I often have trouble when I am reading in the Old Testament. Looking at all the rules and ceremony as well as reading of God calling for the death of whole populations. This is not the God I know, the New Testament God who only requires faith of us for our salvation.
Last night I was reading Leviticus 24 in which the Lord is speaking to Moses, “Command the people of Israel…” It continues with directions for the type of oil to burn in the lamp outside the curtain of the covenant every night. This command he says is a statute forever. So far I was reading along ok and thinking about the menorah and how I had never made that connection on the candles being lit at night just as God showed himself in the desert as a pillar of fire at night.
The next section speaks about the bread for the tabernacle and it is at this point that I got stuck and actually had to force myself to read the rest of the chapter. As part of the instructions of what the bread offering should be made from etc. it says, “You shall place them in two rows, six in a row, on the table of pure gold.” (v6) It isn’t really a big deal, just directions for the offering but really, was it really God who said the six in each row part or was that a divine inspiration on the part of Moses to make the offering seem more ritualistic?
When I imagine a person preparing this offering I am put in mind of someone preparing the communion table at church. At a former church there was so much ritual to the preparation of the table, that one had to use the same pins to hold the table-cloth in place that had been used, apparently, since the beginning of time. Following that of course there were exact locations for every item, where they had always been, and I’m sure that if I had been an elder preparing communion and decided to use a different napkin to cover the chalice or rearrange things for greater convenience there would have been a major uproar!
In the day of Moses all religions were very ritualistic and people would not have been ready for a god who did not require sacrifice etc. I also believe that the Bible was given to us by the inspiration of God. It was written by humans but is the word of God. Do you see where the problem arises? Would Jesus have refused to eat at the home of Mary and Martha if Martha had laid the table out incorrectly? When we look at this passage in Leviticus, and the many more places where detailed directions are given, we can not help but to view this through the lens of the New Testament. For me the bottom line on this one is I do not believe that God actually gave direct directions about how the loaves were to be placed on the table but even if, in Moses’ day he did I am glad that there are no such nit-picky details in the New Testament!