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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:To encourage us, God reveals his coming feast of salvation
Text:Isaiah 25:6-8 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Comfort in a World of Pain
 
Preached:2023
Added:2023-07-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 27:1,2

Hymn 11:9 (after the Law of God)

Hymn 37

Psalm 84:1,2,5,6

Psalm 30:1,2

Scripture reading: Isaiah 25

Text: Isaiah 25:6-8

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Christ,

Our passage for this morning is about an event of rejoicing and celebration.  Our text this morning describes a feast of epic proportions.  It’s a victory feast.  We read in our text about a feast of salvation which is coming soon for God’s people. 

We read together from all of chapter 25 and you can see how the beginning of this chapter is a hymn of praise to God for his judgments.  As he does elsewhere in this book, the Holy Spirit puts an exclamation mark behind God’s power.  He emphasizes that there’s no nation or people which can stand against God.  Now historically, these words came during the time of King Hezekiah of Judah, around 716 – 686 B.C.  Hezekiah was one of the better kings.  He desired to serve the LORD.  But his reign was filled with uncertainty. 

There was always the Assyrian threat – Sennacherib and his armies were vicious and loomed over Judah.  There was always the temptation to trust in politics and alliances with other nations, rather than in God.  The people of Judah needed to be reminded who really was their help.  That’s why this chapter is drawing the people’s attention to the God of salvation.  Nations can’t stand against him – indeed no one can stand against him, for he is the one and only Holy almighty God.  Judah needs a reminder of this – that’s why chapter 25 begins with “O LORD, you are my God.”  And then in verse 9, all the people say, “Behold, this is our God, we have waited for him, that he might save us.”  The people need a clear revelation of who God is.  That’s what chapter 25 is about. 

I preach to you God’s Word with this theme:

To encourage us, God reveals his coming feast of salvation

We’ll consider the following questions:

  1. Who is invited to the feast?
  2. What riches will be enjoyed at the feast?
  3. How can we be certain the feast will come? 

A feast is always a grand event.  By its nature this grand event requires two parties, two people or groups of people.  You need someone to give the feast, but you also need guests.  The one who gives the feast in our text is the LORD of hosts.    Literally, it says “Yahweh Sabaoth.”  Maybe you remember the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God.  “Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus, it is he; Lord Sabaoth his Name…”  Sabaoth is the Hebrew word for God’s armies.  So it’s the commander of heaven’s armies who’s preparing this feast, the all-powerful king of the universe.

But who is he going to prepare this feast for?  For all peoples, for all nations.  Throughout our text there’s a universal application.  It’s right there in verse 6, but also in verses 7 and 8.  This feast isn’t going to be only for the people of Judah, rather it’s for all the peoples of the earth who come to serve God. 

There will be representatives from all nations present on the mountain spoken of in our text.  The mountain mentioned here is Mount Zion.  The nations are going to be there in Jerusalem, in God’s city joining this great celebration of salvation.  What we have here is a sneak peek at the beautiful reality of the gathering of the nations which began in the book of Acts.   

This peek ahead to the future must have sounded rather surprising to the people of Judah.  Remember, Isaiah is writing at a time when nations were conspiring against each other – alliances and bold treachery were the order of the day.  And Judah was smack right in the middle of it all.  Have you ever looked at the location of the land of Israel in the context of the Middle East?  It was and still is right at the cross-roads of all major routes in the region.  Israel sat right between Egypt and Africa and Babylon, Assyria and Greece.  Everyone wanted to have control of the land of Palestine – a situation which hasn’t changed to this day.  Judah had nothing but fair-weather friends and perennial enemies.  

So Isaiah’s announcement of the attendance list at this feast must have been jaw-dropping.  All nations?  How is this possible?  The question would have been even more pressing because of the rather explicit words about Moab at the end of chapter 25.  Moab will be swimming in manure – but will he also be at Yahweh’s feast of salvation?  Yes, it says “all nations.”  Even people from Moab, or better, those descended from Moab will be there at this feast.  The explanation of the words at the end of the chapter must see this event as taking place closer to the time of the text.  The feast is further in time and history.  Moab will be humbled as promised – but yet descendants of Moab will be present for the feast. 

This feast is a future reality.  Our text describes what God will do in the future.  Now of course, this was revealed to the people of Judah long before the beginning of Christ’s great gathering in of all nations.  However, isn’t it remarkable that this text was preserved for us today?  We live in the age when God is working broadly.  God is now gathering in all peoples.  At this point in time, he’s in the process of inviting all peoples to his great feast of salvation.  That’s why mission work is so important – it’s through the mission activities of the church that all nations are called to the feast.  The church is involved with sending God’s invitation. 

At some point we and our families were also invited to this feast.  In his grace, God has extended the golden invitation to come to the feast.  For the majority of us, could our forefathers turn down that invitation?  Did you know that in biblical times, if a King threw a feast and sent out invitations, it was positively forbidden to decline?  The invitation was really a command to come.  And so what about us?  Could we turn down the LORD of hosts?  He wants us at his feast.  He wants you, each and every one of you, young and old, to take your seat at the feast.  He wants us in the church, in his Jerusalem, where the feast is served.  Taking your seat there calls for faith in Jesus Christ and repentance, acknowledging in humility our own worthlessness.  The King didn’t send out the invitation because we’re so worthy – but because in his good pleasure and his mercy he wants us there.  And when we see what’s on the menu at this feast, attending the feast is something we’re compelled to do – it’s not about duty anymore, but delight.  We want to be there.   

You see, the feast of salvation being prepared is incredibly extravagant.  In fact, our English translation has a difficult time expressing the level of extravagance.   In verse 6, for instance, we read about “rich food.”  What we find in the original text is “fatty food items.”  Rich can mean fatty, but it can also mean full of sugar.  However, in this instance the food is full of fat.  Of course, today fat is no longer in favour.  Things were much different in biblical times.  Fat was a sign of wealth.  If your meat had a lot of fat on it, it meant you could afford to feed your cattle and fatten them up good and proper before butchering them.  Fat was treasured and valuable and that’s also why animal fat was offered to God on the altar.  The Mosaic law specified that it belonged to Yahweh -- it was a sweet savour to him when burned.  So it’s also remarkable then that the LORD prepares a feast and serves up fatty food items.  The tables are turned – Yahweh is offering what’s most treasured to him.  Isn’t this remarkable? 

The food at this feast is described further when the text speaks of “rich food full of marrow.”  Really what this says in the original Hebrew is “fatty food items garnished with marrow.”  Marrow is mostly made up of fat, something like 97%.  So, it would have been something of a delicacy for the original readers of Isaiah’s prophecy.  Fatty food garnished with marrow.  Their mouths would be just watering.  What a feast!

What’s further, God not only serves the very best foods, but he also serves good wine.  The text speaks of “aged wine.”  This is wine that had been given time to set on its dregs or sediment, developing an intense, full-bodied flavour.  But this wine would also have been purified so as to remove any of that sediment – that’s why the ESV speaks of “aged wine well refined.”  These are wines that have not only had time to age with all the flavour-adding sediment, but they’ve also been filtered so that the sediment or dregs don’t disenchant the drinking experience.  These are the finest wines money can buy – enough to satisfy the most sophisticated connoisseur. 

So we see that Yahweh, the LORD, is giving only the best at this feast of unimaginable proportions.  However, the riches described here aren’t literal.  They’re figurative or metaphorical, they stand for something else.  They really point to the riches described in verses 7 and 8.  Those are the true riches enjoyed by all peoples on Mount Zion. 

And what are those true riches?  Well, in the first place the Holy Spirit speaks of a covering and a veil that covers all peoples.  This veil or covering is going to be destroyed.  It’s going to be taken out of existence.  What is this veil or shroud that God is going to destroy?  The answer is both simple and profound.  It comes in the first part of verse 8.  God is going to swallow up death forever.  That’s the true riches enjoyed at this banquet.  Death, you see, is like a veil or shroud that’s tightly wrapped around all peoples.  No one can escape its hold.  Death is inevitable for all of us – bad news, I know, but it’s the truth.  But the good news is that God comes to his feast with fatness and riches beyond measure.  He comes with a gift that can’t be priced out.  It’s the banishment of death.  The riches of the feast is the good news, the gospel. 

There’s a close connection here between death and tears.  We can learn from this connection that there’s no shame in expressing our grief with tears when a loved one passes away.  For men and women alike, it’s natural and expected that tears come with death.  There should not be any “crying-is-for-sissies” attitude when it comes to dealing with death.  We may mourn, it’s expected that we do so.  But we mourn with the hope of our text written on our hearts.  Death will disappear and so there’ll be no more tears.  Do you see: Yahweh, he removes both the cause (death) and the symptom (tears)?  It’s all done away with. 

With the disappearance of death comes also the removal of sin and guilt.  Sin and death are always closely related in Scripture.  Death is due to sin.  That’s why the text speaks of Yahweh removing the disgrace of his people.  The people of God were punished countless times over for their sin – punishment which they number one deserved, and number two was a chastisement or discipline from God meant to lead them to repentance.  The whole world watched this and mocked.  But now the punishments are over and the disgrace is gone.  The people are received in God’s grace and can partake in his feast. 

Now the people of Judah obviously couldn’t see how this would all come about.  They were looking into a glass darkly and couldn’t see.  It was a mystery for them.  They didn’t know about Christ the way we do.  They only knew that something was going to be done about sin and death.  They knew there was a feast coming.  But we’re different.  We know how something has been done about sin and death.   We can take part in the riches described in our text already today.  We know that peace and reconciliation with the judge of the universe has been brought about. 

We’re so rich in Christ and his redemptive work.  We have full life in him.  Indeed, in one sense, believers are already seated at the feast.  We’re members of the church and in the church we’re fed the riches of the gospel.  Here in this Mount Zion, the gospel is proclaimed, not through sacrifices, but through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments.  The feast has come.  But there’s another sense in which the feast is still coming.  After all, death is still with us.  Our loved ones pass away and we may likewise face a death bed – some maybe sooner than later.  Whether we’re young or old, death looms in the future.  So how can we be certain that the ultimate fulfillment of this feast will come? 

You know, it’s always good to have certainty.  Perhaps you’ve experienced times in your life when there was little certainty about the next week or month, maybe even the next day.  You just didn’t know what was going to happen.  We all like to have stability in our lives – and that’s completely understandable.  Human beings were created to be stable and secure in a good relationship with their Creator.  But the fall into sin changed all of that.  The fall brought instability and insecurity into the world.  So also the people of Judah had a problem with uncertainty.  They didn’t know who was going to invade next.  Who was going to be the next power to lay siege to Jerusalem or the towns of Judah?  But God always gave believers certainty if they’d only trust in him.  They had to look to him rather than politics and clever alliances.  They had to look to his Word. 

Scripture gives believers the certainty we’re all longing for.  Over and over again, we read of God’s promises.  But we also read of how he is always faithful to his promises.  We see it illustrated in the Bible repeatedly.  As one example, God promised Abraham and Sarah a child.  Isaac was born.  God kept his promise.  He is a steadfast rock of dependability.  You can always trust in him – when he says he’s going to do something, he will do it.

That’s why our text concludes with the words, “for the LORD has spoken.”  The original is actually stronger, “Indeed, Yahweh has spoken.”  There weren’t just some pie-in-the-sky thoughts penned down by a man named Isaiah.  These are the very words of God himself.  God himself has put his rubber stamp on what’s being said here.  If these things are not true, then Yahweh is not God and we’re wasting our time here this morning.  However, we know that God is God.  He will not lie to us.  He is going to destroy death, swallow it up, put it out of existence.  He is going to wipe away the tears of all his people from every tribe, tongue and nation.  Believe it, brothers and sisters.  Don’t doubt that God will one day take away all our sorrow.  He has promised it. 

He’s also guaranteed it in another way that we don’t find explicitly in our text.  That’s what we remember every first day of the week.  Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead.  Through that, he’s not only conquered sin, but also what grew out of sin, namely death.  Our Saviour’s resurrection is a sure pledge of our glorious resurrection.  It’s a guarantee of the coming feast of salvation in its fullness.  The grave couldn’t hold him, death couldn’t tie him down.  And thus death isn’t going to tie us down either.  As Paul says in 1 Cor. 15, the victory is given to us by God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise be to God!  We have life and victory in him.  Death won’t sting us or be victorious – because Christ has killed it.  In Christ we see the death of death. 

Again, this isn’t explicitly mentioned in our text.  But it definitely comes to mind when we hear about Mount Zion in this verses.  Zion, Jerusalem – that was the place where God would work our salvation in the death and resurrection of our Saviour.  That’s where God destroyed something that has been strangling and suffocating all the peoples of this earth:  sin and death.  You can’t help but think here of Christ’s redemptive work.  Through Christ, God removed the veil of death which suffocated all the peoples, Jews and Gentiles, us included.  And all of that points ahead to the ultimate fulfillment.

In the Revelation to John, the words of our text are alluded to three times.  God will finally wipe away the tears of all eyes in the New Jerusalem.  We read in Rev. 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  The risen Saviour is victorious.  And here too, God’s Word gives us the certainty that this will take place.  Take God at His Word.  There need not be any doubt.  Death will die.  Grief will die. 

Loved ones, our text gives us the gospel message – death is swallowed up in victory.  Could there be greater reason for feasting and celebration?  God gives us the feast of his salvation, riches beyond measure.  The invitation or command is there for all peoples – come, eat and drink!  It’s said in Isaiah 55, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”  It’s all free, free in Christ.  Sit at the feast and enjoy the riches won for us by our Saviour Jesus.  AMEN.

PRAYER

O LORD of hosts, our God,

We praise you for the gospel of your victory over death.  Thank you for your promises and the way you have fulfilled them so far in Jesus Christ.  We thank you for the death of death in the death of Christ.  We praise your Name that he rose victorious over sin and death on the third day.  Thank you that your gospel promises give us so much comfort and encouragement, also as we continue to deal with death in this world.  Please continue to give us your comfort and strength.  Please make the day come quickly when death will be swallowed up forever.  Father, please bring the day when you will wipe away all the tears from our faces.  As we wait, please help us with your Holy Spirit to continue trusting in your promises.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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