Ok . . . so not quite sure where this is going to go, but this morning’s reading in 2Timothy led to an interesting rabbit trail. Spent a bit of time noodling on two connected things that I wouldn’t have thought connected and so started asking myself, why? Don’t know that I have a good answer, but here’s my thinking.
So, beyond their teaching and instruction, one of the things that grabs me about Paul’s two letters to Timothy is the insight they bring to the relationship between Paul and Timothy. The Paul/Timothy relationship presenting itself as a model of, and encouragement for, the mentor/mentee relationship. Thus, I take note of what Paul was laying down so Timothy could pick it up.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra–which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
(2Timothy 3:10-11 ESV)
Paul shared life with Timothy. Timothy accompanied Paul in doing life. He knew all about his talk and his walk. And, he also shared in the showbread.
What? Where did that come from?
Here’s what caught my eye this morning . . . it says that in addition to Paul’s teaching, conduct, faith, patience, love and steadfastness, Timothy also followed Paul’s “aim in life.” Other versions translate it, his “purpose” or, his “manner of life.” And I asked myself, “Self, what does it mean to share one’s aim in life? Is there any insight into it from the original language?”
So, using my handy dandy computer lexicon I looked up the word and “surprise, surprise, surprise!” It’s the word for showbread or, as the ESV translates it, the Bread of Presence. Yeah, it’s the word for the twelve loaves placed in the holy place, outside the curtain, across from the lampstand (Ex. 25:30, Lev. 24:5-9).
The word is found 12 times in the New Testament. Four times it’s translated the Bread of Presence, or showbread if you’re reading the NKJV. Three times in the gospels, where Jesus talks about David eating the showbread (Mt. 12:4, Mr. 2:26, Lk. 6:4), and once in Hebrews, where the tabernacle is described (Heb. 9:2). The other eight times, in Acts and the epistles, the context causes it to be rendered purpose, and in 2Timothy 3:10, as aim in life.
So what’s the connection? Don’t know for sure, but thinking there’s gotta be one. So here are a couple of thoughts . . .
First, our aim in life, our purpose, should be brought into the holy place. It should be consecrated. Set before the place where the glory dwells and across from the lampstand from which the perpetual light of divine blessing shines. The “why we do” for “what we do” is to be holy. Set apart before God.
And it is to be constantly renewed. Just as the Bread of Presence was to be replaced every Sabbath with fresh bread, we’d also do well to renew our holy determination to submit our manner of life before our holy God on a regular basis. And weekly might not be a bad cadence for that. Shouldn’t our weekly gathering with God’s people always renew our desire to live our lives in God’s presence?
And from my reading this morning, the showbread is to be shared. I should be walking close enough with at a least a few people that they are intimately aware of my showbread, of my purpose and aim in life. Not only is my aim in life presented before God, it’s subjected to the scrutiny of those closest to me, as an example for others to imitate.
Lastly, just as everything in the tabernacle was consecrated through the sprinkling of blood, my purpose, my aim in life, my showbread, is also presented under the blood. Worthy of being offered before a holy God, only because it is offered through a great High Priest. One who has opened the way into the presence of God by His once forever atoning sacrifice for our sin. One who brings the offering, not on the basis of our good works, but on the basis of His finished work. Our showbread offered not because it’s holy, but made holy because it’s offered.
Hmmm. Something here to chew on, I’m thinking.
Our showbread, presented to God and others by His grace. Our aim in life, consecrated for His glory.