The Great Feast

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

 of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”

Isaiah 25:6

When God brought Israel through the Sea, and entered covenant with them at Sinai, the elders ate and drank with him.  “They saw the God of Israel” (Ex 24:10-11).  The elders represented Israel as the covenant was consummated with their Savior.  Sadly, the nation broke the covenant and lost their privilege in the exile.  But God did not change his purpose.  Isaiah the prophet promised that on Mount Zion, God would make a feast for all nations.

At this banquet, all the restrictions will be lifted.  Not just the elders, but the people will be there.  Not just the people, but the Gentile nations will be there.  The whole earth will be there as “his people.”  Isaiah uses the words “peoples” (v. 6) or ethnic groups, “nations” (v. 7) or political entities, and “faces” (v. 8) or individuals.  (Cf. J. A. Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 209).  God will provide the banqueting fare of unimaginable richness.  There will be gourmet food and the finest wine, well aged.  What a meal! 

But the finest food is not much good if you have to eat alone.  We rarely get the opportunity to feast with all the people we love most.  For whatever reasons, we are scattered.  Worst of all, death separates us from those we love.  But, Isaiah wrote, on that day, God will remove the “shroud” that covers all peoples.  “He will swallow up death forever..., and wipe away tears from all faces” (v. 8).  God will rescue us from our most relentless enemy.  The reproach of death’s curse will be gone; there will be nothing but life, nothing but resurrection joy in God’s presence.  We will be reunited with the whole body of Christ.   There will be no regrets and no sorrow.  The amazing beauty of that fellowship meal is beyond our grasp.  And what will the banqueters say?  “Behold, this is our God.  We have waited for him, that he might save us.  This is the LORD.  Let us rejoice and be glad in him” (v. 9).  We will give God the praise he is due.  He will comfort us.  Our joy and our Father’s will be one. 

Food loses its taste when those we love are suffering.  A Roman soldier asked Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant.  When the centurion refused Jesus’ offer to come and heal him, by replying, “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.  Only say the word and my servant will be healed,” Jesus answered with wonder.  No Israelite showed Jesus the faith that this Gentile did.  Did the centurion ask the Messiah’s help because he understood that Jesus was in the process of taking the curse from the creation?  Was he looking forward to the banquet on the mountain?  We do not know.  But in joy Jesus said, “I tell you many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness…” (Mt 8:11-12).  Then he healed the centurion’s servant with a word.  Jesus was gathering sinners from Israel and from the Gentiles, and they were destined for the great banquet.  Pagan kings had already come from the east, and Rome lay to the west.  Jesus continues to gather until the full number has come to faith.  What a gathering!  Father Abraham, with all his children, in fulfillment of every covenant promise.  All the believers from all the ages, and every nation of earth will be there in their resurrected glory.  Jesus will be there.  And God will be all in all.  We will not see him partially then, but face to face.

The Lord’s Table is a foretaste of that banquet.  But Jesus Christ endured that death in our place.  And God raised him, never to die again.  So will he raise us.  One day all the tears will be done, and we will be reunited forever.  Can’t wait!

Howard Griffith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Academic Dean
Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.

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