The season of Judah represents the life and ministry of Jesus and is an exhibition of perfect wisdom. While the first three sons of Jacob are prophetic personifications of man’s deterioration under sin’s influence, Judah alone represents the redemption and restoration of all three. Within the season of Judah, Jesus adequately and appropriately addressed each season or state of man which came before Him. During His lifetime, the kingdom of the Lord was established with an open door policy for all willing to come through Him. His power and wisdom were on full display and His preeminence evident in the transformation of Simon Peter. Now, He would also demonstrate the same with Levi.
However, this transition would not happen as it did with Simeon. Levi and many of the priests which descended from his tribe were now ripe with malpractice and deceit. Their treachery which began with the aforementioned betrayal of Hamor’s covenant at Shechem had now worsened into widespread corruption and manipulation of the Mosaic Law. During the season of Levi, corruption had pushed sin beyond the boundaries of pride that Simeon’s season portrayed and into a cancerous destruction of others. As a result, we learn a truth about discerning the timing of God’s judgement.
When corruption among those called by God forces the elect to the brink of extinction, God moves. The eternal purpose and goal of the Father is to save souls, and He is the ultimate protector of His plan and possession. Sin angers God, but the infectious damage that results from excessive iniquity pushes His patience to its limits, inciting His wrath and judgment.
2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
5I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. 6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 7Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. 10But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
14And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.*
These passages of scripture, especially Jude are a reminder that the Lord is faithful and just. He is consistent in His ways, and although His judgment may sometimes tarry, His disgust for iniquity has always been a cause for swift destruction.
Several Bread Tests
As we’ve seen, the cohesiveness of scripture is impeccable, and the connectivity of its content can only be the result of its divine assembly. This is proven further in the manner in which Jesus handled the Levites, and the deceitful state of men that Levi, the son of Jacob, is emblematic of. Earlier we expounded upon the meaning of the manna in the wilderness and how God tested the Israelites with bread from heaven in order to prove their level of obedience to His laws. Most of the Israelites failed this bread test miserably which indicated their unwillingness to trust God and appropriately obey His commands.
As the book of Exodus records, the children of Israel would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Their journeys through the desert were not coincidental, but they were a calculated course led by the Lord, intended as spiritual conditioning to continue weakening their fleshly nature. Some may have responded positively, but most failed to change under the provision of Elohim. As scripture reveals, even Moses himself, a descendant of the tribe of Levi, was shown the far reaches of the promised land of Canaan but was unable to enter and reap its benefits. In anticipation of this disastrous failure among most of the nation of Israel, Jesus, the Master Teacher, would intercede and begin His ministry with an illustrative example of how to pass the “bread test” during His fast in the wilderness.
Luke 4:1-4 KJV
1And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. 3And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. 4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
In this passage, immediately after being baptized by John the baptist, we see that Jesus was led into the wilderness and tempted of Satan. This series of events and temptations reveals that the exact same bread test given to the Hebrews was later given to Jesus. In fact the 40 days He endured temptation is an intentionally direct connection to the 40 years that Israel wandered in the wilderness, only this time the results were vastly different.
Satan was permitted to aggressively and persistently test the weakened flesh of Jesus by suggesting He turn stones into bread. Nevertheless, He resisted, thereby passing the test of fleshly temptation. Jesus was hungry just as the Israelites were during their test, but His response to Satan effectively communicated His knowledge and trust of God’s law and its purpose. Jesus emphasized that our eternal lives are not just about what our heavenly Father provides but whether we handle His provision with obedience.
In the wilderness, Christ exhibited an exceptional level of humility and transcendent wisdom. Centuries before Him, God had graciously liberated Israel from Egyptian oppression and even mercifully given them the law, but they trampled upon it and destroyed it with pride and selfishness. Now, just as they did with the manna then, they were greedily hoarding their prosperity and grace, intending to consume it rather than distribute its wealth. Simeon and Levi denied the people of Shechem a peaceful coexistence; the priests of Levi prostituted the law and temple sacrifices for their own gain while taking advantage of the people they were instructed to serve.
Ultimately, in the larger picture, Israel is the physical elect nation of the earth called to serve the word to the world, and they would be guaranteed an overflow of provision afterward. In spite of this, they consistently and uncaringly attempted to take their abundance in advance, considering themselves before others.
During the feeding of the five thousand in John chapter 6, the correct handling of bread was demonstrated by Jesus, yet again. After receiving a seemingly insufficient amount of bread from a young lad, He gave thanks unto God, first, and instructed them to distribute the bread to the multitude. Afterwards twelve baskets were filled with the abundance of remaining bread. This reflected the twelve tribes of Israel and signified that an overflow of provision awaits those that obediently give before they receive. Israel had taken first, but Jesus taught to give first. His response to Satan in the wilderness revealed His unrivaled comprehension of the law’s purpose.
It is most remarkable to consider that Jesus was and is the Word made flesh and God incarnate, and He could have hoarded His own power. He could have justly taken His knowledge of the law to establish the greatest of earthly kingdoms with no worthy contenders. Still, when Satan suggested this option in the wilderness, He made himself of no reputation, becoming obedient to His own law, even unto death.
5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
This is why Luke 12:48 KJV states, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” and Jesus was the leading example of this truth. He received the most, but He also gave the most. No one could ever be rewarded a higher position of authority than Jesus, because it is impossible for anyone to humble themselves and relinquish any more than He did. Israel was also given much, but they did very little with what they were given.
Two scriptures illustrate this perfectly. In one passage, Paul proclaims the immense amount of grace shown to the Israelites while in the other, Jesus reveals how Israel sadly produced so little from so much.
Romans 9:1-5 ESV
1I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,a my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Matthew 23:24 ESV
You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
In Romans 9, Paul lists the countless efforts that God had taken to reveal His truth to Israel, yet as Jesus later says in His diatribe of the Pharisees, they partook in all that and hardly produced anything. They swallowed the whole camel and squeezed out a gnat by comparison. Of all the figurative bread delivered to Israel, they failed miserably in their handling of it.
Elijah was a prophet who lived in a time of great unfaithfulness among Israel. In 1 Kings 17, the bread test is again given to a widow that Elijah encounters, and she passes the test, perhaps encouraging Elijah that all was not lost during a time when many had given themselves over to the worship of idols under Jezebel and Ahab. Soon after Elijah’s encounter with the widow, he was empowered to demonstrate the omnipotence of the one true God before hundreds of false prophets on Mt. Carmel.
With every administration of the bread test, a similar scenario is created where the bread physically visible appears to be less than the amount needed or desired. It is always a perfect trial of true trust, revealing the level of faith in those to whom it is given. The manna on the ground was only enough for a day; the widow’s meal was only enough for one cake; Jesus’ humble appearance and demeanor caused Him to be regarded as one inadequately equipped to restore the physical prestige of Israel. Ironically, “bread” is even a metaphor for money or mammon in today’s time. Just as in biblical times, the manner in which we handle little often determines whether or not we will be faithful with much afterwards.
Matthew 25:23 KJV
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
It became evident to the Israelites, especially the priests, that Jesus had not come to restore the glory days of Solomon’s reign. Their collective desire to see their nation return to prominence and themselves granted positions of tangible wealth and influence were quickly fading. Therefore, rejection for Christ’s spiritual message built quickly.
Although the nation of Israel had fallen short, Jesus had passed His “bread test” with excellence and perfection. In stating that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God,” Jesus established that obedience in the new covenant is not based on adherence to strict laws, but by an humble dependence upon a daily measure of grace. He uncovered the revelation instilled within the bread test, that our relationship with God is not based on the evidence of sights seen but faith in the unseen promises of our Father who can do all things. Our wealth is not measured by the resources in our possession but by our position in the hands of the One who possesses all. The lusts of this world and the pride of life always fall short, while the power of God is able to produce anything we could ever need. Giving is prioritized above receiving, testifying of one’s belief that the well of God’s grace never runs dry. As long as we give what has been given unto us, our cup will run over, but stopping to hoard the blessing of God restricts the flow of grace. We have been given much, even if that only means our very lives, and we are asked to surrender all to the will of our Father in heaven, and trust that our eternal reward is far greater.
27Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Living Bread From Heaven
Just as the physical manna from heaven revealed those who would obey the Lord’s commandments, the spiritual Bread of Heaven would do the same. The bread of the Lord always brought out the best or worst of the heart’s intentions, and it would continue to do so in the greatest bread test of them all. Through a number of miracles, especially influencing Simon Peter, Jesus had proven His status as the Living Water sent from heaven. Then, in a verbal exchange with the Pharisees, He proclaimed His existence as the living bread sent from heaven as well. Notice the words of Jesus in the book of John.
John 6:26; 30-35 KJV
26Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 30They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32Then 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. 33For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35And 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.
Interestingly, we see Jesus break bread for the multitude, walk on water and declare Himself to be the living bread all within the same chapter of John! Yet, because of their carnal perspectives and deceitful intentions, they had no idea that the ultimate bread test was imminent. The previous tests were only practice examinations by comparison, and the test to come would have more eternal consequences. Jesus later went on to draw a direct correlation to the old type and shadow of bread in the wilderness.
48I am that bread of life. 49Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
If the Old Covenant was likened to a school year for the nation of Israel, they were now approaching their major exam. After failing to subdue the will of the flesh and trust in the plan of God on several occasions, Israel was, again, granted another opportunity to have those mistakes erased and begin anew by obediently receiving and distributing the bread which would be broken for them. Jesus, that Bread of Life, would soon give His fleshly body as the sacrificial provision for the starving souls of all men. The hearts of those who accepted that sacrifice would inherit the wealth of God’s kingdom, but the hearts of those who remained hardened by pride would face a greater, spiritual excommunication from the kingdom and its abundance. As the types and shadows of bread which came before Him had done, Jesus—the living bread—would separate saints from sinners, believers from unbelievers and faithful from unfaithful through the breaking of His flesh, His death at Calvary and His resurrection three days after.
34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
John 6:57-58; 66-69 KJV
57As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever … 66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus went so far as to provide a clue into passing this ultimate bread test by referencing the failure of their ancestors in the wilderness. Nevertheless, many still abandoned Him there, leaving only the twelve faithful disciples. The many followers that left him after His proclamation was a prophetic presage of the type of division Jesus anticipated would be a result of His death. He would be accepted by some but rejected by many, even of the same household. Only a remnant would be able to patiently wait for the promise of His Holy Spirit to arrive at Pentecost, and most had already made up in their minds to stubbornly resist His perfect provision. Very few Israelites would recognize the error of their ways and become moved to repentance. They would essentially become stuck in the state of Levi. They would fall over the stumbling stone and fail to advance into the glory of the new covenant.
1 Corinthians 1:23 KJV
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1 Peter 2:8 NAS
and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
Failing the bread test this time around would come with significant, and abusing this bread from heaven would not be met with any easy form of punishment. Years of experience and centuries of patience from God had presented more than enough time for understanding and obedience, therefore severe judgment would come to those who rejected Jesus. The season of the third son Levi was mercifully met by the season of Judah as a sign and space to change. Men in the state of Levi were presented with the Son of Man from Judah, and given ample opportunity to repent.
Religion’s alliance with worldly power ultimately stems from a belief that those who flaunt an abundance of bread is a greater sign of righteousness than serving it. Without money or social status, a church without revelation of its purpose is failing the bread test and will eventually betray Jesus, the bread of life.