The Tabernacle 5
We have discussed the importance of studying the Tabernacle, and we have examined the courtyard and the furnishings in it, the Brazen Altar and the Laver . Today we are going to turn our attention to the structure itself, and what was inside of it.
The Tabernacle proper was composed of just two rooms. The first or front room is generally called the Holy Place and contained three items of furniture. As you walked in on your left was the Candlestick, on your right was the Table of Shewbread, and straight ahead of you was the Altar of Incense. In this post we are going to discuss one of the more confusing (to me, anyway, I puzzled long over this) pieces, the Table of Shewbread.
The Table of Shewbread was a two cubits long, one cubit wide, and one and a half cubits high. Along the edge of the table was a border or a raised edge made of gold. This produced a table that was like a very large tray, basically. For mobility, it contained rings in the legs that were threaded through with staves when it was time to move it. I believe the Table of Shewbread represents our union with Christ, that identification with Him which comes to us at our salvation.
Exodus 37. 10 And he made the table of shittim wood: two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof:
11 And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereunto a crown of gold round about.
12 Also he made thereunto a border of an handbreadth round about; and made a crown of gold for the border thereof round about.
13 And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings upon the four corners that were in the four feet thereof.
14 Over against the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table.
15 And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table.
16 And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.
The Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Bread of Life. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth his life unto the world. (John 6.32-33) But I think it is too simplistic simply to say the Table represents Christ as the Bread of Life, primarily because there were twelve loaves on it. I think that number is significant, and leads us on to a deeper meaning.
Each of these twelve loaves must have been quite large for each loaf used twelve cups of flour. (Leviticus 24.5) Compare that with a regular loaf of bread that uses a bit more than three or so. They were placed on the Table hot on the Sabbath day while the stale ones, having sat there for a week, were taken away.
The twelve loaves on the Table were there as physical representations of the twelve tribes of Israel. I draw this from other similar uses in the Word of God. For example, when Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River he built an altar in the middle of it as a memorial of that crossing. Each tribe brought a stone thus creating an altar of twelve stones, each stone representing a tribe.
Paul tells us in the New Testament that there is a connection between the Church and Israel, namely that the Church participates in the spiritual promises given to God’s Old Testament people.
Galatians 3. 6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
As children of God by faith we are placed in Christ. This union with Him is mentioned often and variously described in Scripture. We are crucified with Christ. (Galatians 2.20) We are buried with him. (Romans 6.4) We are risen with Christ. (Colossians 3.1) We are in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2.6)
The best way I know to describe the meaning of the phrase “in Christ” is that what happened or happens to Him happens to me. For example, if eat an apple and then walk to the store the apple goes to the store too. Why? Because it is in me. If I place a bookmark into a book and then drop the book into the lake the bookmark goes into the lake too. Why? Because it is in the book.
You and I are in Christ. We are placed in Him, and what happens to Him happens to me. There is a union there, a joining there. Indeed, Paul goes so far as to use the word “communion” in this sense in I Corinthians 10.16-17 in reference to the New Testament table, the Lord’s Supper. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ. The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. We are in Christ. Just as those twelve loaves represented the twelve tribes and their connection to the Bread of Life so in our dispensation they reveal our connection with Him, our union with Him, our communion with Him.
There is security here, of the eternal kind. I cannot become unsaved again. My life is hid with Christ in God. There is blessing here, numerous and rich. Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1.3) The Father has given everything to the Son, and since I am in Him I share in all of that. (Romans 8.16-17) There is peace and unity with other’s of God’s children here. Since I am in Christ and you are in Christ we are close to each other. (Ephesians 2.11-19, Galatians 3.26-28) I could go on and on and on.
I do not deserve to be on that Old Testament Table, pure, presented to Jehovah. I do not deserve to partake of that New Testament table, pure, celebrating my (comm)union with Christ, the Bread of Life. But I am and I do. And I sure am glad.