This is the seventh article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua. It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah]. We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there.
This article focuses on the significance of the “Table of Showbread” and the Showbread itself that YHVH instructed His people to place in the Holy Place in front of the Holy of Holies. In Exodus 25:23-30, YHVH told the Israelites to: “Make a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. Overlay it with pure gold and run a gold molding around the edge. Decorate it with a 3-inch border all around, and run a gold molding along the border. Make four gold rings for the table and attach them at the four corners next to the four legs. Attach the rings near the border to hold the poles that are used to carry the table. Make these poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Make special containers of pure gold for the table – bowls, ladles, pitchers, and jars – to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times”.
This table (often called the “Table of Showbread”) was to be set up next to the lampstand (Menorah) outside the Holy of Holies, so that the light from the lamps could illumine the table. As with the Ark of the Covenant and the lampstand, this was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold, so we know it was meant to be one of the most precious items YHVH wanted to be in His holy place. We have spoken in earlier articles about the special place that both gold and acacia wood hold in YHVH’s heart, so we can say that the Table had to be made of materials worthy of the King of creation – our King, Messiah Yeshua. The acacia wood covered in gold that composed the Table of Showbread can also be seen as symbols pointing to both the humanity and divinity of Yeshua.
I will just mention one other thing about the Table – in a typical Hebrew home at that time, it would have been common to have a table set with plates and dishes for bread and incense, and pitchers and bowls for liquid offerings (although probably not of pure gold!). By having this Table in the Tabernacle, YHVH was showing that He wants us to regard the Tabernacle as His house – this includes both the Earthly tabernacle as well as His heavenly Tabernacle (after which the Earthly tabernacle was modeled).
Moving on now to the bread that Abba instructed His people to place on the Table, we see that “Showbread” is not an accurate translation. The original Hebrew phrase for this bread is Lechem haPanim, which literally means “Bread of the Presence” or “Bread of the Face [of God]”.
The historian Josephus indicates that the Bread of the Presence was unleavened, pointing to Yeshua as our sinless Savior who is the true Bread of the Presence. In John 6:35, Yeshua said: “I am the bread which gives life! Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in Me will never be thirsty”. Then in Verses 48-51 of John 6, Yeshua says that He is the true Bread that came down from Heaven and that if anyone eats of this Bread, they will live forever. Yeshua gives us life to the fullest; life more abundant on this Earth and life everlasting in Heaven!
When we look again at the Bread of the Presence in the Tabernacle, we see that it symbolized being in YHVH’s presence, so when the priests ate the bread they were fellowshipping with Abba Father in His presence, face-to-face. The bread on the Table in the Tabernacle, as well as the bread in Messiah’s communion, reminds us that our life is in the true Bread from Heaven, Yeshua HaMashiach. Yeshua went even further than this, though, because He told His disciples [talmadim] that he didn’t need physical bread to eat (John 4:32-34), but rather He had “food to eat that they knew nothing about”. When they asked what food He had, He said that His food was to do the will of the Father (the One who sent Him). When Yeshua shared the communion bread of His body, He was teaching His disciples to be filled with the Bread of His presence, satisfied with doing the will of our Father.
Yeshua gives us more spiritual food when He says in Matthew 4:4 that people do not “live by bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God”. In Matthew 6:11, He also teaches us to pray to our Father that He will give us our daily bread, but I believe this means spiritual Bread as well – that He will tell us what He desires for us to do each day. I want to leave you with a story about one of my favorite composers – it is said that when Handel wrote the Messiah, food trays stacked up outside his door for 17 days. He was too busy and too fulfilled to eat – he was eating the Bread of life, the Bread of the presence of YHVH, and it sustained and nourished him. What is the Bread of YHVH’s presence for you?