THE DIDACHE AND THE MESSIANIC BANQUET
Perry Stone

I AM REVEALED
B. Childress
Jun 10 2012

And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And he saith unto me, These are
the true sayings of God.   (REVELATION 19:9)

BETHLEHEM WAS ONE OF the smallest communities in Israel.  Yet, the people born and living in this town affected
Israel, and one man born there changed the world.  The word Bethlehem comes from two Hebrew words:
beyth,
meaning house, and
lechem, meaning bread.  The meaning of Bethlehem is the “house of bread.”  The prophetic
meaning of this town was both literal and spiritual.

The love story of Ruth and Boaz unfolded in Bethlehem.  Ruth was a Moabite (Gentile) who followed her Jewish mother-
in-law, Naomi, from Moab back to Naomi’s home city of Bethlehem at the conclusion of a famine.  Ruth, a widow, was
permitted to collect barley in the fields of a rich Jew named Boaz.  Ruth gained the attention and favor of the rich, single
landowner and eventually married him.  From the bloodline of Ruth and Boaz came the first prominent citizen of
Bethlehem, King David (Ruth 4:21-22).

At the death of Boaz, his son Obed would have inherited his fields.  After Obed’s death the land was passed to his son
Jesse, who was the father of David.  These fields grew both barley and wheat, and during the time of the Jewish temple,
the grain from the fields of Bethlehem was harvested and used to make bread at the temple, including the bread baked
for the table of showbread.  Centuries later, in a stable, the true bread from heaven arrived on the scene in the town of
Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was special as far back as the time of Jacob.  His wife Rachel died and was buried near Bethlehem after
giving birth to their son Benjamin (Genesis 35:17-19).  In the time of Joshua, the tribe of Judah was given several cities
within their territory, including Bethlehem (Joshua 19:15).  Bethlehem was also the village from where the prophet Micah
predicted the Ruler of Israel would come.  This was understood when, four hundred years later, the wise men arrived in
Jerusalem and inquired among Jewish scholars about the place where the King was to be born.  Their answer was
Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-6).

Bethlehem is located at the edge of the Judean wilderness.  When departing Bethlehem and crossing the barren
wilderness toward the Dead Sea, you will eventually come to the ruins of a village that one existed in the time of Christ,
called Qumran.  In the time of Christ, a mysterious group of men called the Essenes lived and studied in this desert
community.  According to scholars, this group had a detailed understanding of the community meal.

THE SPECIAL MEALS AMONG THE JEWS

Some scholars believe that the concept of a “communal meal” may have originated with the Essenes.  This secluded
group of men is today noted for preserving the famous Dead Sea Scrolls in jars and hiding them in caves for future
generations to recover.  They were a mystical group who believed in the future redemption of Israel and a Messiah who
would arrive and redeem the nation from her enemies.

According to scholars, the Essenes would wash in water, put on white garments, and gather in their assembly hall.  
They would bless the bread and then the wine.  The wine was “young sweet wine before it was fermented.”  The same
blessing procedure is followed in our Communion meal.  Believers assemble together,
having been cleansed of their
sins
and given white garments (which represent the righteousness of the saints), and they bless the bread and the fruit
of the vine.  Washing in a
mik’vah (similar to an outdoor baptistery) was an important ritual among the men in the
community.  It is interesting that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples following His final supper (John 13:4-15).

In the first century there was also a group of Egyptian Jewish ascetics called Therapeutae (Greek for healers).  They
settled near Alexandria in Egypt and lived a life of separation similar to the Essenes.  The ancient writer Philo wrote
about this group.  They spent most of their time in prayer and study, and they read only the Torah, the prophets, and
Psalms.  For six days they lived in solitude, never leaving the house.  On the seventh day, both the men and women
met in a double divided sanctuary where they ate a special meal consisting of spring water and bread flavored with
hyssop or salt.  The group avoided wine and meat.  Following the meal, a sacred vigil continued until dawn.  Some
scholars believe this group was a branch from the Essenes in a pre-Christian era.

The Essenes’ meal was considered a preview of the final meal to be eaten with the Messiah at the end of days.  
According to the New Testament writers, the Communion meal is closely connected to the Passover meal, called the
Seder, which is conducted by the Jews each year to remind them of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
Scripture teaches that the Communion supper shows forth the Lord’s death until He comes (I Corinthians 11:26).  At the
final Passover meal, Jesus took the fourth cup, which is called the cup of consummation, and introduced it as the “cup
of the kingdom.”  After all, when He returns for the church and resurrects the dead in Christ, He will transport us into the
heavenly kingdom where we will participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and Christ will consummate the
marriage with His bride (Revelation 19:7-9).  At the Last Supper Jesus held up this cup and announced that He would
not drink it again until He drank it with His followers in the kingdom  (Mark 14:25).  This was the last Passover meal He
ate with His disciples.  Believers, however, are reminded of their future meal called the Marriage Supper every time we
eat the bread and drink from the cup.

THE DIDACHE AND THE COMMUNION MEAL

One of the oldest manuscripts that describes some of the earliest Christian teachings is called the Didache.  The
manuscript, which was discovered in 1873, was translated in 1883.  Scholars fix the date of the writing at about A.D. 100
to 120, which is about the same time that the last book of the New Testament, Revelation, was compiled by the apostle
John.  It is not just another parchment or book that someone compiled, but was actually considered part of the early
church’s instructional guidelines.

The Didache contains several important concepts that were taught in the first century.  The first part of the manuscript
describes the “two paths of life and death,” which deals with Christian behavior and morality in life.  For example, it is
written, “Do not abort a fetus or kill a child that is born.”  It instructs to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day.  It also
admonishes believers to fast twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.  One interesting instruction deals with baptism
in water:

    Now concerning baptism, baptize as follows: after you have reviewed all these things, baptize in the name of the
    Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in running water.  But if you have no running water, then baptize in
    some other water; and if you are not able to baptize in cold water, then do so in warm.  But if you have neither,
    then pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.  (Didache 7:1-3)

The Communion meal is also discussed in the Didache:

    On the Lord’s own day gather together and break bread and give thanks, having first confessed your sins so that
    your sacrifice may be pure.  But let no one who has a quarrel with a companion join until they have been
    reconciled.  (Didache 14:1-2)

This is the same admonition given by Christ, that a believer should not attempt to offer a gift at the altar until
they are first reconciled to their brother
(Matthew 5:23-24).  Christ also taught that if a believer did not forgive his
brother’s trespasses, the one holding the grudge against his brother could not be forgiven himself (Matthew 6:14-15).

According to the Didache, the following prayers were offered, first over the fruit of the vine and then the bread:

    We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy wine of David your servant, which you have made known to us
    through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever.  (Didache 9:2)

    We give thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have made known to us through Jesus, your
    servant; to you be glory forever.  Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was
    gathered together and became one, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into
    your kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.  (Didache 9:3-4)

      A third prayer was prayed after the conclusion of the meal:

    To us you have graciously given spiritual food and drink, and eternal life through your servant…Gather your
    church from the four winds into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it: for yours is the power and glory
    forever.  May grace come, and may this world pass away.  Hosanna to the God of David.  If anyone is holy, come;
    if anyone is not, let him repent.  Maranatha!  Amen!  (Didache 10:5, 9-14)

Several points should be made here.  First, notice that David, not Abraham, is mentioned in two of the three prayers.  
This may be because the promise of the Messiah was through the lineage of David.  Abraham was promised the land of
Israel, but David was promised the kingdom of the world to come.  Since the Communion meal looks forward to the
future kingdom, then David as the heir to the future kingdom would be mentioned in the Communion prayers.

Second, in two of the three prayers there is a request to gather the church from the four winds.  This theme of the
gathering of the church was revealed by the apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Ephesians 1:9-10.  It is the
moment when the dead in Christ will be raised and the living saints will be changed from mortal to immortal.  Together,
they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air!  Paul calls these events the “gathering together unto him [Christ]” in II
Thessalonians 2:1.

At the Last supper, Christ said He would not eat or drink again until He did so in the kingdom.  Christ reminded His
disciples of drinking the cup in the future kingdom and that our receiving Communion is a continual reminder of the
return of the King, the resurrection of the dead, the catching away of the saints, and the gathering together at the great
banquet supper in the heavenly city.

The third interesting observation is the third prayer and the word
Marantha.  The same word is found in I Corinthians 16:
22, where Paul closed his letter by saying, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema [meaning
cursed or separated].”  Paul then says, “Marantha.”  This is an Aramaic word meaning “our Lord comes.”  Because the
word is an Aramaic word and not a Hebrew or Greek word, some suggest that it was invented by the early Christians as
a code word to identify the real believers in times of persecution.

THE THREE MEALS OF THE SABBATH

Even today among the religious Jews, the Sabbath is a very important day.  God established six days in which to work
and the seventh day as a time of rest (Genesis 2:2).  Paul taught that there remains an eternal rest (Sabbath) for God’s
people, which we will enter the moment Christ returns (Hebrews 4:1-11).  At that time, we will participate in our “Sabbath
meal,” as alluded to in Revelation 19:7.

According to Jewish mystical commentaries there are three meals on the Sabbath day:

    Therefore one must wholeheartedly rejoice in these meals, and complete their number (three altogether), for they
    are meals of the perfect Faith, the Faith of the holy seed of Israel, their supernal Faith, which is not that of the
    heathen nations.   (Zohar 2, Pages 88 A-B)

The third meal was identified in early Judaism as the “holy meal of the Ancient One,” or the “meal of the King.”  It is also
called by Jewish sages, “the Meal of the Messiah.”  This third meal is also called “escorting the queen,” which describes
the festivities that conclude the Jewish Sabbath.

An example of this third meal may be alluded to in Acts 20.  Paul was ministering in Troas for seven days, and at the
conclusion of his time (the Sabbath), he preached until midnight.  As the oil lamps were burning late at night, a young
man named Eutychus, who was sitting on a window ledge, fell to the ground three stories below.  The fall killed the
fellow, but Paul prayed for him and he was raised up.  Paul went back to the upper room where he broke bread and
ate.  Paul continued to speak to the believers until daybreak (Acts 20:7-12).

After this late night (third meal), Paul was still ministering!  This was a normal activity after the third meal was eaten.  
The final discussion at the third meal often points to the return of the Messiah and the coming kingdom.  Therefore, the
third Sabbath meal is a special meal identifying the Meal of the Messiah.

THE LORD’S TABLE AND RECONCILIATION

Paul refers to the Communion as the “Lord’s table” (I Corinthians 10:21).  Paul may have been comparing this with the
table of showbread in the temple.  This golden table contained twelve pieces of holy bread, one for each of the twelve
tribes of Israel.  Each week the priests were permitted to eat the twelve loaves from this table.  At the same time,
another set of priests would bake fresh bread to replace the eaten bread, and the following week that bread was eaten
and replaced again.

The idea of the Lord’s Table is linked to the bread used in the Communion.  Christ said that He was the bread come
down from heaven, and He instructed us to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have life.  This can refer only to
the Communion meal, or the meal that heals!

After the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70, the Jews wrote that, “As long as the Temple stood, the altar at the
Temple atoned for Israel, but now a man’s table atones for him” (Talmud, Berakhoth 55a).  The temple stood in Christ’s
time, and He and His disciples often ascended to the holy house for prayer (Mark 11:11; Acts 3:1).  Gifts and offerings
were a part of the daily routine.  Christ made it clear that for God to bless any gift, it must be given with a pure heart not
tainted by strife and unforgiveness.

This was the emphasis of the apostle Paul when he said we should examine ourselves when we are sitting with our
brothers and sisters at the Lord’s Table.

    But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.   (I Corinthians 11:28)

This self-examination is for the purpose of looking inwardly to examine one’s relationship with God and man.  Since the
brass altar no longer exists in the temple in Jerusalem, the Lord’s Table becomes the altar of examination.  I must
continually emphasize that before receiving the bread and the cup, one should repent to God and then repent and
make reconciliation to their fellow believers.

Communion is a reminder of what Christ has done, a reminder of what He can do now (heal and continually deliver), and
a reminder of the world to come.

    Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him:  for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made
    herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen
    is the righteousness of saints.  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage
    supper of the Lamb.  And he saith unto me,  These are the true sayings of God.   (Revelation 19:7-9)

THE CLIMAX OF THE COMMUNION MEAL

At the Last Supper the Lamb of God, the future Priest of the heavenly temple, raised the silver chalice and announced
that He would not drink it again until the future kingdom arrived.  At that great heavenly banquet, when the white-robed
saints assemble in the largest banquet hall ever known, the Messiah – the Bridegroom – will once again lift the silver
cup in the air, and we will once and for all seal the marriage of the bride and the Groom!




Source:

THE MEAL THAT HEALS, by Perry Stone, Copyright 2008, Charisma House.
2010 - HIS GLORY REIGNS
LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES