We now leave the court, the brazen altar, and shining laver behind and now enter by the beautifully embroidered door to the first apartment of the sanctuary. This is called the Holy Place and it is here that we will inspect its golden vessels. This was a very splendid chamber that was 15 feet wide by 30 feet long. The ceiling above, the walls on both sides, and the veil were all decorated with blue, purple and scarlet cherubim that were beautiful to behold.
The table of shewbread stood on the right hand or north side of the Tabernacle. It was made of acacia wood and overlayed with gold. This table was 3 feet long x 1 1/2 feet wide x 2 feet high in our measurements today. Its top was encircled by an upright ornamental rim or crown of gold, which may have served to keep articles from falling off the table. The legs were united and the framework compacted by a three inch border with a golden crown around it. The four rings through which the gold-covered staves passed for carrying the table were placed at the four corners over against the border.
There were several utensils in connection with the table. They were all made of gold, but nothing is really mentioned about the purposes they served. The dishes would have been plates for the shewbread to be placed on; the bowls were for holding the wine that was poured out as a sacrifice in the holy place; the spoons or cups were for holding the frankincense that was set on each pile of bread.
Leviticus 24: 5-6 – Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold before the Lord.
The Bread was made of fine unleavened flour. There were twelve cakes in two piles of six each that always stood on the table. On that account this was called perpetual or continual bread. It was always arranged in the order that God had foretold to Moses. On top of each pile was placed
Frankincense, probably in the cups that were spoken of. It is thought by some that the frankincense was burned once a week when the bread was being renewed, and by others that it burned all the time. The later would have taken a huge amount of frankincense unless they had some way that it could be burned very slowly. That way not much of it would have been consumed at each time.
Presence Bread – The bread itself was called shewbread, which in Hebrew meant “bread of faces” or presence bread, because it was in God’s dwelling place with only the veil intervening from here and the Holy of Holies.
The Renewal of the Bread – The bread was renewed every Sabbath by fresh loaves. The loaves removed belonged to the priests, and could be eaten by them only, and in the holy place and nowhere else. This Thank-offering was particularly holy and could not be taken out of that place.
Only the shewbread, the incense offerings, and the wine which was poured out for sacrifice were presented in the Holy Place. It is not expressly said in the Bible that wine stood on the table, but it is evident that the bowls were intended for this purpose. To ‘cover withal’ in verse 29 actually means in the original Hebrew “to pour out withal”. All the other offerings were brought to the brazen altar in the court. The ceremonies that were connected with the sacrifices would not last very long but in the case of the shewbread, it was said that “He shall set it in order before the Lord continually”. It is thought that the significance of this meant that the constant memorial was symbolic of God’s goodness in providing for the nourishment of His people.
In regards to the New Testament church, the bread and wine are thought to be symbolic of the spiritual nourishment that can be had from God because all true believers are members of the royal priesthood and invited to partake of all God’s wonderful blessings. The golden table might point to the abundant supply of good things prepared in the heavenly temple for those who are truly followers of Christ. God will refresh us continually if we will let Him with all His many wonderful blessings on our lives.
The picture below is a general idea of what this table may have looked like.