God gives instructions for the bread that is to be placed in the tabernacle on the table. He requires one loaf for each tribe and each loaf is made up of the exact same things.
When I first started reading this passage today I was intrigued by the frankincense. I’m certain it is a beautiful smelling aroma but why pour it over the bread. I started thinking about it and googled my question. I wanted to know if frankincense is a food preservative. I didn’t get a definitive answer on that aspect of it but was informed that it can be used for everything from minor cuts to “leprosy.” I doubt it really cured leprosy but it did have amazing health benefits.
Every Sabbath “Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly” (verse 8a). This isn’t a daily job like the lamp tending is but a weekly one instead. But it is a more exacting job than the lamp tending. God specified how much “fine flour” was to be used in each loaf; “two tenths of an ephah” (verse 5b). He also specified how many loaves and how they were to be arranged on the table. Two stacks of six loaves. No three stacks of four, or one stack of twelve. Not even twelve individual stacks. Wouldn’t it be interesting if God had said one stack of ten and one stack of two? This would have been the breakdown of the tribal split when Israel became two kingdoms.
After the stacks of bread were laid out Aaron was to “put pure frankincense on each pile” (verse 7a). Frankincense is an oil and I assume it was poured over the stacks. I don’t know how liberally it was poured though. Was it enough that all six loaves were covered in it or just a drop or two? I would not doubt that this item is what helped the bread to last throughout the week.
The bread was to last all week. It was only replaced once each week. The priests were to eat this bread during the week. I have a feeling that this bread was made from the offerings that were brought to the Tabernacle. Either God’s portion or the priest’s portion of the grain offerings probably made up these loaves. If the baker of these loaves was running short one week, was he allowed to pull from regular fine flour stores? Or did God make CERTAIN that His gifts were enough to accomplish the task? I’m more inclined to go with the second explanation after reading about all His other activities.
I’m also wondering who the baker of these loaves was. Did this honor fall to the priests or did their wives do this task for them? Was that one of the designated jobs of the priest when his clan’s time came for him to serve? If so, I bet they cast lots for the job.
The priests’ job was to eat the bread too. I thought about how many loaves there were to eat each week. In my household, my husband is the one who eats the majority of the bread. We use significantly LESS than one loaf a week. My loaves are probably larger too but still that is a LOT of bread to eat. God shared that task among all the priests instead of putting it only on the high priest. Between all those serving at the Tabernacle were enough stomachs to fulfill the job. I don’t think they were allowed to take them home and share them with their families. They had to be consumed in a “holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord’s food offerings” (verse 9b). I would hope they made sure to consume ALL of it so as not to have to throw any away. Because of the means God commanded for leftovers to be dealt with in other sacrifices, I bet they would have to burn any leftovers of the week.
God’s word is our bread. Some ingest it weekly, some daily, and some seldom if at all. Without this “bread’ our soul starves to death. I hate it when I “miss a meal” or skip one on purpose. I know God understands when my house is full of people or my spirit is full of rocks but I feel guilty regardless. I missed a meal yesterday because of our last “Christmas” observance for our family. Could I have carved out a bit of quiet somewhere between the children playing, the dog going nuts because of the fireworks and my husband’s needs? I don’t know but I didn’t even try. If God’s word was as important to me as physical food you can bet I would have tried harder to get to it. Maybe that is the lesson I’m supposed to be reminded of today.
God’s word isn’t a “snack tray” set out to tide people over until dinner. It is the main course. Without it there is no strength in my bones. There is no joy in my heart. There is no satisfaction in my bones. I’m empty! I NEED His word as much as I need air to breathe. I would starve to death without it; spiritually for certain.
Thank You Father for Your word. I know I don’t sit at Your table nearly often enough. Thank You for sustaining me through the days when I “get too busy” or “forget” to come. I want there to be fewer of those days every month. More than that though, I want my heart to LONG to be in Your word each day. I miss the expectancy I had when going through the gospels and reading the stories of Jesus’ journey on the earth. I even miss the excitement of Genesis and the plague stories. I know You have many more exciting stories ahead. Help me stay engaged through the “dryer” times. Help me find refreshing in whatever You serve.
Thank You Holy Spirit for reminding me each day. Thank You for the forgiveness I receive on the days when I “run out of time” because I kept putting it off. Thank You that You KEEP reminding me too. Without Your prompting I KNOW I would have given up on this journey, or at least set it aside for a long while. I would have gone into “starvation mode” without You. THANK YOU for bringing me back to the table! I think I wandered a LONG way away from my frankincense question. I never know where You are going to take me and that’s probably a good thing too.