ISAIAH 25, 6-9
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.
In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
The invitation reads, “You are cordially invited to a Party.” So, how do you react? It all depends on who’s throwing the party, doesn’t it? Some people know how to throw a party. The food is good! The drinks are good! It’s fun and exciting! Getting an invitation to this type of party is a thrill! You can’t wait to go!
Of course, there are other people who don’t know how to throw a party. Their parties are dull and boring. Such an invitation will probably get thrown in the trash. Or if you are forced to go, you will make an appearance, but as soon as you can, you will leave.
So, what if that invitation came from God? What if God is throwing this party? How would you react? Sad to say, many people will not be impressed! A party hosted by God? Now that’s got to be the most boring party ever! An invitation to a party from God, will get the same reaction the master in the gospel lesson got. People looked for any excuse they could so they wouldn’t have to attend.
But in these words, Isaiah asks us to rethink our attitude! He describes a banquet prepared by God, that not only sounds delicious, but also offers a remedy for death! That’s right the party God throws promises that you will never die! Wow! Yeah, maybe we need to stop and reevaluate our attitude. Maybe we need to rethink what it will be like WHEN GOD THROWS A PARTY!
Isaiah had been talking about God’s judgments on different nations, when suddenly at the beginning of this chapter, he starts talking about God’s grace, and mercy. And then he talks about a banquet God is preparing. “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wines the best of meats and the finest of wines.” Talk about a menu! The richest food drenched in butter and fat! Wine that has been allowed to age naturally until it has reached perfection. The type of wine, most of us could never afford. All the type of food and drink, doctors and health experts tell us today aren’t good for you. But boy do they taste good! A banquet of the best food, the best drink. No expense is spared.
But what is really amazing is that this banquet was prepared “for all peoples.” Not just for the Jews, but for Gentiles as well. I’m sure a lot of Jews didn’t want to hear that! The thought of sharing a meal with Gentiles was offensive to them. It’s not just intended for the rich and powerful who could afford to pay for such a banquet. It’s for the poor and homeless. I’m sure a lot of rich and powerful people weren’t thrill to hear that! Sharing a banquet with dirty street people? It’s not just for the people who deserve to be guests of God, people who are really nice, and really try hard to follow God’s laws. It’s meant for all peoples, even those who have made a mess of their lives, because they wouldn’t follow God’s laws. Not just for the good and pious! For “all peoples,” for wretched sinners. Not just for those who are happy because their life is good! But for “all peoples,” even those who are weeping and mourning, going through horrible times, the type of people who would be a downer for a party, because they’re crying all the time. It’s meant “for all peoples,” even people like you and me. Imagine that. People like us, invited to a banquet like that! Wow!
Of course, it doesn’t take long before we realize Isaiah isn’t talking about an earthly party where we will eat and drink, and have a good time. The party our God is throwing is even more impressive than that!
“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations, he will swallow up death.” The party God is throwing is not just about eating and drinking. God is talking about getting rid of death and mourning forever.
Death has ruled over every single person since the Adam and Eve sinned. Not just for some nation, but every nation. Not just for the poor and needy, but the rich and the powerful. Not just for the people who turn away from God, for God’s precious children too. Every race, every social status, every age bracket, every home, every family has been forced to endure death, and go through mourning.
But not anymore! Not at this party! Death has been swallowed up. There is no more death! There is no more mourning! God has spoken, and death is gone!
But there’s more. “The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.” Someone we love is crying uncontrollable, and we try to comfort them. We take them in our arms and try to tell them, everything is going to be OK. We use our finger, or maybe a cloth to wipe those tears away. And yet, the moment we wipe one tear away, another one is already beginning to form. Or maybe we have been able to wipe all the tears this time! But there will be another tragedy another pain, another devasting time, and those tears will come back.
But not at God’s party! When God wipe those tears away, they will be gone! And God will wipe those tears away from “all faces.” Imagine that, the Almighty God of the Universe will stoop down and take us in His arms, and will wipe those tears away! Even if we aren’t rich and powerful! Even if we aren’t the most active worker in His kingdom. Even if I’m just me! And I’m hurting! God will come and wipe away all our tears, and those tears will never come back.
Isaiah must be talking about Heaven! In Heaven there will be no more death! No more tears! No more mourning! The party God invites us to will have it’s total fulfillment in Heaven! The party that God invites us to, is anything but boring. It’s an eternity of nothing but beauty and celebration. WHEN GOD THROWS A PARTY, that’s going to be some party! And we are invited!
Yes, we have something to look forward to, don’t we? But Isaiah offers us much more! “In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God, we trusted in him and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him, let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven before we get to taste the fantastic banquet God has prepared for us. We can begin to enjoy it right here! Right now!
Jesus “swallowed up death” on the cross, when He crushed Satan’s head, and then rose victoriously from the grave on Easter. Death has been vanquished. Oh, sure we will go through a process the world calls death. But Jesus has taken the curse and the fear out of it. It has simply become closing our eyes in this world, and opening them up in the world to come.
Jesus has “swallowed up mourning,” on the cross as well. Oh, sure there will be times of mourning in this world! We will suffer pain and anguish just from living in this sinful world. We will face frightening health issues, and terrifying times in our future. But even then, Jesus is right there to help us in our mourning. He reminds us constantly that He is still in control. He will handle our life. He is there to walk with us through any dark and frightening path, and He’s there to comfort and console our hearts.
And we have the promise from God that “the sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.” Whenever we are weeping, or worried, or frightened, our Lord stops what He is doing, and bends down to take us in His arms, and comfort and console us. And when our God tells us, “Don’t worry, everything will be OK, I will make sure of it,” you can be assured that everything will be OK, and that our God will take care of is. And when our God wipes our tears away, and tells us, “Trust me! We will get through this together,” you can be absolutely sure that you will get through it! And suddenly, it’s not so terrifying! Suddenly it’s not so sad! Suddenly there is light in the dark clouds, and hope in the uncertainty, and confidence in the future. All because God has invited us to His party, and has given a taste of His banquet.
And God invites us to this banquet every time He comes to us with His Word and Sacrament. Every Sunday morning, God invites you to His party, and shares the comfort of His Word, and assurance of His forgiveness, and the hope of God being with you every step of your life. In the Lord’s Supper, God invites you to His party, and in a very special way comes to you in a very special and a very intimate way and tells you, “Your sins are forgiven. You have peace with God.” Every time you go through a difficult time, God invites you to His party, through His Word He comes to us to comfort and bless. That you are a child of God, and your home is in Heaven. Every time you open your Bible, God is inviting you to His eternal party, reminding that all these promises are yours, that Heaven is yours, that you have absolutely nothing to worry about, nothing to fear, because God is your Savior, and has sacrificed Himself just for you.
God invites us to the banquet He has prepared for “all peoples.” And each time we connect with Him through His Word and Sacrament, He feeds us with the best food, and swallows up death, and mourning, and fear, and worry and doubt. He tells you “You are my child! And I will keep you safe in my arms until that day you are safe with me in Heaven.” And suddenly we realize what joy and peace we have because Jesus is with us. And you realize that WHEN GOD THROWS A PARTY, that is some fantastic party!