"The Tabernacle: Celebrating
The God Who Comes Near"
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
The Tabernacle: Celebrating The God Who Comes Near
Lesson Seven: The Table Of Shewbread-The King's Table
Key Verse: Exodus 25:8. "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."
Text: Exodus 25:23-30. "Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 24 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. 25 And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. 26 And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. 27 Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. 28 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. 29 And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. 30 And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway."
Introduction: Roman statesman, general, and literary patron, Lucius Licinius Lucullus was known for his luxurious lifestyle and lavish feasts. One evening Lucullus was dining alone, and noticed to his dismay, that the preparations were not up to their usual standard. He summoned a servant, who explained that, as no guests were being entertained that evening, it had been assumed that the master would be content with a less sumptuous meal. "Do you not know," Lucullus angrily replied, "that this evening, Lucullus dines with Lucullus!" You must be important, when dining by yourself means dining with royalty!
There are all sorts of restaurants across the country with the name, "The King's Table." When we think of a king's table and dining with royalty, we think of a feast to remember! Who could turn down a meal "fit for a king?"
The Tabernacle was the residence, the dwelling place, for the King of the Universe! As the priests pulled back the curtain door to enter the Tabernacle proper, to their left or on the north side of the Holy Place, there shined the golden lampstand, and to their right or on the south side of the Holy Place, was the table of shewbread. This was the Lord's table, and it was beautiful! The table itself was made of acacia wood, and overlaid with pure gold. There was a golden crown border or molding around the outer edge of the table which added to it's beauty, as well as served to keep the sacred bread from falling to the ground and becoming defiled. It was supported by four legs, and measured three feet long, one and one half feet wide, and two and one half feet tall. Like the other pieces of holy furniture, the table of shewbread was made to be portable. There were four gold rings attached to each leg through which two poles made of acacia wood and covered with pure gold, could be inserted.
Verse 29 of our text passage, reveals that there were vessels associated with the service of the table of shewbread, all of which were made of gold. "And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them."
There were "dishes." We might describe these as platters which were used to carry the bread into the Holy Place.
There were "spoons." These were actually small cups that were used to measure and pour the frankincense into the bowls.
There were "covers." The Hebrew word for "covers" can be translated flagons or pitchers. What would a flagon or pitcher hold? Many believe they contained wine associated with the drink offering. Leviticus 24:7 tells us that the shewbread was both a memorial and an offering to the Lord. In Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek the mysterious king of Salem and high priest of the most high God, greeted Abraham with bread and wine.
There were "bowls." These were containers into which the frankincense was poured for the purpose of burning on top of the shewbread.
On this beautiful table was set twelve "cakes" or loaves of bread. Leviticus 24:5 reads, "And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake." The "cakes" or loaves were made of fine flour and baked. There is no mention of leaven in this recipe. Why twelve "cakes" or loaves? Most believe they represented each of the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve "cakes" or loaves were set in two rows of six loaves each. Levticus 24:6-7 says, "And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD. 7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD." Josephus tells us, as does the Mishnah, that the "cakes" were placed in two equal piles rather than rows. Josephus also states that the frankincense was placed in two golden cups, one on top of each pile.
The word "shewbread" literally means the "bread of the faces." It is also called the "bread of the presence." This special bread was placed on the table before the face of Jehovah, who dwelt in the most Holy Place. In Numbers 4:7, it is called the "continual bread," because it was placed fresh before the Lord continually. In I Samuel 21:4, it is called the "hallowed bread," because it was holy, sanctified, set apart, for special purpose and use. The table of shewbread represents fellowship or communion, and was eaten in the Holy Place by the priests every Sabbath, as it was replaced with fresh loaves. Notice Leviticus 24:8-9. "Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. 9 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute." The table of shewbread was the meeting place of the priesthood every Sabbath, as they partook of the consecrated bread and perhaps, wine.
As I think about the king's table, the story of King David and Mephibosheth recorded in II Samuel 9, comes to my mind. After David established his kingdom, he sought to show kindness to the house of Saul. Inquiry was made, and it was discovered that there was a descendent of King Saul alive in Israel. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul was found. The accepted thing for a newly appointed king to do at that time, was to kill all the family members of the previous ruler or king. This presumably ended any threat to the throne. David, howeve,r shows mercy. Mephibosheth, who was lame on this feet since he was a child, was restored all his previous assets, and was given all rights and privileges as a member of the king's family. Part of this privilege was to sit at the king's table! II Samuel 9:13 reads, "So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet."
As we consider the king's table, or table of shewbread, we are made to see the grace of God in our lives. The eternal God, King of the Universe, has come near to dwell among us, and desires to commune with us! We are Mephibosheth, the condemned and spiritually lame, with nothing to offer, yet God extends to us the bread of His presence! How is this possible?
The table of shewbread is a picture of Jesus Christ! We who have experienced redemption by the blood of Jesus, God's Lamb at the brazen altar; who have been washed, sanctified "in Christ" at the brazen laver; who are illuminated by Jesus the Light of the world at the golden lampstand; can now feast at the king's table because of Jesus Christ, who is the "Bread of life." The table made of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold, speaks of Christ's unique union of humanity and deity. The golden crown boarder around the edge of the table, speaks of Christ's rightful claim to the throne as the King of the Jews, King of Israel, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The shewbread speaks of Christ's sinless body and redeeming life. The Hebrew word for "cakes" challah (khal-law') means to be punctured or wounded. Just as bread is made of wheat that has been crushed, ground and baked, so Christ's sufferings enabled Him to become bread for our souls. The shewbread was the result of a process of death and suffering. It speaks of the crushing of Gethsemane, and the burning heat of Calvary. The fact that there were twelve loaves, teaches Christ's identity with His people as He chose to partake of flesh and blood. Hebrews 2:14 reads, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
In John 6:32-35 we read, "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." Jesus is not defining Himself as a literal piece of bread. Jesus is speaking of Himself as the only spiritual, sustaining, satisfying food for man's hungry soul. Jesus is the only One who is able to fill man's soul with saving, sustaining, satisfying grace. In Jesus Christ alone, we have the forgiveness of God, as well as the friendship and fellowship with God.
Bread represents necessary food. It was the basic staple of life. It is one of the basic means by which our life is supported here on earth. In I Samuel 21, David and his men were fleeing from King Saul, and had been traveling hard for three days. They were without food and very hungry when they came to a place called Nob. There was only one place David knew of, where they might get something to eat. He went to Ahimelech, who was the priest at that time and asked for bread. Ahimelech told David that all he had was holy bread or shewbread. Long story short, the priest gave David and his men the holy bread to eat, so they would not starve! God's allowing this proves that He is gracious, and will have mercy over sacrifice, holding the spirit of the law over and above the letter of the law!
Without bread, we die. So it is in the spiritual realm. Jesus is the necessary food for our souls. Jesus is the absolute staple of our spiritual life. Jesus is the soul's basic and only need.
Do you remember the story of the prodigal son? He left his father's house, demanding his inheritance, so that he could go sit at the table of the world. Guess what? It did not sustain or satisfy him! It wasn't long before he desired to return to sit at his father's table. Luke 15:17 reads, "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" The prodigal learned that worldly pursuits, worldly possessions, power and pleasures, do not last and do not satisfy!
The table of shewbread was the center of fellowship for the priests, which is a type of New Testament believers. The shewbread on the table could speak of the Word of God, and the frankincense could speak of prayer. It is through prayer and the Word of God that we are able to share the life of Jesus. Jesus did more than die for us, He lives for us and in us! Jesus said in John 14:4-5, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
On the table of shewbread, there were twelve "cakes" or loaves representing the twelve tribes. Twelve is the number of God's government. In the New Testament, there are the twelve apostles which represent the Lord's church. Every born-again believer needs the fellowship of other believers. It is the duty of born-again believers to identify themselves with God's people, in the assembly of the local church. The Tabernacle was God's house which contained a table where His children could feast and fellowship with Him, feeding on the Bread of Life together. Ephesians 4:11-16 says, "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
The table of shewbread and wine or fruit of the vine, pictures the Lord's Table or Lord's Supper, which is an ordinance of the church. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper is about communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a memorial as we remember the shed blood and broken body of our Savior. It is an offering, as we give thanks and praise for the sinless sacrifice freely offered for us! Speaking of the Lord's Supper, Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:16-17, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."
When Jesus Christ came to the earth, He replaced the temporary symbol or shewbread, with the very presence of God! Jesus is the presence of God. He is the perfect image of the invisible God! Hebrews 1:3 speaks of Jesus as the "brightness," the outshining of God's glory, and the "express image," or direct imprint of God's person.
There are twelve loaves on the table of shewbread. As we said earlier, we see ourselves the chosen people of God, in the twelve loaves. We must ask ourselves, "Are we representing Christ to the world? Are we making the invisible presence of Christ, ...visible?" As the people of God, we are here on the earth to make His presence known! How? Practicing the presence of Jesus is not eating a wafer, but living a life! The presence of Jesus is seen in our lives through our actions, attitudes and words, and through our daily choices and decisions which reveal our values. The presence of Christ in our lives is revealed in our response to trials and suffering.
Is Jesus your necessary food? Do you need Jesus more than anything else in your everyday life? The Lord Jesus Christ, our reigning king and living bread, is coming back again one day! When He comes, will He find us occupied with Him? Will He find us feeding upon Him? Will He find us in fellowship with His church, feasting upon His Word, or feeding at the trough of the world, or on the shallow, empty husks of formal religion or legalism?