The Table of Shewbread

Exodus 25:23‑30; Leviticus 24:5‑9  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
We pass from the Holiest of All, where were the Ark and Mercy Seat, and we enter the Holy Place. There we see the Table of Shewbread and the Golden Candlestick. The former is mentioned first. It was made of Shittim wood covered with pure gold. Christ in His Godhead glory (pure gold), and in His Manhood (Shittim wood), are here set forth.
This is the first time in Scripture the word Table (Hebrew shulchan) is mentioned. The primary thought of a table is food and sustenance. So the Shewbread Table sets forth Christ as the Food of His people, not indeed here as in wilderness circumstances, that the manna met, but in Sanctuary service. It was the food of the priests.
The manna is the food we need in connection with wilderness circumstances, and there we are fed and nourished by the Lord's care of us in our trials, weaknesses, infirmities, bereavements, etc. All of us can tell the story of how we have been maintained in this way. But when we get into the assembly, or in private meditation, we find ourselves in association with a risen Christ, " accepted in the Beloved " (Eph. 1. 6), " blessed... with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ " (Eph. 1. 3). We know the Father's love as revealed in and by His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In such exercises we are in a region where there are no trials, no disappointments. We taste the heavenly side of things, and this is set forth in the type of The Shewbread Table.
The Measurement of the Table of Shewbread
Whilst the length and breadth of the Table of Shewbread was less than that of the Ark, its height was the same. The lesser length and breadth would indicate that whilst the Ark and Mercy Seat have in view typically the whole world, the Table of Shrewbread stands typically in relation to the Lord's people only. The Mercy Seat is available for all; the Shewbread Table was only for the priests. Their height being equal sets forth that the believer's communion is commensurate with the fullness of the place won through the atoning death of Christ.
Two Golden Crowns
A crown of gold round about, and a border of a hands-breadth round about, and a golden crown for the border, spoke in a twofold way: (1) How God would jealously guard the truth of the Person of His beloved Son, and (2) How God would preserve His people in relation to Christ. This latter will be understood when we speak of the loaves as placed upon the Table.
Rings, Staves, and Vessels
The rings and staves emphasize, as in the case of the Ark, that we are in the wilderness, and not yet at home in the heavenly Canaan.
The dishes, spoons, covers and bowls, all made of pure gold signify typically that Divine things, God's sacred things, cannot be handled by the mind of man, they must be spiritually reached, appropriated and enjoyed. It is the Spirit of God alone, who can help us in this.
The Twelve Loaves
Upon the Table were placed twelve cakes, or loaves. These represented the twelve tribes of Israel. It is true that only the priests could eat of the loaves, and that in the Holy Place, but they did so representatively for the whole of Israel. The priests were a tithe of all the children of Israel, and thus stood in a representative relation to the whole. This was all typical of the believer's portion. All believers are priests. Christ is the Food of all God's people. Alas! how little we appreciate this wealth of heavenly sustenance. We are often content to live in spiritual indigence, when we might live in spiritual affluence.
The cakes, or loaves, were to be made of fine flour, indicating the same truth as set forth in the fine linen, viz. the spotless life of our Lord Jesus. Fine flour has no grit in it. Run your hand through flour, how smooth it is. With all of us how much grit and unevenness there is in our lives. With Him all was perfection.
In the case of our Lord He was distinguished from all others, because in Him was the blending of every grace and true quality in all their fullness and perfection. We cannot affirm He was one thing more than another. Where one is marked by failure in this, and failure in that, the Lord is marked off from us all, in that every true quality was fully matured and blended in Him.
The cakes, or loaves, were baked. Flour needs to be kneaded and baked in the oven before it is fit for food. This illustrates that Christ could not become the Food of His people save through death. It is His atoning death that enables the believer to feed on Him as the Food of His people.
Two tenth deals were in each loaf. The tenth speaks of responsibility being fully met. The two tenths speak of adequate testimony as to this.
These twelve loaves were set in two rows, six in each row, and frankincense put upon them, typical of how fragrant Christ is to God. Every Sabbath they were set in order before the Lord continually. They were for the food of Aaron and his sons in the Holy Place.