The Table of Shewbread in the Book of Revelation


“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” Psalms 77:13

“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8

“1Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.  2For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.  3And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;  4Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;  5And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.  6Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.  7But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:  8The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:  9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;  10Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.  11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;” Hebrews 9:1-11

1Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;  2A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.  3For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.  4For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:  5Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. Hebrews 8:1-5

It is the purpose of this article to show that God’s sanctuary is very important in His Word. The Sanctuary, especially the one that Moses built, has three basic divisions – the Courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. In the courtyard were two pieces of furniture the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver. In the Holy Place there were three pieces of furniture – the 7 Branched Candlestick, the Table of Shewbread, and the Altar of Incense. In the Most Holy Place there was one piece of furniture the Ark of the Covenant. All of these issues, the divisions of the sanctuary, and the furniture of the sanctuary, were all built according to the pattern revealed by God to Moses in the mountain. These concepts came from the mind of God and not of man.

For clarity’s sake the focus will be on the furniture of the Holy Place and especially that of the Table of Shewbread. In the book of Revelation two pieces of the Holy Place furniture are clearly identified - the 7 Candlesticks in Revelation chapters 1-3 and the Altar of Incense in Revelation 8:1-5. Since the pattern show by God to Moses in the mountain shows three pieces of furniture in the Holy Place division then the question would be reasonable to ask, where is the Table of Shewbread? Since we know that God is consistent in His symbolism and is not trying to hide things from us then we can ask these kinds of questions of God and His Word. It is the belief of this writer to show that the Table of Shewbread is indeed present in the book of Revelation and is tied explicitly to the 7 Seals in Revelation 8-11.

God does not make indefinite and obscure what He has plainly stated or taught. So when God refers us to His sanctuary, He wants us to understand it clearly and plainly. Therefore, I ask again, if 2 of the pieces of Sanctuary furniture are mentioned, and are connected to significant church history through the symbols of the Candlesticks and the Trumpets, would He neglect to mention the 3rd piece of Sanctuary furniture – the Table of Shewbread? It is the belief of this writer that the Table of Shewbread is connected to the 7 Seals, just as the Candlesticks are connected to the 7 Churches, and the Altar of Incense is connected to the 7 Trumpets.

Now let’s discuss the purpose of the Table of Shewbread more thoroughly from Bible history and see what Jesus has given us to ponder and meditate upon.

The Table of Shewbread in the Old Testament Sanctuary:

In Exodus 25:23-30 we have the first official presentation of the Table of Shewbread in the Mosaic Sanctuary. So let’s read about the Table of Shewbread and see what God has to say to us in Exodus 25:23-30:

23Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.  24And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.  25And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.  26And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.  27Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.  28And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.  29And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.  30And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me always”

Jesus told Moses to make a rectangular table – two cubits in length, or about 3 feet long (cubit equals about 18 inches so 2x18 equals 36 inches divided by 12 inches for a foot would give us about 3 feet) and a foot and a half wide (cubit equals 18 inches which is about 1 and ½ feet wide) and the height of the table was about 27 inches or a little over 2 feet high. The table was made out of Shittim wood, a wood that had qualities to last a long time and was “less subject to decay than any other to be obtained at Sinai.” Patriarchs and Prophets page 347. Then the table was to be overlaid with gold, and a golden crown/moulding was placed around the border of the table. Then there were four rings placed at the four corners to carry the table with staves/poles. This table was set on the North side of the Sanctuary (a type of the throne of God). Exodus 26:35; Exodus 40:22-23; Psalms 48:2; Isaiah 14:13; Daniel 11:44.

On top of the table was the Shewbread.  Leviticus 24:5-9 states that the Shewbread was made of fine flour made into 12 loaves. There is some confusion as to how much flour “two tenth deals” equates to (Leviticus 24:5; 23:17) but in the end the table was full of bread. The Shewbread consisted of 12 loaves that were baked each Friday and placed on the Table each Sabbath. The Shewbread by definition, was interpreted to mean – bread, or food. In Patriarchs and Prophets page 354 we are told the “Shewbread” meant “bread of the presence”. This would indicate that God’s ability to provide food for His children, both physical and spiritual, was an ever present abiding issue for God. This bread was a testimony of God’s ability to care for the needs of His people at all times and in all ways (II Corinthians 8:15). Patriarchs and Prophets states these truths in the following manner:

The showbread was kept ever before the Lord as a perpetual offering. Thus it was a part of the daily sacrifice. It was called showbread, or "bread of the presence," because it was ever before the face of the Lord. It was an acknowledgment of man's dependence upon God for both temporal and spiritual food, and that it is received only through the mediation of Christ. God had fed Israel in the wilderness with bread from heaven, and they were still dependent upon His bounty, both for temporal food and spiritual blessings. Both the manna and the showbread pointed to Christ, the living Bread, who is ever in the presence of God for us. He Himself said, "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven." John 6:48-51. Frankincense was placed upon the loaves. When the bread was removed every Sabbath, to be replaced by fresh loaves, the frankincense was burned upon the altar as a memorial before God.” Patriarchs and Prophets page 354

God’s messenger likens the Shewbread to the manna. By this, she is stating that all food provided by God is incorporated into the concept of the Shewbread and reveals that this was a daily concern for God, and revealed His ability to care for the needs of His people.

Additionally, the frankincense was a part of the Table of Shewbread. Frankincense was a symbol of the prayers of our Intercessor, and it was also a symbol of the prayers of God’s people covered with the righteousness of Jesus. (Revelation 8:3-4). This frankincense was burnt as a memorial before God when the Shewbread loaves were changed each Sabbath.

When the Shewbread was changed, it was to be eaten by the priests (Leviticus 24:9). It was holy bread and it was to be eaten by holy men of God in a holy place. This symbolized that God would feed His servants with His bread, both temporal and spiritual, while they did His service. God wants us to have the assurance that He was consistent in the past, the present, and the future, and that He is fully able to care for His people under all circumstances, especially as they were doing service for Him.

The ministry of the Table of Shewbread was also a part of the Daily, the perpetual ministry of Christ to continually keeping His merits ever before us (Numbers 28-29). This service is clearly stated in Leviticus 24:8 where God says “Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually.” In Leviticus 24:9 God says “…it is most holy unto Him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute.” In Numbers 4:7 we find “And upon the Table of Shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:” II Chronicles 2:4 states that “Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him, and to burn before Him sweet incense, and for the continual Shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the Lord our God. This an ordinance for ever to Israel.”

We need to discuss one more matter and that is Exodus 25:29 “And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.” These bowls and dishes were part of the Table of Shewbread. Now they could be part of the process of making the Shewbread, or they could be a part of the process to show the other side of an interesting Bible phrase “…bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” Isaiah 33:23-17 especially verse 16. The righteous will be cared for by Jesus and He will provide bread and water for His people. See Nehemiah 9:13-15. The Table of Shewbread should be seen as a symbol of God’s ability to provide for all of our needs, not just bread, but water, and everything needed for our spiritual journey just as He did for Israel of old.

God wants us to understand the sanctuary service so that we ever keep the intercessory merits of Jesus ever before our eyes. He wanted them to understand this in the past and He wants us to understand these things today for they are essential for our salvation. Now let’s see how God revealed these issues in the Old Testament.

The Table of Shewbread as a Part of the Daily:

In the Sanctuary service we know that the Sacrifice was to take place morning and evening of every day. (Numbers 28:1-8; II Chronicles 13:10-11) We also know that since the priest(s) came into the Holy Place every day this meant that they had to visit the Laver every day since they had to wash their feet every time they entered the Holy Place. (Exodus 30:17-21) Another part of the Daily service was the care for the Candlestick (the Light of the Truth going out to the congregation and the world every day). This Candlestick was the Lamp that burned continuously before the Lord. (Leviticus 24:1-4) The Altar of Incense was to burn incense “perpetually” to indicate the covering merits of Jesus were continuously available to all who believed. (Exodus 30:1-10 especially verses 7-8; II Chronicles 13:10-11). The final part of the Daily service was that of the Table of Shewbread. The Table was to have bread in the presence of God every day of the year, including the Day of Atonement. (Numbers 29:7-11) The Shewbread was to be a “continual” bread (Numbers 4:7; II Chronicles 2:4) to show that the Bread of Life was available for every man at all times (II Chronicles 13:10-11). As we read in Patriarchs and Prophets the Shewbread was to be a part of the Daily (Patriarchs and Prophets page 354). Thus, we are to trust that God has our full care in mind every single day of the year, including the Day of Atonement when the Intercessory Ministry of Jesus focuses on the Yearly. None the less, the Daily is conducted even during the Day of Atonement. (Numbers 29:7-11). This Daily Service symbolized the assurance of God’s everlasting care for His people.

How Jesus is Revealed in the Table of Shewbread in the OT:

Once we accept that the principle of the Table of Shewbread is a testimony of God’s ability to provide for His people, it opens doors for us to “see” how God has cared for His people all through history, and Jesus, our Creator, has not changed, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8. Jesus has always watched over His people and this was especially demonstrated when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. There were 2.5 million people ( 600 thousand men besides women and children Exodus 12:37) and there was “no food” in the wilderness for that many people. Yet, through the power of the Creator, Jesus created a table for them in the presence of their enemies. (Psalms 23:5). Jesus provided the Bread and the Water in the wilderness and thus gave a testimony to Israel, and to the world, of His power to care for His people on a daily basis. (I Corinthians 10:1-4).

But this fabulous wilderness story is not the only time that Jesus, our Creator, revealed His almighty power to provide and care for His people. Another testimony was in His week of Creation. Jesus created the earth, the plants, and the foods necessary for all creatures, including mankind. (Genesis 1:9-31) Jesus is always alert to providing for His people, both in physical and spiritual food, for Jesus testifies that He allowed the events of the Exodus to take place to test His people so that “…He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord, doth man live.” Deuteronomy 8:3.

Other examples of His providing care was when He revealed His love for Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:2-16), the miracles of provision to Elisha, the healing of the waters (II Kings 2:19-22); the provision of water for the two kings (II Kings 3:6-24); the multiplying of the oil for the prophet’s widow (II Kings 4:1-7); the healing of the food (II Kings 4:38-41); the feeding of the multitudes (II Kings 4:42-44); and the feeding of the nation of Samaria after the great famine and siege by Benhadad (II Kings 6:24-7:20). All of these events exemplified Christ’s ability to care for His people in emergencies and in daily living. Jesus wants us to remember that He is there for each of us every day and every night and that He will care for all of our needs if we but ask Him.

How Jesus is Revealed in the New Testament Sanctuary:

In the New Testament we see the earthly sanctuary that was built by Ezra and Nehemiah, and later enhanced by Herod. God stated that the glory of this sanctuary would be greater than the Temple that Solomon built. “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (Haggai 2:9).  We are told that the fulfillment of this promise happened when Jesus came to teach in the temple at Jerusalem. In Prophets and Kings pages 596-597,  God’s Prophet makes the following statement:

“The second temple did not equal the first in magnificence, nor was it hallowed by those visible tokens of the divine presence which pertained to the first temple. There was no manifestation of supernatural power to mark its dedication. No cloud of glory was seen to fill the newly erected sanctuary. No fire from heaven descended to consume the sacrifice upon its altar. The Shekinah no longer abode between the cherubim in the most holy place; the ark, the mercy seat, and the tables of testimony were not found there. No sign from heaven made known to the inquiring priest the will of Jehovah.

And yet this was the building concerning which the Lord had declared by the prophet Haggai: "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former." "I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts." Haggai 2:9,7. For centuries learned men have endeavored to show wherein the promise of God, given to Haggai, has been fulfilled; yet in the advent of Jesus of Nazareth, the Desire of all nations, who by His personal presence hallowed the precincts of the temple, many have steadfastly refused to see any special significance. Pride and unbelief have blinded their minds to the true meaning of the prophet's words.

The second temple was honored, not with the cloud of Jehovah's glory, but with the presence of the One in whom dwelt "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"--God Himself "manifest in the flesh." Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16. In being honored with the personal presence of Christ during His earthly ministry, and in this alone, did the second temple exceed the first in glory. The "Desire of all nations" had indeed come to His temple, when the Man of Nazareth taught and healed in the sacred courts.”

Jesus was the glory of the Sanctuary in Israel and He was the Revelation of all things concerning the Sanctuary. Jesus also identified Himself so fully with the Temple that He said in John 2:18-22 “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?  19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?  21But he spake of the temple of his body.  22When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.  23Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.  24But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,  25And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”

It is our job to study all facets of the Temple of God, both physically and spiritually, that we may remember the things that Jesus said to us. We must remember and understand these things so our hearts, minds, and lives will be in harmony with Him.

How Jesus is Revealed in the Table of Shewbread in the NT:

In believing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Temple concepts, it would behoove us to look at a few Sanctuary ideas. First of all, Jesus is the Temple. (John 2:19; Exodus 25:8; Revelation 21:22). Jesus’ body is a Revelation of all things of the Sanctuary: Jesus is the door to the Temple/Sheepfold. (John 10:1-10), Jesus is the white curtain of righteousness that surrounded the Temple (Matthew 22:11-14; Revelation 7:9-14), Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:36), Jesus is the Priest (Hebrews 7), Jesus died on the Altar of Burnt Offering for us (Hebrews 13:10-13),  Jesus is He Who watches over the candlesticks of the churches, (Revelation 1), Jesus is the One who conducts the intercessory ministry and supplies the incense of His righteousness to come up with the prayers of the Saints (Revelation 8:2-5), Jesus is the Ark of the Covenant – He was the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments as a living testimony of the Laws of God, (Psalms 119; Isaiah 42:21), Jesus was the High Priest symbolized by Aaron’s Rod that budded, (Numbers 17; Zechariah 6:13; Hebrews 2:17, Jesus was the Manna, represented by the bowl of manna in the Ark of the Covenant (John 6:48-51), Jesus had the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him and thus was the Shekinah (Colossian 2:9).

Since Jesus is all things in the Temple, He is also the fulfillment of the Table of Shewbread. It is clear that Jesus is the manna according to John 6:48-51. Jesus displayed His power to feed His people by feeding the 5000 (John 6:1-14). Jesus provided the food for His people, literally and spiritually. Jesus was the One who supplied the food and drink in the OT as described in I Corinthians 10:1-4. Jesus is the One who will supply all of our needs according to the riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Jesus is the One who cares for His people to the end. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Table of Shewbread for He is the One who sets the table in the wilderness to care for His people (Psalms 23:5).

The Table of Shewbread in the Holy Place Ministry of Jesus in Heaven:

We know that in the Holy Place in the Temple that Moses built there were three pieces of furniture – the Candlestick, the Altar of Incense, and the Table of Shewbread ( Exodus 37). In the Holy Place in heaven we have two of these pieces of furniture clearly revealed in the Candlestick/Churches (Revelation 1-3) and we have the Altar of Incense/Trumpets (Revelation 8-11). So logic requires us to look for the third piece of furniture, the Table of Shewbread. We have some clues in Revelation 7:15-17 where the Revelation of Jesus says that He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among God’s people. That “He” is Jesus for He will dwell with His people forever. (Revelation 21:3). In addition, Revelation 7:16-17 is reminiscent of Psalms 23 where God says He will take care of their hunger and thirst for the Lamb of God – Jesus our Great Shepherd – will lead them to fountains of waters and will feed them. This bread and water are symbolized by the Table of Shewbread. So these thoughts would give us some focus that Revelation 5-7 speaks to the Table of Shewbread issues.

A further piece of evidence is that the Lamb, who sits on the throne of God, is able to open the book/scroll spoken of in Revelation 5:1. In the Bible there are two references to men being offered a scroll by God with the intent that they are to eat the book and go through an experience with God (Ezekiel 2:1-3:14; Revelation 10). In both cases, the men of God were commanded to eat a book and then to pass on the messages to God’s people to prepare them for the experiences to come. If we were to look at Revelation 5 in the same manner, we would see that God has a book and He wants to feed it to His people so that they can also go out and give warning messages to the world. In Revelation 6-7 the opening of the seals indicates that another piece of the book is to be given to the world through His church. This progressive unfolding is God’s “feeding” His people to prepare them to go into the whole world with the Revealing of Jesus. This feeding with His Word is a symbol of the feeding of Bread – the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life sent from heaven for the nourishing of the nations. It is this writer’s opinion that the Seals are a revealing of the Bread of Life that came down from heaven for us (John 6).

The Role of the Table of Shewbread in the Prophecies of Revelation:

For an in-depth study of how the Seals from the book/Shewbread fulfill the prophecies of Revelation, I refer you to Revelation chapters 5-7 -;;;  where you will find plenty of material to keep you occupied in deep study.


The intent of this article was to discuss the history and development of the symbol of the Table of Shewbread in the Mosaic Sanctuary. This symbol was incorporated in the Temples built by Solomon, Ezra and Nehemiah. This symbol was displayed in the Daily care of God for His people throughout history: in the wilderness wanderings of the Children of Israel, the care of God in supplying the needs of His people through Bible history, and throughout Church history   until the time of the first coming of Jesus. When Jesus came to earth we were able to see Him fulfill the Living Table of Shewbread by His care of the people especially in the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus Himself tells us how this Table of Shewbread functioned in His discussion of Himself in John 6 where He states that He was the Bread of Life (John 6:26-58). Then Jesus tells us that He continually takes care of our needs to this very day, and then all the way to the end of time, for Jesus will always make sure that we have bread and water, both physically and spiritually, even if we flee to the wilderness like Israel of old.

In the book of Revelation the Table of Shewbread is also used as one of the three Holy Place furniture symbols in Chapters 1-11. These symbols are tied to the three groups of sevens laid out in the Revelation – the 7 Churches, the 7 Trumpets, and the 7 Seals. The 7 Churches are tied to the 7 branched Candlestick; the 7 Trumpets are tied to the Altar of Incense; and the 7 Seals are tied to the Table of Shewbread. As we discussed in this article, the Lamb of God is the Bread of Life and He gives us the Bread of life through His Word – the Scroll/the Bible. This Scroll has 7 seals on it that only Jesus, the Bread from Heaven, can unseal. As He unseals the messages from heaven He gives them to His church to go out to the world and share these messages so that all will be warned, and fed. It is this feeding, Revelation 7:17; John 6, which tells us that this activity is symbolized in the Table of Shewbread.

I pray that as you read this article that it will open up new vistas of study in the book of Revelation and that you will be able to “see” God’s ability to care for us in all our earthly and heavenly affairs. May God bless you in your future studies.