Exodus 24:9-11 - Then Moses ... and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under His feet ... a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness ... and they beheld God, and ate and drank.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Jesus once said that all of this life is a preparation and practice for God's table (see Matthew 22). Jesus said the kingdom of God was like a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And even after those initially invited refused to come, the king would not stop inviting until his table was filled with guests.
Some days it can be difficult to hear the voice of God inviting us to His table. But you can still hear echoes of His voice. You hear the echoes in the sense that we have that human beings were made to live together, to sit down at the table and share stories and food and life together. At the same time, being together with good table manners is more difficult than it should be. Half of all the romantic dinners followed by engagement proposals end in divorce. And for those who stay together, their family dinners are too often a side show for bad manners. And even for the most well-behaved, emotionally healthy families, 100 percent of them in the end are split up by death.
Long ago, Moses and the 70 elders of Israel went up the mountain to meet God. They ate and drank in God's presence. Before they went, Moses built an altar at the base of the mountain, a table to represent God's presence for the people. Then Moses set up 12 pillars to represent the 12 tribes of people gathered around God's table. Then they slaughtered some oxen. It was like a meal that was more than just a meal. Moses took half the blood from the sacrifice and threw it on God's table. Then he spoke the words of God's covenant with them—God's spiritual marriage to them, His binding family promise for them. Moses threw the rest of the sacrificial blood on the people to mark them with the same blood that marked God's table. Moses said to them, "Behold, the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you by all these words" (Exodus 24:8b).
Jesus would say similar words to His followers the night before He was crucified. During the Passover dinner, at the table, He took the bread and the cup, blessed them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body ... Drink of it all of you, because this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:26b, 27b-28). It was a meal that was more than just a meal. It is the meal that gives meaning to every other meal we share. It's the meal in which God promises to be our Father and Jesus gives Himself to forgive us and mark us and bind us with His blood and body to be His covenant family. In this meal, through faith, the Holy Spirit gives us life—true life that not even death can split up.
And with the Lord's Supper at the center of our lives, our ordinary dinners can be what God intended them to be. Our household mealtimes can be graced by Jesus. Family, friends, and guests can hear an echo of an invitation and the promise of a place at God's table.
WE PRAY: Jesus, thank You for loving me and bringing me to Your banqueting table. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. What did you like about how dinner times worked when you were a child? What do you wish would have been different?
2. More recently, what have been some of your most delightful meals shared with others?
3. Along with praying before eating, what is another dinnertime practice you could introduce to help everyone at the table behold God's presence, and to prepare for his table?
Today's Bible Readings: Exodus 25-26 Mark 1:1-22
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