I wrote the following on pages 212-214 in Looking Glass, The City God Loves:
The next section of this study is very interesting since we are going to take a look at the word “shewbread.” Exodus 25:30 says, “And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway” (KJV). According to the Strong’s Concordance, this word has two meanings in Hebrew. The first word, lechem, means “food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it).” The second word, paniym, means “the face.” When we put the words together, we get the phrase “bread of the face,” which is also called the “bread of the presence.” As already noted, the Lord’s face lines up with the bread bowl and the white spot. Therefore, we are looking at a picture of the “bread of Presence."
To me, it looks like the Lord is lying down on a table. King David says, "Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" (Psalm 23:5, KJV).
When we turn the picture to the east side, the bread bowl definitely resembles a bowl. In Stained Glass, The New Jerusalem, I considered the possibility that this bowl was from Heaven’s throne room. The beloved disciple tells us that “each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people” (Revelation 5:8).
Leviticus 24:7 explains that "by each stack [of bread] put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be a food offering presented to the Lord."
There is definitely a connection between prayer and God’s presence. When Jacob plans to meet with his brother, Esau, he is afraid (Genesis 32:7). He prays and asks God for help (vv. 9-12). The night before their scheduled meeting, Jacob wrestles with someone until daybreak (v. 24). Some people identify the visitor as an angel of the Lord. Others, however, think it was the Lord Himself. Oftentimes, just like Jacob, we struggle or wrestle with our faith. In verse 30, Jacob calls the place where they wrestled “Peniel.” This comes from the word panah, which is paniym in the plural form. Therefore, it is from the same root word as “shewbread.” It is interesting to note that Jacob named the place “Peniel” because he saw God face to face, and yet his life was spared (v. 30). The King James Version says his life was preserved. When we see Jesus face to face one day, we will know that our lives have been spared, that our lives have been preserved. Again, the concept of a covering comes to mind. The apostle Paul says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
I have to make one last observation before we move on to the altar of incense. Genesis 32:31 says that the sun rose above Jacob as he passed Peniel. In the picture, we see the Lord's face, an angel above Him, and then the dawn of a new day, symbolized by the white spot.
Jacob was also given a new name, Israel (v. 28). I am looking forward to receiving a new name one day, aren't you?
Copyright © 2016 Heidi Rabe