The Table of Showbread

“You shall also make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height.  And you shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold all around.  You shall make for it a frame of a handbreadth all around, and you shall make a gold molding for the frame all around.  And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings on the four corners that are at its four legs.  The rings shall be close to the frame, as holders for the poles to bear the table.  And you shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be carried with them.  You shall make its dishes, its pans, its pitchers, and its bowls for pouring.  You shall make them of pure gold.  And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always,” Exodus 25:23-30 NKJV.

And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel saying, “…gifted artisans among you shall come and make…the showbread,” Exodus 25:4,10,13, and all the other parts of the tabernacle.  There is no recipe given to us, though, for that bread.

He made the table of acacia wood; two cubits was its length, a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height.  And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made a molding all around it.  Also he made a frame of a handbreadth all around it, and made a molding of gold for the frame all around it.  And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings on the four corners that were at its four legs.  The rings were close to the frame, as holders for the poles to bear the table.  And he made the poles of acacia wood to bear the table, and overlaid them with gold.  He made of pure gold the utensils which were on the table:  its dishes, its cups, its bowls, and its pitchers for pouring, Exodus 37:10-16 NKJV.

These are only a few of the 20 references in Scripture to the showbread.

This bread and the various offerings and sacrifices brought by the Israelites made up a large part of the food for the priests, cf. Matthew 12:4.

In John 6, that most misunderstood and controverted chapter, our Lord four times refers to Himself as “bread”:

John 6:33, “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

John 6:35, And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

John 6:48, “I am the bread of life.”

John 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

There has been a lot of discussion, to put it mildly, over the centuries about what our Lord meant by these statements.  It’s not our purpose to enter into that discussion in this post.

At the same time, what did our Lord mean?

I believe He Himself tells us in the Gospels.

Matthew and Mark give us an account of the Passover our Lord observed just before His crucifixion.

In Matthew 26, we read, And as they were eating , Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom,” 
vs. 26-29.

Mark 14 gives us this account:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.  Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God,”
vs. 22-25.

It seems clear to me that our Lord is not saying, “This bread becomes My body,” as some religious organizations teach.  He is saying, “This bread represents My body.”

Paul had some further teaching on this.  Writing to a church which had completely missed the mark on this ordinance, he wrote,
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 11:26, 27.

When our Lord said that those who partake of this bread will live forever, John 6:51, was He saying that the mere eating of the bread and drinking of the cup in a church setting confers eternal life??

No, He wasn’t.

We have to remember what these elements represent, namely, the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus on the Cross, as Paul wrote.  It is His death which saves us.  Communion is merely a symbol, a picture, of that death.

In my wallet, I carry pictures of our family.  One of the women in those pictures is my wife.  But those pictures have never told me that they love me, have never held me, have never fixed a meal for me, never bore our children.

They’re just pictures.

Likewise, communion is just a picture, with no more power to save than those pictures of my wife have power to do anything for me.

I’ve been around church most of my adult life.  One thing I’ve noticed is that we like to eat:  fellowship dinners, going out after church on Sunday, and what not.  A lot of us could probably do less in that department.  The thing is, are we spiritually as well-fed?

How much time do we spend feeding our souls?  What would they look like if we could see them?  Well-fed or emaciated?

How much time do we spend in the Word?  I’m not talking about a quick read in some devotional booklet.  These might be useful, but I compare them to fast food, as opposed to a good, hearty dinner.  How much time do we spend in God’s Word itself – Genesis through Revelation?

Though I’ve tried several different ways of reading it, I suggest going through the whole Bible once and then going back through the New Testament again.  And then do it again.  And again.  And again.  Even after half-a-century of reading, I find things I never noticed before.  If the Lord were to give me another half-century, I would still find new things.

Oh, that we might follow the advice of the Psalmist in Psalm 34:8 and taste and see that the LORD is good.

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The Lampstand

“You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work.  Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.  And six branches shall come out of its sides:  three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.   Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower – and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand.  On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower.  And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same. according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand.  Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold.  You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.  And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold.  It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils.  And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain, Exodus 25:31-40 NKJV.

He also made the lampstand of pure gold; of hammered work he made the lampstand.  Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and its flowers were of the same piece.  And six branches came out of its sides:  three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.  There were three bowls made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almost blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower – and so for the six branches coming out of the lampstand.  And on the lampstand itself were four bowls made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower.  There was a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches extending from it.  Their knobs and their branches were of one piece; all of it was one hammered piece of pure gold.  And he mad its seven lamps, its wick-trimmers, and its trays of pure gold.  Of a talent of pure gold he made it, with all its utensils. Exodus 37:17-24 NKJV.

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, and say to him, ‘When you arrange the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand’.”  And Aaron did so; he arranged the lamps to face toward the front of the lampstand, as the LORD commanded Moses.  Now this workmanship of the lampstand was hammered gold; from its shafts to its flowers it was hammered work.  According to the pattern which the LORD had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand, Numbers 8:1-4 NKJV.

This article of furniture must have been beautiful beyond description – and yet hidden away in a room only a few men were ever permitted to enter.  It was the source of light for that room.

Scripture has a lot to say about light, from its creation as a separate thing from the One who created it, who is light, 1 John 1:5; Genesis 1:3, to its being unnecessary in the New Jerusalem, where the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, Revelation 21:23-24a.  There shall be no night there:  They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light, Revelation 22:5a.

“The Lord God gives them light.”

The Psalmist understood this:

For with you is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light, Psalm 36:9.

This is true in the natural realm, certainly, and very few would deny light’s existence, though many deny its creation by God, but it is also true in the spiritual realm, a realm which many deny, seeking to explain everything by natural processes.

The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; not can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Corinthians 2:14.

But there is an agent beyond man’s natural frailty who contributes to this inability:

whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Notice Paul’s emphasis:  “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God….”

Of all the truths of Scripture, the deity of the Lord Jesus is one of the most disputed.  Sinful men will perhaps allow Him to be a teacher, thought they ignore what He taught, or they might allow Him to be a good man who was caught up in the intrigue of His time. but the idea that He was and is the second person of the Trinity is just a bridge too far, as is His statement that He is the only Savior and the only way into the presence of God,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6.

What do you think of the Son of Man?

Your eternal destiny depends on that answer.

Within the Veil

“You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen.  It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim.  You shall hang it upon the four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold.  Their hooks shall be gold, upon four sockets of silver.  And you shall hang the veil from the clasps.  Then you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil.  The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy,” Exodus 26:31-33 NKJV.

And he made a veil of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen; it was worked with an artistic design of cherubim.  He made for it four pillars of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold, with their hooks of gold; and he cast four sockets of silver for them, Exodus 36:35-36 NKJV.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
Then behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom,
Matthew 27:50- 51 NKJV.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, Hebrews 10:19-20 NKJV .

The two references in Exodus describe the instructions for and the construction of the second veil, which separated the two compartments of the tabernacle.  The first veil covered the entrance into the tabernacle itself.  The vast majority of Israelites never saw the inside of the tabernacle, let alone dare to enter it.  Only the priests, under very limited circumstances, had that privilege.  But even they would never have dared push aside the second veil to enter the Most Holy Place.  Among them, only the High Priest, a direct descendant of Aaron, had that privilege, but even he only one time in the year, on the Day of Atonement.  So afraid were the others that it’s said that a rope was tied around his waist just in case he died for some reason while performing his duties, so that the others could pull his body out to where they could get to it for burial.

The third verse occurred at the Crucifixion as our Lord had completed His sacrifice for sinners like us.  After He yielded up His spirit, Matthew reports that the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  Granted, this was the veil in Herod’s temple and not in the original tabernacle, but the significance is still the same.  Keep in mind also, this veil was not some cheap, simple curtain, easily ripped.  It’s reported that it was about a hand-breadth, that is, about five inches, thick, and carefully and intricately woven.  No mere human strength could have made a dent in it, let alone tear it in two.

And it was torn in two from top to bottom, indication of something more than a human action.  Now, it’s true that the priests patched it up and their various rituals continued for another 40 years until the Romans finally put a stop to everything by destroying the Temple and pretty much the nation itself, which disappeared from history until its reappearance in 1948.  Nor have we heard the last of her, political agitating notwithstanding.  Israel will yet blossom and bud, And fill the face of the world with fruit, Isaiah 27:6.

These veils teach us some lessons.

The first veils were in the tabernacle, a building given to Israel by God.  Entrance through them was very limited, though Israel otherwise was given blessings not given to other nations.

In spite of those blessings, she stands as an object lesson that no number of merely external things is enough to bring true understanding of the things of God.  Moses commented on this.

In Deuteronomy 29:2-3, he said to Israel, “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land – the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.  And he relates their further experiences:  how their clothing hadn’t worn out and their food had been miraculously provided for forty years, vs. 5, 6.  But in between those two statements, he makes this solemn declaration:  “But the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day,” v. 4.

All that Israel had, and yet how quickly and how often she turned away from the God who had so richly blessed her and acted just like the nations she had replaced.  Indeed, she was worse than they, because she knew better.  Except for a small minority of individuals, she didn’t care.

The veil was there to symbolize that they had no direct access to God, but had to go through ritual and sacrifice and priesthood.

But the veil has been torn in two.  The humblest believer may now come into the presence of God on his or her own behalf and on behalf of others.  And we may do that boldly.  This means that we have liberty and permission to do so.  His door is never closed.  But I’m afraid that, too often, God is more willing to receive us than we are enter His presence.  We’re too busy, too caught up in the everyday things of life and of making a living.  And we live in a world that increasingly denies and rejects the God of the Bible.  I’m afraid that we haven’t seen anything yet.

In spite of all that, and of our own failings and faults, let us…

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, Psalm 100:4.

May God grant it, for Jesus’ sake.

“The Altar of Incense”

“You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood.  A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its width – it shall be square – and two cubits shall be its height.  Its horns shall be of one piece with it.  And you shall overlay its top, its sides all around, and its horns with pure gold; and you shall make for it a molding of gold all around.  Two gold rings you shall make for it, under the molding on both its sides.  You shall place them on its two sides, and they will be holders for the poles with which to bear it.  You shall make two poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.  And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you.

“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it.  And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.  You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.  And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once  year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD….”

And the LORD said to Moses: “Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each.  You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy.  And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you.  It shall be most holy to you.  But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition.  It shall be to you holy for the LORD.  Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people,”  Exodus 30:1-10, 34-38 NKJV.

He made also the holy anointing oil and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the perfumer, Exodus 37:29 NKJV.

Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hand full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil.  And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die, Leviticus 16:12, 13 NKJV.

This is the last article of furniture before one reaches the veil, which is the separation from the holy place, where we are, and the most holy place, where God told His OT people that He would meet them.

There are 139 occurrences of the word, “incense,” in Scripture.  All but 7 of them are in the OT.  Of those 7 times, 3 are in Luke 1, where Zechariah the priest was burning incense, and the other 4 are in Revelation.  The ones in Luke are at the announcement to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth, though both old and well beyond such things, were to be parents, parents of the forerunner and herald of the Messiah.

The first three occurrences in Revelation describe incense as the prayers of the saints, 5:8; 8:4, or as being offered with the prayers of the saints where it is described as much incense being offered with those prayers, emphasis added.  The last reference, 18:13, is in regard to the false church.

We don’t often think of our prayers as incense, or that God finds them well-pleasing and fragrant.  Too often, I’m afraid, we don’t really think of them at all.  We just “say” them.  But, at least in theory, we’re coming into the presence of the God who created the universe and holds it together by His power.  At the same time, though, He has numbered the hairs on our head.  We are never to think that He’s too busy to be concerned about us.  We’re never to think that there is any problem that is too great for Him to handle, or too minor to bring to His attention.  He already knows all about them; in fact, He might have already set in motion their answer.  In promising a time of future blessing for Israel, God said, “It shall come to pass, That before they call, I will answer, Isaiah 65:25, emphasis added.  While this speaks of the future, I think it’s also a present reality and blessing for believers.

Nor do we think of the necessity of much incense being added to them as Revelation teaches.

Some religious circles talk of the merits of the saints.  The difficulty with that is that “the saints,” whether man-made or Scriptural, have no merit in and of themselves, let alone having any “left-over” for others to borrow.  We have only demerits.   There’s only ever been One with merit, and that is why we are taught to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus, Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17.

“The name of the Lord Jesus,” “in Jesus’ name” – these are not some sort of magic talisman, some “abracadabra” or “open sesame,” that we can utter in order to get God to grant us three wishes.  No, no.  It’s the recognition that only through Him, through the Lord Jesus, have we any right – any permission – to come into the presence of God, and that in such fullness that we may come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16, emphasis added.  Using His name is, in effect, pleading His merit, not some imaginary merit of sinful humans.

It is His merit, and His alone, which is the much incense added to the prayers of the saints and makes them effective.

Though we don’t think very much about it, if at all, I’m not sure that God is at all pleased with our negligence in this matter.  In the Old Testament, it was forbidden either to make incense for personal use, Exodus 30:37, 38, or to offer any other incense in the worship of God.  It is this latter which got Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, though priests themselves, into trouble, Leviticus 10:1, 2.

Just because it might not get us into trouble like it did them, it’s still a serious sin:  to make light of or adding to or subtracting from who the Lord Jesus was or what He did for us in His life or on the Cross.

“Christmas in July”

Though not recently, I’ve seen businesses advertise “Christmas in July” specials to draw customers in, but that’s not what this post is about.  On satellite TV, there was recently a series called, “Christmas Memories,” where for several weeks, they showed nothing but “Christmas” stories.  The thing is, there wasn’t a minute in that series, apart from a very occasional carol, that had anything to do with what Christmas is supposed to be about, namely, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There was all sorts of stuff about family and decorations and Santa and getting the right tree and restoring broken relationships, but there wasn’t even the obligatory nativity set somewhere in the background.

There’s not a verse of Scripture telling us to celebrate our Lord’s birth.  We don’t even know for sure when during the year He was born or even what year, for that matter.  He Himself told us to remember His death, not His birth.

His birth could only condemn us.

Why is that?

Because He demonstrated that it is possible for a [sinless] human being to be righteous and to live a blameless life.

The trouble is that we’re not sinless – or righteous or blameless in any sense that God will accept.

That’s why the Lord Jesus came into this world – to do for us what we could never do ourselves:  living a righteous life, and, failing that, to be able to provide the sacrificial death that could pay for our sins.

O that we might see that only in the Lord Jesus Christ is there salvation from the sin that plagues us, and will condemn us.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…,” Acts 16:31.

 

 

In Transit

Sorry to have been so long since the last post, but we’ve moved several hundred miles from where we were since then.  The last post gave some idea of what we were doing in preparation for the move.

This post is a little bit about the other end of that move.  We have arrived and are in the process of getting everything moved in – sort of.  I’m sitting here looking out a picture window at a beautiful panorama of snow-covered mountains, though there’s no snow here, thankfully.  It’s 102 degrees outside, but the humidity is only 20%.  I don’t remember it getting that hot in the 18 years we lived in Indiana, but neither do I remember humidity anywhere that low!  I think I’ve mentioned that one of the TV weathermen back there considered 55% humidity to be “refreshing.”

I’ve lived in this state, on and off, for about 40 years.  I’m home.

And yet…

I’m not.

Scripture teaches that this world is not our final abode.  It teaches that there is life, or at least existence, after death.  That there are places called “heaven” or “hell.”  That only through the Lord Jesus Christ may we enter the one and avoid the other.  My body and my mind are still adjusting to all the changes, but one thing that will never change is the certainty that this life isn’t all that there is.

In a very real sense, I’m still “in transit”.

So are you.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

 

Payday Someday

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…, Hebrews 9:27.

For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,

Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God, Roman 14:11, 12.

Over the last few days, we’ve had a garage sale to pare down some of the things we’re going to have to move, and to make a few bucks to help with said move.   We had stuff spread out in the driveway, the garage, the kitchen and the living room.  We had lots of people stop by.  Except for one thing, it was thoroughly enjoyable. At some time, someone helped themselves to a laptop computer that was NOT part of the sale.  I never gave it a single thought or I would have put it away, but I left it out where they could see it.  They saw it and they took it.

Thank the Lord, there was nothing personal on it yet; I had just gotten it.  Still, it was saddening to me.  That person will ultimately pay far more for that laptop than he, our daughter thought she saw the person who stole it, than he can ever possibly begin to imagine.

There is coming a payday someday.

One day, that gentleman will pay for his sins, including the theft of the laptop.  My true prayer for him is that this will be the last thing he will ever steal, that he will repent of his wickedness, and that God would be pleased to draw him to Himself.

It’s a sad thing that people don’t stop to think…

Payday someday.