The Gospel, God’s Presence, and Your Kitchen Table
Have you ever conducted a biblical search on the word table?
The first time the word table is used in the Bible is in Exodus 25. In this chapter, God gave Moses very detailed instructions about how the tabernacle was to be designed and furnished. After providing Moses with the blueprint for the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:10-22), God also instructed him to build the table for the bread of the Presence (Ex 25:23-30):
“You are to construct a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold molding all around it. Make a three-inch frame all around it and make a gold molding for it all around its frame. Make four gold rings for it, and attach the rings to the four corners at its four legs. The rings should be next to the frame as holders for the poles to carry the table. Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, and the table can be carried by them. You are also to make its plates and cups, as well as its pitchers and bowls for pouring drink offerings. Make them out of pure gold. Put the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.”
As I was studying this passage, several things were interesting to me. The height of the table described in this passage is the same height of dining tables today. If you ask a group of kindergartners to draw a picture of a table, how will they draw it? Most likely, with four legs and four corners. That’s the original design for a table. Now, since the tabernacle, we have modified the design of a table to include round tables, oval tables, etc. But the design that God gave for the table in the tabernacle is the kind of table we all have sat around at some time. A table with four corners and four legs. Another interesting detail about this table, is the material Moses was to use to build it. Acacia wood is a very dense, durable wood that is resistant to decay. Acacia wood was not only the material used to make the table for the bread of the Presence (Ex 25:28), but also the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:10). Redemption and purification took place at the table.
What is the bread of the Presence mentioned in Exodus 25:30?
The bread of the Presence, also called the showbread or shewbread, was a significant bread continually present on a table in the tabernacle (and later in the temple). Leviticus 2:5-9 describes this bread:
“Take fine flour and bake it into 12 loaves; each loaf is to be made with four quarts. Arrange them in two rows, six to a row, on the pure gold table before the Lord. Place pure frankincense near each row, so that it may serve as a memorial portion for the bread and a fire offering to the Lord. The bread is to be set out before the Lord every Sabbath day as a perpetual covenant obligation on the part of the Israelites. It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place, for it is the holiest portion for him from the fire offerings to the Lord; this is a permanent rule.”
Much like other details of the tabernacle, the bread of Presence was also to follow very precise guidelines. The twelve loaves, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, were to be baked and arranged in two rows, six to a row, on the table before the Lord (v.5-6). The bread and incense were to be set out before the Lord every Sabbath day as a perpetual covenant obligation on the part of the Israelites. The old bread was to be eaten only by the priests (Matt 12:3-4). The bread of the Presence was closely associated with the covenant and served as a picture of the Lord’s presence and a meal representing the fellowship He extended to His people.
The table and the bread of Presence were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and commune with His creation. It was an open invitation for His people to enter into His presence, share a meal and fellowship with Him. Over the past year, there has been an uprising of women willing to open their homes and tables to gospel conversations (Acts 2:46). So, what are you waiting for? Using Exodus 25 as a blueprint, gather some friends and family members around the table and break bread with one another, literally. Use your dining table as a tool to share the gospel and how the presence of the Lord is moving your life.
Recipe for Unleavened Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix flour, oil, and salt together in a bowl; add water and mix using a pastry cutter until dough is soft. Form dough into 6 balls and press into disks onto the prepared baking sheet using your hands. Bake in the preheated oven until bread is cooked, 8-10 minutes.