Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE

After entering The Holy Place, where one stands in the magnificence of the symbolism and light of the golden menorah, the table of shewbread captures attention.  It sits to the right, on the north wall of the room.  Like the menorah, the gold gleams brightly in the flickering light.  The table is the same height as the first and last tabernacle items; the sacrificial grill of the altar and the top of the ark of the covenant.  Does this connect their meaning as well?  Each can be seen as the surface upon which sits the representation of Jehovah and His relationship to us; the Lamb of God, The bread of Presence, and the Mercy Seat, respectively.

The “bread of Presence,” more often translated as “shewbread,” was to always be present before the veil or presence of Jehovah.  Each Sabbath, the priests would bake new bread and replace the week-old bread.  The priests were then to eat the bread along with the wine in The Holy Place[1]. This bread, most likely unleavened was a symbol of sinlessness (it was the use of leaven that resulted in mold thereby associated with the corruption brought by sin).  These loaves were then arranged in two groups of six or twelve total loaves.  This, at first seems like an image of the twelve tribes, like that of the jewels on the High Priest’s ephod (apron).  But twelve is the umbrella symbol of the government of Jehovah generally, and hence the generation of twelve as the number of tribes and apostles.[2]  The symbol of bread was introduced to Israel as manna.  As the priests ate the “bread of presence,” all Israel ate of the bread from heaven collected each and every morning except on the day the Priests ate in the tabernacle during their wilderness sojourn. It would be centuries later that Christ would proclaim that He was the true bread from heaven that they must consume in order to be saved.

31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:31-35

Though they balked at the clear association, He had done all He could to help them make the connection by doing this right after feeding these same 5,000 and timing it with the Passover where bread, leaven, and the lamb were all associated with salvation literally and symbolically. 

In the tabernacle terrestrial space; The Holy Place, these first two items (menorah and table of shewbread) could then be associated with the two terrestrial laws. The menorah’s association with the law of chastity was explored here.  Associating the table of shewbread with its twelve loaves, bowls and sprinkling of frankincense, and cantor of wine; with the law of consecration may seem like a stretch until examining the Savior’s Nephite sermon in 3 Nephi 12-14 with a temple paradigm.  After the Beatitudes, the laws of obedience and sacrifice, the gospel and then chastity fill the rest of chapter 12[3] which ends with the oft explored “Be ye therefore perfect” conclusion.  In his seminal work comparing the Nephite sermon to the Sermon on the Mount, Dr. John Welch notes that the Greek word for perfect is contextually the same word used by Paul in Hebrews as an ordinance reference, encouraging completion of the required ordinance set.[4]  If Chapter 13 follows as the last ordinance law, then it can be read with a “consecration lens.”  In doing so, the application of the law of consecration is transformed from a theoretical law awaiting the church or God to ask or call for our time, talents, and all resources, to a practical and daily reality leading to the powerful instrumental discipleship of chapter 14. 

The key beatitude that points to Chapter 13 says, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”  This is a pattern that transcends the idea that mercy is received only conditionally.  In DC 1:10 God “measures” to each of us as we “measure” to each other.[5]  Then in DC 93:5, we learn that Christ received of His father. Earlier verses contextualize this to mean that He received light or glory progressively until of His “father’s fulness” which DC 88:6-13 define as the Light of Christ, the life-giving power and law for all creation.  Then in verse 13, this “fullness” is incremented TO Christ from one level of grace TO the next, “from grace TO grace.”   But curiously this incrementation is made a cause and effect process; “receiving grace FOR grace.”  If this is like both mercy in the sermon and the measure in the DC, the process of receiving grace is a result of giving grace.  Since Christ was receiving grace, light or glory from His Father, Christ must have relayed that grace to those to whom He ministered, growing from one level of grace, or light until a fullness.[6]  DC 93:20 then universalizes this process to the same pattern for our growth.

For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.”

 Mercy and grace are therefore not bestowed conditionally but as a result of relaying what we receive from divinity, to those to whom we are ministering.  Chapter 13 begins inviting us to serve, giving “alms.”  The Savior contrasts public alms giving with secret alms giving.  Then he uses an interesting metaphor: “Let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth” (3Nephi13:3) bidding us to act in secret…secret from whom?  If my left hand is not to know what my right hand does, then it is secret from myself.  Somehow, I have to overcome the human tendency to talk to myself about my service, to analyze and either extol or judge its merits.  This is consecrated service.

The next element is also simple but perhaps easily misunderstood; consecrated prayer.  Secret prayer is only one part of this instruction towards consecrated prayer.  To understand verse seven about vain repetitions, one must understand verse eight.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

The Greek word used for repetitions points to stuttering or meaningless repetition, but the context Christ uses points to repetition for public recognition or appearance.  After all, a vain person is one who focuses on himself.  So, a vain repetition is one repeatedly focused on self.  Though we are instructed in other references to pray for mercy, our families, flocks, crops, against the devil, etc., this section on consecrated prayer seems to require the faith to know verse eight.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.

What faith is required to trust that He has your back and you needn’t focus on self, for He knows already so you can focus on those in your stewardship?  It is interesting that the Brother of Jared, after following direct revelation from God in leaving Babel, traversing unknown lands, building boats, etc. that he is invited to the mountain where he converses with God for three hours.  During that session he is chastised for “not calling upon the name of the Lord.” It is not even logical to assume that this great prophet who has been actively speaking to God over the welfare of his people would just stop praying during his beach vacation.  Noticing that “the name of the Lord” is what God called priesthood[7] when he blessed Abraham, one could ask if perhaps what “evil” he had done was rather a vital priesthood omission.  The next verse details his repentance pathway giving us a clearer understanding of what “calling on the name of the Lord” means in this consecrated context.

And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. Ether 2:15

Following this instruction on consecrated prayer in the Sermon, the Savior gives a model prayer we often refer to as The Lord’s Prayer.  The differences between the Temple Sermon and the Bible version is significant.  The temple version omits “give us this bread,” a self-focus, and forms a chiasm:

And, as with all chiasms the center focus is significant: receiving forgiveness as a result of forgiving; a grace FOR grace process that connects one to faith in an atonement that sufficiently pays the price not only for our sins but also for those of the “awful others” that have sinned against us.  Then in case we have missed this connection and atonement center in this model prayer, He repeats it in the next verse: “For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you” v14  Again, it is vital, in this context to understand the connection that He can transform us better by working through us than by working on us!

The third consecration principle that follows is fasting.  But little is said concerning the how’s and why’s like he did with prayer and service.  Perhaps this is because He had already detailed this through Isaiah.  I have asked classes repeatedly to list their reasons for fasting.  The lists always include: To amplify our voice before God; to afflict our soul and humble ourselves; to abase our physical appetites.  Yet God says through Isaiah, “ye shall not fast as ye do this day” v4.  Then He lists the reasons for fasting which are all “grace giving” as one seeks to act as a divine instrument in blessing and ministering to others.[8]

The final section of chapter 13 could be separated into several meaningful studies[9], but overall, help us see how we can live a consecrated life using these three simple tools of secret service, prayer and fasting by:

  1. Consecrating our sensory inputs so that our hearts can remain pure vs 19-23
  2. Consecrating our motivations and concerns so that our actions will glorify God rather than self. Vs 24-32
  3. Consecrating our time by learning to prioritize and plan. Vs 33-34

Now returning to the tabernacle, Isn’t It interesting that the beginning gate of the outer courtyard symbolizing our entrance into the kingdom and hence faith, repentance, baptism, and confirmation, is then renewed each Sabbath by partaking of the sacramental bread and wine (water) which is the same symbol in the strait path representation of the tabernacle pattern as this last covenantal law of consecration. Though the Altar of incense in the Holy Place representing the prayers of the saints before the veil,[10] still remains, it acts as the sign of that last covenant.  Each Sabbath the priests would renew or replace the 12 loaves of the bread of presence and wine, etc.  And so, the token of that first portal covenant by which we renew our personal relationship with the Father, the sacramental bread and wine, is the same symbol as this last covenant by which we are promised “that we may have his spirit” or presence with us. Thus in renewing our baptismal promises and covenantal relationship with Christ, we promise to walk the strait path in renewal of all other covenants by consecration, so as to be in the presence of the bread and waters of life, the perfect pure one, who sees our presence through the veil from His mercy seat. 

[1] There is some controversy over whether the priests were required to eat it or just could eat it.  Since it was 7 days old (an interesting number) skipping the eating of stale bread might seem natural ,but since had been covered and Frankincense sprinkled over it or/and in bowl beside it and since there was no leaven, the bread was probably in as good of an eating state as when it was placed there.  In either case, both the placing and the eating were ritual and therefore symbolic.

[2] This is perhaps linked to the idea that Jehovah’s universe is governed or ordered by three, and twelve governing stars according to Abraham’s second facsimile figure 5. Various works on Hebrew symbols list 12 as representing the government of Jehovah.  See for example;

[3] See

[4] It seems to me that, in this verse, Jesus is expressing his desire that the disciples now advance from one level to the next, to go on to become “perfect,” “finished,” or “com­pleted” in their instruction and endowment. In addition to the ritual context of the Sermon, the context usually deter­ mining the sense in which the intended “completeness” consists, several reasons support this understanding.

First, the Greek word translated into English as “per­fect” in Matthew 5:48 is teleios. This important word is used in Greek religious literature to describe several things, in­cluding the person who has become fully initiated in the rituals of the religion. Teleios is “a technical term of the mys­tery religions, which refers to one initiated into the mystic rites, the initiate.”58Other forms of this word are used in Hebrews 5:14-6:1 to distinguish between the initial teach­ ings and the full instruction (“full age,” “perfection”); and in Hebrews 9:11 it refers to the heavenly temple.  John Welch;

[5] DC 1:10 Unto the day when the Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man.

[6] Example: John 17:1-8 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

[7] Abraham 1:18 I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father,

[8] See Isaiah 58:6-7

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

[9] See for example

[10] Revelations 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out