“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…”
Why would anyone choose to eat dinner while surrounded by their enemies?
In Exodus 12, the Israelites are preparing to endure the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. This plague meant that the Destroyer would pass through Egypt and kill all of the firstborn of the household. God provided a way for His people to avoid this by instituting the Passover. The Hebrew families would kill a one year old lamb, without blemish, and put the blood on the doorposts of the house as a sign that they belonged to God and the Destroyer would pass over that house, and spare it. They were instructed to eat this meal “in haste”, with their sandals and belt on, with staff in hand, to signify that their release from slavery could come at any moment. This was an institution to be held for generations to come to remember that they were spared and released from slavery into freedom.
This meal was a celebration of the faithfulness of God in salvation from slavery, right? But did they not eat this meal before this promise was fulfilled? They ate the first Passover at night, amidst the death of their enemies, wondering if they were next; they ate in haste, but these families hadn’t seen freedom in generations. They were celebrating salvation before they had seen it.
This is seen again in the New Testament. Jesus and His disciples are being faithful to Jewish law, preparing to eat the Passover at the proper time in the upper room. If they are eating it properly (which they most likely are, as the manifestation of the Passover eats among them) then they are eating in haste, with sandals and belt on and staff in hand. Then something new happens. John recounts that Jesus then stands, removes His robe, and wraps a towel around His waist and fills a basin with water. He then kneels at their feet and begins to wash them. They were supposed to have their sandals strapped on, ready to move into freedom, remembering the Exodus. Yet Jesus removes their sandals. No one can run to freedom barefoot. But they are not the ones achieving freedom. He is. As they remember their ancestors trusting God with their life and salvation, God Himself kneels at their feet, preparing to achieve freedom on their behalf. And who else sits at the table with Him? Judas does. The man who will turn the Messiah over to death. Surrounded by enemies, none but Jesus knowing what evil lies on the other side of this Passover turned to Lord’s supper, they eat in celebration of freedom. Again, evil had not been conquered. The work was not finished, salvation not yet accomplished, Judas still very much present, and yet, Jesus instituted a new meal of celebration. “Do this in remembrance of Me”, He says. A call to celebrate the salvation to come.
The next meal we see in the Bible is in Revelation 19, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In this meal, the Bride of Christ (the Church) is reunited with Christ in all of His fullness that was hidden from us until then. It is a long-awaited union of Christ and His Church, full of worship and the perfect communion our souls are meant for. This meal happens right before the rider on the white horse “called Faithful and True” destroys Death and Evil, throwing them into the Lake of Fire forever. After the promise that Jesus will be King, that He will have final victory, but before the victory is actually accomplished. They celebrate the victory that is not yet won.
There is a noticeable pattern here. All of these meals instituted by God happen right in the middle of the mess. They happen right in the middle of the death, darkness, war, pain, confusion, hopelessness, and hurt. And yet, God is still commanding His people to celebrate victory before they have seen it.
We can feast in celebration, and should, before the promise is answered. We should worship and rejoice before He has won the victory before our eyes. Celebrating this way is a radical act of faith, and an expression of confidence in our Savior. The Israelites ate, celebrating Canaan before they even left Egypt. The disciples ate the Lord’s Supper before their Savior breathed His last. We eat the Marriage Supper of the Lamb before our Victor destroys our enemies. We do this because there is no fear in the battle when the Lord over it dines with you. It is an impossible task to ask us to feast if the outcome of the battle is not certain. But, it is an act of worship to celebrate a victory before you have seen it.
When our Father shows up, there is no struggle for victory. Egypt was overcome by walls of the sea after they feasted. Death commited suicide on the cross, and went into the tomb when Jesus walked out of it. Satan and Evil beg for mercy when Jesus rides up on a white horse. There is no uncertainty when He walks in the room. Therefore, there is no greater expression of faith than to celebrate the Victory of Jesus at His table before the battle is won.
When He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies, when it makes no sense to rest or celebrate, before the battle is won; watch Him prepare a feast, pull out your chair, and invite you to rest. Worship, celebrate, count the battle as won, because of Who sits at the table with you.
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