I have no idea when exactly it happened. Somehow, our worship of God at the Table was pushed to the sidelines, and the stage (or platform) have become the central focus. Strange, for a stage, or BI-MA (the Hebrew word that describes a high place) is exactly where God forbids us to worship Him!
Yes, I know, the stages at our modern congregations and churches are nothing more than equipment, designed to enable the hundreds or thousands present to better see what’s going on, but for a while now I have a deep longing to go back to the Biblical setting.
The Original Pattern
The original framework of worship is based on the pattern of the Tabernacle. When God commanded Moses to erect it, He not only provided him with a list of materials, sizes and colors, but literally showed him something.
“Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you” (Ex. 25:9. See also v. 40; 26:30; 27:8; Heb. 8:5; 9:11, 23-24 etc.).
Importing Materials Vs. Using What We Have Available to Us
Later on, David set out to build a temple, much fancier and grandiose than the original format. In the Temple, everything was multiplied 10 times; in the Tabernacle – each piece is a work of genius, but very simple, all established according to a human scale.
The Tabernacle is not just a historical structure, made obsolete. It is still valid today. Yeshua himself passed through a structure not created by man, and both the Book of Hebrews and Revelation include multiple mentions of some of the articles found in that heavenly Tabernacle (see Heb. 8:2).
The Temple was built of Cedar trees, that were not indigenous to Israel. They had to be imported from Lebanon. The Tabernacle, on the other hand, was built of Acacia wood, found in the wilderness, right where the Israelites were at that time. Cedar wood is every carpenter’s dream material: thick, straight, large logs. Acacia trunks are every carpenter’s nightmare: twisted, crooked, thin, prickly. But that’s what they had on hand, and that is what God eventually filled with His glory.
God never expects us to bring from without the materials from which we will build a tabernacle full of His glory in our hearts. To the contrary, He wants us to bring the thorns, the twists and crookedness, our brokenness. He will do the rest. It’s not a simple concept for us to digest. We prefer Cedar trees, high places, power, might. But then it is our glory that can be seen, not necessarily His.
A Tale of Three Tables
In the original Tabernacle there is a table. On it was the showbread, The bread that saw, observed, God’s faces. The priests ate it once a week, after replacing it with fresh loaves. There were also KSA-VOT on the table – a unique and archaic term, which researches are not clear as to its exact meaning. Some think these were vats or pitchers of wine. I like that. Here is the earliest ever version of the Lord’s supper. There, in the holy place, and not in sight of the whole crowd, the priest faced God and dined with Him. It could happen only after he cleansed himself with blood (Bronze Altar), washed himself with water (Laver) and examined the intentions of his heart in front of the Lampstand. Only then he was ready for a moment of deep intimacy with his Maker.
Judaism has developed the beautiful tradition of the Shabbat table. On it too we find bread and wine, but here – the intimacy is more horizontal – between us and our loved ones, our family and friends. Around this table our eyes delight in the views and aesthetic colors, while our bellies are filled with delectable food. A feast for all senses. This is the time to stop the weekly race, catch up with everyone, read from the OT portion designed for the week, and even discuss its ramifications for all those seated at the table. Around the Shabbat table each one has the opportunity to express their voice, to have their views and opinions heard. Yes, someone is guiding the conversation, but he is not standing on a raised platform, requiring all eyes to be set on him alone. What a profoundly more natural way to worship God.
“Last Form” – painted in pencil and gold leaf
by a young Israeli secular artist, Yifat Bezalel
This week we will set yet another special table, the Seder table. There too we will fill our bellies, while we remember that our forefathers have been slaves in Egypt. We will remember that Someone set a crown of thorns upon His head and payed a hefty price so that we no longer have to carry the thorns and thistles in our lives. Yet another wonderful way to worship God, and tell about His ways to our children and loved ones who do not know Him as of yet.
The Seder table at my sister’s house,
all set in preparation for tomorrow’s Passover meal
Can We Go Back to the Table?
A deep longing, a yearning I have never known before, has awakened within me lately: to step down from the platform somewhat and bring worship and service of God back to the table, in its various forms.
Combining the table of Shabbat with the Table of Showbread
Last week, at the end of a special gathering of Arab and Jewish women,
I combined a Shabbat table with a half scaled model of the Table of showbread
and invited both people groups to become intimate with one another around these two.
I, personally, long to see the descendants of Ishmael, Esau and the other children of Abraham, sit with us at each of these tables.
Coming Up – Our Next Tabernacle Seminar for English Speakers
I invite you to join our next Tabernacle Seminar for English speakers that will take place in Israel, in November 2019. For more info: Tabernacle Seminar – Brochure (1)
7 thoughts on “Table Vs. Stage”
What a new insight. Thank you.
Beautiful reflection. Thank you. I long for that table too. Thinking also of the Table Jesus refers to that those far and wide will be welcomed. And to not pick the place of honor but let the Host seat us.I need to study the Tabernacle again!
I join your heart, Orna, in wanting to see God’s people come back to His table….we have had enough of the high places!
I join your heart, Orna, in wanting to bring God’s people to His table….enough of the high places!
This has been my long term prayer too Orna!
Thank you for so beautifully expressing my sentiments! What a wonderful feeling to know that I am not alone. Blessings to you!
Thank you Orna, that was wonderful and I appreciate you sending to me.