Tables hold special meaning in the Bible as places of fellowship, hospitality, celebration, sacrifice, and teaching. If you’re wondering about the deeper spiritual symbolism of tables in Scripture, here’s the essence: tables represent communion and nurturing relationships.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various contexts where tables appear throughout the Bible. We’ll cover key stories about biblical tables, examine table imagery in prophecy, unpack the significance of altars as sacred tables, and reflect on how Christ used the table for ministry.

Notable Tables in the Old Testament

The Table of Shewbread

The Table of Shewbread (also called the Table of the Presence) was an important piece of sanctuary furniture in the Tabernacle and later Temple in Jerusalem. It was a small golden table on which 12 loaves of consecrated bread were placed every Sabbath as an offering to God (Leviticus 24:5-9).

According to Bible scholars, the 12 loaves of bread represented the 12 tribes of Israel and were a reminder of God’s provision for His people. They pointed forward to Jesus as the true “Bread of Life” (John 6:35).

Elijah and the Widow’s Table

One remarkable story about God’s provision through a household table involved the prophet Elijah and a poor widow living in Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7-16). Due to a severe drought, there was little food in the land.

Yet God miraculously caused the widow’s meager supply of flour and olive oil to sustain Elijah, herself, and her household until the drought ended.

This account displays how God cares for those who are struggling and can multiply scarce resources for the good of His people. It points ahead to how Jesus later fed large crowds with very little food on hand (Matthew 14:13-21).

Elisha and the Shunammite’s Table

In another story from 2 Kings about God’s care and provision, the prophet Elisha regularly stayed in an upper room of a Shunammite woman’s house that contained a table, chair and lamp for his use. The woman and her husband welcomed Elisha whenever he was in town and made sure he had what he needed (2 Kings 4:8-10).

Later, when the Shunammite’s son died unexpectedly, God worked through Elisha to resurrect him, bringing joy back into her household (2 Kings 4:18-37). This shows how God blessed this woman and her family for selflessly supporting His prophet Elisha.

Passover and Communion Tables

The First Passover in Exodus

The first Passover meal recorded in the Bible took place when God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. As described in Exodus 12, God instructed Moses to have each Israelite family slaughter a one-year-old lamb and mark their doorposts with its blood.

This protected their firstborn sons from the tenth plague: the death of Egypt’s firstborns. That night, Israelites consumed their lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread as the Lord “passed over” their homes in judgment, sparing their firstborns.

This typified the sacrificial and protective power of shed blood as commanded by God: an amazing foreshadow of Christ’s crucifixion.

That Passover feast gave birth to the annual celebration of liberation and new life. The Passover table symbolized God’s loving redemption for His people. Centuries later, Jesus celebrated Passover and transformed its meaning at the Last Supper.

Christ’s Last Supper Table

The centerpiece of Christ’s final Passover meal with His disciples was not the Paschal lamb, but Himself as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb of God. He instituted the new covenant – in His own blood and body given for mankind.

Drinking wine from one cup and breaking one loaf of bread, Jesus fused Passover and communion into a transforming moment. His table pointing back and forward: recalling Israel’s rescue and previewing Calvary’s passion.

Per Jesus’ instructions, we observe the Lord’s Supper to remember His sacrificial death until He returns. What an amazing gift.

Spiritual Meaning of the Communion Table

As Christians gather to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the communion table represents a sacred feast of remembrance, renewal, and hope:

  • It reminds us of Christ’s body broken and blood poured out to save us from sin.
  • It renews our faith through the real spiritual presence of the resurrected Jesus.
  • It fills us with expectant hope until the marriage supper of the Lamb when Christ returns in glory.

The communion table connects us intimately to God’s story of salvation and liberation. We come not as passive spectators, but as active participants at His table of amazing grace and covenant love!

Revelatory Tables and Altar Symbolism

Ezekiel’s Temple Vision

In Ezekiel 41, God gives the prophet Ezekiel an extensive vision of the design for a new glorious temple. Central to this vision is a large altar described as “a table that was before the Lord” (Ezekiel 41:22).

This shows how in Scripture, altars often functioned as tables on which offerings were presented to God. Ezekiel later specifies special “tables of hewn stone” on which temple sacrifices and offerings will be made (Ezekiel 40:39-43).

So his vision reveals how altars symbolize sacred tables for communion with the divine.

The Table of Demons in 1 Corinthians

In a negative example, Paul warns the Corinthian church against idolatrous pagan sacrificial practices in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. He metaphorically calls the pagan altars “the table of demons” (v.21), contrasting them with “the table of the Lord” representing Christian communion (v.21).

This shows how tables can have spiritual symbolism, for good or ill.

Altars as Sacred Tables

Throughout Scripture, altars often doubled as tables on which sacrificial offerings were presented to God. For example, the furnishings in the Tabernacle included the Altar of Incense described as overlaid with pure gold, with golden poles used to carry it like “a table” (Exodus 30:1-3).

And when the Temple was constructed, Solomon had an ornate Altar of Burnt Offering made of bronze, formed like “a table” on four corners (2 Chronicles 4:1, Ezekiel 43:13-17). So biblical altars clearly had table-like aspects and symbolism.

Modern Judaism continues to reflect this ancient identification of altars with tables in sacred ritual objects like the Shabbat table used for blessings over wine and bread. And Christianity absorbed the idea of the communion “Lord’s table” from its Jewish roots (1 Corinthians 10:21).

So Revelation’s references to divine throne rooms with golden “altars” that look “like a sea of glass” continue this enduring biblical motif of altars as crystal tables of offering (Revelation 4:6, 8:3, 9:13).

Hospitality and Teaching Around Tables

Christ Welcomed at Tables

Jesus was often welcomed and embraced at tables, continuing the biblical tradition of hospitality. Many significant events in Christ’s ministry took place in homes around tables, like when Jesus had dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s house and a sinful woman anointed his feet.

Christ’s first miracle was at a wedding feast in Cana where he turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). The Last Supper, arguably the most important event for Christians remembering Jesus’ sacrifice, occurred as he shared a final meal with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-30).

Isn’t it amazing that momentous spiritual occasions happened around common tables? This shows how God can use everyday objects and hospitality for sacred purposes if we welcome him into our homes and gatherings.

Tables for Teaching and Ministry

Tables were also places of learning and ministry in Christ’s time on earth. Jesus taught crowds while sitting on a mountain and performed one of his most famous miracles – feeding the five thousand – on a grassy slope, essentially a makeshift table formed by nature (Matthew 14:13-21).

But Jesus also spent intentional time with his twelve disciples around tables, like at the Last Supper, answering their questions and preparing them for ministry.

In a modern application, families can make their kitchen tables a place of learning, fellowship, and spiritual growth by discussing faith lessons over mealtimes. Churches can host small groups in homes centered around study, prayer, mentoring, and breaking bread together just like Jesus and the disciples.


As we have seen, tables hold profound meaning throughout Scripture as symbols of provision, refuge, sacrifice, revelation, and intimate fellowship with God. Christ embodied these themes at tables in the Upper Room and through his ministry to the marginalized at dinner tables.

As Christians today, we carry on this heritage of welcoming strangers and nourishing relationships around ordinary tables set apart for holy purpose.

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