As I sat with this free-will offering, my question to the LORD was: “Why was the table, where the sacred manna, the cup of wine and myrrh lay, called the showtable.” It’s then, Jesus reminded me of what He spoke on the night before He was put to death:
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
Jesus gave His own life for us, while we were yet sinners that He might show us the Way home, as He calls us to remember Him and follow His example.
Though he was by nature God, [Jesus] did not consider equality with God as a prize to be displayed, but he emptied himself by taking the nature of a servant. When he was born in human likeness, and his appearance was like that of any other man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11, EHV)
Now, because of Christ’s victory at the Cross, we have been given the gift of remembrance through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon us. As Jesus put it to His disciples, before He poured out this gift: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26 ESV).
Once, that remembrance of God came in the form of a man-made Temple, housing the table of the showbread. Twelve, some say “pierced” pieces of manna were placed on this table in remembrance of God’s provision to the twelve exiled tribes of Israel, after they were freed from Pharaoh and led through the desert toward the Promised Land.
Also found on this table was wine for the drink offering (think of the cup of suffering Christ drunk for us) and myrrh to ensure a sweet smelling aroma continually filled the room (think of the sweet aroma of Christ that we are now said to be spreading everywhere we go).
The offering of “showbread” was not a “sacrifice” required of the Israelites, but a free gift given to them. But this holy and free gift was only seen and eaten by the priests serving in the Temple. Today, through the Cross, we have been made royal priests in the household of God and have become living Temples of the Holy Spirit.
Through Christ in us, we are now becoming that table of the showbread, as we too eat of the bread of life and drink of the cup of life and spread the sweet aroma of Christ that lives in us. Christ gave Himself to us, by His Spirit, to now continually remind us, and others through us, of the love, compassion and mercy of our Abba Father. To draw and welcome us all to the table of grace, that we might become One, just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One.
You may remember that Jesus defended his disciples “breaking” the law of the Sabbath, by calling to remembrance King David’s eating of this showbread in his great need. Jesus reminded us all that man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for man. He showed us that: […] the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14, ESV).
He reminded us that it is as we seek and worship Him in Spirit and truth, as David did, that He persuades us, through the revelation of His Word, to obey not the letter of the law, but the Spirit of the law. Something we also see unfolding in the resistance movement during World War II, where countless believers broke the law of Moses – stealing, killing and lying – to uphold the love of God and protect their Jewish neighbors from certain harm.
From the time of King Solomon (King David’s son), this table of remembrance, the table of the showbread, served as a reminder to the Israelites that God is a compassionate and merciful God. A God who chooses to keep providing for His people, even in their rebellion and unbelief.
Even as we continue to doubt His Word to us. Even as we complain and grumble about Him not giving us what we think we “need”, not realizing that what we think we “need” would in fact destroy us. Even as we tell Him that the past He had us leave behind is so much better than the painful unknown He is taking us into. Even as we continually struggle to trust Him.
He reminds us, His people, through that table that He is a God who remembers His covenant of love toward us. That He is a God who never leaves or forsakes His own, even as our bodies, minds, hearts and souls continually rebel through the process of healing. He reminds us that He is a God who hears our groaning, sees the wounds that have been inflicted upon us in our captivity and keeps every single one of His Promises to us.
He reminds us to behold our lot by faith and not by sight. To trust Him when He tells us (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV): For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Words spoken on the eve of Israel’s descent into exile and the destruction of the physical Temple, so that the Living Temple might arise to bless not just the twelve tribes of Israel, but all tribes and people of the earth.
A chosen by God remnant of Israel continued to cry out for mercy through this exile, remembering God’s goodness to them in days past, as they passed on stories from generation to generation: stories now bound in our Bibles. Scripture given unto us (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV): […] by inspiration of God […] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Perhaps you remember the prophet Simeon and the widowed prophetess Anna in the Bible, whose life-long cries were heard in their final years, as baby Jesus was brought to the Temple to be dedicated unto the LORD. The prophetess Anna was so overjoyed that she became the very first missionary – sharing the Gospel (the Good News of the coming salvation) with all she could.
Anna left the physical Temple she had spent day and night praying and fasting in for a new life. Now, she became a Temple of the Holy Spirit in the world, giving her body away as a living sacrifice, through Christ Jesus, to see His Kingdom come. She wanted all to know this God who had heard her fervent cries all those years.
I wonder if she realized that many of her own would feel so threatened by this Good News that they would end up crucifying the very One sent to save them. And I also wonder if she realized that even that was all part of God’s mighty plan of redemption – so that this Good News she was overflowing with could be taken to the ends of the earth – to restore not just her own people, but all nations of the world. I wonder if she knew how long, how wide, how deep and how high God’s love truly stretched – that nothing could ever separate any of us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
But even if she didn’t, she didn’t need to. All she needed was to allow God to work through her, that she might fulfill her part in the great narrative of God’s grace to us all. All she needed to do was to ask, seek and knock on the door of God’s heart, as He poured out His Spirit upon her and called her to remember Him.
Why? So that He could remember not only her and her cries for the restoration and deliverance of her people. But also, so that He could remember and fulfill His Promise to Abraham to bless all the nations of the world. This Promise was given to Abram (who later became Abraham), when God called him to leave his own country and people to follow the Living Word’s call into the unknown (Genesis 12:1-3, ESV):
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
This is the same Abram, who years later distrusts God’s Promise in the seeming delay of its coming and follows the advice of his wife to fulfill this Promise through his own striving. And yet, even then, God still chooses to keep His Promise, reminding Abram of how He had put him to sleep when he made that very first covenant with him – reminding him that the Promise is not dependent upon changeable man, but the unchangeable and ever merciful God.
This is the same God who would also hear Hagar’s cries for her son – born of Abram’s striving – and usher in a plan of redemption to restore not just Israel, but the sons of Ishmael unto Himself and unto His people also.
Today, we are seeing God’s Promise unto the Gentiles and His heart of compassion toward Hagar and her descendants being fulfilled throughout the world. What the enemy meant for evil – Abram’s and Sara’s rebellious striving in distrust, born no doubt in the accuser’s seeds of condemnation through the waiting – God meant for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Genesis 50:20). If we look carefully, we can see this happening in and all around us. God is using our suffering to grow His compassion in us and mercy toward each other, as He extends His compassion and mercy to us in our weakness and need through each other.
And today, unlike Joseph, Abraham, Sarah and Moses before us, we have been given the fulfillment of the Promise in Christ Jesus. But God knows, that just like these saints who have gone before us, we need to be continually reminded of His faithfulness and mercy to us, as we wait for the full unveiling of Christ in us: to see what we know by faith to have already been fulfilled at the Cross.
So, God shed abroad His love into our hearts, through His Spirit. Now, our Helper, the Holy Spirit, continually persuades us, moment by moment, to put our trust in God, as He reveals His Word to us in an intimate and personal way, inviting us to come to know Him more and more.
In His searching and knowing, moment by moment, Christ yields our hearts to the Father’s will, lifting the enemy’s accusations, as He leads us to repent of our striving and return to our rest in Him. It is Christ who renews our mind. He teaches us to test and approve of His will. He empowers us to patiently endure each trial He allots to us, with and through Him. He proves Himself in and through His testing of us, drawing many more unto glory in the process. And we get the privilege of daily watching Jesus be revealed (become the showbread) in us and in those around us, as He breaks our hearts with what breaks His.
It’s then, we learn to stop condemning ourselves and others we do not understand, but to willingly lay our lives down for each other in love. We give our bodies as a living sacrifice in Christ Jesus. We learn to stop placing our trust in our own striving to fulfill the law, to instead put our faith in Christ and His labor of love in and through us. It’s then we learn to lean, moment by moment, into His leading: to return and rest in Him.
In the God who does not delight in our sacrificial striving. In the God who does not take pleasure in our burnt out offerings as we “try” to fulfill His law, but only in our broken spirit. In our broken and contrite heart before Him and before each other, (Psalm 51:16-17), as we humble ourselves beneath His mighty hand and yield to His living sacrifice for us, that He might lift us up, by His love and mercy.
He leads each one of us to repentance, at His pace and timing. Knowing what we have walked through like no other and understanding our deceitful hearts like no other, He gently and lovingly sets us apart from those who would condemn us and those whom we would condemn. Until we are able to see and receive each other, as He sees and receives us.
The sword of life is wielded to give us life and life abundant. As Jesus put it (Matthew 10:34-39, ESV):
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Just as Christ’s Body was broken to make us whole, so today His Body – the church – is broken apart to bring healing and redemption to all. For, it is in our breaking that we are driven out into exile, as the Israelites once were, to be led to repentance. But not only that, through our exile and repentance – just as through the Israelites’ exile and repentance – the Good News is gifted to those who would otherwise never have come to know the love of God, through Christ Jesus.
Who are these people? They are those who (for generations) have been rejected by those of us, who have been called in Christ Jesus to love and welcome them into the fold. Sadly, even today, many of our houses of prayer have become dens of robbers. But beautifully in our breaking apart, as we are wounded by each other, and led out of these dens, God uncovers each one of our Pharisee hearts, so that, like Peter and Paul, we might be led to repentance by the very ones we have judged and condemned in the world. Men and women who God uses to birth our faith anew in Him alone, stripping our pride and shame to redeem our pasts by the power of His Word, as He reveals that His faithfulness extends from generation to generation.
The living Word – is the light that shines upon us, revealing that which is stealing from, killing and destroying us and others. But without the breaking of the bread and the new wine that overflows in us with love, truth and grace, as we obey God’s still small Voice, we will invariably choose to cover ourselves in shame, as we wield the letter of the law to condemn ourselves and others.
Without God’s love casting out all fear by the power of His Holy Spirit, we live in constant terror of the light – of being seen as falling short of the grace of God. Until we come to know, more and more, through God’s love – also in and through each other – that it is only in Christ Jesus and His grace to us that we can ever fulfill the law.
Beautifully, the new wine – the Holy Spirit- who is given to us, perfects God’s power in our weakness. For our Helper, the Holy Spirit, reveals the Word of God to us, persuading us to trust and obey His Voice, as we humbly bow to confess our weakness and sins openly before Him and before each other. This is one way God calls us to bear one other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of love, truth and grace – in Christ Jesus.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to return to the beginning, to start afresh, to walk in unity with God – extending love, truth and grace to each other. God returns us to His original purpose for humankind – to live in unbroken fellowship with Him and each other through Him, as we grow in His gentleness and patience, through His leading. As we learn by His grace, to walk in humility, giving others the same mercy and compassion, He is daily pouring out upon us in the presence of our own enemies – our accuser, our flesh and ultimately the powers of darkness.
A mercy and compassion that sometimes requires us to physically separate from each other. Why? To allow the Holy Spirit to work in our own and the other’s heart separately, as He surrounds each of us with those who have learnt, through personal and intimate experience of His grace to them in similar weakness and need, to love us as He loves us. God teaches us through His servants to put into practice what we learn from God’s living and active Word that is overflowing in them and He grows His fruit of patience and perserverance in them, as they love ud.
Through our brokenness, in Christ’s humbling of us, God calls to us and His suffering children through us: come! As we, like those earthen jars – those torches – held by Joshua and his men, are broken open, the light of Christ’s victory no longer remains hidden in us, but blazes a trail of righteousness behind us, leading many Sons to glory.
God reminds us all, through each humbling, that it is in dying to ourselves that His love – in Christ Jesus – becomes more and more visible in and through us. As we taste and see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living, we remember, by God’s grace, that the Promise given to us all has already been fulfilled at the Cross in the Words spoken by the Savior of the world: “It is finished.”
Father, forgive us for being more in awe of our own and others’ past missing of the mark than Your piercing to make us whole. Forgive us for judging Your eternal and infinite plan with our finite human understanding. Forgive us for looking for signs that prove Your Word, when Your very Word dwells in and with us, through Christ Jesus.
Thank You for Your mercy and compassion toward us. Thank You for choosing to take upon Yourself, not just our sins, but the consequences of our sin. Thank You for choosing to take upon Yourself our pain, trauma, disease and division. Thank You for choosing to feel our separation from the Father. Thank You that You allowed Yourself to not just feel separated from Your Father in heaven, but to be physically separated from Him in Your death on the Cross. Thank You for joining us in our suffering, that You might understand our struggles to trust and love You and meet us in our weakness and need today, to restore and redeem us all.
Thank You for giving us a Helper, Your Holy Spirit, to persuade us to put our trust in You. Thank You that You have promised to guard the hearts of the inexperienced. Continually humble us oh LORD to recognize where You are doing something new and where we are judging the new with an old mindset. Help us to admit that we are always inexperienced at something new that you are calling us to.
Guard our inexperienced hearts. Search and know us intimately. Shine Your light of love, truth and grace upon us, lifting the enemy’s accusations against us and leading us in Your triumphal procession that through us You might spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ everywhere.
Do not let us conform to the pattern of this world. Transform us by the renewing of our mind, by the power of Your Living Word at work in us, so that we will be able to test and approve what Your will is—Your good, pleasing and perfect will. Prove Your goodness and mercy in us, and through us, to others.
Continually persuade us through the revelation of Your Word to humble ourselves beneath Your mighty hand, lest we be wise in our own sight. Help us to continually remember this mystery that a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way that all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
“and this will be my covenant with them
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
when I take away their sins.”
Remind us as regards the gospel, that they are enemies for our sake. But that as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. Remind us that the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Remind us that just as we were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to us they also may now receive mercy.
Remind us again and again that You have consigned all to disobedience, that You may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of You, our God! How unsearchable are Your judgments and how inscrutable Your ways!
“For who has known Your mind oh Lord,
or who has been Your counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to You
that You might repay them?”
For from You and through You and to You are all things.To You be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:25-36)
(Source consulted: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/encyclopedia-of-the-bible/Showbread)