“The Table of Demons” versus “The Table of Jehovah”
“You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.”—1 Cor. 10:21, NW.
1. Why is Jehovah’s “table” called by that name, and what complaint did he have against those serving at it?
THE altar of God is called a “table,” because the sacrifice offered upon it is compared to food. (Ezek. 41:22) Hence it is the priests that serve at this sacrificial table: “The priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me; and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord Jehovah: they shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me.” (Ezek. 44:15, 16, AS) In a complaint against priests that failed of their duty he said: “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar. And ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of Jehovah is contemptible. And when ye offer the blind for sacrifice, it is no evil! and when ye offer the lame and sick, it is no evil! . . . my name shall be great among the Gentiles, saith Jehovah of hosts. But ye profane it, in that ye say, The table of Jehovah is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even its food, is contemptible.”—Mal. 1:7, 8, 11,12, AS.
2. Why should the priests prove themselves holy, and how must the sacrificial food be in order to be accepted?
2 Priests presenting God’s food on his altar must be clean in habits: “They should prove themselves holy to their God and they should not profane the name of their God, because they are those presenting Jehovah’s offerings made by fire, the bread of their God, and they must prove themselves holy.” “And the priest must make it smoke on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to Jehovah.” To be accepted on Jehovah’s altar table the sacrificial food must be sound, without defect.—Lev. 21:6, 21; 3:11; 22:21, 25, NW.
3. What is the “table of demons,” and who were improperly led to sacrifice to them?
3 The table of demons is the altar on which sacrifice is offered to them. The demons are unseen wicked spirit intelligences, and the ancient Israelites were repeatedly tempted to sacrifice to them. “They went sacrificing to demons, not to God, gods whom they had not known, new ones who recently came in.” “Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto demons, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.”—Deut. 32:17, NW; Ps. 106:37, 38, AS.
4. To what test were first-century Christians put, and how did the governing body decide on the question?
4 In the first century of the Christian era the followers of Christ in pagan lands were put to a test as regards animals sacrificed to pagan idols. A part of the sacrificial animal was offered upon the idol altar, a portion was assigned to the idol priests, and the rest of the flesh was consumed by the worshipers, in a feast either in the temple or in a private house. However, because of financial need or for selfish gain, some gave the flesh to the butchers to sell in the meat market or shambles. As this flesh had been offered up to idols and to the demons represented by them, the ancient Israelites looked on it as something detestable and defiling to eat of such flesh. What should the Gentiles who became Christians do in this matter? The governing body of the first-century Christians met to discuss the question and then decided that the “necessary things” were: “To keep yourselves free from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things killed without draining their blood and from fornication.”—Acts 15:22-29, NW.
5. Against eating what foods did Paul advise the Christians, and why for the sake of one’s brother?
5 In the ancient pagan city of Corinth, Greece, there was a synagogue of Jews, and as a result of Paul’s preaching a number of them, including the presiding officer of the synagogue and his household, became Christians. Many other Corinthians also became Christians. In Corinth there was a shambles, or meat market, where flesh of animals that had been ceremonially offered up first to idols was sold. In his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, beginning with its eighth chapter, the apostle Paul discusses the question “concerning the eating of foods offered to idols.” He advises against eating such in order that Christians without the proper knowledge and understanding might not be shocked at the sight or be tripped into doing something against their conscience. “For if anyone should see you with your knowledge reclining at a meal in an idol temple, will not the conscience of that one who is weak be emboldened to the point of eating foods offered to idols? Really, by your knowledge, the man that is weak is being ruined, your brother for whose sake Christ died. But when you people thus sin against your brothers and wound their conscience that is weak, you are sinning against Christ.”—1 Cor. 8:1, 4, 10-12, NW.
6. What more was there to it besides conscience, and why should the sanctified Christians avoid the danger?
6 But there was more than the matter of conscience. There was the danger of liability of committing the sin of idolatry by eating things offered to idols. In bringing argument to bear against committing idolatry in this manner the apostle Paul uses the fact that those sanctified Christians to whom he wrote celebrated the “Lord’s evening meal,” or, “the Lord’s supper,” as it is called, the yearly memorial of the Lord Jesus’ death.—1 Cor. 11:20, NW.
7. Hence what does the apostle Paul say at 1 Corinthians 10:6-22 in his argument in which he refers to the Lord’s evening meal?
7 The course of Paul’s argument throws light on the meaning of the Lord’s evening meal, and we arrive at truth by following it. He says: “Now these things became our examples, for us not to be persons desiring injurious things, even as they desired them. Neither become idolaters, as some of them did; just as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to revel boisterously [before the golden calf].’ Neither let us practice fornication, as some of them committed fornication [together with the worship of Baal of Peor], only to fall, twenty-three thousand of them in one day. . . . Therefore, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry. I speak as to men with discernment; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of the Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of the Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, although many, are one body, for we are all partaking of that one loaf. Look at that which is Israel in a fleshly way: Are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with the altar? What, then, am I to say? That what is sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No; but I say that the things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I do not want you to become sharers with the demons. You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons. Or ‘are we inciting Jehovah to jealousy’? We are not stronger than he is, are we?”—1 Cor. 10:6-22, NW.
8. So why would it be well to avoid going to an idol temple to eat or well not to eat if a Christian brother shows the flesh was first offered to idols?
8 Hence it would be advisable for a Christian not to go to an idol temple to eat a meal, the meat of which has been offered to the temple idol. Why? To avoid giving weak-minded observers the thought that one is worshiping the idol and to avoid the danger of yielding compromisingly to idol worship. As for the flesh that is sold in the mákellon, or meat market, Paul goes on to say: “Everything that is sold in a meat market keep eating, making no inquiry on account of your conscience, for ‘the earth belongs to Jehovah, and so does its fullness’. If anyone of the unbelievers invites you [to his home or to a feast] and you wish to go, proceed to eat everything that is set before you, making no inquiry on account of your conscience. But if anyone [not your unbelieving host, but a Christian brother of weak conscience] should say to you: ‘This is something offered to a god,’ do not eat on account of the one that disclosed it and on account of conscience. ‘Conscience,’ I say, not yours, but that of the other person. For why should it be that my freedom is judged by another person’s conscience? If I am partaking [of flesh] with thanks [to God], why am I to be spoken of abusively over that for which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.”—1 Cor. 10:25-31, NW.
SHARING WITH DEMONS
9. By eating flesh in honor of demons what is one doing, and what illustration of this does Paul draw from the sacrificing by the Israelites?
9 When anyone eats flesh that was offered to idols and does so with the thought of honoring the idol by his eating, what is he doing? He is partaking of the table of demons; he is making himself a sharer with the demons; he is having communion or participation with them. How so? Examine again the above-quoted verses (1 Cor. 10:18-21, NW) and you will see that the apostle Paul uses fleshly Israel as an illustration and asks: “Are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with the altar?” The eaters of the sacrifices were not merely the priests but also the Israelites who furnished the sacrifices. Concerning the priests Paul asks in the preceding chapter: “Do you not know that the men performing sacred duties eat the things of the temple, and those constantly attending at the altar [Jehovah’s table] have a portion for themselves with the altar?” (1 Cor. 9:13, NW) However, when the Israelites presented peace-offering sacrifices or communion sacrifices, then the Israelites also ate some of the sacrifice. (Lev. 7:11-37) The blood of the communion sacrifice was sprinkled upon Jehovah’s altar, and the fat was burned upon the altar, as Jehovah’s direct part of the sacrifice. The fat of it was his “bread” or “food.” (Lev. 3:11; 7:14, 22-26; 9:18-20; 17:5-7; 21:6; 22:25) The breast and right leg of the communion sacrifice became the priest’s who officiated at the sacrifice. (Lev. 7:28-36; 9:21; 10:14, 15) The remainder of the flesh was eaten by the Israelites who presented the communion sacrifice.—Lev. 7:15-21; 19:5-8.
10. By eating from the communion sacrifice what were the Israelites having, and so what can we say about the name of the sacrifice?
10 Thus the Israelites who ate from the communion sacrifice were sharing with or having communion with the altar on which it was sacrificed. That altar belonged to Jehovah God; it was Jehovah’s table upon which his food was offered to him by his priests. Hence by eating of the same communion sacrifice of which the fat was offered as food to Jehovah God, the Israelites were having communion or a meal in common with him. They were already his people by his choosing them and by the covenant that he had made with them through the mediator Moses. But now by partaking of the communion sacrifice along with his priest and his altar they were having special communion with Jehovah God. They were partaking of the typical “table of Jehovah.” Thus the fitness of the name “communion sacrifice,” although the Greek Septuagint Version of the Hebrew Scriptures calls it a peace sacrifice and a sacrifice of salvation.—1 Sam. 10:8; 11:15; 13:9; 1 Ki. 3:15; 8:63, 64; 9:25; Lev. 3:1; 22:21, LXX.
11. To enjoy this communion with God what does Leviticus 17:5-7 show the Israelites were obliged to do?
11 To enjoy this special communion with God at his table the Israelites were forbidden to sacrifice to the demons: “They must bring [their animals] to Jehovah to the entrance of the tent of meeting to the priest and they must sacrifice these as communion sacrifices to Jehovah. And the priest must sprinkle the blood upon Jehovah’s altar at the entrance of the tent of meeting and he must make the fat smoke as a smell of appeasement to Jehovah. So they should no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat-shaped demons.”—Lev. 17:5-7, NW.
12. Is it because the idol and the animal sacrificed to it amount to anything, or just why is it that Paul advises against eating from such sacrifice, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 10?
12 For a like reason the worshiper of the living and true God should avoid idol sacrifices, argues Paul. Not that the idol in itself is anything more than the gold, silver, stone, wood or other material of which it is made. Nor that the thing sacrificed to the idol takes on any new quality or value that changes it from being still a creation of Jehovah God. But that lifeless, material idol represents a demon. “All the gods of the peoples are idols; but Jehovah made the heavens.” (Ps. 96:5, AS) “All the gods of the nations are demons [devils]. But as for the Lord, He made the heavens.” (Septuagint, Thomson; Bagster) So when a worshiper at a sacrificial feast ate part of the animal sacrificed to the idol, he was partaking of the “table of demons,” for the idol altar belonged to the demons. When he drank of the wine cup at such a sacrificial feast he was drinking from the “cup of demons.” He was becoming a ‘sharer with the demons,’ having communion with them. That is why Paul said to the Christians at Corinth: “The things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I do not want you to become sharers with the demons. You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” Jehovah is jealous; he demands exclusive devotion.
13. With what does the apostle Paul there show the “cup of Jehovah” and the “table of Jehovah” to be connected?
13 But to what does Paul here refer by this “cup of Jehovah” and this “table of Jehovah”? It is connected with the cup and the loaf that Paul is using in his argument as to why Christians should avoid any confusion about “foods offered to idols.” Says he: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of the Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of the Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16, NW) Here Paul refers to the cup and the loaf that the Lord Jesus Christ used when he set up the “Lord’s evening meal,” or “Lord’s supper,” commonly called “communion” throughout Christendom. Hence, before we bring Paul’s argument forward to its application to us today, let us turn back nineteen centuries to what Jesus did in the year 33 (A.D.).
“THE LORD’S EVENING MEAL”
14. Where did Jesus arrange to celebrate his last passover, and with whom, and why with them?
14 Four of Jesus’ disciples, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul, give us detailed descriptions of what took place then. Matthew was personally there as one of the twelve apostles. Paul received his information about it “from the Lord” by direct revelation. (1 Cor. 11:20, 23) All the accounts differ somewhat in language and in some details, but all unitedly establish the main features. As a faithful Jew according to the flesh, Jesus gave instructions for celebrating the passover at Jerusalem, the holy city where Jehovah had placed his name. (Deut. 16:1-7) With whom did Jesus celebrate this his last passover that night? Not as in previous years with his family, that is, with Mary his earthly mother and with her sons, Jesus’ half brothers. Of course, she and her sons were at Jerusalem for the passover, for the next afternoon Mary was at the torture stake on which Jesus was hanged and he talked to her from it. Her other sons had doubtless brought her up to Jerusalem for the passover. However, as passover celebration groups at Jerusalem were small, generally about ten, Jesus arranged to celebrate this final passover with his twelve apostles. At the table he said to them: “I have greatly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it again until it becomes fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15, 16, NW) So Jesus had something special in mind for this passover night. What? The setting up of a new supper or evening meal for them.
15. What is Matthew’s description of the Lord’s evening meal?
15 Here is how it proceeded and what Jesus said, according to Matthew, who was there: “As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf and, after saying a blessing, he broke it and, giving it to the disciples, he said: ‘Take, eat. This means my body.’ Also he took a cup and, having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink out of it, all of you; for this means my “blood of the covenant” which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, I will by no means drink henceforth any of this product of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.’ Finally, after singing praises, they went out to the mount of Olives.”—Matt. 26:26-30, NW.
16, 17. (a) What did Jesus do with the loaf of bread? (b) Why did Jesus not transmute or transubstantiate the loaf into his own flesh?
16 The whole loaf that Jesus took was of unleavened bread or an unfermented cake. No leaven was legally allowed in Jewish houses at passover nor for seven days afterward. (Ex. 12:8, 15, 17-21; 13:6-10) Jesus did not slice the loaf with a knife. The loaf of unleavened bread was flat and brittle. So he broke it as was the usual way when eating bread at all meals in those days. (Matt. 15:36; 14:19; Mark 8:6, 19; Luke 24:30; Acts 27:35) First, however, he pronounced a blessing; he blessed God. This is why Luke and Paul, in their accounts, say he offered thanks: “Also he took a loaf, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, saying: ‘This means my body which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19, NW; 1 Cor. 11:23, 24) So no special meaning need be attached to his breaking the loaf; he did this in order to distribute it to them, as when he fed the five thousand and then the four thousand.
17 But Jesus did put a special meaning upon the loaf that he broke and gave them: “This means my body which is to be given in your behalf.” By these words he did not perform a miracle, transmuting or transubstantiating the loaf, changing it from unleavened dough into human flesh. He still had all his own flesh; he had to have all his flesh, unblemished, with nothing taken away from it, in order to offer himself as a perfect sacrifice. His body had to be like the passover lamb of which they had just eaten and which lamb pictured him, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” In what way? In this way: “The sheep should prove to be sound, a male, a year old, for you.” Yes, “like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, even Christ’s.” So he did not transmute the loaf, but merely used it to symbolize his body.—John 1:29 and Ex. 12:5 and; 1 Pet. 1:19, NW.
18. Which body did Jesus mean by “my body”?
18 His body? Yes; his own body, his whole body, head and all, that he was to give for them. Jesus meant his own body, the body with which he next associates his own blood when speaking of the cup. For thirty-three and a half years that body had held the blood that was to be poured out on the torture stake at Calvary. The life of that fleshly body was its blood. When he came to John to have that body baptized Jesus quoted Psalm 40:6-8 and applied it to himself: “Hence when he comes into the world he says: “‘You did not desire sacrifice and offering [of beasts], but you prepared a body for me. You did not approve of whole burnt offerings and sin offering.” Then I said, “Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.”’”—Heb. 10:5-7, NW.
19. What did Jesus bear in that body, and through it what did he open up for his disciples?
19 Since that body was to be given for his disciples, he did not take it back at his resurrection from the dead, but Almighty God his heavenly Father prepared another body for him, not on earth but in heaven, a spiritual body, “a building from God, . . . everlasting in the heavens.” (2 Cor. 5:1, NW) In his natural, earthly body Jesus bore reproaches from the lips of opposers. “Christ suffered in the flesh,” and in spite of it all he kept his integrity toward God untarnished. The apostle Peter also says: “Even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely. He committed no sin, . . . He himself by imputation bore our sins in his own body upon the stake.” (1 Pet. 4:1; 2:21, 22, 24, NW) He gave up his human existence, his existence in the flesh, for his disciples. Thus he opened up the way for them to go to heaven, a “way of entry into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, which [way] he inaugurated for us as a new and living way through the curtain, that is, his flesh.”—Heb. 10:19, 20, NW.
20. What part was Jesus’ blood to perform, and how did Jesus point to this at the evening meal?
20 Jesus was not merely flesh, some bloodless incarnation or materialization. He came to ransom human children of blood and flesh, and so it is written: “Since the ‘young children’ are sharers of blood and flesh, he also similarly partook of the same things, that through his death he might destroy the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil.” (Heb. 2:14, NW) Hence in setting up this evening meal that his disciples were to celebrate in remembrance of him Jesus called attention to the part that his blood was to perform. He took the cup, full of what he said was the “product of the vine.” Then, “having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink out of it, all of you; for this means my “blood of the covenant” which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.’” (Matt. 26:27, 28, NW; Mark 14:23, 24) “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.” (Luke 22:20, NW) Thus Jesus remarked on the special use that his blood was to serve, namely, the putting into force of a new covenant with the forgiveness of the sins of many disciples. So he gave blood and flesh for them.
21. Why was Jesus here not likening his blood to that of the passover lamb, but whose words was Jesus here quoting?
21 Note, please, that by his words Jesus was not likening his blood to that of the passover lamb. It is true that the passover lamb typified Jesus, “the Lamb of God.” It is also true that the blood of the passover lamb in ancient Egypt was splashed on the doorposts and lintels of the Israelites’ houses for Jehovah’s destroying angel to see and so pass over their houses without slaying their first-born children and animals inside. Just like that, the disciples of the Lamb of God must have their “hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience” and openly confess his blood. (Ex. 12:7, 21-23; Heb. 10:19, 20, 22; 9:14, NW) So, too, they are ransomed “with precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, even Christ’s.” (1 Pet. 1:19, NW) However, it was not the blood of the passover lamb that put into force the law covenant which the prophet Moses mediated. It was not the blood of the passover lamb that was sprinkled upon the law book of the covenant and upon the people, Moses then saying: “Here is the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has concluded with you as respects all these words.” (Ex. 24:7, 8, NW) No, it was the blood of different animals; and because Jesus was pointing forward to the making of a new covenant between Jehovah God and his disciples, he quoted Moses’ words, “blood of the covenant,” and applied these words to his own blood.
22. According to the apostle Paul, what animals were slain at the inauguration of the ”former covenant” at Mount Sinai?
22 What animals were slain at the inauguration of the “former covenant” at Mount Sinai? Concerning them the apostle Paul writes: “A covenant is valid over dead victims, since it is not in force at any time while the human covenanter is living. Consequently neither was the former covenant inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment according to the Law had been spoken by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the young bulls and of the goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled the book itself and all the people, saying: ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has laid as a charge upon you.’” (Heb. 9:17-20, NW) Goats as well as young bulls were slain to provide blood.
23, 24. (a) According to Moses, what kind of sacrifices were offered for inaugurating the old law covenant? (b) What was done with the flesh and what with the blood, and whose blood was pictured by such?
23 Now notice the kind of sacrifices that they offered for inaugurating the old law covenant in the third month after the passover: “After that [Moses] sent young men of the sons of Israel and they offered up burnt offerings and sacrificed bulls as sacrifices, as communion offerings to Jehovah. Then Moses took half the blood and put it in bowls, and half the blood he sprinkled upon the altar [Jehovah’s table]. Finally he took the book of the covenant and read it in the ears of the people. Then they said: ‘All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do and be obedient.’ So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it upon the people and said: ‘Here is the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has concluded with you as respects all these words.’”—Ex. 24:5-8, NW.
24 Notice that there were not only burnt offerings but also communion offerings. These latter were usually of small cattle such as sheep or goats, and Paul shows that these communion offerings included goats. This means that not only Jehovah got the fat of such communion sacrifices but also the priests got the right leg and shoulder of them, and, if the priests did not get all the rest of such communion sacrifices on this occasion, then Israel’s representatives, the “seventy of the older men of Israel,” ate the rest of the communion sacrifices. Thus all of Israel by means of its priests and its representative men had communion with Jehovah God at his altar when the old law covenant was inaugurated. The blood of all those bulls and goats slaughtered there at Mount Sinai pictured the blood of Jesus Christ, the mediator of Jehovah’s new covenant, for the blood of those animals was mixed together in bowls and was then sprinkled upon the law book and people. It is written of Jesus: “He entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting release for us.” (Heb. 9:12, NW) Jesus died sacrificially to provide his blood.
25. What did Jehovah at Jeremiah 31:31-34 promise to provide, and why was blood necessary as a basis for it?
25 Jehovah promised to do away with the old law covenant and provide a new covenant by a prophet greater than Moses. This he stated in Jeremiah 31:31-34. As respects his part in the new covenant Jehovah said: “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.” Now for iniquity to be forgiven and sin to be legally removed something was necessary as a basis for this new covenant. What? Shed blood. Hebrews 9:22, which follows the account of the inaugurating of the former covenant, says: “Yes, nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.”—NW.
26. So what did Jesus rightly say at the Lord’s evening meal, and who, then, properly drink of the cup?
26 So it was necessary for the blood of Jesus as a perfect human sacrifice to be poured out in order to release us from the condemnation of sins and transgression, from which condemnation we could not be released by the animal sacrifices under the former law covenant. (Heb. 9:15, NW) Since the new covenant promised God’s forgiveness of sins and since the wine in the cup pictured Jesus’ clean, perfect lifeblood necessary to that new covenant, Jesus rightly said: “This means my ‘blood of the covenant’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.” (Matt. 26:27, 28, NW) Those Christians who are taken into the new covenant and who thus become spiritual Israelites are properly the Christians entitled to drink of the cup of the Lord’s evening meal.
DRINKING HIS BLOOD
27. By drinking from that cup in what covenant do they picture themselves as being and as how affected?
27 By drinking the cup the Christian spiritual Israelites picture themselves as being in the new covenant and as receiving the benefit of it, God’s forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ blood. By drinking that cup they picture themselves as drinking his blood. By drinking that cup they picture themselves as being benefited, not condemned. By drinking Jesus’ blood in that pictorial way they are drinking, not condemnation to themselves, but, instead, life benefits, for there is life in that blood. By figuratively drinking his blood through faith they are not condemned to death, no more than by eating his body, his flesh, figuratively through faith, can they be condemned as eating forbidden food to their death. Instead, they benefit themselves to life everlasting.
28. How did Jesus present the matter from that standpoint, in John, chapter 6?
28 Jesus presented the matter from that standpoint when he said to the Jews, many of whom were shocked: “Most truly I say to you, He that believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world. . . . Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink [not death-dealing, not illegal drink]. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when your forefathers ate and yet died. He that feeds on this bread will live forever.” Simon Peter said that these were “sayings of everlasting life.”—John 6:47-58, 68, NW.
29. What two essentials did Jesus give for the life of his followers, and to correspond with the cup’s meaning what must the loaf mean?
29 Jesus gave flesh as well as blood in behalf of the life of his followers. He symbolized both of these essentials to gaining everlasting life by the loaf and the cup of wine at the evening meal that he set up. He stated that the cup of wine represented the literal blood necessary to validating the new covenant. In a parallel manner, the loaf that he broke and distributed must equally have a literal human value; it must mean his body of flesh which he gives for the life of those who gain the new world.
30. What does drinking his blood mean, but what did those Jews shocked at the thought of such do?
30 Drinking his blood does not mean undertaking the responsibility for his death, but means gratefully accepting it by faith and imbibing the benefits of his lifeblood poured out in sacrifice. Those who demanded Jesus’ death by hanging on the torture stake were the ones that were shocked at the thought of drinking his blood and that refused to drink it by faith. It was those men who undertook the responsibility for his death after governor Pontius Pilate had said: “I am innocent of the blood of this man.” They said: “His blood come upon us and upon our children.” (Matt. 27:24, 25, NW) Later the Jewish Supreme Court objected to the apostles: “You are determined to bring the blood of this man [Jesus] upon us,” and yet they refused to drink Jesus’ blood figuratively and thus show they were innocent.—Acts 5:27, 28, NW.
31. What does Paul say concerning those Jewish priests who refused to drink, and so who is entitled to drink Jesus’ blood emblematically at the Lord’s evening meal?
31 For thus faithlessly refusing to drink his blood those Jews were not brought into the new covenant and did not drink the only life-giving “true drink” to salvation. Many were priests. Hence the apostle says concerning those priests who refused Jesus’ sacrifice and who kept on serving at the material altar in Herod’s temple in Jerusalem: “We have an altar from which those who do sacred service at the tent have no authority to eat. For the bodies of those [atonement day] animals whose blood is taken into the holy place by the [Jewish] high priest for sin are burned up outside the camp [of Israel]. Hence Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate [of Jerusalem]. Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore.” (Heb. 13:10-13, NW) Those who go forth to him outside this old system of things drink his blood figuratively by faith. They are entitled to drink it emblematically from the cup at the “Lord’s evening meal.” Each one of them fully esteems the “blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” (Heb. 10:29, NW) They worthily eat of the emblematic loaf because they can say: “By the said ‘will’ [of God] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.”—Heb. 10:10, NW.
SHARERS WITH JEHOVAH RATHER THAN WITH DEMONS
32, 33. (a) By eating of the communion sacrifice with whom were the Israelites having communion, and why so? (b) How did idol worshipers share with the demons and drink their cup?
32 Does what is said in the foregoing paragraphs harmonize with the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:16-21? It should do so; and does it? There Paul is talking about sacrifices, those to demons and those to Jehovah God. These sacrifices were in the nature of communion sacrifices, and the altars upon which they were offered were likened to ‘tables,’ because sacrificial food was offered upon them. That upon which sacrifices were offered to Jehovah God He himself called “the table of Jehovah.” (Mal. 1:7, 12, AS) When a communion sacrifice was offered to Jehovah, a drink offering of wine was also commanded to accompany it, to be poured upon the altar. (Num. 15:8-16; Ex. 29:40; 30:9) When the worshipers ate their allowed portion of the communion sacrifice they were “partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’” and they were “partaking with thanks.” By eating the sacrifices, the fat of which had been burned on the altar, the blood being sprinkled upon it, they were “sharers with the altar.” That altar belonged to Jehovah God; it was his table upon which his food was offered. So by sharing in a sacrifice with Jehovah they were in reality sharing with Jehovah; they were having communion with him, enjoying food together.
33 Likewise when idol worshipers sacrificed to the demons and ate their portion of the sacrifice, they were “partaking of . . . the table of demons.” They were thus “sharers with the demons”; they were having communion, company, association, with the demons, enjoying food with them. When they drank from a cup of wine at the feast in honor of the demons, they were “drinking . . . the cup of demons.” This shows what occurs when one partakes of the Lord’s evening meal.
34. By this comparison, how is the Lord’s evening meal to be viewed, and so what are the loaf and the wine cup to be discerned as meaning?
34 By making the above comparison, the apostle Paul indicates that the Lord’s evening meal is to be viewed as a sacrificial meal. What, then, are the “loaf which we break” and the “cup of blessing which we bless” to be understood as meaning? The loaf of unleavened bread is to be discerned as the “body of the Christ,” which he gave to God for the life of the world, his sinless flesh, which is “true food.” The cup of wine over which Jesus gave thanks is to be discerned as the “blood of the Christ,” with which he validated the new covenant, and which is “true drink.” This complete sacrifice of the Christ is here viewed as being like the communion sacrifice at the inaugurating of the covenant, the fat of which was made to smoke on Jehovah’s altar and the blood of which was divided, half of it being sprinkled upon God’s altar and the other half of it being sprinkled first upon God’s law book and then upon the people taken into the covenant. The great altarlike arrangement upon which Christ’s sacrifice is offered up the apostle Paul calls “the table of Jehovah,” and of this “table” the Christians in the new covenant partake. The cup of Christ’s blood, which is sprinkled upon Jehovah’s great altar arrangement and upon the symbolic book of his new covenant, is the “cup of Jehovah,” and it is symbolized by the wine cup of the Lord’s evening meal.
35. By partaking of the loaf and cup, of what larger things do Christians picture themselves as partaking, and with whom on earth do they have a visible sharing?
35 The Christians in the new covenant who drink of the wine cup and eat of the loaf of unleavened bread show by this action that they are partaking of the human sacrifice of Christ, both of its blood and of its flesh. They are thus picturing how they are “drinking the cup of Jehovah” and “partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah,’” being “sharers with the altar.” They are picturing how they are partaking of the benefit of forgiveness of sins and of salvation through Christ’s blood-and-flesh sacrifice. So now the big question is, With whom are they sharing or having communion, companionship, association, when doing this by faith each day and symbolically each year at the Lord’s evening meal? “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing [Greek, koi.no.niʹa] in the blood of the Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not a sharing [koi.no.niʹa] in the body of the Christ?” Yes, but sharing in these things with whom? Of course, it is a sharing with all the “congregation of God,” with all who “have been sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones.” (1 Cor. 1:2, NW) That is to say, with all the spiritual Israelites who are in the new covenant.
36. But with whom primarily are they sharing, and of what things? And how is this true of divine enlightenment also?
36 But is that all? Is that as far as the apostle Paul’s argument goes here? No! Because we are also sharing with Jehovah God, and primarily with him. Just as partaking worshipfully of sacrifices offered to idols means to “become sharers with the demons,” so our partaking of the one great sacrifice to Jehovah, Christ’s sacrifice once for all, means to become sharers with Jehovah, to have communion with him. We accept as a sacrifice for us Christ’s sacrifice that was offered to Jehovah. Of course, Jehovah does not share in the literal loaf of unleavened bread and in the literal cup of wine at the Lord’s evening meal, but he shares in the real flesh and blood of which the loaf and cup are mere emblems. By jointly partaking of this one and only acceptable sacrifice to God, the benefits of which he makes available to us, we and He are parties to one new covenant. Yes, and we are having a sharing together, a communion, a partnership with him, just as we do in the matter of divine enlightenment. On this it is written: “That which we have seen and heard we are reporting also to you, that you, too, may be having partnership [koi.no.niʹa] with us. Furthermore, this partnership [koi.no.niʹa] of ours is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. If we make the statement, ‘We are having partnership [koi.no.niʹa] with him,’ and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. However, if we are walking in the light as he himself is in the light, we do have partnership [koi.no.niʹa] with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”—1 John 1:3, 6, 7, NW.
37. So the eaters of the Lord’s evening meal must be all for whom, and why so?
37 The choice, then, is between Jehovah God and the demons. No course of compromise, no being lukewarm, no limping upon two different opinions, like crutches, can be acceptable. There must be a full, undivided worship of the one true God Jehovah or of the false demon gods. If those Christians in the new covenant come together to “eat the Lord’s evening meal,” doing so in remembrance of him, and they then partake of the emblems, the loaf and the cup of wine, then they are declaring that they are partaking of “the table of Jehovah” and that they are “sharers with the altar” of Jehovah. For this reason they have to be all for him. They cannot divide their worship and service. They cannot also participate in the sacrifices that the nations of this world (including Christendom) are offering to the many idols of various kinds in this modern age.
38. How could partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s evening meal be acting a lie, and to what would it be inciting Jehovah, to what consequences?
38 At one and the same time, you celebrators of the Lord’s evening meal, “you cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” So the apostle Paul says. “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For . . . what fellowship [koi.no.niʹa] does light have with darkness? . . . And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” (2 Cor. 6:14-16, NW) By trying to divide up your love, your devotion, your worship and your service between Jehovah God and the demons, you are acting out a lie if then you attend the Lord’s evening meal and partake of the emblems. By that you pretend to have fellowship with the God of light or to share with him, but you are not actually doing so at all. You are fooling yourself. You are acting hypocritically. You are “walking in the darkness, . . . are lying and are not practicing the truth.” You are “inciting Jehovah to jealousy,” for “he is a God exacting exclusive devotion.” He will not accept a divided love. (Ex. 34:14, NW) Such inciting of Him leads to serious consequences. Why? Because, as Paul asks, “we are not stronger than he is, are we?” (1 Cor. 10:22, NW) No, we are not. So we have no measure of strength able to withstand and overpower the destruction that he brings upon us for inciting him to jealousy.—Ps. 78:58-64.