Chapter 18 The Table

Thou shalt also make a table (Exodus 25:23).

After the ark, the next thing presented to us is the table. Like the ark, and all else in the Tabernacle, the thought and plan are God’s. This is no human pattern. There are spiritual realities behind these figurative representations, and they set forth all that is made known of God in Christ. Only God could design these figures of His beloved Son.

The substance of the table is one with the ark—choice shittim or acacia wood which resists all taint and decay. It is overlaid with the finest gold. Thus wood is conjoined with gold to set forth the Manhood and Godhood of the Lord Jesus. It is Godhood linked to poor flesh. The Son of God never ceases to be God. He is one with God, and never can be other than that. Such was our Lord in the days of His flesh on earth—God and man in one unique Person.

When believers have received new life through faith in the Lord Jesus, then they crave spiritual food, and no food satisfies but Christ Himself. So first, “Thou shalt set upon the table shewbread [literally, bread of His presence] before Me alway” (Exodus 25:30). It is to be before God, first, for His pleasure. The bread has in it the thought of Christ as identified with His people— “one loaf”—and all for God’s satisfaction. Compared with this, the world’s dainties are but choking dust, which never satisfy the hungry.

Faith recognizes the Lord in the emblem of the bread upon the table. He Himself said, “I am the bread of life…the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:35, 51). He is the believer’s staff of life. But let us not forget how bread is made. It is formed of grain brought forth by the earth, crushed and powdered, mixed with water, kneaded with rough handling, and baked in a hot oven. Our Lord Jesus is clearly seen in all this. The burden of man’s sin crushed Him to death. All hell sifted Him as wheat is sifted. All the hot flame of God’s wrath blazed around Him. Thus He became the Bread of God—the saving food of the souls of men.

And what of the flour? “Thou shalt take fine flour” (Leviticus 24:5). There was to be no unclean grain, no empty husk, no worthless chaff, which could taint and defile this holy lump. Thus we see our Lord free from all evil in His earthly life. At the end of each week the priests were to eat the shewbread. Thus what is before God for His pleasure becomes food for His people. As all the redeemed are priests in the Church, we can see how God would have us all nourished and sustained by Christ Himself. He is the table who sustains all that is upon it for the pleasure of God and the satisfaction of His people.

The number of loaves upon the table was twelve (Leviticus 24:6). Twelve expresses the number of the tribes. Not one is put aside. Each has its allotted place and represents a spiritual order which was also for the pleasure of God. We seem almost to have forgotten the value of this in our day, but there is loss when anything of God is not made good in us. The order should manifest itself in the way we meet together, the manner in which we dress, the relations we have with one another, and the mutual flow of love. Let us not forsake this spiritual order when we appear before God.

On each returning Sabbath the priests brought new supplies. Never was the table empty. The presence-bread was ever the same in substance and form. Thus we are taught the abiding presence of our Lord as the food of His people, and we are also taught, since we are in Christ as “one bread,” that we should ever continue in our worship and praise of Him.

We should not forget the crown of gold round about the table (Exodus 25:24), which sets forth our Lord’s headship and kingship. He is “the head of all principality and power” and also Head of the Church. It was a border round the table to keep everything on the table that nothing be lost. All is kept in spiritual order for the Lord’s pleasure.

As we come before the Lord as our Table of God’s pleasure, may our desires be to feast upon all that is set before us in Christ. Faith cries, “Evermore give us this Bread!” As the soul of man feeds upon the Lord Jesus as the Bread of Life, it is blessed and gathers strength for the days ahead. May we know what it is to be filled and satisfied, and to experience something of God’s blessedness and delight in His Son.

One body we, one body who partake,
One church united in communion blest;
One Name we bear, one bread of life we break,
With all Thy saints on earth and saints at rest.

One with each other, Lord, for one in Thee
Who art our Saviour and our living Head;
Then open Thou our eyes, that we may see;
Be known to us in the breaking of the bread.

George W. Briggs