Do We Need Candles in our Churches?

March 9, 2016

                      Do We Need Candles in Our Churches?

Are there candles in your church?  Is your church at fault if there are no candles burning during the worship service?  Would candles add something to the solemnity or dignity of a worship service?

To find answers to these questions we go to the Bible.  Isaiah 8:20 says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  Candles do appear a few times in the Bible, but we search in vain to find a verse where they were associated with worship.  Their function is nearly always that of illumination.  A few times the Bible speaks of someone’s candle being put out.  Job 18:6 is an example of that use. “The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.” When the word candle is used in this way it is in terms of judgment, and speaks of death or destruction.  When someone’s candle was put out it means it no longer shined, either because of death or because someone was so desperate financially that he couldn’t keep a candle burning.  Keep in mind that they didn’t have electricity back then.  Burning a candle was the normal way of lighting their homes.

The Bible speaks of a candlestick that was used in the tabernacle.  It had seven branches.  Each branch had a wick that reached down to the oil which was burned.  It could be that the candlestick burned day and night in the tabernacle because there were no windows.  When candles are mentioned in the Old Testament they were most often clay pots with oil in them, and a wick that burned the oil.

Candles are most often a part of what is called liturgical worship. A liturgical worship service is often characterized by repetition.  It may just be jointly repeating the Lord’s Prayer.  It is a formality.  In Matthew 6:7 Jesus told us not to use vain repetition.  “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Candles aren’t vain repetition.  They are one of the items men have chosen to prepare an atmosphere for formal worship.  Another thing might be robes for the choir.  It gives one the feeling of being in a religious atmosphere.  It all helps to create a sensation.

We shouldn’t need to be in a religious atmosphere to worship God.  God is with us, no matter where we are. There is a difference between feeling a sensation and feeling the presence of God. We can’t see God or reach out and touch him.  When we say we feel the presence of God it is just a settled assurance that he is with us. We need to claim the promise of God that he will be with us.  Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  I don’t have to feel anything to be able to pray to God.  By faith I claim his promise that he is with me and will hear my prayer.

Christians don’t need a prepared atmosphere in which to worship God. When they go to church they participate in cooperate worship.  They lift up their voices together and sing hymns of praise to God.  They wouldn’t have to be in a church to do that.  They could be in a park or an open field.  Church groups occasionally gather at a park for a picnic.  Before they eat, someone may read a short portion of Scripture and lead in prayer to thank God for the food.  All bow their heads and join in prayer with him.

Candles are a mechanical thing.  They aren’t needed.  They don’t bring us closer to God.  When we become a child of God we enter into a relationship with him.  That relationship exists no matter where we go.  I have worshiped God in a plane flying at 30,000 feet above the earth.  I have worshiped God sitting on a hillside under a cedar tree.  Our relationship with God is even closer than a human relationship.  We can’t always be with family members or friends, but God goes with us no matter where we go.  Don’t be dependent on candles, or  things of that nature.  If we feel we need them we let them stand between us and God.  Enjoy God and worship him anywhere, any time.

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