The Thought for the Week this week is written by Alison Neill

by Susie Jean Sharkey

"Make the seven lamps for the lampstand and set them so that they reflect their light forward" Exodus 26 v31-38

I have for a long time been attracted to what that holy place must have looked like, enclosed, the only light being the lamps and the gleaming reflected gold, but when I read this verse earlier in the year the word 'forward' has  stayed with me - so that they reflect their light forward. As I tried to understand what the word 'forward' meant, I made a connection with the famous words of Paul thousands of years later 'Forgetting what is behind I press on towards the goal". It made sense as I imagined that beautiful holy sanctuary of the Tabernacle 'looking forward' and in the brightness of that light I realised afresh that all our sins, all that we are disappears from view, hidden in the shadows - the shadows of the one who is the one true Light, and hidden in the shadows of the cross. Standing on that holy ground the past really is gone because the eye, the lamp of the body, is facing forward.  When we come out of that place of faith, we, others and the devil can remind us of our past, but with faith we can in every circumstance remember the command of God to look forward.

But what are we looking forward at? In Revelation John speaks of the vision of "seven golden lampstands and standing in the middle of the lampstands was some-one like the Son of Man" From the days of the first tabernacle, reverently speaking, God looked forward - forward to the redemption of mankind, forward to the union of the church with himself, forward to the great rest that is promised, and he invites us individually, one by one all over the world, all through the millenia to stand in that holy place and look Forward

"He who has this hope in him purifies himself" I had always read this verse to mean 'he who believes this will strive and make himself as holy as he knows how in order to be accepted' but it came to me very differently this year. It is not me that purifies myself no, it is the very hope within fed by the Holy Spirit that works the purification. As I let that light burn within so the hope that grows brighter, it is this very process itself that is what purifies me, and not any striving of my own. Jesus said 'this is the  work God asks of you - to believe in the One he has sent.