Exodus 30

The Table of Shewbread

As we look to our right in the Holy Place we see the Table of Shewbread. This was a small table made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. It measured 3 feet by 1.5 feet and 2 feet, 3 inches high. It held 12 loaves of bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The priests baked the bread with fine flour and it remained on the table for a week and every Sabbath the priests would remove it and eat it in the Holy Place, then put fresh bread on the table.

The table was fitted with gold rings for transportation. The plates and dishes were of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings according to God’s detailed instructions to Moses. In Exodus 25:30, God instructs Moses: “ Put the bread of Presence on the table to be before me at all times.” The bread of Presence, traditionally called “shewbread” refers to the presence of God Himself.

The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness and desire to have fellowship with man. It was an invitation to share a meal and friendship with God Almighty. Jesus showed his willingness to eat with sinners- tax collectors, prostitutes and the down and out. In fact Jesus came so that we might have fellowship with God, Our Creator.

The well known Psalms 23 tells of a table set before us: “ Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.” The anointing of one’s head with oil was the customary treatment of an honored guest at a banquet.

One day we will sit at a table He has prepared for us. It will be the great wedding dinner, a great banquet with the bridegroom at the head of the table and we, the church, the bride of Christ will be there clothed in fine linen. “ For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear. Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.” (Rev. 19)

In the meanwhile, Jesus should be honored as the head of our table- the place of fellowship. We used to eat together as a family when I was growing up every night. My father sat at the head, my mother to his right, then my little sister, me and my brother. We were asked what we did in school that day, or football practice or for my sister- piano lessons, etc. It was just a time to come together and eat a meal together and have a conversation.

When our children were at home, we ate supper together. We had the same type of conversations. It was a family time. I don’t to make us sound like the Waltons or Leave it to Beaver- but there was a time when family was gathered together around a meal. It still is part
of our family as we gather for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, cook-outs in the summer, and other events. All of our children love their mother’s cooking and she always prepares what they like. Eating together is a part of fellowship. And when we gather together as family- who should be at the head of the table as the most honored guest- but the Lord Jesus. Martha, Lazarus’ sister strikes me as someone who set a great table and was fastidious about her meal
preparations and making sure the guests felt welcome and she had prepared their favorites.

Look at John 12: This event occurs after Lazarus was raised from the dead. “ Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among
those reclining at the table with Him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped it with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

Like Lazarus, if you have been born again, you have been raised from the dead. Lazarus represents the new life enjoying personal, intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Martha is serving Him out of her gifts and love, and Mary is worshipping Him . Is this not a picture of the Holy Place where enlightened believers enjoy sweet fellowship with the Lord?

This Table in the Holy Place was a place of fellowship. Being asked to sit and eat with someone is a sign of acceptance.

Jesus said: “ I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet many died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.: (John 6)

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 who partake in it. At his last meal with His disciples, Jesus described himself as bread again: “ While they were eating, Jesus took the bread, and gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: “ Take and eat, this is my body.” (Matthew 26)

Not only is Jesus the Lamb of God who we led to the altar the place of death and placed our hand on His head to transfer our sins to, He is also the bread of life. John tells us in John 1: In the beginng was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He then tells us-the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus, the God –Man, the bread of heaven who came down in order that a man may eat and not die.

Come and taste and see the Lord is good. ( Psalm 34)

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. Revelation 3.

Now let us look again at this table for it is made of wood and overlaid with pure gold. Wood represents humanity and pure gold represents diety. God and the priests communed at this table of shewbread. This is a picture of the ministry of reconciliation.

Notice also God gave specific instructions for a border for the table. “ Also make around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a gold molding on the rim.” ( Exodus 25) The purpose of this rim was to keep the articles of the table from falling off, so nothing would be lost in transportation.

Notice the rim is as wide as a man’s hand. What did Jesus, the Good Shepherd say: “ ..no one can snatch them out of my hand.” ( John 10)

When we study the ephod of the priest, we will see the names of the tribes of Israel inscribed on stones fastened to his ephod as a memorial before the Lord. But Isaiah 49:16 tells us where our names are engraved. “ See I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.”

Do you believe God is Who He says He is? Do you believe He is able to do what He says He can do? Then marvel at this: not only is your name recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, it is
engraved on His hands. How can that be? May I remind you the size of His Hands- He has the whole world in His hands. “ Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His Hand or with the
breadth of His hand marked off the heavens?” ( Isaiah 40)

Now let us look at the bread. Hunger is a signal from our body that we need nourishment. To satisfy that hunger, we eat. Eating is not only necessary for life and strength, it is enjoyable. To lose one’s appetite for food is a dangerous threat to our well being physically. Thirst is also a signal from our body we need water. Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

The world offers all types of alternatives to satisfy our God- given appetites in ungodly ways.
And like sheep who go astray, we are prone to wander. Like the Prodigal Son, we are sure we
know how best to satisfy our appetites with the things of this world. It is a moment of coming
to one’s senses, like the prodigal in the pig pen, when we realize in our Father’s house there is
all that satisfies our appetites.

The bread was described in detail in Leviticus 24:5-9. Here God instructs them to take fine flour,
so it is without yeast or leaven. He tells them the exact amount for each loaf. The 12 loaves,
one for each tribe, is set in two rows of six each on the table. Along each row they also are to
put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be an offering
made to the Lord by fire. The loaves were cooked in ovens heated by fire. The bread is set out
before the Lord each Sabbath on behalf of the Israelites, a lasting covenant. It was to be eaten
by the priests only and eaten in the Holy Place. The Hebrew word for bread is lechem- which
means bread or grain. The Hebrew word for shew is peneh, which means countenance or face.

Now lest we get lost in the details, we must remember all of these things were representative
and shadows of things to come. Abraham had told Isaac on the mountain, God Himself will
provide a lamb for the burnt offering; John the Baptist pointed out to John and Andrew the
Lord Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The manna in the
wilderness was a picture and shadow of the One who would come, as the manna , the bread
come down from heaven, the Lord Jesus said, I am the bread of heaven.

The Lamb was slain. The bread was broken. The blood was poured out like the wine offering.

Let us put this together. The showbread sat on the table for six days when it was eaten of the
seventh day, the Sabbath it was replaced by fresh bread that would sit there for the next six
days in Gods’ presence in the Holy Place. On the Sabbath it was eaten by the priests.

The Sabbath was the day God rested after six days of creation. He rested – not because He
was tired, He rested because He was satisfied. He saw all of His creation and said it was good.
The bread without leaven made of fine flour crushed from the grain, and cooked by fire and
accompanied by sweet smelling incense sat in His presence until He was satisfied.

When we read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, we read of the Lord’s suffering on our behalf . “
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to
the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. By
oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak for His descendants? For
He was cut off from the land of the living for the transgressions of my people He was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death though He had done
no violence nor was there any deceit in His mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and
cause Him to suffer and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering…” ‘After the suffering of
His soul, He will see the Light of life and be SATISFIED.

The One Sacrifice that every other sacrifice had been a shadow of… a symbol of the Lamb of
God who would be slain and the blood posted on the doorpost of our hearts so when God saw
the blood, He passed over. He was satisfied.

Now understand on the day at Golgotha, the unleavened bread, the Bread of Heaven, was set
before God. And the sun ceased to shine early that Friday afternoon so the Sabbath would
come earlier. The sun set early that day, I believe because God wanted to hasten the end of
His Son’s agony. “He (God) shall see the travail of His Soul( Lord Jesus) and shall be satisfied.”
Isaiah 53:11, KJV.

From that moment, the way to the Holy of Holies was opened. The veil in the temple was
rent from the top down in the Holy of Holies in the temple of Jerusalem that Friday afternoon
almost 2000 years ago.

“ Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters, and you have no money come, buy and eat.
Come buy wine and milk without money or cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and
your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, LISTEN TO ME, AND EAT WHAT IS GOOD.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his
way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and He will have mercy on him and
to our God for He will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55)

These verses remind us finding God’s forgiveness is a priority and implies there can come a time
in one’s life and in God’s timing where this forgiveness cannot be found. In Luke 14, Jesus tells
a parable of a certain man who prepared a great banquet. He sent out the invitation. He told
them everything was ready.

You see to partake of the bread of the Lord’s Supper one must have been forgiven of their sins.
In fact the Lord’ Supper where we take of the bread which represents His body is a celebration
of the forgiveness of our sins. It is at the table where family gathers . It is a place of fellowship.
It is through faith and forgiveness that we find this sweet fellowship.

Can you smell the bread baking? Do you realize that even now our Heavenly Father is
preparing a great banquet. And He is sending us out with the invitation: Come everything is
ready we tell those we meet. The Father waits for all of His children to be seated at the table
before we eat, before He passes the bread.

Realize you cannot come to the table, to the great banquet unless you have come by the brazen
altar, and cleansed yourself in the laver. My mother always told us to wash our hands before
we came to the supper table.

The table is not a place of salvation or conversion, that must take place before. The table is a
place of fellowship and family. It is where we have our faith strengthened and our covenant

We can only have fellowship with God and commune with Him in the Holy Place when we come
by the way He has instructed. We enter the Gate, ( Lord Jesus said I am the Gate) to come to
the altar where the lamb was slain and our sins were covered and God’s judgment passed over
us, because He was satisfied.

We enter the Holy Place after our time of cleansing at the laver, where we confess our sins, and
the Lord Jesus tells us He will cleanse and purify us from our sins.

Then having the Word of God revealed to us by the Holy Spirit we can worship Him in Spirit and
in Truth.

WE must accept what God has accepted- His Son’s blood as an atonement for our sins. He is
satisfied with us because He is satisfied with Jesus.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14