Lent 4 Midweek (Lev 24, 5–9)

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Each and every Sabbath day he will arrange [the bread] before YAHWEH continually. It is an everlasting covenant from the sons of Israel. It will be for Aaron and his sons, and they will eat it in a holy place, since it is most holy for him. It is an everlasting statute from YAHWEH’s food offerings.

᛭ INI ᛭

The Lord gives His gifts. He sets up those things that will proclaim Him and His salvation. When He gave His Old Testament gifts, He instituted all aspects of His Gift. He set the place. He sets the time. He made known the benefit and purpose of the Gift. He said who that Gift is for.

They are His Gifts, not ours. He institutes them. We receive them. Receiving is a one way street: from the Lord Jesus to us. It is “from the LORD’s food offerings.” In Leviticus 24 He clarifies His command from Exodus 25: “You will put the Bread of Presence upon the Table before Me continually.” It is His bread, just like we heard a few weeks ago: “It is the LORD’s Passover.” (Ex 12) (It is the LORD’s Supper.)

Our flesh, our sinful nature, the Old Adam that hangs around our neck, is always trying to take advantage of the Gift, to change it so that he’s in charge of the Gift, and not the Lord who instituted it. Old Adam seeks to change aspects of the Lord’s Gifts so they’re convenient for him, fit his way of thinking, are in line with what he’s always done. (Tradition!)

But the Lord giving His gifts the way He gives them (where, when, why) are all for our benefit. It’s so we receive and hold and possess as our own through faith what He wants us to have.

HE CHIEFLY WANTS US TO HAVE HIS HOLINESS IN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.

((I. What are the elements?))

The Lord sets up what makes the offering, what makes the Sacrament. He lays out what elements are to be used. Two tenths of an ephah of flour in each loaf. Frankincense on each loaf. That’s what’s to be used for the Bread of Presence.

The Lord lays it all out for the Sacrament of the Altar, too. “He took bread.” He also took wine, grape wine. When Jesus says, “Fruit of the vine,” He means wine made from grapes. (They didn’t have grape juice in Jesus’ day.) That’s an element some introduced to the Sacrament in the 1800s, but it’s not what Jesus used. It’s the Lord’s Supper, not ours to change as we see fit.

Change the elements, and it’s no longer what the Lord Himself gave. Changing elements means making it our supper, claiming it as our own, making it to be our own. There’s no comfort for us when we do that. Only doubt. When you mess with the elements, you mess with the blessing. When it comes to the Supper, Jesus’ Word plus Jesus’ elements (bread and wine), mean His body and blood are there for you for the forgiveness of sins.

We don’t make the supper what it is. (Our feelings or ideas about it don’t matter.) The Lord gave it His way, and, when we change that, it’s no longer what He gave. Same goes with time and place. As far as the bread offering goes, change the day and place, and well, it’s a different offering, and not the one YAHWEH sets up in Leviticus 24.

((II. What’s the time and place?))

The place is easy to figure out. The table was in THE Holy Place, which was right outside the Holy of Holies. The table in the Holy Place. The bread eaten in a holy place, probably the courtyard or somewhere else on the Tabernacle grounds. How often? That’s pretty easy, too. The Lord’s pretty emphatic in the original, and the ESV’s “every Sabbath day” doesn’t quite capture it. “Each and every Sabbath day” gets at it a bit better. Week in, week out, no matter what. (More on that on Wednesday of Holy Week.)

The Lord doesn’t operate by what the Priests may or may not have thought about it being “special” or “being taken for granted” or “too much” or “too often.” He wants the bread set in order every week, eaten every week. He sets up this ritual for the Bread of the Presence to take place “each and every Sabbath.” The Lord does not think like we do. We should “take every thought captive to Christ,” as Paul says. The Lord cares only about delivering what He’s promising, and delivering it to the people He’s promised it to.

((III. Who and what is the gift for?))

The Bread of the Presence was for the Priests so that they would be holy, so they could go about their priestly work in “holiness and righteousness before [the LORD] all the days of their life.” When something is described as “most holy” in Leviticus (or the other Books of Moses), it means that thing makes other things holy. In this case, the Bread would make the Priest who ate it holy.

So it is for you, too. The Lord’s Supper is for your holiness, your forgiveness. There Jesus delivers what He did for you at Calvary. He shed His blood for your forgiveness, and now He gives that to you for your forgiveness. By forgiving your sins, the sins we do daily and much, He makes us holy, that we can go about our priestly service, too! “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices,” Paul says. Jesus enlivens, sanctifies, forgives us through His Supper so that we would be enlivened, strengthened, sanctified, and forgiven for our daily callings, our vocations of “father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker.”

((Conclusion.))

The Lord gives His Gifts exactly the way He means to, and He gives them for very specific reasons. When the Lord gives His gifts, He institutes all aspects of His Gift. It was the Lord’s Bread of Presence. (It is the LORD’s Supper.)

But the Lord giving His gifts the way He gives them (where, when, why) are all for our benefit. It’s so we receive and hold and possess as our own through faith what He wants us to have.

HE CHIEFLY WANTS US TO HAVE HIS HOLINESS IN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.

He doesn’t want us to have doubt. So He takes bread and wine. He blesses it with His Word. It is then the Bread of His Presence. The bread and wine ARE His body and blood, just like He says. He wants us to receive the Supper often. He wants us to receive it for our holiness, “for the forgiveness of our sins.”

For only through His presence, His working on us, His holiness being given to us will we actually live and be holy. He made His priests so through the Bread of the Presence that they ate every week. He makes you so, through the Supper of His own body and blood. Just like the High Priest gave the bread to the other priests so also Jesus, our Great High Priest, gives us His body and blood.

And that means, as St. Peter says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Even in His Supper where the bread and wine ARE His body and blood “for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”

᛭ INI ᛭

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