TO EAT BREAD TOGETHER BEFORE GOD
(Taken from an exhortation given on 9th February 2013)
Reading: Exodus 18:1 – 12
Once more brethren and sisters and yet once less we come to present ourselves in fellowship together, to eat bread before our Heavenly Father. We here to remember the means of our redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ, as symbolised by the emblems upon the table.
In Exodus chapter 18 and verses 8 – 12
“Moses told his father in law all that Yahweh had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how Yahweh delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness, which Yahweh had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, Blessed be Yahweh, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God”.
Now these verses beautifully portray for us exactly what we each have come collectively to do brethren and sisters. These verses also provide us with the conversion sequence of Moses’ father in law, which culminates in a fellowship, meal with our Heavenly Father.
Exodus chapter 18 and verses 1 – 2 & 5
“When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that Yahweh had brought Israel out of Egypt; Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back, And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God”.
So Jethro comes to Sinai with Moses’ wife and two sons reuniting the family. He has come because he had heard all that God had done for his son in law and for Israel his people. He comes then to get a first hand account of what must have been the greatest news story of a generation. For we recall that when Israel went into the land, Rahab in Jericho makes abundantly clear that even some forty years later it was still the greatest story event of the day.
Indeed brethren and sisters, with regards to Israel it is still the greatest event in their history and will only be eclipsed when our Master with his brethren (that is us by the mercy of our Heavenly Father) will shortly redeem Israel once more. Then like Jethro, shall the gentiles come to hear and know of our God?
Psalm 98 and verses 2 – 4
“Yahweh hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise unto Yahweh, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise”.
Returning back to Exodus chapter eighteen, brethren and sisters, we read in:
“And Moses told his father in law all that Yahweh had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how Yahweh delivered them”.
Here we see the truth being preached in its natural setting brethren and sisters through family and other close relationships. So Moses recounts our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness and all the goodness done to Israel in delivering them. Undoubtedly Jethro sits rapt as Moses recounts all the events up to this point in time. Then undoubtedly Moses sat back and awaited the response of his father in law.
“And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which Yahweh had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians”.
Here we see Jethro typing out for us in sequence the response of the gentile nations in the day when our Lord delivers the tents of Judah first, as hinted at in Psalm 98. Here we see that Moses’ father in law is genuinely thrilled and glad, as the truths, which Moses declares to him, sink in and he understands their full import.
Indeed such will indeed be the case when our Lord returns. Brethren and sisters let us prove our point here, for the phrase in the Hebrew “for all the goodness” only appears three times the number of fruit. Once is in the days of Solomon at the dedication of the temple and the two week festival at the end of 1st Kings chapter eight, symbolic of the kingdom age. Then the other reference is in Jeremiah chapter thirty-three, which depicts the deliverance of Judah and Jerusalem by the Lord Jesus Christ at his return.
Jeremiah chapter 33 and verses 7 – 9
“And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it”.
But what about us brethren and sisters, today as we once more rehearse these divine truths in our ears do they still have an impact, do they make us rejoice? Have we come today in gladness of heart?
But Jethro’ reaction does not stop there, for we go onto read:
“And Jethro said, Blessed be Yahweh, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians”.
Moses’ father in law now continues to “bless Yahweh”. The root idea of this word “bless” is to bow the knee in submission. Here Jethro verbally and publicly acknowledges Yahweh’s sovereignty and power. He stresses by the triple use of the word “hand” in this verse how our Heavenly Father superiority is seen in deliverance of Israel not only from the superpower of the day, but also from Pharaoh personally.
Again we see in Jethro’ blessing of our Heavenly Father a picture of the kingdom, for in today’s psalms we read:
Psalm 72 and verses 17 – 19
“His name (Christ) shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be Yahweh elohim, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen”.
Like Jethro brethren and sisters we need to show our submission to our God, by blessing our Heavenly Father publicly one to another by way of encouragement. Exhorting one another: and so much the more, as we see that great day approaching.
Firstly Jethro rejoices, then he blesses and now we see his confession of faith. The knowledge, evidence and witness of Israel that Moses has laid before him causes him to make this firm confession of faith.
“Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them”.
Now the phrase “now I know”, only appears in one other place in this Hebrew form:
2nd Kings chapter 5 and verse 13
“And he (Naaman) returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant”.
Here once again we see a gentile declaring that our Heavenly Father is only true and living God. But in the obscure second half of the verse Moses’ father in law goes beyond acknowledging that in the earth there is only a God in Israel. He now importantly declares that Yahweh is righteous in the way he dealt with the Egyptians, because of how they treated Israel his people.
Jethro vindicates our Heavenly Father, as the gentiles will do in that day by declaring his judgement upon the gentile nations is just, because of the way they have harshly treated Israel.
Isaiah chapter 62 and verses 1 – 3
“For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of Yahweh shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of Yahweh, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God”.
We too brethren and sisters by being here today are likewise confessing and declaring our belief in and our hope and our trust in our Heavenly Father and his promises. We too declare to each other and to those who know where we go each Sunday our Heavenly Father’s righteousness. Declaring him righteous with regards to the sin of the world and in the sacrifice of his beloved Son. For as the Apostle states, “we do shew the Lord’s death till he come”- and that word “shew”, means “to declare to publicly witness to”.
So Jethro having rejoiced, blessed, confessed and declared, he now takes action and puts his new found faith into practice:
“And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God”.
Moses’ father in law now offers a voluntary free will offering in the form of a burnt sacrifice. Now the burnt offering brethren and sisters speak’ to us of the ascent of the individual up towards our Heavenly Father in service. The idea behind this offering is that of total dedication of the individual, as symbolised by the complete consuming of the animal upon the altar.
This free will offering would have been given by Jethro with gratitude and thanksgiving evidenced by his rejoicing and blessing our Heavenly Father for what he had done for his son in law. So Jethro has now offered his own life in dedication in heartfelt response to all of Yahweh’s goodness, the truth now being received by him and understood.
What indeed should be our heartfelt response brethren and sisters for all the goodness, which Yahweh hath done for us?
Romans chapter 12 and verse 1
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”.
Now returning to verse twelve of Exodus eighteen. The phrase “burnt offering and sacrifices” in this Hebrew form only appears again in three places. Once more in relation to the kingdom age, we find in Jeremiah the following concerning Israel’s worship in the age to come:
Jeremiah chapter 17 and verses 25 – 26
“Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever. And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of Yahweh”.
These other sacrifices that are associated with the burnt offering is speaking particularly of the “peace offering”. Here we see the offerer desiring to draw nigh unto their God through a fellowship meal binding them selves by sacrifice into a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Indeed the breaking of bread which, we are currently partaking in is in fact a partial fulfillment of the concept behind the peace offering brethren and sisters? In that we have so much greater access to our Heavenly Father through the work of our lord Jesus Christ both redemptively in his sacrifice and by his high priesthood now!
Hebrews chapter 10 and verses 19 – 23
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”.
We note brethren and sisters how that the peace offering desiring greater and more intimate fellowship with our Heavenly Father is only possible after and in conjunction with the burnt offering of total dedication. This same word “sacrifices” is found in Psalm fifty, which emphasizes that those who do what Jethro here does enters into a covenant relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Psalm 50 and verses 4 – 6
“He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah”.
Now comes the warning from the other passage, where this phrase “burnt offering and sacrifices” in this Hebrew form appears, driving home the exhortation brethren and sisters for us:
1st Samuel chapter 15 and verses 22 – 23
“And Samuel said, Hath Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of Yahweh, he hath also rejected thee from being king”.
All the access and apparent closeness to our Heavenly Father through that covenant relationship will avail us little brethren and sister if we are not obedient to the words of that covenant.
See how far Jethro has come brethren and sisters in just a few verses in response to Moses revealing to him all that our Heavenly Father had done. Having rejoiced, then blessed, then confessed and declared Jethro offers firstly a burnt offering and then a peace offering. So entering into a covenant with our Heavenly Father, as all we have done through Christ Jesus our Lord, whom we shall shortly remember in these emblems before us.
Each step that Jethro has taken is drawing Moses’ father in law into the completeness of fellowship our Heavenly Father desires of his saints.
“And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God”.
Returning to verse twelve, brethren and sisters we find the final phase that of him eating bread together with Moses, Aaron and all the elders of Israel in fellowship. Here we see the leaders and elders of Israel accepting this gentile into their midst and fellowship with him in the most intimate way through a meal.
Here again we are reminded of our Lord, who has broken down the middle wall of partition separating Jew and Gentile for us. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace. Therefore we like Jethro are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
This was only possible brethren and sisters through that sacrifice we have come to remember in the emblems of bread and wine. Through the blood of his stake, he has made peace and been able to reconcile all things unto himself to our Heavenly Fathers glory.
Returning once more to Jethro in Exodus chapter eighteen and verse twelve.
We find this fellowship picture does not end here, with them just eating together. Because we are also told in that twelfth verse importantly that they “eat bread … before God”.
The only other place where we have this concept of eating bread before God in this form in the Hebrew is in Ezekiel, connected with the temple in the age to come.
Ezekiel chapter 44 and verses 1 – 3
“Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said Yahweh unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because Yahweh, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before Yahweh; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same”.
This simple experience of Jethro’ conversion brethren and sisters, becomes for each one of us a blueprint for how we each should approach this memorial meeting. We see Jethro’ heartfelt response to the truth, we see his attitude is of one of praise and thanksgiving, as seen in his rejoicing and blessing our Heavenly Father in verses nine & ten.
Then we see his motivation to publicly align himself with our Heavenly Father through his confession and declaration in verse eleven. Then in verse twelve, we see Jethro modelling for us his spirit of complete submission and obedience with his free will offerings of firstly a burnt offering and then a peace offering.
Finally also in verse twelve we see Jethro having made that covenant through sacrifice, now desiring to share in the intimate benefits of fellowship with others of like precious faith in breaking bread before his God.
Yet importantly for us brethren and sisters this experience of Jethro that we have examined by way of exhortation today, becomes also as we have seen much a cameo of what we can all look forward too in the kingdom at our Master’s return.
For Ezekiel here provides us with a picture brethren and sisters of us partaking of that fellowship meal in the kingdom age privately with our Lord. For the promise of the Master to each one of us is two-fold, firstly:
Luke chapter 12 and verse 37
“Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them”.
Luke chapter 22 and verses 14 – 16
“And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God”.
As we come now together brethren and sisters to eat bread before our God, we anticipate that time to come. Let us see in these emblems the fulfillment of all our desire. The bread, that speaks to us of the word and its ability to fill each one of us with joy, thanksgiving and the hope. Then the wine, which compels us to act in heartfelt response for all the goodness which Yahweh, had done to Israel and us. That we might give our lives in service and sacrifice after his example of him we remember now.