As we considered the instructions for building the tabernacle, we noticed that there was to be a table overlaid in gold in the presence of Yahweh. It was to have “showbread” on it and was to be before Yahweh always (25:30). This showbread is literally “face bread,” and it perhaps derives its name from the fact that it is literally “before the face of” Yahweh. But generally it refers to the nearness and presence of God, and therefore we might call it the bread of the presence or the bread of nearness. Of course most of Israel will never eat of this bread, only those priests who work in the tabernacle will be allowed to eat of this bread. This bread of God’s face reminds us of the elders and priests on Mt. Sinai who saw God and ate with him (24:11).
There’s so much meaning in the face. When we don’t want to talk to people we tend to look the other way. When we don’t want to be seen, we hide our face. If when we’re slightly embarrassed or ashamed we look down or away. This is why the Aaronic benediction says “The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you…” For the Lord to look at you is for him to be gracious to you. This table is where God assures you of his intentions to bless you. This is the bread of the presence, the bread of God’s face that he gives to you. And week after week, we stumble and trip up, and God keeps inviting us back here and he doesn’t look away. He doesn’t turn his face from you. Jesus turns his face toward you and invites you to eat and drink with him. He looks at you like the adulterous women in the gospel and asks, ‘where are your accusers?’ Go and sin no more. God has not turned his face from you; this is the table of his presence. Here you eat bread and drink wine before his face. Jesus looks at you and causes his face to shine upon. He rejoices over you; He smiles when he sees you. So come eat, drink, and rejoice.