The Two Tables
In 1 Corinthians 10:21 we have the plain statement that “Ye cannot partake of the Lord’s table, and the table of demons.” It does not say “Ye may not;” it is an impossible thing to do. This may sound strange, but it is God’s truth and nothing can alter it.
To understand this we need to study the context, and in doing so certain things become evident; we must distinguish between the Lord’s table and, the Lord’s supper. At the former the child of God should sit and feast in spirit at all times: the latter is an occasion when we show this unitedly and visibly.
Another thing becomes clear; the writer has the subject of temptation in mind and the chapter deals with the fact that the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt and cared for by God; yet with most of them He was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Five definite sins are mentioned. First they lusted after evil things, a sin that can be committed with ease by any one of us. Then they held a feast to the Lord and in doing so they introduced a golden calf, perhaps thinking of the calf whose blood was shed to bring them into covenant relationship with God: but a golden calf was a prime object of Egyptian worship, so their festival became idolatry and not a feast to the Lord at all. These things were written in order to teach us lessons, becoming both an example and a warning, and one wonders at times if such things happen today, and whether the Lord’s supper may be such a mixture that it may have nothing in it for God. Indeed verse ten appears to give a warning against speaking against God’s appointed elders, a thing which is little regarded today, but a serious sin in the sight of God.
Therefore He next gives the warning, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” because danger is not far from each one of us, and temptations become strong. Yet God immediately reminds us that He will not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear and made a way for us to escape. Then Paul brings before us the statement concerning the cup which we bless and the bread which we break, which is the communion of the blood and body of Christ of which we are partakers; and, as if to illustrate the point in view, he says, “Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” Why did the priest eat of the sacrifice? Obviously to gain strength to serve God in the tabernacle, and thus we can feast our soul on Christ in order to gain strength to resist temptation.
Hence the difficulty which might arise, as to why we cannot feast at both tables at once, becomes clear, because when we feast our soul on Christ and His suffering on our behalf, we react against all that Satan has for us, so that we cannot eat of the two tables at the same time.
We may sit in the assembly and eat and drink of the Lord’s supper, and yet if we have been feeding our soul at the table of demons during the week, we shall certainly not find ourselves feasting at the Lord’s table; indeed we shall be very nearly placing ourselves in the position of those who eat and drink unworthily. (1 Cor. 11:27).
Is this the reason why, so often, hymn singing is prominent, while thanksgiving is in the background? or why so many are silent when they should be praising? as if it were a mournful feast instead of a joy? May God forbid! His table is enough: we need no other for our spiritual well being; and the more we habitually feed there, the more we shall overflow with thanksgiving when we are together for the God-ordained ordinance of the Supper.