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Exodus 25:23-30 meaning

The next piece of tabernacle furniture described was a table. This table was to be where the "bread of the Presence" was placed. Included are other items (dishes and pans) that were to be used with this table. The instructions for constructing these objects are very precise (like the other items in the tabernacle).

After giving the instructions for building the ark, the LORD then described how to make what was probably the second most important item in the tabernacle—a table. This table was to be built using the following specifications:

It was to be made of acacia wood.

Its dimensions were to be two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high. Assuming that a cubit was around 18 inches, this would make the table three feet long (36 inches), 1 ½ feet (18 inches) wide, and 2 ¼ feet (27 inches) tall.

They were to overlay it with pure gold and make a gold border around it (v. 24). Just like the ark, the acacia wood was to be overlaid with gold and have a gold border. This showed that, just like the ark, the table was to be thought of as a very important item in the tabernacle.

It should also have a rim of a handbreadth around it. The handbreadth is thought to have been around three inches (the width of a hand). Thus, the rim would be a three-inch barrier, perhaps designed to prevent items from falling off the table. In addition, they were to add a gold border for the rim around it.

As seen with the ark, the table was to have four gold rings for it and put rings on the four corners which are on its four feet. These rings were to be close to the rim as holders for the poles to carry the table. The poles themselves were to be made of acacia wood, and they were to overlay them with gold. As with the ark, the poles and the rings were added so that with them the table may be carried.

Another similarity with the ark was that, before transporting, the table was to be covered by three things—a scarlet cloth, a blue cloth, and porpoise skins (Numbers 4:7 - 8).

Verse 29 describes how to make for the table its dishes and its pans and its jars and its bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. These dishes were not made for the purpose of "feeding the LORD."

In almost all of the Ancient Near East, pagan worshippers would leave food for their gods and goddesses to eat. They believed that their deities needed sustenance, so they would put food out for them to eat. Since the LORD never gets hungry (Psalms 50:12), the purpose of the food and the items on the table was to serve as a reminder that the LORD was the Provider of His people's physical needs. The bread and sacrifices at the table were to be done with gratitude and thanksgiving for His gracious provision. The cover on the ark represented the place of atonement (Exodus 26:34). The table possibly represented a place of provision, to remind the Israelites that God provided for them (Exodus 16:32-34).

Finally, the LORD instructed Moses to set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times. The bread of the Presence meant that the bread was to be in the presence of the LORD constantly. The bread itself consisted of twelve loaves (one for each tribe) placed in two rows (six in each row) on the table. The twelve loaves were to be replaced every Sabbath as an "everlasting covenant" (Leviticus 24:5 - 8).

In 1 Samuel 21:6, the priest let David eat the bread of the Presence that was removed to make way for fresh bread. This incident is referred to by Jesus in Matthew 12:3-7 to demonstrate that the most important thing about all the tabernacle displays and service was to learn the principles, and obey them in loving others as we love ourselves.

Jesus said "I am the Bread of Life" (John 6:48). Since the tabernacle was a "copy" of true things in heaven, and Christ entered the true tabernacle in heaven on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24) it is likely that this bread continually remaining in the Presence of God is a "copy" of Jesus, who is now continually seated at the right hand of God.

Later, the LORD said that the table was to be placed "on the north side" of the Holy Place (Exodus 26:35).


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