The Tabernacle - 6
The Table of Shewbread
by Brad Scott
Perhaps now would be a good time to stop and mention something that you need to keep in mind as we go through the Mishkan. Many of the treatises on the tabernacle available today, especially those written by "westerners", treat this dwelling place of Tanakh as a novelty. By this, I mean that it is only a study designed to give the reader some deep insight into the mystical placement of "the Christ" in the Tanakh. The tabernacle itself and all the furnishings are seen as completed and done away with in Christ and are needful only to show the awesome foreknowledge of God, and of course, to reveal the profound spiritual insight of the author. It is absolutely true that even a cursory study of this structure does reveal the awesome foreknowledge of God, but the purpose of the documentation of this structure is much more personal and life changing than simple head knowledge. I have conducted many Passover meals in the last 25 years and the same attitude is displayed by many of the participants. Many comments are, "OH! that was so cute!" or "How very interesting" or "It is always good to see how other religions celebrate!". I have sat in on other teachers attempting to explain the feasts of the Lord to their students. They teach these feasts in a very symbolic fashion, and always leave the students with a greater appreciation of the ancient past. The object of even the most insightful and innocently motivated teachers, is to educate their students about "Old Testament" types, but God forbid that we would actually observe them! In other words, this kind of approach leaves the student with the same emotions you would get after learning about Egyptian burial practices, mating customs of the Sioux, or watching an underwater video of the Titanic. I pray that you will, instead, see and experience YHVH reaching out to all His people of every generation, and speaking straight to them about His desires and will for them. Knowing in advance that His word would be preserved and that you and I would be reading and studying these things as if He spoke them just this morning: an eternal God speaking eternal words.
I am presently following the order of the 25th chapter of the book of Shemot (Exodus). The meaning of the inner veil will be discussed at a later time.
Shemot 25:23-25Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a rim of gold round about. And thou shalt make unto it a border of an handbreadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden rim to the border thereof round about.
It would be fitting at this time to mention that I have heard several somewhat contrived attempts to place some special meaning to the dimensions of the ark and this table. I do not believe it would enhance this study at all to even mention them. I believe that types, symbols and similitudes should be reasonably obvious and not the product of twisted over-mystifying.
In our study of the Ark we learned, I hope, about the residence of the power of God. This is where YHVH must begin. As we enter the Holy Place we will learn of the next place that He begins to change in those who trust in Him. This is the area of the mind or the "soulish" area. This will give us the power for ministry, for it is the mind that tells the body what to do. The body does not operate separately from the mind unless there is nerve damage, i.e., the body is cut off from the mind. The body cannot choose to go bowling if the mind says we are going swimming! When behavior is exhibited, it is your mind that chose that behavior. The ultimate source of guidance and direction for the mind is found in the Ark or the heart, the residence for the Word of YHVH. If the Word of God is not in your heart, then the mind must take it's direction from some other source. YHVH has placed several items in the Holy Place to teach us about this relationship between the heart, mind, and body. Remember, this is not about how we approach God. That will be seen in the reverse order given after Israel defies the first set of tablets. The first order of Shemot 25 gives us God's work in our lives after we have received His mercy based upon our trust in Him. Before we get to the bread that is placed on the table, please take notice of the fact that the shewbread table is constructed very similarly to the ark itself. It is made of the same wood and gold, only with slightly smaller dimensions. However, it is the same height. This table is called a shul'chan (שלחן).
The word in this form is always translated in the English as table. However, its verbal root is very interesting and appropriate, considering our further study of the bread itself, or Himself. Its verbal root is shalach (שלח). Shalach is the Hebrew verb meaning to send out or simply to send. This word in Greek is apostello (απόστολοσ), which is in English, apostle. Now, you might be wondering what a table and an apostle have in common. Well, the connection is not really hard to see, and gives us some insight into the commonly misunderstood function of an apostle, as well. In the Hebrew culture, as well as many cultures, the table in the home was the place that the family gathered. Here the children learned from their father. It was at this place that every child received life sustaining words (bread) from him. This same table shared this life with friends in fellowship. This led to the oriental and middle eastern customs of not sharing a table with enemies. Information was shared and revealed here.
Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) declared:
Yesha’yahu 21:5-6Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink; arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. For thus hath YHVH said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees.
David asks YHVH to prepare a table before him even in the presence of his enemies, knowing that His rod and staff (Torah) will comfort him (Mizemor (Psalm) 23:4-5). To eat at the King's table was to share together as one. In Shemu’el Bet (2Samuel) 9:7-11, David sends to Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, and tells him that he is to now eat continually at the kings table, as one of the king's sons. This would be the place where David would share his wisdom with Mephibosheth, and this is where he would receive food. If the wrong table is prepared it can also be death and despair. The table of Jezebel was no place to be in Melakhiym Alef (1Kings) 18:19, and it is a snare to those in Mizemor 69:22. I believe that rejection of God's instructions are found in the polluting of His table, whether Jew or Gentile.
Male’akiy (Malachi) 1:7Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, In what way have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of YHVH is contemptible.
This is contrasted with those of:
Male’akiy 2:5-6My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear with which he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips; he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.
This same kind of contrast is evident in 1 Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 10:21Ye cannot drink the cup of Adonai, and the cup of demons; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of demons.
God has already set His table, and revealed this table to us all throughout the Tanakh.
The table that the shewbread is to be placed on is no ordinary table. It speaks clearly of the chosen place for YHVH's truth to be set. It is a place that the Jewish people would naturally sit at, but a place that hungry Gentiles would risk everything to eat crumbs from, much less sit at and dine (Mark 7:27-28). Apostles are called by God to be carriers and vessels of the Bread of YHVH. The word apostle is simply the transliterated Greek word for one who is sent. There are more occurrences of this word in the Tanakh than there are in the New Testament. Those chosen and prepared by God are called to bring the bread of life to all. Their mission is to reflect the instructions of God to those who do not know them. The term is not a title but a calling. This word always follows the called one, it does not precede it, as a title. It is never "the Apostle Paul" or "the Apostle Peter", but rather Paul the apostle or Peter the apostle. I will probably teach a more in-depth study of prophets and apostles at a later time.
According to Shemot 26:35, the table of shewbread was to set on the north side of the Holy Place. The entrance to the Holy Place was on the east, so that would mean that when you walked into the Holy Place the table of shewbread was to your right. According to Shemot 25:26-28, the table had the same location of rings and staves as the Ark. As I mentioned before, this table is made of the same materials as the Ark, as well. The source of the power for ministry is made of the same material as the source for the power of regeneration and reconciliation. The manna placed in the ark was the bread of life, new life, or regenerated life. The bread on this table will be the life sustaining bread. According to verse 29 there were four other items to be placed on this table. The dishes, the spoons, the covers, and the bowls with which to pour. The dishes and spoons were used to contain the frankinscence and spread it over the bread. The bowls were likely used for the drink offerings. See Bemidebar (Numbers) 28:7. These were practical items for the table. It is noteworthy to observe that when YHVH calls us to be a vessel for His word, He gives us all the things we need to carry out His calling, even down to the minor details. The priests need not bring anything with them, for our Creator has prearranged all that we need. Next time we will cover the bread, so to speak!
Shalom Alecheim! ◊