Spoiler alert: this is going to be a strange post about peculiar events in modern day Christian churches. It is just one possible interpretation of those events. No, this really doesn’t have anything to do with fasting. In fact, it is more about eating – at God’s banquet table.
Recently, we watched an intriguing and powerful documentary called, Finger of God, released in 2007 by Darren Wilson. It is available for instant watch on Netflix, along with several other documentaries by the same filmmaker.
Within the first few minutes, the viewer sees footage from several congregations, where members were miraculously given gold teeth during worship! Okay, I told you this would be strange. He showed clip after clip of the inside of the mouths of these congregants, and there they were: gold teeth! One, sometimes two gold teeth inside each recipient’s mouth.
Another older gentleman, for over 36 years at the time, was finding manna in his palm out of thin air, or inside His Bible by Revelation 2:17 (“to him who is overcoming, I will give to Him hidden manna”). Over and over. Can you imagine standing there, preoccupied and suddenly you feel something in your palm, only to look down and see you are holding a handful of manna? It was so odd, to be honest I found it hard to swallow at first. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
After pondering these peculiar phenomena for a couple of weeks, I finally took the time to do a little research, searching the Bible online for all references to teeth. Many verses came up, but nothing that jumped out. So I tried ‘tooth’. Again, nothing.
Next, I decided to do a general search for gold, since I was pretty sure a reference for ‘gold teeth’ would not come up. Hundreds of verses came up for ‘gold’, so I set out to scan through them as quickly as possible. I didn’t have much expectation of finding anything, truthfully.
However, it was when I came to Exodus 25 that my spirit went on high alert. In this passage, we find God telling Moses how to build the Ark of the Covenant and the covering for the ark, what we call the mercy seat. Immediately after this, He tells Moses how to build a table to hold the showbread, the symbol of God’s invitation to His table and fellowship.
As God is giving instructions for building the showbread table, His orders include adorning the top of the table in such a way that it appears surrounded with “crowns of gold” (Ex 25:24-25). The table would then hold 12 loaves of bread at all times to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
Did you hear that? A table with the appearance of “gold crowns”, to hold the bread that represented fellowship between God and His people! At this point, I was thinking, would God literally bring a pun to life for a purpose?
Reading up a little on the showbread table, I found the following:
“Showbread” also was called “bread of the presence” because it was to be always in the Lord’s presence. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion (literally, sharing something in common) with man. It was like an invitation to a meal, an extension of friendship. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open.
Jesus came to call sinners to Him, make them right with God, so that they could enjoy everlasting fellowship with God.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. … Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” (John 6:35, 49-50)
God so desires our fellowship that He was willing to come to earth from heaven as our “bread of life” to give eternal life to all those who would partake in it. At Jesus’ last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus described Himself as bread again:
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26)
Jesus’ broken body is our only access to fellowship with God. Today, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or communion, to remember this important truth. And today, as in the day of Moses’ tabernacle, God still desires to have fellowship and sit down for a feast with His people.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20)
Another snippet lends further insight:
The table symbolizes fellowship. It shows a gesture of friendship, as inviting a friend to share a meal. The table in the tabernacle shows God’s desire for fellowship with us. Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners because He sat and ate with them at the table. God wishes to satisfy our hunger.
Now, let’s bring all of this back to the strange phenomena of gold teeth and manna bread on God’s living children. And again, please understand, this is just one possible interpretation.
The New Testament tells us we in Christ are His living temple! God may have been using those peculiar happenings to demonstrate this truth. Perhaps these modern day believers in Christ became His living showbread table, complete with ‘gold crowns’, to hold His manna, His showbread!
If this was His intent, then He revealed us as connected directly to Old Testament Israel, through the symbolic representation of the temple’s showbread table and bread of His people. After all, as the Apostle Paul said, we are the ‘Israel of God’.
Maybe in addition to letting us know we are His people and His living temple, He is gently hinting that through us the world should always feel invited, loved and welcomed into His presence. More specifically, and because I believe filmmaker Darren Wilson has beautifully woven stories of God’s people loving the lost sheep back to Him, this phenomena may have been the perfect opening to the filmmaker’s documentary work. For his work itself is an invitation to fellowship with God, a living symbol of the showbread table.
In summary, without teeth one cannot eat bread. Perhaps God, placing crowns of gold on Christian believers’ teeth and manna in their hands, is reminding us in an incredibly personal and humorously creative way:
1) Christ is the bread of life, 2) He is able to satisfy spiritual hunger, 3) He welcomes all people into His fellowship, and 4) followers of Christ become His living temple beckoning all to His banquet invitation!
Well, regardless if you agree with this interpretation of the phenomena revealed in the documentary, the above summary statements are still true. So, let’s be about our Father’s business, shall we?