Christ is the Table of Showbread. He is our Bread from heaven which satisfies the longings of our soul, and God has called us to feast upon His Son and enjoy fellowship with Him regularly.
Christ – The Table of Showbread
Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-9
The Tabernacle presents us with many different pictures and portraits of our Lord Jesus Christ. The white linen fence surrounding the tabernacle points to Christ – our righteousness. The bronze altar points to Christ – our atonement. The bronze laver points to Christ – our sanctifier. The table of showbread points to Christ – our bread from heaven. The golden lampstand points to Christ – the light of the world. The golden altar of incense points to Christ – our High Priest. The ark of the covenant points to Christ – our enthroned King.
Not only does the Tabernacle give us a picture of Christ, but it also gives us a picture of our life in Christ.
The Tabernacle really teaches us about the steps a sinner goes through as He approaches God.
- The white linen fence speaks of God’s righteousness barring the sinner from His presence.
- The bronze altar was where the sacrifice was offered to remove the wrath of God from the sinner. As the sinner trusts Christ’s death on the cross for his sins, God’s wrath is removed, and his sins are forgiven.
- The bronze laver was where the blood and dirty was washed from the priests hands and feet. As the new believer reads God’s Word, and confesses his sins, the Lord washes away the defilements he has received by contact with the world.
- The table of showbread was where the priests at the bread of the Presence in the Holy Place. The believer begins to fellowship with Jesus Christ, and feed upon Him as his strength and spiritual nourishment.
- The golden lampstand gave light to the priests in the Holy Place. As we receive God’s truth, we show it to others, bringing light into their dark world.
- The golden altar of incense speaks of the intercessory prayers of God’s people. We begin to intercede in prayer for others, taking after the example of our great High Priest.
- The ark of the covenant speaks of the time when God’s people will finally stand in His presence, glorified, and rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. We have finally arrived at home and see Christ face to face.
The Tabernacle was surrounded by a fence of white linen, representing God’s absolute purity and holiness, barring sinners from His presence. There was one gate through the fence into the outer court, representing Christ as the Door through which all must enter or be forever lost.
Within the fence in the outer court were two objects – the bronze altar, and the bronze laver. The altar represents the cross of Jesus Christ where He offered up Himself as our sacrifice to pay for sin. The laver represents Christ’s ministry of purifying us from our defilement of daily contact with the world through His Word as we confess our sins and turn from them.
We have already seen the steps of Separation, Propitiation, and Purification. This morning we are going to move further church, and enter the Holy Place to learn about Communication. Into this structure, only the Levitical priests were allowed to enter. The Tabernacle was comprised of two rooms. The smaller room was the Holy of Holies, and it was 22.5 feet high, wide and long. The Holy Place was the larger room, and it was 22.5 feet wide, by 45 feet long. The appearance of the Holy Place was much different than the outer court. In the outer court, the altar and the laver were made of bronze. But within the Holy Place, everything was made of either pure gold, or acacia wood overlaid with gold. The roof and sides of the Tabernacle were beautiful. They were comprised of blue, purple and scarlet material with cherubim embroidered on them.
Within the Holy Place, there were three articles of furniture: the table of showbread, the golden lampstand, and the golden altar of incense. This morning we are going to meditate on the first article – the table of showbread.
The table of showbread was 3 feet long, 1.5 feet wide, and 2 ¼ feet high. It was basically the size of a coffee table. It was made of acacia wide overlaid with gold. It had a gold border built around the rim, probably to make sure that none of the contents of the table fell to the ground. Each Sabbath day, the priests would remove the 12 loaves of bread and eat them in the Holy Place, and put 12 new loaves in their place. *Show picture of Table and Bread.
This morning, I’m going to ask four questions related to the Table of Showbread.
1. What did the Table Represent?
Well, let’s think this through together. What do people do at a table? When you get together with someone for lunch, or for coffee, what do you do? Well, you eat of course! However, the food just gives you an opportunity to talk, and visit and commune together. I believe that this table represents our fellowship with Jesus Christ. Our Lord writes to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:20 and says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” What is Jesus talking about when He speaks of dining with the church? I believe He is speaking of the spiritual communion that they will enjoy with Him. When David told Mephibosheth that he would eat at his table regularly, what was he implying? He was implying that Mephibosheth, even though he was the grandson of David’s enemy, Saul, would have fellowship with David the king on a regular basis.
In Matthew 8:11 Jesus said, “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Again, Jesus is talking about the sweet fellowship that we will enjoy in Christ’s eternal kingdom.
Again, in Luke 22:28-30 Jesus said, You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Remember, that the Tabernacle on earth was just a copy of the true one in heaven. I believe the table of showbread in the Tabernacle was given to represent the perfect fellowship that we will enjoy with Christ in His eternal kingdom.
2. What did the Showbread Represent?
We have seen what the table represented, but why this bread placed on the table? This bread is sometimes called the Bread of the Presence (Ex. 25:30), and sometimes it is called the Showbread (2 Chron. 13:11). Why this bread?
First, consider that there were 12 loaves of bread on this table. Lev. 24:6 says that the priests were to set 6 loaves in one row, and 6 loaves in another row. They did not use leaven in their bread, so the loaves would have looked more like fat pancakes than the loaves of bread we think of.
What did the bread represent? It is right here that many commentators differ from one another. Since there were 12 loaves, some commentators believe that this bread represented the 12 tribes of Israel. The problem with that view is that everything else in the Tabernacle represented Jesus Christ. The altar represented His cross. The laver represented His sanctifying ministry through the Word. The lampstand represented Him as the truth. The altar of incense represented Him as our Intercessor. The ark of the covenant represented Him as the King on the throne. So, this bread must represent Him as well.
In John 6:35 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
Think of hunger for just a moment. The gnawing pain of hunger is one of the strongest drives a human being will ever experience. He must have that need met, or he will grow weak and sick and eventually die. Food is the only remedy for hunger. Every human being has a soul hunger for God. The problem is that they just don’t know it. And because they don’t recognize what they are hungry for, they try to satisfy their cravings with sex, partying, drugs, money, possessions, and fame. However, in spite of filling their lives with all those other things, they discover that they are still hungry for something they can’t put their finger on. All the sexual partners don’t really satisfy. All the money doesn’t meet the deepest needs of the heart. That’s because God has made us for Himself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. Jesus Christ is God’s answer to our soul hunger. He is the Bread of Life. That is, He is our source of nourishment and strength. He is the One that sustains us.
But, if the bread represented Christ, why were there twelve loaves? The twelve loaves obviously represented the twelve tribes of Israel. I believe there were twelve tribes to show that God’s living bread was provided for and available to every one of God’s people. There was a loaf for Benjamin, and a loaf for Dan, and a loaf for Judah, and a loaf for Issachar. There was a loaf for all the tribes. Jesus Christ, as the Bread of Life, is provided for and available to all of God’s chosen people. The twelve tribes of Israel represent all of God’s covenant people. In the Old Testament, God’s covenant people were the Israelites. In the New Testament, God’s covenant people are the church. If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, He is God’s bread for you! God gave Him to be your nourishment and your strength! God wants Christ to provide you with spiritual life and health. God wants you to be sustained with Christ.
3. Who could eat the Showbread?
Leviticus 24:9 says, “It shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the Lord’s offerings by fire, his portion forever.” Now, of course that just makes sense, because the showbread was to be eaten inside the Tabernacle in the holy place. Well, only the priests were allowed entrance into the holy place.
So, today, who is permitted to eat the showbread? Who can have fellowship with Jesus Christ? Who feeds on Christ as the nourishment, sustenance and strength for his spiritual life? Only priests! So, Brian, are you saying, that only the Roman catholic priests can have fellowship with Jesus Christ?! No, a thousand times No! In the New Testament, every believer is a priest unto God.
In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter says that the entire church is a royal priesthood. The whole idea that there is a hierarchy within the body of Christ, where some people are priests, and others are not is totally false. The entire church is a priesthood.
In Revelation 5:10, the host of heaven sing a new song to the Lamb, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
Notice 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In other words, God has called us to the table of showbread. God has called us to have fellowship with Christ, and feed on Him. But, who is Paul writing to? Who was called into fellowship with God’s Son? Verse 2 tells us who they were. “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling.” God had called the entire church of God which was at Corinth into fellowship with His Son. Now, what do we know about the church in Corinth? Did they have it all together? Were they models of virtue? No way! This was a church full of problems! They were dividing up over various personalities. Some were taking Christian brothers to court. They were making a mockery of the Lord’s Supper. They were using spiritual gifts without love. Some were saying that there was no resurrection from the dead. This church had all kinds of problems. However, they were all priests to God. They were all called into fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, if you are a true Christian, it is your high privilege to have fellowship with the Son of God! You are to take your place at the Table of Showbread. You are to feast on Jesus Christ. You are to commune with Him, and enjoy Him.
4. When was the Showbread on the Table?
Look at Exodus 25:30, “You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.” The showbread was to be set on the table at all times! In fact, it is called the “bread of the Presence.” Whose presence? God’s! The bread was “before Me” in the tabernacle.
Notice Numbers 4:7-8, “Over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall also spread a cloth of blue and put on it the dishes and the pans and the sacrificial bowls and the jars for the drink offering, and the continual bread shall be on it. They shall spread over them a cloth of scarlet material, and cover the same with a covering of porpoise skin, and they shall insert its poles.” As the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness, they carried the Table with them. But this passage tells us that the showbread was on the table, even as they journeyed day by day! They would just spread a cloth over it, and carry it as it sat on the Table.
In other words, the bread was always to be on the Table. When the 12 loaves were taken up and eaten by the priests, 12 more were laid down, so that there was always bread on the table.
So, what is the significance of all of that? May I submit to you, that this teaches us that fellowship with Christ is always available to God’s covenant people. We can partake of Christ at any time, all the time! We don’t have to make an appointment, and stand in line. We don’t have to take a number like at the DMV, and sit for 3 hours until we are called. He is always present, and available to us.
My friends, how often do you take advantage of this great privilege? How often do you commune with Christ? How often do you enjoy fellowship with your Lord? This should be the regular and consistent pattern of our lives.
How Do We Fellowship With Christ? The word “commune” is a short form of “communication.” How do we communicate with Christ? How does He communicate with us? How do we communicate with Him? Well, He communicates with us primarily through the Word of God. Yes, He can, and sometimes does communicate in dreams or visions, or prophecies. But the main and primary way God talks to us is through His Word. You know what is so cool? I was just visiting my sister from Texas last week. She said that she had been a Christian for over 30 years, and had never had a consistent devotional life. She always had such a hard time getting into the Word on a consistent basis. Well, when Debbie and I visited her in Austin back in January, I told her that our church was going to read one chapter a day, and then text one another what we were seeing in that chapter. She really liked that idea, and so she, and my niece began to read through the New Testament with us a chapter a day. And last week she told me that the first thing on her mind when she gets up in the morning is, “What is the Lord going to tell me today?!” Isn’t that great! She absolutely loves reading the Word and hearing insights from other family members. So, I challenge you, if you are not already in the Word on a daily basis, begin today!
Well, that is how God speaks to us. How do we speak to God? That one’s easy. Prayer! God talks to us in His Word, and we talk to Him in prayer. Read the Word, and then talk to God about what you read. For example, we have been reading Ephesians a chapter a day as a church. When I got to chapter 4, I was drawn to verse 15, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” As I read, the Lord spoke to me and told me that speaking the truth in love was vital for the body to grow to maturity. Further, all of us are to speak the truth in love. I reflected on the fact that we are not just to speak truth. No, it must be spoken in love. We are not just to love, but we are to speak the truth in love. Then, when I had considered this truth from several angles, I began to pray about what the Lord had shown me. I prayed something like this, “Lord, You are calling me to speak the truth in love to those in our church. I pray you would temper my truth speaking with love. But, Lord, help me to speak the truth, and not just speak my opinions. Lord, would you help our entire church to take up our responsibility to speak the truth in love to one another. Help them not to depend on the pastors to speak the truth in love, but may they do this work as well.” And, as the Lord spoke to me in His Word, and I spoke back to him in prayer, I was eating the showbread at the table. I was feasting on Christ. I was being nourished and strengthened by Jesus Himself.
I strongly encourage you to begin to fellowship with Jesus. Here are some simple steps you can take.
- Find a time and a place where you can be alone every day with the Lord. You may need to get up earlier in order to do this. It will never work to try to slip in 5 minutes in the morning as you are eating your cereal. You need to set aside some time for this. It’s also important that you not be interrupted by phone calls, texts, emails, etc. Before your work day starts, your business is to be with Jesus. You are to partake of the bread of the presence on the table.
- Pray that the Lord would speak to you. Then read a passage of Scripture. I would encourage you to read the chapter that the whole church is reading. Have a notebook and pen handy. As you are reading, seek to discern what the Lord is bringing to your attention. What does He want to speak to you from that passage? When you have found a verse or paragraph that speaks to you, reflect on it. Consider it. Make notes about what you see in the passage. Write out your reflections. Seek to identify what one thing the Lord may want you to do today in response to His Word to you.
- Text your thoughts to your church family. Guys, text your thoughts to the other brothers. Sisters, text your thoughts to the other sisters. We all need one another. Remember – speaking the truth in love we are to grow up… All of us need the insights of one another.
- Talk to the Lord about what He has shown you. If He has shown you some sin, confess it, and repent of it. If He has shown you something of His glory, worship Him. If He has shown you the needs of others, intercede for them. If He has shown you what He wants you to do, make plans that very day to do it.
This, my friends, is fellowshipping with Jesus. It is feasting on Christ. It is communing with Him through His Word and prayer.
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