Exploring the Tabernacle Pattern – Part 6
by Connie Chamberlain
Table of Showbread
Opposite the light of the lampstand, representing the Holy Spirit through which we perceive the other items in the Holy Place, we find the table of showbread. “Open your eyes and you will be satisfied with bread.” (Prov. 20:13b) The bread represents the Word, also referred to as the Law. Moses, the lawgiver, stated that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3, and quoted by Jesus in Matt. 4:4)
According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, the loaves of unleavened bread were placed upon the table in two piles, six in each stack (like pancakes), and above the loaves were placed two gold dishes of frankincense to burn as a memorial. The priests ate the bread every Sabbath and fresh loaves were put in their place.
Jesus declared that He was the Bread of Life. He is the embodiment of the Word and the Law. There were twelve loaves of showbread placed on the table in two rows every Sabbath or seventh day. (Lev. 24:5-9) Twelve is symbolic of divine government—twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles. Two represents the two covenants, Old Testament and New, the Law and the Gospel, the Ten Commandments boiled down to two commandments—loving God and loving others (in that order).
The Christian Form of Our Government
This principle illustrates how the Word of God is the basis for our national, as well as spiritual, laws. Though sadly it may not be evident today as it was over 200 years ago, the form of our government finds its source in the Holy Bible, having been referred to in times past as “the American political textbook.” Noah Webster declared that education is useless without the Bible.
One example of how the form and context of our government is seen to have its foundation in scripture is found in Isaiah 33:22. “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king.” These three correspond to our nation’s three branches of government as set forth in the Constitution—judicial, legislative, and executive. Applying this principle on the individual level, when we formulate a plan of action we are, in essence, law-making; when we carry out a plan we are executing; and when we review or evaluate, we are operating judicially.
Another aspect of our government unique to our country is known as the dual form of our government—the nation and the state. It has its Biblical basis in the two greatest commandments mentioned above (Matt. 22:37-40)
“…But all agree, that for such a government to be sustained many years, the principles of truth and righteousness, taught in the Holy Scriptures, must be practiced. The rulers must govern in the fear of God, and the people obey the laws.” On a national level, it appears that we have come a far piece from the sentiments held by the majority in 1843, spoken by Emma Willard. But we thank God for those he has strategically placed in positions of leadership, in whatever capacity, who govern in the fear of God.
We want the Word to have preeminence in our life and to let it be our ultimate form of government. The will of God, and His plan from beginning to end, is communicated by His Word, and our will becomes conformed to God’s will through obedience to His Word. “I will put my laws in their hearts and write them in their minds.” (Heb. 10:16)
Food for Life
By words the world was spoken into existence. God’s Word has power to effect life or death (Prov. 18:21) and its power is limitless when we mix it with faith. (Heb. 4:2) And, that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)
The benefits of the Word, which I have often heard called the “great leveler”, are too innumerable to mention here. But here’s a nutshell listing to inspire further digging. Besides expounding the character of our loving Creator and His deeds of renown, the Word is our sword with which to battle Satan’s lies, our compass to give direction and guidance, our healing balm for body and soul, and our very sustenance (bread, meat, milk, and honey) which strengthens and satisfies. That just about covers all the food groups (well, except for the vegetables and we’ll leave those for Daniel!)
It has been said that we are to feed on Christ in our hearts by faith—just as food becomes a part of our body in the process of digestion, so does Christ become part of us as we partake of Him. How is our body, His temple, being nourished?
Jesus says, “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger…I am the living bread…If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh.” (John 6)
Just as Jesus is the Bread, and because we are fashioned to follow in His example, so likewise can we be seen as the bread. At the communion supper we see a picture of this (Matt. 26:26). As with the bread, He takes us (to be His own) and blesses us, then He breaks us, and then we are given to be food for others. It is in the breaking process, those wilderness times and fragmented experiences, where we receive valuable life lessons that can then be imparted to others. We are reminded that Jesus said to His disciples, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37)
A translation of “showbread” is the “bread of His presence.” Here at the table, God reminds us that He is always present with us and available to spend time and commune with us. Definition of communion: fellowship; a state of giving and receiving; sharing; talking familiarly. After the Lord’s resurrection, His identity was not initially revealed to the two on the road to Emmaus. But it was in the breaking of bread (the communion) that He was made known to them. (Luke 24:35)
In acknowledging the importance of God’s Word, I would be remiss if I neglected to make reference to the longest of songs, Psalm 119, which compels us to join with the psalmist in extolling the praises of His law and commandments. “Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law.” (Psalm 119:17-18) This is my prayer—that our eyes would be open to all that God desires to reveal to our hearts and minds as He speaks to us by His Word, both written and proceeding, literally and prophetically.
Having savored the bread of His presence at the table, the words which are spirit and are life, and finding delight in the law of the Lord, we will continue toward the golden altar of incense to further deepen our communion and fellowship with our Lord. The communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!
To Consider and Ponder: