Thursday, January 30, 2014
What Kind of Olive Oil?
Ex. 27:20 ¶ You shall further command the Israelites to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the light, so that a lamp may be set up to burn regularly.
Instructions are being given for the building of the tabernacle. God’s people are out in the desert and here in the midst they are to build a tabernacle for a place where they can come and worship God. In this tabernacle there is to be a lamp that is to be continually burning. For the lamp to burn the people are to bring in olive oil, but not just any olive oil. This is to be the finest oil that comes from the olives. When the olives are first bruised and beaten then the purest oil drips out of them. This is before the olives are ever put into a mechanical press. It is this, very best oil, which is to be used so that the lamp will burn bright and without any impurities. Only in this way can the tabernacle be properly lit.
I often get confused with all the different types of Olive Oil we can find for sale these days. There’s extra-virgin olive oil, and virgin olive oil, and then just plain old olive oil. I’m assuming that there is a degradation in quality related to these names because the extra-virgin is the most expensive and the plain old olive oil is the cheapest. This oil which was to be brought by the people to the tabernacle was to have been the most expensive oil, that of the very highest quality. The priests were responsible to keep the lights burning, but the people were the ones who were to provide the oil.
Let’s put this into our current context. The oil may represent the first fruits of the spiritual lives of those within a congregation who are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the responsibility of those within the congregation to bring the very best of their spiritual lives into the congregation. It is only then that the light of the church can continue to burn brightly. The local minister can tend to the lamp itself, but the only way that it can continue to burn, and to burn brightly and purely is through the presence of the oil.
When the people of God refuse to give him first place in their lives then the fruit of the Spirit becomes degraded in their lives. No longer are they producing pure oil, but instead are pumping out the industrial grade oil that can only be squeezed out by the tiny drops when put into massive presses. The oil is bitter and not fit for public consumption but instead is used as a lubricant.
Too often I hear people complain these days that the local church isn’t as vibrant as it used to be. Then, they point their fingers at the one caring for the lamp. The lamp can be well tended and cared for, but if the oil brought in by the people of God is bad, the lamp will not burn brightly and there will be no vibrancy in the church.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to bring the very best to God. The pure oil was the first oil produced from the fruit. That means that we are to give God our very best — the very first things that we have to offer. The Holy Spirit will take our firsts and make them into a pure and glorious fruit for the Lord. But when God becomes second, third, fourth, or even fifth place in our lives we will not produce what is needed to light his tabernacle.
What kind of olive oil are we producing today? Only when we give God our very best can the temple be lit with his glorious presence.
Lord, help me to give you my best every day. Amen.