Eat Local and Die


Understanding the Two Tables

Another thought on Jesus’ “joke” in Matthew 24. In Menu for the the Dirty Birds, I wrote:

“For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” Matthew 24:28

Tabernacles, as the final harvest of the year (grapes and olives), was also called “Ingathering.” Matthew 24 also follows the feast structure (twice), and Jesus uses this factor to make a terrifying joke.

As a holy priesthood, we are to be eaten by the world. But there are two Tables and we often confuse them.

The Aaronic priesthood was authorised to make sacrifices and to be sacrifices, standing face-to-face as mediators, as Facebread, the broken Adam, in the very presence of God. They were then to be bread to the nations. Mostly, they horded the bread.

Passover was a Table for Jews only. The Gentiles could only look on. [1] Tabernacles, however, was a Table for the nations. 70 bulls were sacrificed for the Gentiles (picturing the original 70 nations listed in Genesis 10)[2]. Gentiles were invited to join in the celebrations, picturing the body unified in the process leading up to AD70.

The Jewish leaders abused the “talent” God had given them. The very purpose of their nation from the beginning, besides carrying the promised “seed”, was to be a witness to Gentiles, a priesthood to the human race. Every year was to end in a combined Jew-Gentile “Godfest.”

However, the Herods had turned this on its head, just as the kings did before the exile. In Jesus’ time, the satanic Jewish leadership forbad eating with Gentiles (the same way the Closed Brethren will not even eat with other Christians today, let alone unbelievers). In their twisted thinking, they thought the very ministry God had given them would defile them. Instead, their refusal to eat with Gentiles was the outflow of what truly defiled them.

The defining feast for Herod’s “renewed” Judaism and finished Temple was “the biggest Passover ever” in AD 65. Millions of lambs were sacrificed. It should have been the biggest Tabernacles ever, so Jesus brought that about in AD70, turned on its head…

Bursting the elitist bubble

This other aspect of Jesus’ Tabernacles irony in Matthew 24 concerns the nature of this Holy Table that had become “a snare.” Since the Jews would not invite Gentiles to eat at this Table that God had prepared, God brought Gentiles to the Table anyway. The walls of Jerusalem held them at bay for three and a half years, during which Jews starved and some even resorted to cannibalism. Finally, the Gentiles broke in and totally consumed the city. The Old Covenant curses fell for the last time and brought about its end—forever. There is no longer Jew nor Gentile.

How does this apply to us? The Lord’s Table is exclusive. All are invited to eat on His terms. Repentance, baptism and membership of a church (accountability) are required. It is a call for judgment upon us, for fire to fall upon us as sacrifices. We are slain and resurrected for the world every week. This is not the time or place to sit around informally at cafe tables. “Cafe church” brings confusion and invites destruction. Church, liturgy and church music are supposed to be different from the world.

But outside of this, we must be eating with unbelievers. We eat with them in their houses and ours “on their terms”. That’s the place for “Cafe Church.” As the Lord is food on our Table, we are the food on the godless tables of the world. This age is leading us to the final great Tabernacles, the end of the believer/unbeliever division, just as AD70 was the end of the Jew/Gentile bipolarity. [3] We are the bridge. But the two Tables must not be confused.

Even in their proselytising, the Jews got their two Tables mixed up, and very often we do too. Jewish exclusivism always brought barrenness, scarcity. It left the righteous begging for bread, so God “injected” believing Gentiles as new blood, epitomised in Caleb, Rahab, Ruth and others. When Israel was faithful, the kings of the world brought their glory into the kingdom. (Note this exact scenario in Acts 11:28-30).

Either way, we are eaten

If we insist on a policy of “Eat Local”, and confuse the Lord’s Table with the Love Feast, the Gentiles eventually come not as guests but as scavengers. They tear up the Temple stones looking for melted gold. Our church buildings become cafes, B&Bs and hair salons.

We are not to be simply sheltered (Passover), but to be a shelter (Tabernacles). Snobbery never attracted anyone humble, did it? [4]

Comments invited.

[1] See Looking in Faith.
[2] This followed the single bull sacrificed for the priesthood at Atonement.
Bull – High Priest /  Goats – Israel / Bulls – nations. Again perhaps this is Word, Sacrament, Government.
[3] See Three Babylons.
[4] For a fantastic illustration of this principle applied to commerce, see Ben Merckle’s Buy Local.

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