Exodus 25:23-40

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 7, 2008


Last week we began our study of this thing we call “The Tabernacle”.  The Tabernacle was to be a sort of portable worship center while the people wandered in the wilderness, sort of a “worship-in-a-box”.

We saw the shopping list that God gave Moses for gathering materials to build the Tabernacle.  We looked at the most famous part of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant.

Exodus 25:23-30 The Bread Table

:23 "You shall also make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height.

acacia wood – we saw this kind of wood used last week in the structure of the Ark.

Dimensions:  3feet long x 1 ½ feet wide x 2 ¼ feet high

:24 "And you shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold all around.

gold – just like the Ark, the table was made of wood covered with gold.  Everything inside the tent will be gold or covered with gold.

:25 "You shall make for it a frame of a handbreadth all around, and you shall make a gold molding for the frame all around.

framemicgereth – border, fastness, rim

Some pictures of the table have a simple lip or edge around the top. 

But the folks at the Temple Institute in Jerusalem have already built their table for the future Temple, and their table has in elaborate framework for holding trays that the bread goes in.

:26 "And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings on the four corners that are at its four legs.

:27 "The rings shall be close to the frame, as holders for the poles to bear the table.

:28 "And you shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be carried with them.

The Ark also had rings and poles so it could be moved by the priests carrying it.

The table has the same type of structure, making it all very portable.

:29 "You shall make its dishes, its pans, its pitchers, and its bowls for pouring. You shall make them of pure gold.

The table came with utensils, all made of gold.  The pitchers and bowls would be for pouring frankincense on the bread.

:30 "And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.

showbreadlechem – bread, food, grain; “Beth-Lehem” is the “House of Bread”. 

What makes this word special and causes the translators to call it “showbread” is the combination with the next word.

before Mepaniym – face; before, in the presence of

The “showbread” is the “bread of face”, the “bread of presence”, of the “bread before God”.

The table was supposed to be placed on the northern side of the Tabernacle.

Facts about the bread (Lev. 24:5-9)

(Lev 24:5-9 NKJV)  "And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. {6} "You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. {7} "And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD. {8} "Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. {9} "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the LORD made by fire, by a perpetual statute."

Each loaf of bread contained “two-tenths of an ephah” of flour, or something close to four quarts of flour, each loaf weighed about 6 pounds.  That’s a lot of bread.
There were twelve loaves of bread on the table (72 pounds of bread).
Frankincense was put on top of the bread.
Fresh bread was put on the table every Saturday (every Sabbath).
The old bread was to be eaten by the priests.

The Table in heaven

We mentioned last week that the Tabernacle is a picture of heaven (Heb. 8:5).  Is there a table in heaven?

(Rev 19:9 NKJV)  Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' " And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."

If there’s a “marriage supper”, I don’t think we’ll be eating on the floor or off of TV trays. I think we’ll all be at the table.
Matthew Henry:  “In the royal palace it was fit that there should be a royal table.”

What does it mean?  What’s it about?

Some see the bread as a picture of the nation of Israel, twelve loaves representing the twelve tribes before God.  Could be.

Others see this as a picture of communion.  We talk about coming to the Lord’s table.  Communion is about eating bread and wine (or grape juice), which is what the priests would do after they changed the bread each Saturday.

Others see Jesus all over this, both in the table and in the bread.

We know that Jesus said He was the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35,48), but Jesus was comparing Himself to the manna in the wilderness, not the showbread in the Tabernacle.

We’ll hold that question for a few minutes while we look at some other things…

David and the showbread

David and his men were on the run. David’s boss, Saul, was out to kill David.  David was running out of food, and he went to the Tabernacle to ask for help.

(1 Sam 21:1-6 NKJV)  Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, "Why are you alone, and no one is with you?" {2} So David said to Ahimelech the priest, "The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, 'Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.' And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. {3} "Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found." {4} And the priest answered David and said, "There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women."

“holy bread” – Ahimelech is talking about the showbread.

{5} Then David answered the priest, and said to him, "Truly, women have been kept from us about three days since I came out. And the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in effect common, even though it was sanctified in the vessel this day." {6} So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread which had been taken from before the LORD, in order to put hot bread in its place on the day when it was taken away.

Jesus knew about this story.  There was a principle in this story that He used to deal with the legalism of the Pharisees…

(Mat 12:1-8 NKJV)  At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. {2} And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!" {3} But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: {4} "how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? {5} "Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? {6} "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. {7} "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. {8} "For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

Jesus’ whole point of bringing up David’s story with the showbread was to show that even though David was technically breaking the Law of Moses by eating the showbread, God allowed it because God is a God of mercy.  Jesus was trying to deal with the legalism of the Pharisees and their view that you shouldn’t do work on the Sabbath like feeding yourself.
But Jesus points out that God did allow David and his men to eat the showbread.
I wonder if that isn’t because the basic principle of the showbread was still intact, it was spiritual food from God’s presence, feeding God’s people.


Spiritual food

To me, this is the main lesson from the table – the fact that God provides us with spiritual food.
The bread didn’t stay in the Tabernacle permanently (like the Ark or the Menorah)
It wasn’t actually given to God, as if He would eat it – that would require it being burnt on the altar.
The bread stayed for a week and then was meant to be eaten by the priests … or even warriors on the run like David…
I wonder if the real importance of the bread isn’t about it being in the Tabernacle, but fact that it is eaten after having been in the Tabernacle.

That’s what makes it the “bread of Presence”

I see it as a picture of spiritual food.

Food that comes from God.  Food that has been with God.

There are twelve loaves, enough for everyone, for all twelve tribes.


For Teachers

If you are a Bible teacher – whether you teach an adult study or you teach preschoolers, there are a few tips here about preparing “spiritual food”.
Four ingredients to this spiritual food:
Flour – ground up grain, not stalks of wheat – make sure you’ve spent some time grinding up the seed of the Word so it can be consumed.

Make sure your teaching is edible, understandable, practical.

J.Vernon McGee used to say, “Be sure to put the cookies on the lower shelf for the children.”

Oil – we aren’t told that oil was in the mix, but it’s the most common liquid used to make breads in the Bible.  Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. It’s the importance of the Holy Spirit being involved in your ministry
Incense - The bread was covered with incense, which is a symbol in the Bible of prayer

The importance of prayer in your preparation

Asking God for insight as you prepare

Asking God for His work in the people you are sharing with

Asking God to water the seeds after you’ve taught

The Presence - This bread was unique because it had spent a week in God’s presence before it was served.
I find that sometimes the best things come when you’ve done your studying, and you lay it all before the Lord and let it just sit before Him.
We all have our favorite teachers – mine are the ones that I get the sense that they are teaching me things that they have received from the Presence of God.
(1 Cor 11:23 NKJV)  For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you…

:31-40 The Menorah

:31 "You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.

lampstand[email protected] – lamp stand

All that’s going to be described is going to be made out of a single piece of gold.

:32-37 Summarize …

God goes on to describe in detail how this lampstand is supposed to be made. 

It will have seven lamps on it and have a design theme of almond blossoms running through it.

We have a clue as to what it looks like because the ancient Romans carved a picture of it on Hadrian’s Arch, after they took it from Jerusalem in AD 70.

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem has one on display.  It’s pretty big, almost the size of a man.  The picture is of our tour guide Amir Tsarfati standing in front of the Menorah.

:32 "And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.

:33 "Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower; and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand.

:34 "On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower.

:35 "And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand.

:36 "Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold.

:37 "You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.

:38 "And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold.

The pictures are of some of the instruments used to maintain the Menorah – a cleaning vessel with tongs and brushes, and pitcher for refilling the oil.

:39 "It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils.

talent – thought to be about 75 pounds.

:40 "And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.

As with all of the Tabernacle, Moses apparently got a glimpse on Mount Sinai as to what all these things should look like.  We think God gave him a glimpse of the reality, a glimpse of heaven.

Now to the questions…

How did it work?

It was placed on the southern side of the Tabernacle.

Every evening a priest would enter into the Tabernacle and light the lamps.  The lamps would be burning all night.

The lamps were intended for making light inside the Tabernacle during the night.

Every morning a priest would enter the Tabernacle, snuff out the lamps and prepare them for the evening by trimming the wicks, cleaning the bowls, and adding fresh oil (Ex. 27:20-21; 30:7-8)

The Menorah in heaven

If the Tabernacle is a picture of heaven (Heb. 8:5), is there a table in heaven?

Actually there are several.

(Rev 4:5b NKJV)  …Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
This might sound at first like the Holy Spirit.  Could be.  I wonder if it isn’t the angels that are watching over the churches …
(Rev 1:12-13 NKJV)  Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, {13} and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man…
(Rev 1:20b NKJV)  …and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
I kind of think this is a description of the Menorah in heaven.

What does the lamp represent?


(John 8:12 NKJV)  …"I am the light of the world…
I don’t mind when everyone likes to point to Jesus as the symbol behind everything.  That’s okay with me.  But I’m not sure I’d stop there.  I’m not so sure that Jesus needs His “wick” trimmed or His lamp refilled with oil.  I don’t think that Jesus needs help from a priest to keep burning.


(Mat 5:14-16 NKJV)  "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. {16} "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
To me this is the clearer picture of the Menorah.
It’s you and I.  We shine like Jesus shines.  But we also need a little help.
Light Responsibilities:
Evening duties:  Shine in this dark world.
Morning duties:  Clean up your act.  Add fresh oil – be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Start the day right and you will be ready to shine in a dark world.
Extra Credit:  Read Ephesians 5:5-21 – watch for “light” and the “oil”.
(Eph 5:5-21 NKJV)  For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. {6} Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. {7} Therefore do not be partakers with them. {8} For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Paul has reminded us of what the “darkness” is all about.  There is wickedness in this world.  We used to be that, but now we’re different.
Walk as children of light {9} (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), {10} finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. {11} And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
This is what light does.  It helps you see what is in a dark room.
{12} For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. {13} But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.
I’m not sure that Paul is saying that we have to go around and point out sin in people’s lives.  I think that as you live uprightly before the Lord, your life all by itself will turn on the light.
{14} Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." {15} See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, {16} redeeming the time, because the days are evil. {17} Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
We live in dark days.  We need to figure out what it means to follow the Lord.  Paul then tells us what one of those important things are:
{18} And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
Isn’t it interesting that in this passage talking about being a “light”, Paul also talks about the “oil”, being “filled with the Spirit”?
What does it mean to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit?

It simply means that you open yourself up, you yield your life into His hands.  You ask the Holy Spirit to be in control of your life.

{19} speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, {20} giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, {21} submitting to one another in the fear of God.
These are all things that happen in our lives as we learn to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit.

I want to end with a story about being a “light”


In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch. He was stunned when a garbage man dressed in filthy rags found it and returned it to him. Farahat asked him why he didn't just keep the watch. The garbage man said, "My Christ told me to be honest until death." Farahat later told a reporter: "I didn't know Christ at the time, but I told [the garbage man] that I saw Christ in him. I told [him], 'Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.'"

Farahat studied the Bible and grew in his faith. Two years later he visited the garbage man's village outside Cairo, where between 15,000 and 30,000 people were living in poverty and squalor. There was no electricity or running water. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling were pervasive. Men, women, and children sifted through huge mountains of garbage, looking for something of value that could be sold for cash or traded for food. Farahat found himself reflecting on the words of Jesus: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." He also remembered the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:13: "We have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things." It was soon thereafter that Farahat and his wife began ministering to people's spiritual and material needs. They preached the gospel throughout Egypt, and thousands of people turned to Christ.

In 1978, Farahat was ordained by the Coptic Orthodox Church and became known as Father Sama'an. Now, about 10,000 believers meet in a large cave outside the garbage village. It is the largest church of believers in the Middle East. In May of 2005, a day of prayer was held for Muslims to turn to Christ. More than 20,000 Arab Christians gathered. The event was also broadcast on a Christian satellite TV network, where millions were watching. All this, because one garbage man chose to humbly return a watch that would have made him the richest man in town.

Jerry DeLuca, Montreal West, Canada; source: Joel C. Rosenberg, Epicenter, Tyndale House Publishers (2006), p. 206



"It ought to be possible to live a Christian life without being a Christian," laments Roy Hattersley, a columnist for the U.K. Guardian. An outspoken atheist, Hattersley came to this conclusion after watching the Salvation Army lead several other faith-based organizations in the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina.

"Notable by their absence," he says, were "teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers' clubs, and atheists' associations—the sort of people who scoff at religion's intellectual absurdity." According to Hattersley, it is an unavoidable conclusion that Christians "are the people most likely to take the risks and make the sacrifices involved in helping others."

Hattersley also notes that this pattern of behavior goes beyond disaster relief:

Civilized people do not believe that drug addiction and male prostitution offend against divine ordinance. But those who do are the men and women most willing to change the fetid bandages, replace the sodden sleeping bags, and—probably most difficult of all—argue, without a trace of impatience, that the time has come for some serious medical treatment.

"The only possible conclusion," says Hattersley, "is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make [Christians] morally superior to atheists like me."

Roy Hattersley, "Faith Does Breed Charity," Guardian.co.uk(9-12-05); submitted by Sam O'Neal, St. Charles, Illinois


Hurricane Isabel was front-page news in September 2003 as it rampaged through the Middle Atlantic States, coming ashore first in all its fury near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, site of one of America's most famous lighthouses.

When the storm hit Hatteras, the only road to the outside was destroyed. Oceanfront houses were swept from their cement foundations and dropped elsewhere on the island. One entire hotel was deposited like a soggy cardboard box in the middle of a street. Appliances littered the island. But the lighthouse on the tip of the island remained standing.

That is a picture of what God's people should be like.

Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; source: "East Coast Battered and Dazed by Isabel," Chicago Tribune (9-20-03)

Be a light