Read Exodus 27
Focus on verse 20
We used to sing a campfire song with the words…
“Give me oil in my lamp – keep me burning.
Give me oil in my lamp I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning, burning, burning,
keep me burning til the break of day.”
(then the chorus)
“Sing, hosanna, Sing, hosanna, Sing, hosanna to the King of kings.
Sing hosanna, Sing, hosanna, Sing hosanna to the King”
I am not certain where the words to this song came from, or if the author intended for them to have a connection to the Old Testament, but suspect that this song may have had it’s roots in this temple ritual of keeping an oil lamp lit from dusk to dawn.
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. (v. 20)
Where exactly the people will have found sufficient olive oil in the wilderness to do this is not really all that much of a mystery. If God could provide bread, meat and water for several million people in the wilderness for forty years, He could also provide olive oil to keep a few lamps in the temple burning night and day.
There is also some significant symbolism in this for our current spiritual life. Oil is at times used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, Who softens our hard hearts and illuminates the word of God to our darkened minds. The Spirit is also often associated with holy fire, so this idea of being filled – and refilled – by the Holy Spirit, could be a fitting modern application of the Old Testament practice of keeping the temple lamps filled with oil and burning 24-7.