- The significance of eating is fellowship, enjoyment, and becoming one with what we eat; this eating is typified by the enjoyment of the good land.
- Participating in and enjoying the Lord’s table is a practical way to flee idolatry, which is to enjoy something other than the Lord Himself.
- Further, this eating enables us to live the Christian life, establish the kingdom of God, and build up the house of God.
- Therefore, we need to eat and enjoy the Lord every day as the reality of the table, the feast, and the riches of the good land.
Eating signifying Fellowship, Enjoyment, and Oneness
First Corinthians 10:12-22, is part of a long section which deals with the matter of eating. Eating is related to enjoyment. Whenever you eat something, you enjoy it. Furthermore, what we eat becomes us. On the one hand, eating is for our enjoyment; on the other hand, we become what we eat. These basic concepts should be applied in understanding this portion. To eat idol sacrifices actually means to enjoy idols and eventually to become one with idols. In the same principle, to partake of the Lord’s table is to enjoy this table and to become one with it; that is, to enjoy the Lord and become one with Him.
In 1 Corinthians 1:9 Paul says that we have been called into the fellowship of Christ. This means that Christ is our portion for our enjoyment. In 1 Corinthians 10:16 the fellowship is of Christ’s blood and body. When the Lord Jesus ate with His disciples and established the table, He “took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body” (Matt. 26:26). Then taking the cup and giving thanks, “He gave it to them, saying, Drink of it, all of you” (v. 27). Today the Lord invites us to His table and says of the bread and the cup, “This is My body; take and eat…This is My blood; take and drink.” Today the One who presents His body and blood to us is Christ as the life-giving Spirit. This wonderful Christ is everything to us for our enjoyment. All that He is, is for our participation and enjoyment. He gives Himself to us as our food supply so that we may enjoy Him. Oh, may the Lord open our eyes! He, the all-inclusive One, has given His body for us to eat and His blood for us to drink. He has given us Himself so that we may partake of Him and enjoy Him by eating and drinking Him.
The Lord’s Table Being the Reality of the Good Land,
and Eating this Table Enabling us
to Establish the Kingdom and Build Up the Temple
In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul presents Israel as a type of the believers today. Whenever we come to the Lord’s table to enjoy Christ as the all-inclusive One, in our experience we are in the good land enjoying the riches of the land. This means that the good land has become a table, a feast, for our enjoyment. At this table, this feast, we are satisfied, and God is satisfied also. If we see this, we shall realize that to enter into the good land is to come to the Lord’s table.
Do you know how the children of Israel established the kingdom of God on earth and how they built the temple of God? They did this through the enjoyment of the riches of the good land. Because the children of Israel enjoyed these riches, they could defeat their enemies. The riches of the land not only enabled the people to live; they also equipped them to fight and bring in the kingdom of God. Furthermore, the riches of the land supplied them with what they needed to build God’s temple. Therefore, both the kingdom of God and the temple come into being through the enjoyment of the riches of the good land. The riches of the land were the source of the living of the children of Israel. These riches were also the supply for them to defeat the enemy, establish the kingdom of God, and build the temple of God. One day the glory of God descended and filled this temple. That was the consummate result of the enjoyment of the riches of the good land.
The experience of the children of Israel in the good land typifies our enjoyment of Christ today. Christ is our good land, and the various aspects of the riches of Christ are typified by the produce of the land. If we enjoy the rich supply of Christ, we shall be able to live Christ. We shall also be empowered to defeat the enemies. The enemies are always defeated when we enjoy Christ. Furthermore, through the enjoyment of the riches of Christ, the kingdom of God is established in the church, and the temple is built for God’s dwelling place. All these matters—living the Christian life, defeating the enemies, establishing the kingdom of God, and building the house of God—issue out from the enjoyment of the riches of Christ.
Eating the Lord’s Table to Flee Idolatry
In 1 Cor 10:7 Paul says, “Neither become idolaters, as some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” This is a definition of idolatry. There is a difference between idol worship and idolatry. Idol worship involves bowing down before an idol and worshiping it. Idolatry is wider in scope, for it involves eating, drinking, and playing. In this country people may not worship idols, but they may practice idolatry. On the holidays or on weekends they may give themselves over to various forms of amusement and entertainment. They may eat and drink and rise up to play. This is idolatry.
Idolatry involves the enjoyment of something other than the Lord Himself. Today people everywhere are practicing idolatry, for they are enjoying many things which are not the Lord Himself. The living of worldly people is a living in idolatry. They sit down to eat and drink, and then they rise up to play. We should neither worship idols nor become involved with idolatry. As we have seen, the meaning of idolatry is much broader than the meaning of idol worship.
In 1 Corinthians 10:14-26, Paul talks about the Lord’s table using idolatry as a background. In verse 14 Paul says, “Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Here we see that there are two tables: the table of the Lord and the table of demons. To partake of a table is to eat of it. To drink the cup of the Lord and partake of the table of the Lord is to identify ourselves with the Lord. To drink the cup of demons and partake of the table of demons is to make ourselves one with demons. In the same principle, to eat the body of Christ is to have the fellowship of Christ. It is to participate in Christ and to become one with Him. This is not simply a doctrine or principle; it is a reality.
Christ today is the life-giving Spirit. Demons also are spirits. The life-giving Spirit is rich and all-inclusive. The demonic spirits, on the contrary, are evil and unclean. One can be saturated and occupied either by a demon, an evil spirit, or by Christ as the life-giving Spirit. We live according to that with which we are occupied and saturated. If we eat Christ and are saturated with Him as the life-giving Spirit, we shall live Christ. In like manner, if we eat the sacrifices to demons and are saturated with demons, we shall live demons. Ultimately, in the entire universe there are only two tables: the table of demons, which causes people to be one with demons, and the table of the Lord, which causes the believers to be one with the Lord. In either case, we are what we eat.
If we come to the Lord’s table with this understanding, we shall come with a different spirit and a different realization. The cup of blessing which we bless is certainly the fellowship of the blood of Christ, and the bread which we break is the fellowship of the body of Christ. Today when we partake of the Lord’s table, we are fulfilling the type of how the children of Israel were gathered around the altar, enjoying whatever was offered on the altar for God’s satisfaction. As we are feasting, we satisfy the Lord whom we worship. This is the proper dealing with the matter of eating.
Our Daily Eating of Christ Preparing us for the Lord’s Table
The Lord’s table is the true enjoyment of the Lord Himself. The Lord’s table is not only a matter of a meeting on the Lord’s Day; this table should be our enjoyment every day, even continually. Day by day, the Lord is our good land, our feast, our table.
The proper way to deal with eating is to feast on the Lord. Do not eat anything other than the Lord, and do not enjoy anything in place of Him. We should not have any enjoyment other than Christ. Christ is our table, our feast, our land. As the good land, Christ is a rich feast for our enjoyment. When we feast on Him, we live Him. Then we are able to defeat the enemies, establish the kingdom of God, and build up His temple. This is God’s goal and the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.
If the saints in a local church have no problems when they come to the Lord’s table, and if everyone fellowships with the Lord and with others in spirit, that is a church, a temple, which has truly been built up. Furthermore, with the temple of God there is the kingdom of God. Those who have become the temple and the kingdom through the enjoyment of Christ are surely those who live Christ.
- What is the significance of fellowship when we connect 1 Cor 1:9 and 1 Cor 10:16? How is this related to our partaking of the Lord’s table?
- Why does Paul use idolatry as a background for presenting the significance of the Lord’s table to the Corinthians? In what ways can the Lord’s table help us to flee idolatry?
- How is the type of the children of Israel a picture of our partaking of the Lord’s table? How are the different aspects of the produce of the good land, the defeating of the enemies, the establishing of the kingdom, and the building of the temple related to our enjoyment of the Lord’s table?
- How does our daily eating of Christ enable us to partake of the Lord’s table?
- How can we help one another to exercise our spirit when we come to the Lord’s table?
Excerpts taken from Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Messages 49-51