The Tabernacle - 7
The Table of Shewbread - Part 2
by Brad Scott
The very first thing that YHVH chooses to reveal from His design to us about the Holy Place is the table of shewbread. When, by faith, you receive the life giving word of God as portrayed in the ark, HaShem then brings you to His life sustaining word, as pictured in the bread in the Holy Place. The Holy Place, as I will go into greater detail later, is God's portrait of our soul and in particular, our mind. The tabernacle is divided into three areas that typify the Messiah's spirit, soul, and body and, of course, our nature, as well. When YHVH took upon flesh He did so in a triune nature. The so-called "trinity" however is not a comprehensive description of God. The doctrine of the trinity, however well intended, severely limits God. YHVH is much more than Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as can be easily understood by just reading the Tanakh. Now back to the Holy Place. When our Creator has purified and cleansed our heart, He then begins His work in our mind, which is the fierce battleground that we struggle with every day. We must first be reconciled back to Him and redeemed as His child before He can go to work on changing our minds and eventually our behavior. This is precisely what Sha’ul was speaking of in Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:8-10For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God and not of works, lest any man should boast. [This is where most modern "believers" stop quoting.] For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua‘ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
First comes the "creating" in us that only God can do. Now He has, by our faith and kind permission, something to work with. The Potter needs some clay to make a pot. The penalty for sin has been dealt with in the Most Holy Place, and now our Abba is going to deal with the power of sin in the Holy Place, if we will let him. We are no longer children of wrath or children of the "devil". Hasatan has been defeated and the Messiah has triumphed over him (Colossians 2:15). Now, as Sha’ul warns us over and over, we have to deal with the "world". The battle now has moved to the arena of the mind, and we need to transform our minds. Our Father has given us His word to accomplish this.
Shemot (Exodus) 25:30 Venatata 'al-hashshulechan lechem paniym lephenay tamiyd.
"And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me always." The phrase "and thou shalt set" is actually taken from one Hebrew word. This word comes from the verbal root natan (נתן) which means "to give". In this context or use "to set upon" is very applicable. Whatever the shewbread is, God desires that it be set before Him always - tamiyd (תמיד) - continuously. The word shewbread or lechem paniym (לחם פנים) is literally the bread of His face, or presence. God uses bread to symbolize or speak of His presence. God's presence is experienced in obedience to His word, which is also likened to Himself. Yeshua‘ said in Mattityahu (Matthew) 4:4 that "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." The comparison is literal bread that gives life to the body, with the bread of God which gives life to the soul and spirit, and Yeshua‘ quickly verified that in His response to hasatan in the desert. God's presence is in His word. This is precisely why I will overkill this area in all of my teaching. Yeshua‘ is to be known through the reception and action of His word. If you are seeking the presence of the Lord in your life, try obeying His words!
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 30:11-14For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it. But the word is very near to you, in thy mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.
So many times I witness people searching everywhere for God, attending one revival after another, seeking Him in certain teachers and preachers. He is in this city or that city, or here or there. But the presence of God is found in the bread of life, His words. Yeshua‘ said, ...My words are spirit and they are life." It is the Word of God that transforms us. It is His life sustaining instructions coming from an omniscient Creator that keeps us unspotted from the world, and His words are nigh unto our lips. Listen to Sha’ul in 2 Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Messiah with Belial. Or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, says YHVH, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says YHVH Almighty. Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Sha’ul tells us in Chapter 7 verse 1, how to come out from among them. We do that by cleansing ourselves, flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness. What or who determines what is clean and not clean? What or who determines what is holy and what is not? Only the written word of God does that. Only his bread can show us what is right or wrong, clean or unclean, righteous or unrighteous.
You have to go to the book of Vayiqera (Leviticus) in order to get some more detail with respect to the bread of His presence. In Vayiqera we learn,
Vayiqera 24:5-9And you shall take fine flour, and bake twelve loaves thereof: two tenth parts shall be in one cake. And you shall set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before YHVH. And you shall put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial even an offering made by fire to YHVH. Every sabbath he shall set it in order before YHVH continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place; for it is most holy to him of the offering of YHVH made by fire by a perpetual statute.
Well, there is a lot of stuff here, but we will confine our study to the twelve loaves, the frankincense and the eating of the bread by the priests on the sabbath. You first notice that the bread is baked into twelve separate loaves. Verse 8 mentions that it is connected to the children of Israel who are represented by the twelve tribes. Every Israelite is represented here, all twelve tribes are equal in the making of each loaf. In verse 7 they are told to put pure frankincense upon each row as a memorial. The term "pure frankincense" is almost a redundancy. The word frankincense or levonah (לבונה) is the cognate of the words for "white" and "moon". The word alone implies pureness as in the white linen given to the saints of God. This word occurs in Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 1:18, for instance, when the saints of God are told that though their sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. The word of God is purified 7 times according to Mizemor (Psalm) 12:6. God's pure holiness is to be seen in His people who are the testimony and witnesses of His bread of life. In Hebrew thought His people are compared to the moon, another cognate of lavan. As it is with the various phases of the moon and its consistent renewals, so it is God's desire to renew and restore His people to pureness and holiness. It is a pure and holy life sprinkled over the word of God that truly experiences God's presence. They are told to be a memorial of this life-giving bread. The word "memorial" is from the word zakar (זכר). This word we have defined in past studies. It is translated many times as remember. It does not mean to recall or bring back to memory, but rather to speak or act in behalf of someone or something. This is what is meant when the Scriptures state that "God remembered Rachael" or that "God remembered Noah". It means that God acted or spoke in behalf of Rachael or Noah. When the thief asked Yeshua‘ to remember him when He came into His kingdom, he was not implying that Yeshua‘ could forget him. He was asking Yeshua‘ to act in behalf of him and Yeshua‘ promised him that He would do just that. So the frankincense or pureness of God's word was to act or speak of His word continually. It would be a witness of the life sustaining words of YHVH.
The last two verses are instructions from God pertaining to the rotation and consuming of this bread by the priests. The twelve loaves were to be eaten on the weekly Shabbat and replaced with new ones for the next 7 days. It was to be on the Shabbat that the bread was to be eaten. This is part of the background of the weekly Parashiot readings. The bread or word of God (Torah) was divided into sections and distributed weekly to the people. In addition, after the removal of Torah by Antiochus, readings from the prophets were also added. These are known as haftarah. In Luke 4:18-19 Yeshua‘ stands at the bemah and reads from Yesha’yahu 61, the haftarah reading for that particular Sabbath. Nevertheless, it is the Sabbath in which God's people gathered to hear the word of God. Our CD series entitled, "The Church in the Book of Acts" goes in to much detail about the continued gathering of the saints on Shabbat not Sunday. The eating of the bread by Aaron and his sons and the replacing of the loaves is a wonderful picture of God's people gathering to receive His daily life-sustaining words. In the 12th chapter of Romans we are reminded by Sha’ul that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is the purpose of what the Holy Place and all its furnishings teach us and the Israelites then, as well.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊