Others Devotional, volume 18

The Table of Showbread by Adrian Dieleman

Scripture: “Make a table of acacia wood—two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high.  Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold molding around it.  Also make around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a gold molding on the rim. Make four gold rings for the table and fasten them to the four corners, where the four legs are.  The rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table.  Make the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the table with them.  And make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings.  Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.” Exodus 25:23-30

The tabernacle was divided into three parts: the outer courts, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. The table of showbread was set up in the Holy Place. It was put just outside the Holy of Holies (Ex 26:31-35).

The table was made of the finest wood and overlaid with gold (Ex 25:23-24). Don’t forget, this table was located close to the direct presence of God in the Holy of Holies. And, don’t forget, this table was used in the worship of God. As such, it had to be made of materials worthy of the King of creation. It would not do for it to be made of particle board or pressed sawdust or recycled plastic.

God gave Moses the exact dimensions: two cubits long, a cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high (about 3 feet long, 1.5 feet wide, 2.25 feet high). A rim of gold was placed around the edge of the table, probably to keep things from rolling off it onto the ground. Rings and poles were attached so the table could be carried without touching it directly (Ex 25:25-28). This protected the priests, for — as the story of Uzzah teaches us (2 Sam 6:5-7) — sinners cannot be too careful about touching what the Lord sanctifies or sets apart for His service.

God also instructed Moses to make vessels and utensils that would be placed on the table: plates and dishes for the bread, and pitchers and bowls for drink offerings (Ex 25:29).

Think about this. Plates and dishes. Pitch­ers and bowls. Bread. This is very significant because a table with such things was present in all ancient Near Eastern homes. In having such a table in the tabernacle, do you hear what God was saying? God was saying the tabernacle was His home.

But it said more. The table of showbread. Plates and dishes. Pitchers and bowls. Twelve loaves of bread. This speaks of food and nourishment. God is the host. His people are the guests. It is God who feeds and nourishes His people and fellowships with them.

In your Bible you will notice that God gives instructions for the ark of the covenant just prior to the instructions for the table of showbread. Let me compare the two for a moment. Both were made of the same material: acacia wood overlaid with gold. Both were the same height and had almost the same width and length (Ex 25:10-11; 25:23-24). Both were illumined — the Ark by the presence of God; the table by the golden lamp­stand.

One was in the Holy Place, the other was in the Holy of Holies. What separated them? A curtain. Who could go through that curtain? Only the High Priest. On one special day of the year (the Day of Atonement). Dressed in spotless white and cleansed.

The ark represented the throne of God on earth. It shows God in all His majesty and authority. It shows God as the Wholly Other. He is an awesome God and mere mortals tremble before Him.

The table of showbread, however, represented something altogether different. Like the Lord’s Supper table, the table of showbread represents communion and fellowship with God.

The table was on the people’s side of the veil.
The Ark was on God’s side of the veil.

The table speaks of fellowship with God. The ark speaks of separation from God.

Having said this, I need to point out that the communion and fellowship with God was limited to the priests. Only Aaron and his sons enjoyed the privilege of dining with the Creator.

Today we are so blessed. Thanks to the coming of Jesus Christ the temple curtain has been torn. Meaning what? Meaning all of God’s people now have access to God. Meaning all of God’s people now have direct fellowship with the mighty and awesome Creator. And the sign of this fellowship? The Lord’s Supper. There we fellowship with God and our souls are nourished.

Prayer: Thank you Father in heaven for allowing us in Christ to fellowship with You — though You are so mighty and so holy and we are so fallen and sinful. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the Author: Rev. Adrian Dieleman is the preaching pastor of Trinity United Reformed Church in Visalia. Pastor Dieleman and his wife have three sons, each of whom graduated from Central Valley Christian School.

Originally published on February 3, 2017.

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