God established that there would be bread set on a table before him in his house “continually” (Ex. 25:30). On this table God also commanded flagons to be set out (Ex. 25:29) filled with beer (Num. 28:7). This continued into God’s new covenant with Solomon (1 Kings 7:48), when God’s presence moved into a palace rather than a tent. Possibly the drink offerings at God’s table also contained wine, especially once Israel entered into the land of promise, as drink offerings of wine begin “when you come into the land” (Num. 15:1-10). Certainly God sets the table in his house today with bread and wine, and the tables in his tent and palace were both modeled after the pattern of his heavenly house (Ex. 25:40, 1 Chron. 28:11-19, Heb. 8:5), where there is surely wine (Matt. 26:29). The bread and beer and wine in God’s house were not reserved exclusively for him; he shared them with the priests who served in his house (Lev. 24:9). God commanded that the table would be refreshed weekly (Lev. 24:8).
The bread in God’s house is called “bread of the presence,” or more succinctly “face bread” or “show bread,” indicating that it rests in front of or in the presence of God. There are twelve loaves of bread on the table (Lev. 24:5), which strongly suggests that it symbolizes the nation of Israel. The table of bread sits before the lampstand, which is fashioned in the style of an almond tree (Ex. 25, 37) and which gives light in front of it (Num. 8:2). The almond design is significant because the Hebrew word for almond also means watcher. This strengthens the suggestion that the bread symbolizes Israel; the bread and lampstand symbolize God’s watching over Israel. Considering the lampstand to be the eyes of a watcher relates to Jesus’s statement that the eye is the lamp of the body (Matt. 6:22, Luke 11:34); our eyes take in and evaluate the world in the same way that the light of a lamp discovers and reveals what is present in a room. Further confirming this reading, elsewhere the seven lamps are explicitly said to be the seven eyes of God (Zech. 4), and Jesus himself is said to have seven eyes (Rev. 5:6).
You might think that in the new covenant, where all God’s people travel all the way in to the most holy place to stand before him in worship (Heb. 4:16), there would be no more need for bread and wine to stand before God to represent us. But the new covenant does have a table filled with bread and wine, and the bread is still said to symbolize Jesus’s body, the church (1 Cor. 10-11). The new covenant in Jesus does not bring an end to ritual; instead, it transforms the ritual in God’s house from one that highlights concentric circles of separation (only priests may enter the holy place, and only priests may eat from this table outside the house) to one that highlights our union with Jesus and with one another (all of God’s people are invited all the way in to his throne room to feast weekly with him).
Thus, weekly communion: in every covenant bread and wine are to be set out continually on the table in God’s house to welcome his people.