Friday, January 12, 2024

2024.01.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 24:1–9

Read Leviticus 24:1–9

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in Leviticus 24:1? Whom is Moses to command (Leviticus 24:2)? What are they to bring? For what? When should the lamps burn? Outside what are the lamps (Leviticus 24:3)? Inside what are the lamps? Whose duty is it to make sure this continues through the whole night? Before Whom? When? For how many generations of the Levitical priesthood will “Aaron” (the high priest) do this? Upon what are the lamps (Leviticus 24:4)? Of what is the lampstand? Before Whom? When? What are they to take in Leviticus 24:5? To bake what? How many? How much flour must be in each cake? How are they to be arranged (Leviticus 24:6)? Upon what? Before Whom? What are they to put on each row of bread (Leviticus 24:7)? For what? What does this incense mark the bread as? When must new bread be put out (Leviticus 24:8)? Before Whom? From whom must the flour be taken for the bread? What is this arrangement called at the end of verse 8? Who may eat the bread when it comes off of the table (Leviticus 24:9)? Where must they eat it? Why—what is special about this bread? What sort of statute (prescription/portion/due) is this?

What is the point of called meetings with God, through priest and sacrifice? Leviticus 24:1–9 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the point of all that God is doing in Israel, the tabernacle, and even in all of history in Christ is to shine His favor upon His people, whom He has brought into fellowship with Himself. 

This seems like a strange place to rehash a little bit of tabernacle setup instruction. (and an extended instruction on what to do about blaspheming children—but more on that next week). But the Spirit sandwiches this chapter between the annual calendar in chapter 23 and the multiannual calendar in chapter 25. This portion takes us straight to the favor of God upon His people in the lampstands and the fellowship of God’s people with Himself in the showbread. The point of being called to meet in the presence of God is to enjoy glorious, personal interaction with God Himself. 

Favor, Leviticus 24:1-4. The language of Leviticus 24:2 is important in connection with the rest of Leviticus. Moses commands them to bring oil to “make the lamps to ascend continually.” The word translated “burn” in Leviticus 24:2 is actually the “ascend” word that we have seen throughout as “burnt offering”; and, the ascend word does not appear again until Numbers 8:2–3, where NKJ translates “cause to ascend” as “arrange.” This is what all of the “ascending” has been building to. 

We’ve already been taught the positioning of the lamp once (cf. Exodus 25:37), and we’ll be taught it again (cf. Numbers 8:1–4). In both places, the Spirit emphasizes the direction of the shining of the light. Its position is outside the veil (Leviticus 24:3), called here “the veil of the testimony” to emphasize its connection to the ark and to YHWH Himself. The shining in Numbers 8 is especially an application of the shining in the blessing in Numbers 6:23–27, which itself is a climax point in Leviticus 9:22–23

God has done all of this because He is determined to shine His face upon His people in blessedness. God’s own “face,” God’s own presence, is the greatest (indeed, singularly Great) blessing that He gives His people.

Fellowship, Leviticus 24:5-9. The shining of the light from the veil toward the table of the showbread emphasizes that God is not only inviting His people into His favor but also into His fellowship. He emphasizes the fellowship in several ways. First, of course, there is the bread of table fellowship.

Then, the ‘7’ of the lamps on the stand, and the ‘12’ of the bread on the table brings the Lord (7) and His people (12) together. This too emphasizes fellowship.

Finally, the bread is called an “offering made by fire” by putting frankincense upon it, but it is not burned. The holy bread for the holy people “ascends” not by boing “up” in smoke, but by going “into” the tabernacle.

The point of all that the Lord has done in redeeming Israel by Leviticus 24, all that the Lord has done in Christ as priest and sacrifice AND tabernacle—all that the Lord is doing in the whole of history and redemption is building not only to His shining His glory upon us, but of welcoming us into fellowship with His own glory!

Forever. This idea of that last sentence (that this passage is pointing past the Tent of Meeting) is driven home several ways by the passage. The word “continual” runs through the passage (Leviticus 24:2Leviticus 24:3Leviticus 24:4Leviticus 24:8).  The word “forever” is the very last word in Leviticus 24:8 and Leviticus 24:9. Nothing else in all of Leviticus is called an “everlasting covenant” (Leviticus 24:8). Other things are “forever throughout your generations” and expire with the change referred to in Hebrews 7:12

But the favor and fellowship belong to an everlasting covenant, a covenant that is not through man’s generations but determined in God Himself and fulfilled by God Himself. In Jesus, God binds Himself to us as our covenant God and binds us to Himself as His covenant people. What we might have mistakenly taken merely as a way of speaking about a covenant throughout human history in Genesis 17:7 turns out indeed to be a reality beyond death, through resurrection, and into eternity (cf. Hebrews 13:20).   

Communicated daily and weekly. So, we have an annual calendar of being called together for meeting with God in chapter 23. And we will have a multiannual calendar in chapter 25, but here in these nine verses is an eternal blessedness of the shining of God’s face and being brought into God’s fellowship. As the Lord presents this to Israel (and to us) in this passage, He emphasizes two rhythms in Israelite life: the two that He had given in the creation, having created man in His image and for fellowship with Himself.

The first of these creational rhythms is the daily rhythm of evening and morning (cf. lampstand maintenance in Leviticus 24:3). And the second is the weekly rhythm of the Sabbath (cf. showbread maintenance in Leviticus 24:8). God created mornings and evenings for our fellowship with Him in a daily way (cf. Genesis 1:5, Genesis 1:8Genesis 1:13Genesis 1:19Genesis 1:23Genesis 1:31; Deuteronomy 6:7), just as He created the weekly Sabbath for our fellowship with Him in a weekly way (cf. Genesis 2:3; Isaiah 58:13–14). These creational rhythms continue as long as this creation (cf. Hebrews 4:9; The Lord still calls us to Himself, to enjoy His favor and fellowship, in our homes morning and evening every day, and in His holy convocation every Lord’s Day. 

In the High Priest. The lampstand and the showbread are tied together by Aaron. Aaron is in charge of the lamps (Leviticus 24:3), and the holy bread that is exchanged for fresh every Sabbath belongs to him (and his sons, because it is most holy to “him”—singular, Leviticus 24:9). The people never enter the holy place, but they are represented in their high priest. And this is all the more so, now, that we have come into the administration of the High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (cf. Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5–9).

It is in Jesus that we enter into God’s presence and meet with Him (tabernacle). It is in Jesus that God shines His face upon us (lampstand). It is in Jesus that God brings us into fellowship with Himself (showbread). Now baptism connects heaven and earth for us (cf. Matthew 28:18), while placing God’s Name upon us and announcing His favor to us (cf. Matthew 28:19). And the Lord’s Supper brings us to His table to have fellowship with Him and covenant with God through Him (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 11:23–26). All of history, all of redemption, is about bringing God’s elect into the shining of His face upon us in Jesus and the enjoyment of His fellowship with us in Jesus!

What does this passage remind you that your own creation is about? What does this passage remind you that your own redemption is about? What rhythms has God built into your life in order to underline to you that your existence is all about enjoying His favor and His fellowship? How have  you making use of the daily rhythm of meetings with Him? How have you been making use of the weekly rhythm of meeting with Him? In Whom do you enjoy the favor of God? In Whom do you enjoy fellowship with God? What difference has this made in your life, in between the meeting times?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for creating us for Yourself and for redeeming us for Yourself. Make us to rejoice in Your favor and Your fellowship, morning and evening, every day. Make us to rejoice in Your favor and Your fellowship, all day long on the Lord’s Day, every week. Grant that we would enjoy Your favor and fellowship through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, through Whom we ask this, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Reside” or TPH165 “To Your Temple, I Repair”

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