The table was located in the holy place (Exodus 25:23-30,37:10-16).
It was sited on the north side, on the right as you entered opposite the lampstand. The table was made of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold, two cubits long (36"), one cubit wide (18"), and one and a half cubits high (27"). The top of the table rested upon a frame, and around it ran a moulding of gold, projecting above the top to keep articles from falling off. Rings were placed at each corner to make transportation possible.
The shew bread or the bread of faces (literally bread of the presence) was placed upon the table. It was made from fine wheat flour (unleavened), baked into twelve loaves (cakes), each containing one fifth of an ephah of flour (about 4 quarts). Four quarts of flour seems to be an impossibly large amount for each loaf or cake. Actually, the Hebrew says " two-tenths " to each cake. The measure is not specified. Probably a smaller measure like the Seah (5 quarts) or the Omer (4 pints) is intended. The flat, round, pancake like loaf of bread would not take much flour. These according to Jewish tradition as well as the dimensions of the table, would seem to have been placed on plates in two piles of six each.
These cakes were renewed every Sabbath to be eaten only by the priests and then, only in the sanctuary. To each pile of cakes incense was added, most likely in bowls which were placed beside the bread, "as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be an offering made to the LORD by fire" ( Lev.24:7 ). The incense is not eaten, it is not edible.
In the service of the table of shew bread three kinds of pure gold vessels were used: dishes or flat plates which were probably employed in carrying the bread to and from the table, and possibly to contain the bread while on the table; spoons or perhaps cups for the incense on the table; and Flagons and bowls, perhaps for wine.
Thoughts for simple sermons :-
1/ The twelve loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel, continually before God. Each loaf the same size no distinction between the tribes. The loaves represented a whole nation but each individual could say " I am remembered in God's presence ".
2/ The bread as a type of Christ.
In the preparation of the bread of the presence; seed sown, sprang up, cut down, crushed and bruised (Lev 2:14,16 and Isaiah 53:5.). Jesus said he is the true bread (John 6:35,51) forever in the presence of God.
3/ The bread as a type of the church (1 Cor. 10:17) Just as the table upheld the bread so Christ upholds the individual. We the church must be unleavened (1 Cor. 5:7 ), it must be fine flour having passed through Gods mill to bring an evenness of character, perfected through suffering.
4/ The two piles of six cakes shows that our God is a God of order, see how Paul rejoiced at the order in the church at Colosae ( Col. 2:5 ). It shows that we have a need to match our will with Gods will. six and six exactly matching his will not part way, but that we align ourselves to what God wants so that his whim becomes our commands.
5/ Only the priests had access to the table and the bread was eaten by the priests with the incense as a memorial. Now all believers may come to the Lords table and take of the bread, the spiritual counterpart is seen in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-29. The bread is to be taken not only in remembrance ( a memorial ) to what Christ has done but also looking forward with a hope of his coming, a hope that is steadfast and certain, and that will not disappoint. The bread was to be eaten in the holy place in the place of communion separated from the world, in the light of the lampstand that gives a light that enables a man to look into his own heart ( Lev. 24:9 and 1 Cor. 11:28).
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