When Jesus was preparing to go to the Cross, He prayed a very significant prayer, revealing His ultimate Purpose for leaving the Glories of Heaven and coming to earth. He began by recounting His Mission to open Heaven’s gates by dying for the sins of the world, in anticipation of what would follow: Upon His death His Father would Glorify Him with the same Glory He had with Him before the world began! (John 17:5) Then, speaking of those who were to believe on Him, He made this shocking statement:
“And the glory which thou hast given me I have given them: that they may be one, even as we are one… Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” (John 17:22, 24)
Did you catch that? Jesus died and rose again, not only for us to house His Glory and to make us one, but for us to “be with Him where He is and see His Glory!”
Let me bring this to where we live by sharing this prophecy God once spoke to a group of us in a church gathering:
“My children….oh, if you could only grasp how much I love you… I gave My life for you so that you could be with Me where I Am, and see My glory. Know that you are RIGHT NOW seated with Me in heavenly places! Do not seek for what you need in the world…you will not find it there. Seek and set your affections on Me, where I Am, at the right hand of the Father! I Am your Exceeding Great Reward– ALL that you could ever need and MORE! Seek Me! Seek Me! Seek Me! Seek My Face with all of your hearts, my beloveds. I declare to you, I WILL be found of you!”
What is God’s Glory?
It is His Goodness, His Heart. The Glorious, All-exceeding Wonders of His Person. It is what we were CREATED for — and, consequentially, is the only thing that can satisfy our bottomless-pit voids!
God’s [indwelling] Glory, (“Christ in you the hope of Glory”, Col. 1:27), is what sets lovers of Jesus apart from the world, unifies us, and transforms our hearts and lives from the inside, out. (1 John 1:1-3)
In its fullness, God’s Glory is a Transformative Power that would literally kill a human being if seen in Its Fullness! That’s why, right now, we can only handle it in glimpses: “For now we see through a [mirror dimly], but then [in heaven], face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
But don’t let that fool you: One glimpse of God’s Glory is enough to exponentially change you, creating multiple ripple effects that reverberate and widen within your heart and life for an entire lifetime! When we receive our resurrected bodies and finally get to see God’s Glory full-on, well… this is our PRIZE! To forever bask in His Glory, wave after wave of it flowing from His Throne, worshiping the Beauty of Holiness throughout all Eternity!
What an indescribably magnificent Gift has been given to us! No wonder we are told in Romans 8:18 that the sufferings of this present world are not even worthy to be compared to the Glory that is about to be revealed!
Face to Face with the Living God
Moses hungered and thirsted to see God’s Glory, insomuch that he wholeheartedly pursued it–and SAW it—while hidden in the cleft of a rock. Having earnestly prayed to see God’s Glory and spending forty days and nights in God’s Presence on Mount Sinai, when He came down from the mountain, God’s Glory was shining from his face!! (Exodus 33-34)
Because of his wholehearted pursuit, Moses had a unique relationship with God—an intimate one– of being deeply known by God and deeply knowing God:
“God spoke to Moses face to face as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11)
In the Bible, “face” is often rendered, “person” or “presence.” The “face” indicates one’s personality, character and emotions— the real person of the heart. This is why, when conversing with someone, we look into their face and eyes. We want to really know them. The “face” indicates genuineness or transparency in relationship. Likewise, this is what is meant in the Bible by “seeking God’s face”. Moses speaking “face to face” with God, essentially means, “heart to Heart!”
The glorious truth is that this kind of “intimate relationship” was not reserved for Moses only. This very same Face- to- face, Heart-to- heart relationship with God is what He created you and me for!
Because Moses represented the Old Covenant, which merely pointed to the New, the Glory on his face faded. When New Covenant Christians seek the Face of Christ, coming before Him with “unveiled faces”, (no pretentious facades), something spectacular happens: the Revelation of Who He is shines into our heart and inwardly transforms us– causing His likeness to shine from our faces from one degree of Glory to another! (2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:6)
This Eternal, face to Face Purpose was also ensconced in God’s very instructions for the Tabernacle!
After the priests were cleansed from their sins at the Brass Altar and washed their hands and feet in the Brass Laver, they were ready to come into the Holy Place. Here, they would depend solely on the illuminating Light of the Golden Lampstand. This Lampstand held seven burning oil lamps which represented the Holy Spirit, “The spirit of wisdom and revelation”. Eph. 1:18) The lamps were specifically situated, “so that they might give light over against it.” Ex. 25:30), meaning the light would shine on something on the opposite wall. What would the priest see?
The Table of Shewbread!
The Table of Shewbread was was made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold, speaking of Divinity. On the table were some very key items: Golden Plates (seemingly bowls, #H7086), spoons, covers (jug, or cup, #H7184), bowls (sacrificial basins that would hold blood, or cup, #H4518), to cover withall (to pour out, especially a libation, by analogy to anoint a king, cover, offer [ing]. #H5258).
To summarize, the table held bowls, cups to be filled with red wine, and a pitcher-like vessel to pour out its contents to God like a drink offering.
Additionally, God had instructed Moses,
“And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway. (Exodus 25:30)
“Shewbread” in the Hebrew is rendered, “Bread of the Face or faces”, some translations calling it the “bread of presence”. It was specifically to be set and maintained “before [the Ark of the Covenant] “always”.
Bread of the Face
In Leviticus 24, we learn that the Shewbread included twelve loaves (cakes) of unleavened bread, placed on the table in two piles of six. Upon each row the priest was to burn Frankincense for a “memorial” (a “remembrance offering”, Strong’s #H2142), “an offering made by fire” (“A burnt offering, occasionally any sacrifice made by fire” , # H801) “unto the Lord”. (vs 7) In other words, the frankincense made the Shewbread a burnt offering to God. They were to be eaten by Aaron and his sons and replaced with twelve fresh loaves, every Sabbath day. It was “most holy unto Him of all the offerings of the Lord made by fire, a perpetual statute”. (Leviticus 24:9)
Question: Considering the Biblical inference of the word, “face”, whose face was the Lampstand meant to reveal to the priest?
I believe there is a double meaning, here.
First, based on the following passage which teaches the primary role of the Holy Spirit, it is the Face of Christ :
“When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself: but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak…he shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you.” (John 16:13-14)
Whom did Jesus identify as, in John 6:33-58? The “Bread of Life”! Meaning, Jesus IS the Bread of the Face, Whom the Holy Spirit reveals to seeking hearts:
“For God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
In further support, let’s review the utensils that accompany the Shewbread on the table. There were “cups”, defined in the Hebrew as “sacrificial basins”, historically designed to hold blood, a “vessel” designed to pour out a libation offering before the Lord, and the “shewbread”, topped with burning “frankincense” (making it a burnt offering)….
What does this describe?
It describes the broken body and poured- out blood of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world, that tore the veil in two! In fact, Jesus’s torn body WAS the torn veil, through which we enter the Presence of God to enjoy a “face-to-Face, heart- to- Heart relationship with Him! (Hebrews 10:20)
As the “Bread of Life”, Jesus instructs believers to “eat his flesh and drink his blood”. This signifies our need to personally identify with His Finished work of the Cross, done on our behalf, and internalize it, by faith. (John 6:53-57)
Now let’s take a closer look at the table of Shewbread: Considering the items on the Golden Table, there is something even more specific represented here:
The Lord’s [Communion]Table!
The frankincense made the Shewbread an offering of “remembrance”. Likewise, while serving the Passover meal on the night He was betrayed, Jesus said, “This do, in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)
The Lord’s Table, which includes unleavened bread and wine or juice, is all about “communion” with God. This reminds us of Adam and Eve “communing” with God, walking and talking with Him in the Garden before sin entered the world. In partaking of the emblems, representing the body and blood of Jesus, we remember the Costly Price He paid to cleanse us from sin and reconcile us to the Father. This keeps our intimacy, loyalty and commitment to Him both “fresh” and passionate, preventing it from getting “old”—explaining the symbolism of the priests eating the Shewbread and replacing the cakes with fresh ones!
If the Table of Shewbread represents the body and blood of Jesus, why, then, were there twelve loves on the Table? This brings us to the secondary meaning of the bread!
Bread of the Faces
The twelve loaves represent the twelve tribes of Israel. However, under the New Covenant, Jew and Gentile become ONE in Christ, Who, as our Great High Priest, represents our “faces” before God:
“For, through [Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by the Holy Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:11-18)
Here’s a recap of the Brazen Altar (a symbol of the Cross): Through His Sacrifice, Jesus “brought us near” to God, sanctified and holy– presenting US to the Father! In other words, WE became the offering to God—making US “broken bread and poured-out wine”!
As the “bread of the faces”, having been brought face to Face with the Living God, we are “set before Him always” (Exodus 25:30). This means His Face is continually shining upon us, His Eye, ever watching! He is constantly aware of every detail of our lives, what we are going through, and what we need!
Our part is to intentionally dwell in His Presence! This means living in the Light of His Countenance with “unveiled faces” or, completely transparent before Him. When we gaze upon His Glory, nothing blocking, His Light penetrates our heart, revealing His Heart to ours, and miraculously transforms us into His Own Glorious Likeness! (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Here’s the problem.
According to statistics, most people do not trust God enough to be “unveiled” before Him. Why? They see Him as punishing and condemning!
Here’s what God says:
“Let us…come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
We acquire this “boldness” simply by grasping and applying the Finished Work of the Cross, where we are cleansed and made the Righteousness of Christ! As a result, what do we receive at the throne of grace? “MERCY”!
In this verse, “mercy” means, “Compassion, tender mercy”.
Interestingly, “tender mercy” comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “Passion, by extension of the womb as cherishing the fetus by its mother; great tender love, mercy, pity, womb.”
In other words, though God is All- Powerful, Awesome in Holiness and Fearful in praises, He is also as tender and nurturing toward you and I as a mother for her suckling infant! A Father to the fatherless and the God of all comfort, His Presence is where our broken hearts and lives are healed!
Broken Bread and Poured-Out Wine
Let me share how God revealed His tender Mercy to my heart and radically transformed my life.
Due to severe trauma in my childhood, I ended up with debilitating PTSD. It began manifesting when I was in my early thirties, precisely when my two daughters were ages three and five. I was placed on all kinds of psychotropic drugs to manage my symptoms. This was when I lost touch with all emotion! It was like I died, God died, and everyone around me died. Thankfully, 18 years later, through a series of God-ordained events, I was forced off of the drugs. This was when I began to FEEL again!
One day a letter fell from my fridge. Picking it up off the floor, I noticed it was a beautiful Mother’s Day letter written by my daughter when she was only ten years old. Suddenly, tears began to flow, which quickly turned into buckets. Before I knew what was happening, I found myself screaming in intense emotional pain that was so excruciating I felt I was going to die: It was as if I were grieving the deaths of two children, all at the same time! Because I had almost no recollection of raising my girls after being placed on the drugs, I was experiencing this loss as if my girls had died at the ages of three and five! This was too much agony for one person to bear.
For over two hours, with tears pouring down my face, at the top of my voice I kept repeatedly screaming, “I want my babies back! I want my babies back! I want my babies back, safe in my arms! THEY NEED THEIR MOTHER!” There was only ONE THING that that could have taken away this agonizing grief: To have them back in my arms, alive again, where they could be embraced, nurtured and parented. Because I knew this loss was permanent, all I could think of was the verse,
“In Roma was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:18)
I screamed, sobbed and agonized until I simply had no more strength left.
Laying lifeless on the floor in a puddle of tears, this was when I distinctly heard the Father whisper in my ear, “That’s how I feel about My lost children.”
Realizing that it was this intense pain of the Father that drove Jesus to the Cross, those eight words radically changed my view of Who I had thought God was, and forever changed me: In an instant, my life had become about His mission— bringing His lost children, conceived in His Heart before time began yet dead in sin, back into His Longing Arms. I had become broken bread and poured-out wine.
Three years later, while getting ready for work, suddenly He revealed to me more of what His Heart feels: The pain and the lostness of EVERY heart in the entire WORLD— all at the same time! Though He only revealed a small portion of what He feels, I began screaming, sobbing and agonizing in pain, like before! Except this time, my prayer was for Him to save, heal and deliver every lost and hurting heart—screaming and crying out to God all the way to work! I am confident that, had God allowed me feel the full brunt of what He feels, it would have killed me.
The Altar of Incense
My point? A revelation of the Glory of God in the Face of Christ will drive us to one place: To our KNEES in wholehearted worship and intercession!
This is represented by the Altar of Incense— the third piece of furniture in the Holy Place!
The Golden Altar of Incense was placed directly in front of the [temporary] veil, before the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. Aaron was to burn sweet incense upon it every morning and evening while tending the lamps. It was to be burned, nonstop, upon coals taken from the Brazen Altar– revealing just where the worship came from: from the hearts of those who had been so graciously forgiven and cleansed! (Exodus 30:1-10, Leviticus 16:12)
This Altar, of course, symbolizes Jesus, our Great High Priest, Who died, tore the veil, and intercedes for us at the Right Hand of the Father! It also represents the worship and prayers of the New Covenant priests of God, the redeemed. Revelation 8:3-4 describes the Heavenly Altar of Incense, its sweet fragrance ascending before the throne of God, mingled with our prayers!
As priests and priestesses of God, our most important ministry is to the One Who Sits upon the Throne. We fulfill it only one way, of course: Fully captivated by the Glorious display of the “Shewbread”—the Bread of the Face of Christ, revealing the Heart of the Father. How powerful is this ministry? So powerful that it even stops plagues! (An interesting point, considering the current plague of the Corona virus!)
Numbers 16:41-50 depicts the people murmuring and rebelling against Moses and Aaron, kindling God’s wrath and inciting Him to send a deadly plague! Moses commanded Aaron, the high priest, to take some of the sweet-smelling coals from the Altar of Incense and make atonement for them. Aaron did so. While standing between the living and the dead with the burning coals, the plague was stopped! This account shows BOTH sides of God, why judgment comes to people and nations, and that it is ONLY the shed blood of Christ that atones for sin and cancels judgment for the repentant.
Aaron effectively stopped the Jewish plague by standing between the living and the dead with coals from the earthly Altar of Incense. On the Cross, Jesus hung between Heaven and Hell, AS the Sweet-smelling Savour to God, absorbing the plague of sin and death itself. As ministers of the Heavenly Altar, we stand ON Christ’s Finished Work, releasing the Holy Spirit to fulfill it in the hearts and lives we are interceding for!
A timely message, our ministry of worship and intercession will be more and more crucial as we delve further and further into these last days!
If you have never surrendered your heart and life to Christ, surrender to Him today! If you are back- slidden, come back to God today! The Father’s longing Arms are stretched out still!