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’, or ‘Ye should not’, but ‘Ye cannot’: 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 it becomes evident that 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. Also another thing that becomes clear, is that 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 arc mentioned -i. First they lusted after evil things, a sin that can be com¬mitted with case by any one of us.
2. 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, Heb. 9. 19: so their festival became idolatry and not a feast to the Lord at all.
3. The men of Israel married the daughters of Moab, Num. 25. 1-9, this God called fornication, and thousands died under the hand of judgment.
4. They tempted Christ by their murmuring against the way God led them, Num. 21. 5-7.
5. They murmured against God’s appointed leaders. This is not clear as to die time it happened, but appears to refer to the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Num. 16.
These sins can be placed under the heading of LUST, IDOLATRY, SEX SINS, TESTING GOD, and speaking against God’s appointed elders, thus EVIL SPEAKING, the latter being little regarded today, but it is a serious sin in the sight of God.
These things were written in order to teach us lessons, both becoming an example and a warning, and there is a danger of partaking of the Lord’s Supper with such sins upon the conscience, making the supper a place where ‘he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, 1 Cor. 11, 29.
Therefore Paul next gives the warning word ‘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 we are immediately reminded that God will not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear and has 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 wc 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?’ But why did the priest eat of the sacrifice? Obviously to gain strength to serve God in the tabernacle, and so also we can feast our soul on Christ in order to gain strength to resist temptation.
Indeed, when one realizes the cost it was to the Lord to deliver him from sin, he immediately reacts against it, because the question arises; Can I go back into that which my Lord paid such a price to save me from? He gave His blood to cleanse me from sin, He gave His body unto all that suffering in order to deliver me. Shall I return to it? How can I? Thus my soul is strengthened 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 the bread and drink of the cup of the Lord’s supper, and yet if we have been feeding our souls 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, and the meeting for the Breaking of Bread becomes heavy, as if it were a mournful occasion 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.