THE table of showbread was placed on the north side of the first apartment of the sanctuary. The table was two cubits long, a cubit and a half in width, and a cubit and a half in height. It was overlaid with pure gold, and like the altar of incense was ornamented with a crown of gold around the top. (Ex. 25:23-30; 40:22)
On the Sabbath day the Levites made twelve loaves, or cakes, of unleavened bread. (1 Chr. 9:32; Lev. 24:5) These cakes were placed on the table hot, each Sabbath day, (Lev. 24:8; 1 Sam 21:3-6; Matt. 12:3,4) arranged in two rows, or piles, six in a row, with pure frankincense on each row. (Lev. 24:6,7)
During the entire week the bread lay on the table. By some translators it is called “
the bread of the presence.” At the end of the week it was removed and eaten by the priests, (Lev. 24:9) This explains why Ahimelech the priest had no common bread on the Sabbath to give to David, as the priests were accustomed to eat the “
hallowed bread” on that day. (1 Sam. 21:4) It was not lawful to bake common bread upon the Sabbath; the command is very plain that all bread for Sabbath use in the homes should be baked upon the sixth day. “
This is that which the Lord hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to-day, and seethe (or boil) that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” (Ex. 16:22) But the Lord directed that the Levites should prepare the showbread every Sabbath. (1 Chr. 9:32)
All the service connected with the table of showbread was done upon the Sabbath. The bread was prepared on the Sabbath, and while hot was placed upon the table. The following Sabbath it was removed, and eaten by the priests on that day.
The priests served “
unto the example and shadow of heavenly things;” (Heb. 8:5) therefore there is a heavenly lesson for us in the antitype of the showbread. It was a continual offering, ever before the Lord. It taught that man was wholly dependent upon God for both temporal and spiritual food, and that both alike come to us through the One who “
ever liveth to make intercession” for us before the Father. (Heb. 7:25)
This, like all other types of the sanctuary service, met its fulfilment in Christ. He is the true-bread. He said, “
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh.” Then He added, “
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,...ye have no life in you.” (John 6:51-53) Even the disciples could not comprehend Christ's words, and they murmured. Jesus read their thoughts, and said unto them, “
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) His word is the true bread, of which we are to eat.
As the bread in the presence of God was taken out from the sanctuary and eaten, so Jesus said, “
The word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me.” (John 14:24) The Bible came direct from God. God gave it to Christ, Christ signified it by His angel unto the prophets, and the prophets gave it to the people, (Rev. 1:1)
There is no more appropriate time to let God speak to our own souls through His word than on the Sabbath day, when we lay aside our worldly cares and business, and take time to study the Holy Word and let it come into our inmost heart until we hear God speak to us, not to another.
The priests were not only to set the hot bread upon the table on the Sabbath day, but later that same bread was to be eaten and become a part of their very being. God designed that His people should each Sabbath day gain a fresh experience in divine things, which would make them better fitted to meet the temptations of the week. The soul that never gains a deeper experience on the Sabbath than on any other day, fails to keep the Sabbath as God would have him. (Eze. 20:12) We may have a few minutes of quiet study of the word on the Sabbath day, when we hear the Lord speaking to us individually; but if the words are not incorporated into our lives, they give us no abiding strength. As the priests ate the bread prepared the Sabbath before, they assimilated it, and thus received strength for daily duties.
Peter evidently understood this truth when he admonished the church to desire the sincere milk of the word that they might grow thereby, and he said if they did this they would be “
a holy priesthood.” (1 Peter 2:2-5) Here is the secret of true Christian living. Eternal life does not come to the soul through forms and ceremonies. They are all right in their place; but eternal life results from feeding upon the true bread which comes from the presence of God, God's Holy Word, the blessed Bible.
|Ex. 25:30. Showbread always before the Lord.||John 6:48. Christ said, “
I am that bread of life.”
|Lev. 24:5. There were twelve cakes of the showbread the number of the tribes of Israel.||1 Cor. 10:17. In speaking of the church, Paul says, “
We being many are one bread and one body.”