the oil of the anointing Spirit. Our minds, our activities, speech, relationships, financial affairs, outlook on life – you name it! Unless the transforming light touches our vessels as well as our wicks, we are in danger of deception and stumbling in these last days. LET that oil seep into every part and LET God have his way with you entirely. Make sure you have oil in your vessel as well as your wick.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Tim 4:2-5
This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.
If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
2 Tim 2:11-13