Isaiah 25:6-9 (Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 23)
“The Feast to Come”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
October 15, 2017
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is the Old Testament lesson recorded in Isaiah 25:
6Yahweh of hosts will make for all peoples on this mountain a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7On this mountain he will swallow up the face of the covering which covers over all the peoples, the woven covering which is woven over all the nations. 8He will swallow up death forever and the Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from over all the earth, for Yahweh has spoken. 9And it will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him and he saved us. This is Yahweh; we have waited for him. Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Judgment Day is God’s day of settlement with a world that has had a long credit. It is the winding up of this earth’s bankrupt estate and each person’s individual interests. It is the closing of an open account that has been running on ever since the Fall into sin.
Our text follows God’s message of universal judgment against the whole world as spoken by Isaiah in chapter 24. “Behold, Yahweh will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. . . . The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered, for Yahweh has spoken His word. The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers. . . . The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, voided the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt” (Is. 24:1-6). The day of judgment will come and it will cover the entire covenant-breaking earth. “On that day Yahweh will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. . . . Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for Yahweh of hosts reigns on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders” (Is. 24:21-23).
It is sin that incurs the wrath and judgment of God against all people. It is sin that necessitates a new creation. We read in God’s Word in Romans 8, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19-21 ESV). What the Lord God reveals to us through the words of His prophet in our text is that He Himself has already provided for humanity and His creation a feast of salvation to be revealed in its fullness on the Last Day.
“Yahweh of hosts will make for all peoples on this mountain a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” The salvation from His judgment against sin that God will provide for us is pictured here as a banquet feast. God makes a feast of the best and most choice things that food and drink can offer. The meat is tender and juicy; it melts in your mouth. The wine is vintage, perfectly aged and filtered. God gives us His best in this feast that Isaiah pictures for us. What does this mean? God, at the Last Day, will give to us the full enjoyment of blessedness in His perfected Kingdom, in a new creation where He has removed from us sin and death.
In “Christian Questions with their Answers,” “prepared by Dr. Martin Luther for those who intend to go to the Sacrament,” he first asks, “Do you believe that you are a sinner?” Answer: “Yes, I believe it. I am a sinner.” He continues, “How do you know this?” Answer: “From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.” “What have you deserved from God because of your sins?” Answer: “His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation” (Small Catechism). Hence the reason for God’s judgment against sin and sinner. In order to provide for all peoples a feast of salvation, sin has to be dealt with. People need to be “saved” from their sins. This is not something people can accomplish for themselves. I can no more rid myself of lust, impatience, greed, and selfishness any more than you can. If humanity is to be rescued from sin and its consequences and the Lord’s judgment than God must do it. So God provides the feast of salvation by removing the sin from us.
“On this mountain he will swallow up the face of the covering which covers over all the peoples, the woven covering which is woven over all the nations.” Sin and all that is associated with it are compared to a covering and then as a veil. The sin with which we are conceived and born, the sinful nature that turns us inward to ourselves, the words, thoughts, desires, and actions that we do that are contrary to God’s Word, hang on us like a shroud, like a cloak, like a veil so that we have no interest in the things of God or the Word of God. This sin-covering is what God removes completely. He swallows it whole, says Isaiah, so that it is gone.
Let’s say it another way. God sent His One-of-a-Kind Son, Jesus Christ, to take the covering of sin off of us and put it on Himself as if it were His. He then provided us with new coverings, new garments—garments that make it possible for us to attend the wedding feast that Jesus described in today’s Gospel lesson! Jesus, true God and true Man, took the filthy rags of our sin, our lust, our greed, our hatred, our lies and suffered hell, bled, and died on the cross facing the full judgment of God. In exchange, Christ clothes us with the robes of His own righteousness. He wraps us in the coverings of His blood and merit that takes away our sin—swallows it whole and removes it from us forevermore. The covering of sin is gone. You are forgiven. You are declared right before God. In Baptism, you now wear the very covering Christ provided for you so that you are worthy in Him alone to enter into the feast to come.
With His death and resurrection, Christ Jesus not only removed sin but also conquered death. “He will swallow up death forever and the Lord Yahweh will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from over all the earth, for Yahweh has spoken.” Because Jesus lives, He gives to us forgiveness and eternal life. He takes away our guilt and our shame. He removes from us the sting of death which is sin. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, [Christ] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14-15 ESV). Death do no longer holds power over us who are Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. At our physical death, we will pass from death to life with the Lord. On the Last Day, we will be raised from the dead in body and soul. “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:54).
With sin removed and forgiven, with death defeated by the Living Lord Jesus, there will come a time when our tears will be finally wiped away. We look forward, then, to the feast to come when all the effects of sin that remain in this world will come to an end. With the Second Coming of Christ, we will see these promised blessings in all their fullness which we see only now by faith. “And it will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him and he saved us. This is Yahweh; we have waited for him. Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’” Because Christ has conquered sin and death, we receive the free gift of salvation. It ours now by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It will be ours then by grace face to face. God’s Word promises in Ephesians 2, “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7 ESV).
What Isaiah points forward to, St. John also shows to Christ’s Church in Revelation 19. This, beloved and redeemed by God, is what waits for you at the Last Day: a feast of salvation in a new creation that will have no end. You and I, and all who live by faith in Jesus Christ, will one day sing together, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:6-9 ESV).
Blessed are you indeed, for you are invited to the feast to come, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!