Gracefully Truthful

Faith,Family,Grace,Hope,Life

Read His Words Before Ours!

Exodus 25:23-30
Leviticus 24:5-9
John 6:28-35
Revelation 19:6-9

I’ll never forget the childhood trips my family took up to the farmland of Indiana to visit my great-grandparents. 

For me, those twice-yearly trips were special for many reasons – the calmness and quiet of the rows and rows of cornfields, the hours spent playing board games, the aprons donned and dough baked with my great-grandmother. 

But perhaps some of the most special memories were the times spent around my great-grandmother’s large, oval table. Thirty-one year-old me still wishes I could go back to those moments.

You must understand, my great-grandmother’s meals were downright feasts! They were replete with mile-high yeast rolls (or at least I thought they were that tall as a child!), a main dish and several tasty sides, and finished off with a homemade dessert following every single dinner. It was heaven for my little girl self!

 

But perhaps what was most special, looking back, was the sense of belonging the table brought to each one of us seated around it. The food nourished our bodies, but the invitation to dine and the camaraderie and love felt during the meal nourished our souls. 

As much as I yearn to return to those days gone by, I am touched by the realization those meals provided so lovingly by my great-grandmother were but a small reflection of the countless meals we see prepared by our Lord when He invited others to His table throughout Scripture. Feasting language is even used to describe the promised celebration when God brings full restoration to His creation in heaven and on earth! (Revelation 19:6-9)

From Genesis to Revelation, we see our God is a God of invitation and initiation. He has always been the one to initiate a relationship with His people, whether in the Garden of Eden when He created Adam and Eve, or when He chose Israel as His own special people, or when Jesus chose twelve ordinary men to do life with Him on a regular basis. His character of invitation and initiation was evidenced by the way He opened His heart, and table, to people often. 

Amazingly, Jesus’ characteristic of leaning into invitation and initiation actually revealed the heart of the Father! For just as our Bread of Life, Jesus (John 6:28-35), was hospitable around the table, so, too, our Heavenly Father, through the Bread of the Presence, was hospitable through the gift of food, as well.

Centuries before Jesus came as God’s presence made flesh, God’s presence visited His people within specially-constructed and consecrated dwellings called the tabernacle and temple. The Bread of the Presence (also called the showbread) was a special bread located in both the tabernacle and the temple. The Bread of the Presence was first mentioned in Exodus 25:30 when God instructed it to be regularly placed on the golden table in the tabernacle.

Leviticus 24:5-9 describes this bread:
Take fine flour and bake it into twelve loaves [. . .] The bread is to be set out before the LORD every Sabbath day as a permanent covenant obligation on the part of the Israelites. It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place, for it is the holiest portion for him from the food offerings to the Lord[.]

This Bread of the Presence served as a memorial food offering to the Lord. This special bread carries a beautiful meaning: it reveals how the Lord casts a wide invitational net for all to gather at the Table of the Lord. Furthermore, the emphasis He places on eating together reveals His heart of community, generosity, and provision. This command regarding the bread was given at the very beginning of His covenant relationship with the people of Israel, and would shape their relationship moving forward.

Not only that, but this special bread also serves as a meaningful foreshadowing of Jesus, whom we know as the Bread of Life.
“‘I am the bread of life,’ Jesus told them. ‘No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.’” (John 6:35)  

Jesus is holy before God, provides us with true sustenance, and is always present with us. Each of these truths were signified by the Bread of Presence. 

Meals are beautiful celebrations and invitations to go deeper in relationship with the people with whom we are gathered. This illustrates so clearly the heart of God in relationship: the Lord has always intended to share a relationship with us over the sweetness of a meal, for He knows the power of the table for ministering to a person’s heart and showing them love. 

May you and I remember the sacred call of invitation to the Table this Easter, and may we extend love, care, and hospitality to those whom we invite to share our table this season.

 

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