Soul Food and Spiritual Drink

Spiritual and Demonic Tables

Some would question the need for extra feeding. “If faith is enough,” they would say, “why do we need the sacrament?” The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 10:1-16. Here, the Apostle Paul contrasted two types of food and drink: spiritual and demonic. The first contrast came from the Old Testament. Verses 3-4 refer to the manna (cf. Ex. 16:13-15) and the water from the rock (cf. Ex. 17:1-7) as soul food and spiritual drink. In this context, spiritual meant “of the Holy Spirit”rather than non-physical. The manna and water did satisfy physical needs, but they also had greater goal, a spiritual purpose: God used this food and drink to nurture a dependence upon Him!

Regrettably, the wilderness generation resisted God’s purpose. They craved a different kind of food and drink, and became malnourished on idolatry (v. 7). Here, the apostle had something specific in mind: the infamous golden calf episode. He cited Exodus 32:6: “the people sat down to eat and drink and rose to play,” which described the feasting that went along with the idol worship. Rather than causing the people to become closer to God, this food and drink drove them further way.

Paul then applied this contrast to his day. As he did with the Israelites of old, the apostle connected the idolatry of the Corinthian culture with eating and drinking. “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” Paul didn’t mince words. He connected idolatry with a table of demonscreatures who cause spiritual harm! And he contrasted this table of demons with the table of the Lord. What’s he referring to? Certainly not the manna and the water from the rock. Those were for the old Israel in her wilderness sojourn. This table is for the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16)–the Church of Jesus Christ–as she perseveres in the wilderness of this world. The table Paul was referring to is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

In describing this table, the apostle posed two rhetorical questions: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?” “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16) The answers, of course, are yes! The word translated “participation” is koinoniawhich elsewhere means “fellowship”, “sharing”, or “communion.” This is the language of an active relationship. The bread is really communion with the body of Christ. The cup is truly communion with the blood of Christ.

Melchizedek’s ceremony, the Passover/Last Supper rituals, the manna/bread of life discourse, and the contrasting spiritual/demonic tables all share a common theme: They teach the idea of physical food being connected to a spiritual reality. In doing so, they find their ultimate expression in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, a meal that offers soul food and spiritual drink for the people of God.

This article about soul food and spiritual drink originally appeared here.

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Ken Golden is the organizing pastor at Sovereign Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Davenport, Iowa. He is also the author of Entering God's Rest: The Sabbath from Genesis to Revelation--And What It Means for You and Presbytopia: What It Means to Be Presbyterian.