23 “You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 24 You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26 And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27 Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29 And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly. – Exodus 25.23-30, ESV
While the Ark was behind the veil in the Most Holy Place, the table was not there, it was in the Holy Place. Notice there were three parts of the tabernacle – the outer court, the holy place and the most holy place. This is a picture of us as humans – our body on the outside, the holy place – our soul, our mind and emotions, and our most holy place – our spirit on the inside. The mercy seat is in the spirit, our most holy place, but this bread is for our soul.
The table was the same height as the ark exactly, and was also constructed from wood with gold overlaid it – what a picture of the soul of Jesus, perfectly human but only thinking the thoughts and wisdom of the Father! Two natures in one table – just like Jesus is fully man and fully God in his soul as well as his spirit. A table in Hebrew culture is always a symbol of fellowship, and this table shows how God fellowship with us – by feeding us. This is true in the New Covenant too, where our deepest thoughts about Christ and His crucifixion happens with bread and wine at a table! The table is where we remember Jesus and His work on the cross.
This bread in the Holy Place was called the Bread of the Presence. It had to be made of pure flour (Lev. 24.5). This bread was baked into twelve loaves of equal size and put on the table in two piles of six. They were to stay before the Lord for one week, and were replaced every sabbath. Then, the priests could eat the bread.
There was no wine here, because communion tells us of the blood and body of Christ, but we have already seen the blood at the altar. But the bread is here – pointing to Jesus, our Bread of Life (John 6.35). A strange thing here is the insistence that the table has a rim to it – the width of a human hand to keep the bread from falling off the table. I like that image – what an image – we are kept secure by the hand of Christ and are always secure resting in Him and on His mind.
There are 12 loaves just like there were 12 tribes. Now get this – I love this – all the tribes were different sizes, had different jobs, different skills. They were all different, those tribes. But the bread was all the same size. We are all different, with different skills and ministries, and strengths and incomes and abilities and gifts. But before Jesus, in the mind of God, at the foot of the cross, we are all the same. We are all equal in the sight of the love and grace of God! We are all equally precious and loved by God!
Now you might accuse me of making a mistake there – I started off saying the bread was a picture of Christ, but I am now saying that it is a picture of us – but that is the reality of the New Covenant, we are in Christ, and the bread is the picture of Him and us. We are now new creations, just like Him! In fact, every symbol of Jesus in the Old Testament is now a picture of us now we are in Him. He is the bread of life we feed on to increase and gain life, but we are now the bread of life in Him, called to feed and transform the world.
God said “you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly” – we should regularly be reminding ourselves of the fact we are in the presence of God, and we should be very aware that God is always reminding Himself that we are in His presence, dreaming and planning ways to prosper us and not to harm us. There is always bread in the house of the Lord for us! There is always life for us. What a glorious picture of God’s grace and goodness! Bread!