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Communion Meditations (2021)

 

Shewbread

Originally scheduled for July 11

"Then you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it; two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. "You shall set them in two rows, six to a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. "You shall put pure frankincense on each row that it may be a memorial portion for the bread, even an offering by fire to the LORD. "Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the LORD continually; it is an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel. "It shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the LORD'S offerings by fire, his portion forever."

(Leviticus 24:5-9 NASB)

 

Who avoid spending any great amount of time reading through the Levitical law of the Old Testament. It seems rather pointless in the days of the New Testament, and rather detailed in things that need no further detail. But in this instance we have something which is a forerunner of communion. It is never specifically referenced as such in the New Testament, but we can learn a few things about communion by examining the bread presented to God, commonly called “shewbread.”

·         To begin with, we note that there are 12 loaves to be laid out before God. It takes no great insight to equate these 12 loaves with the 12 tribes of Israel. We can therefore say that these loaves are to represent all of God’s people. Communion is like that; it is designed to include all of God’s people.

·         Note, please, that this bread was to be always present before the Lord. It was even supposed be presented on a pure gold table. Both of these represent the same thing: the eternal nature of this bread sacrifice to God. Communion is to be celebrated “until he comes.” This reminds us of the eternal nature of Christ’s sacrifice for us; he did it once, for all of us, for all time.

·         The bread itself was to be left on the table until the next Sabbath, when it was replaced by a new set of loaves. The old ones were to be eaten by the priests. Perhaps you never thought of this in terms of communion before, but please remember that we are a royal priesthood. In this sacrifice he provides for his priests, just as communion reminds us that in his bodily sacrifice he provided salvation for us.

·         The bread was to be covered with frankincense. The Book of Revelation tells us this symbolically means the prayers of the saints. Communion, of course, should be bathed in prayer. More than that, it is said to be a memorial offering by fire. We can easily see the memorial portion; the bread of communion reminds us of the bodily sacrifice of Christ, and we partake in memory of Him. The sacrifice by fire requires a little more explanation. It is usually associated with the phrase “soothing aroma.” If you have ever smelled fresh bread baking you can easily picture that aroma arising to God. Perhaps both of these things are pictures of our prayers.

·         In other parts the Bible (particularly Ezekiel) the bread is referred to as “the bread of the Presence.” It is no great stretch to look at this as a reminder of the Incarnation. We recall Christ telling his disciples at the Last Supper, “This is my body.”

In the ancient picture of shewbread we see God’s eternal purpose: the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. As you partake today, remember not only what he did but that God purposed this before time began. It is not history that just happened. It was the divine plan from the very beginning — and it shows you his great love for us.

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