“Arrange them in two stacks, six in each stack, on the table of pure gold before the Lord.”
— Leviticus 24:6
When someone wears a wedding ring, it shows that they have a distinctive relationship with another person. The ring is a constant reminder of a promise made, and it affects the behavior and identity of both persons in the present and in the future.
In some ways, the visible symbol of bread at the center of the tabernacle was like that: it was a symbol of the people’s life committed to the one true God. Though the book of Leviticus is not always easy to understand, it helps to know that the overall point of Leviticus is about God graciously providing a way for his beloved but flawed people to live in his presence, just as he lived in theirs. Not long after God sent manna, bread from heaven, to his people in the wilderness (Exodus 16), God gave them these Levitical guidelines for holy living. In these ways the people could demonstrate their gratitude, awe, and worship of God. Twelve fresh loaves of bread were to be on display on a gold table in the holy tent of meeting as the “bread of the Presence” (Exodus 25:30)—a visible symbol that God was present with his people. The bread was a covenant reminder that God had rescued his people, set them free, and called them to live distinct lives of love for God and for their neighbors.
Lord and God, just as your people were reminded of your awesome, life-giving presence when they looked at the “bread of the Presence” in the place of worship, so may we remember your love and mercy. Amen.