Whether it’s made of rough pine, elegant mahogany, or sleek glass and chrome, a table can become the heart of a home. It can be the place where people gather for morning coffee, quick meals, lengthy dinners, or holiday feasts. It can be a place where old friends catch up and new friends are made. From it you might hear uproarious peals of laughter or the quiet murmurs of serious discussion. In a home where all are welcomed and conversation flows freely, what happens at the table can shape the lives of those who are seated around it.

Yet for many of us, our table is underutilized, at least for the intended purpose of gathering around it. Our tables are covered with the clutter of busy, modern life — surfaces littered with mail, paper work, or school projects. No one in the family bothers to clear off the table because we eat apart, or if we gather at all, it is in front of a screen.

And what about gathering with people beyond our own families? Even before COVID-19 became a concern, only some of us were regularly having people over, and it was even rarer still for us to invite someone new. And it’s not like we were necessarily gathering around restaurant or coffee shop tables either. Before the pandemic, when was the last time you had dinner or coffee with someone you didn’t know well and business wasn’t involved?

Of course, it’s not really about a physical table but what the time around a table represents. Too many people in our community are living isolated lives. They’re overwhelmed by life, but having too few meaningful conversations about things that matter. They are lacking a sense of connection and belonging. Too many people are like islands in an archipelago, alone and separated by the sea, while God designed us to be like branches of a tree, connected to one another by the trunk and fed by the roots, so we can thrive.

The table is a symbol of family, community, and faithful presence. It’s a symbol of our deep desire to be known and be loved. It’s a symbol that we see throughout Scripture as a place where God dwells with and provides for his people. God sets a table for us and joins us around it.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be discussing God’s tables as we unveil Christ Fellowship’s new vision. Our vision is to reduce loneliness, anxiety, and addiction by having meaningful conversations where people experience Christ through us. We’re asking everyone who calls this church home to accept God’s invitation to join him as the host of the table, inviting people to experience the presence of Christ through the welcoming community of his people, by inviting people to share a table with you and have a meaningful conversation.

    Day 1

    Impact Others at Home

    The theme of the table can be traced through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Starting next week, we’re going to consider the Last Supper, the Lord’s Supper, and the wedding feast of the Lamb in the book of Revelation. This week we’re going to do a brief survey of “tables” from Genesis through Exodus and into the Gospels.

    In the Bible, the table has always been a place of presence — where God is present with his people and his people are present with one another. It’s also a place of peace where there is harmony, love, good-will, and reconciliation between those who gather around it. And because God is so generous, it’s a place abundant provision where everyone is full and satisfied. The “tables” we will look at this week demonstrate all three.

    Let’s start with parts of Genesis 1 and 2. While no table is mentioned, everything that a table symbolizes — presence, peace, and provision— were there from the start.

    Read

    Genesis 1:26–31 (NIV)

    26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    27 So God created mankind in his own image,

    in the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

    28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

    29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

    31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. 

    Genesis 2:8–18 (NIV)

    Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin  and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

    15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

    18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

    Where do you see evidence of a table’s presence, peace, and provision?

    Reflect

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth as the place where he would dwell. Humanity was created to live in God’s presence in the garden he made for them, Eden. Here God provided everything that the first people needed. A river brought fresh water right through the garden, and its trees offered abundant food. Best of all, God was there offering his love and guidance as humanity accepted its responsibility of ruling over and cultivating creation.

    In the world God designed there was to be glorious harmony, not only between God and humanity, but between people. Everyone would have felt fully known and fully loved. There was no selfishness, so there would be no need for self-preservation. There was no envy, so there would only be cooperation. There was no fear of scarcity, so everything could be willingly shared. There was no hatred or bitterness, so there would be nothing to protect or hide. Adam and Eve and all their descendants would have only known peace, joy and abundance around the Lord’s table.

    Of course, the first couple’s rebellion and rejection of God’s presence and provision affected their relationship with God and with each other. They no longer had peace with God. They had to leave God’s immediate presence and provide for themselves. Now they and their descendants would struggle with pride, selfishness, jealousy, hatred, and fear, and it would make the total peace that should have flowed between people impossible.

    Yet God was not going to give up on humanity. He immediately began working on a way to make sure that their deepest need to be fully known and fully loved would be met. He would set more tables before them and invite them to enjoy fellowship with him and with each other. We’ll pick up with another “table” in Exodus tomorrow.

    Respond

    What does a table signify to you? Do you have good memories of sitting around “a table” (whether it’s a literal table or not) with people who know you and care about you? What is that like? Do you wish you experienced that more often? What prevents that experience?

    Do you feel known and loved by God? Why or why not?

    Take a moment and praise God for his amazing design for humanity. Ask him for a deeper sense of his presence and greater peace with those around you.

    About the Engage God DailY

    Jesus invites us to know him personally and engage with him daily. Through daily Bible reading and prayer, we can grow in our relationship with him. The Engage God Daily is a daily resource designed to help you better understand the Bible and take you deeper into the concepts taught on Sunday mornings.

    Use this guide to prepare for next Sunday’s teaching. Each day presents a reading, Scripture, and a prayer to help grow in your walk with Christ this week. 

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