The Tabernacle: The Table of Shewbread
Read Ex. 25:23-30; Lev. 24:5-9
As we noted before, within the tent of the congregation, there were only three pieces of furniture. These were the Lampstand, the Golden Altar and the Table of Shewbread. It is to the latter that we now turn our attention in our meditation on the Tabernacle.
Like the other items in this compartment, it's construction was gold, but unlike the Lampstand, it had a framework of wood. Again we note the bringing together of Christ’s two distinct natures in One glorious person. The wood pictures His undefiled and incorruptible humanity. The gold speaks of His absolute and untrammelled diety. Theologians speak of a hypostatic union, and although not a Bible term, it defines the doctrine of Christ. Two distinct natures–humanity and deity–in One glorious person. His deity does not dilute the reality of His humanity, while His humanity divests Him of none of His deity. To paraphrase another; 'In incarnation He lost nothing of what He always was while gaining something that He will never lose.'
We saw that the Lampstand was to provide illumination for the priest's service. We will see that the Golden Altar of incense speaks of communication. But, the Table of Shewbread speaks of communion or provision. The Lord told Moses; 'And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway' (Ex. 25:30, KJV). There was to be a permanent reminder within the Tabernacle that God was the provider for His people.
Later, the Lord tells Moses;
'And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof...thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord' (Lev. 24:5-6, KJV).
Moses was to furnish the table with twelve loaves made of fine flour. This speaks of the perfection of His humanity. He was to place them on the 'pure table.' Furthermore, he was to adorn them with frankincense so that they might be 'a memorial' (24:7). Frankincense is fragrant and so speaks of the aspect of the work of Christ that ascends to God as a 'sweet-smelling savour' (Eph. 5:2). It was this fragrance that made it a memorial.
In addition, the Shewbread was only for consumption by the priests, and within the holy place. They were not to take it back into the camp, or even into the courtyard and it was not to be eaten by the people. In type, this reminds us that only believers can enjoy the provision of and communion with the Lord. As we noted, we are a 'kingdom of priests' (Ex. 19:6), and thus we are spiritually in heaven. In Christ 'in the heavenlies' we are feeding on the perfect humanity of Christ in which He offered Himself to God.
Dear believer, never stop feeding on the fragrance of the death of Christ. The Table and its Shewbread speaks of the glorious provision each believer has for spiritual food! And all found in a risen man in glory!