Chapter 14 God's Banquet

He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy (Leviticus 21:22).

These words most probably refer to the shewbread which, interpreted, means “the bread of the presence.” It was the bread on the table within the Tabernacle, and associated with Him whose presence was vouchsafed to God’s people in all their journeyings. It was different from the manna which fell in the wilderness and which came down from heaven. This was “presence bread,” and it was taken from the Lord’s table within the sanctuary and given to those who ministered as priests before the Lord.

But since it was made of common wheat, the fruit of the earth, and was ground in the mill, mixed with water, and baked by fire on the hearth, it sets forth some of the glorious charms of the Saviour. It sounds forth the truth of the gospel.

The Provision

In the day when God created man, He graciously made full provision for man’s physical needs by providing Eden’s garden or fruit-bearing trees. There was rich abundance for Adam and Eve at every turn. Everything was full and ripe in the day of their creation, so that they were well provided for. This is true also of the Lord’s new creation, the redeemed of the Lord. He Himself is a garden of good things—for all and every need.

The Lord appeared in flesh here on earth as part of our humanity, but separated from the sinful mass by God’s own hand and the Holy Spirit’s activity. He was subjected to human conditions—the persecution of men, the fire of God’s wrath against sin—till, being “made perfect through sufferings,” He became “the bread of God.” Israel’s bread was not eaten unkneaded, or unbaked, so neither could our Lord become living bread without similar processes of preparation in the Spirit.

He is God’s own provision—prepared by God Himself, and freely given to meet our deepest need. “My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32). There is no buying on our part; no selling on His. All is free. All is the gift of divine love. All in Christ is “the finest of the wheat” for His people. “The bread of the presence” proclaims God’s full provision, which is laid up in Jesus for His waiting people. They are indeed loved, cared for, enriched, and strengthened by feasting upon Him. Here in Christ sufficiency abounds while time shall be and when time shall be no more—sufficiency for every need which has been, or shall be, or can be.

Our hunger is deep—our strength a quivering reed—our peril desperate—but the Lord Jesus changes all our empty living into feasts of most suitable and delectable supply. No wonder the prophet cries, “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness” (Isaiah 55:2).

The Participants

The provision was for the priests—God’s priesthood. Before them, however, God Himself was a partaker of His own spread feast. That which is for the satisfaction of His people is also for God’s own satisfaction. This is the case in some of the offerings in the early chapters of Leviticus. God takes His share and is satisfied. Every attribute of His divine nature is satisfied in the offering of His beloved Son. It is “a sweet savour unto the LORD.” It cheereth God as well as man (Judges 9:13). God’s delight was not in the symbols as such, but in all that these represented and embodied—all that was ultimately unfolded in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was for His people who, in this age of grace, are all made priests to offer spiritual sacrifices unto God. Surely what satisfies God the Father ought well to delight and satisfy His people! Our Lord is not as the symbol—as Israel’s perishing shewbread, often removed and renewed—but He abides the same forever. Each of Israel’s feasts and offerings set forth in figure one aspective portrayal of our Lord’s fullness.

However, all of these together are but a very scant reflection of what He really is. He is God’s fullness, God’s feast of fat things, and He is that for His people throughout the countless ages of eternity. What satisfies the believer is that in which God delights. The Lord and His sacrifice regale Heaven. The Lord and His sacrifice regale earth. The life, the health, the vigor of spiritual life derive from this substantial feast. To feed on Christ refreshes the heart, girds the loins with strength, and brings an energy which can never flag.

Israel’s bread was called “the shewbread,” or “the presence bread,” because it was eaten before the Lord and in the holy place. It was for the priests only; no others could participate. Thus we see that Christ as the Bread of life is only for His redeemed people and is “continual bread”—another interpretation of it. In ancient Israel there always had to be bread on the tabernacle table in order to give the notion, in type, of that which is everlasting in Christ, the true Bread. God feeds upon Him and is satisfied! We feed upon Him and are satisfied! Both God and man sit at the same table and partake of the same bread, even His beloved Son. Thus God and man meet in Christ and have their joint fellowship and joy in Him.

Here at Thy table, Lord, we meet,
To feed on food divine;
Thy body is the bread we eat,
Thy precious blood the wine.

Here praise and pardon sweetly flow;
O what delightful food!
We eat the bread and drink the wine,
But think on nobler good.

Sure, there was never love so free,
Dear Saviour—so divine;
Well Thou mayst claim that heart of me,
Which owes so much to Thine.

G. Franc