The Tables by Eric Cepin
From the beginning of history, tables have stood as sacred monuments to unity, serving as hallowed grounds where people convene for feasts, sacred dialogues, and holy communion. They are not mere furniture, but profound symbols of kinship, echoing the words of Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their toil.” Through this lens, the scriptures unveil to us a trinity of divine tables, each bearing its own tale. The Table of Eden, pristine and untouched, evokes the paradisiacal state before man’s transgression, reminiscent of Genesis where God walked with man in the cool of the day. Then, the Table of the Curse emerges, echoing the sorrowful aftermath of the fall, as declared in Genesis 3:17, “Cursed is the ground because of you.” Yet, hope arises with the Table of the Cross, a testament to the redemptive love of Christ after His triumphant resurrection, capturing the essence of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”
1. The Table of Eden (Pre-Fall):
Genesis offers a captivating portrayal of Eden, a sanctuary of unparalleled beauty and perfection. There, the prototype table was set, shining in magnificence. As the scriptures declare, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Surrounded by verdant landscapes and the symphony of nature, Adam and Eve found joy in the abundant gifts and nourishment bestowed upon them. Their bond with the Creator was pure and untainted. Echoing further, Psalm 104:24 proclaims, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” This Edenic table symbolized a realm where God’s creative intent flourished, reflecting a world in harmonious synchrony with its divine Craftsman.
2. The Table of the Curse (Post-Fall):
In the pristine beginning, a serene table of harmony was painted by the hand of the Creator. Yet, with the emergence of sin through Adam and Eve’s defiance, this once peaceful landscape was marred. Scripture poignantly captures the gravity of their transgression: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17). Additionally, as echoed in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” the once abundant feast transformed into a poignant reflection of the broken human state—strained bonds, a spiritual chasm, and the enduring pursuit of true significance and direction.
3. The Table of the Cross (Post-Resurrection):
Hope illuminated our world with the coming of Jesus Christ. The Cross, more than a mere emblem of anguish, emerged as the renewed table of hope, love, and redemption. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus, by His unmatched sacrifice, built the bridge between humankind and God, converting what was once a table of despair into one overflowing with grace. As it is written, “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). Through His boundless love, every soul is invited to partake in this unending banquet.
The Gospel Driven Home: Colossians 3:18-25:
The teachings from Paul in Colossians serve as a vivid representation of the harmony and unity present in the familial structures of Christian households. As Paul mentions, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 3:18-24). These instructions, more than societal rules, unveil the Gospel’s transformative power, shaping the dynamics within households, pointing us back to the Edenic harmony, and emphasizing the ultimate service epitomized in the sacrificial love at the Table of the Cross.
Paul’s teachings emphasize that the principles of ‘submit’ and ‘love’ are closely associated with attributes such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Highlighted in Colossians 3:12-13, believers are urged to internalize and express these values as naturally as they would wear clothes, extending forgiveness to those around them. This directive goes beyond mere actions; it’s an invitation to unveil the depth of one’s character. In the realm of marriage, when partners embrace these values, they personify the core message of the Gospel. In the same vein, children’s obedience is portrayed not as simple adherence but as a profound gesture of respect, rooted in Christ’s teachings. Drawing inspiration from the Old Testament, Paul suggests that the Gospel has the power to counteract the hierarchical imbalances introduced after Eden, fostering relationships built on shared understanding and unity.
Paul’s emphasis on vulnerability within these household codes hints at a deeper, spiritual purpose. Vulnerability, as beautifully captured by Russ Lewis, posits that to submit or love is to bless, even when faced with the possibility of disappointment or hurt. The Christian family, built upon these foundations, is poised not only to change society but to reflect the eternal love, grace, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. Thus, through vulnerability, love, and understanding, Christian households serve as beacons of hope, proclaiming the Gospel in the purest way possible.
The Metaphoric Table of Faith:
Our faith journey is like a table or altar we visit every day to renew our commitment. More than just personal spiritual growth, it’s a space where we come together to nurture and share our beliefs. Christ said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20), highlighting the power of collective worship. Our role is not just about personal growth. We are encouraged to share God’s love and intertwine stories from Eden and the Cross into our daily lives. The Scriptures remind us to “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and emphasize that, much like “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17), we enhance each other’s faith in community.