Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. ~ Christopher Lasch
For the past few days I was camping with a portion of men from my church. This retreat is an annual occurrence, however, we call it Men’s Assault because men do not retreat.
One of the main running advertisements for this event is that all guys who go will get to gorge themselves in a seemingly endless meat fest. Put simply, we feast like kings. Meat comas all around.
Isaiah 25:6 reads, “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.”
This particular chapter is a beautiful picture of our eschatological hope in Yahweh, when He shall make everything right. The verses preceding tell of God subduing those who oppose His people while the verses that follow speak of God’s ultimate salvation in which every tear is personally addressed by our Maker and the utmost enemy of all creation, death, will be swallowed up.
A parabolic picture of this great hope is given by Jesus in Luke 14 as He attends a feast at the home of a ruler of the Pharisees.
After noticing the pride of the people expressed by their possessive place holding at the banquet table, Jesus reminds these religious individuals that the appropriate posture at the wedding feast requires humility for self-exaltation will be expelled. (v. 7-11; see Prov. 25:6-7)
Jesus continues flipping social hierarchy on its head by instructing the host of this feast (a leader of the Pharisees!) to not invite those who can pay him back, but rather to leave room for God’s blessing by inviting those who have no means of repayment (v. 12-14).
After hearing this, one of the banquet guests replied to Jesus, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”, a probable reference back to Isaiah 25:6.
Jesus then removes the gloves and goes for the jugular. He proceeds, at a feast of the Pharisees mind you, that the original, invited guests to the banquet in the kingdom of God have been replaced by the dregs of society. The implications of this message are so explosive, but since it shrouded within the subtlety of a parable it may be missed.
Here’s the bomb Jesus dropped: Because the Jews have been refusing God’s invitation to the banquet of God’s kingdom they will be replaced by those historically deemed unworthy, the Gentiles (see Lev. 21:17-23).
The term “kingdom” comes from two words: king + dome (domain). Simply put, the “kingdom of God” is wherever the rule and reign of God is expressed.
As the parable continues, the tragedy of life is that there are many individuals who are passing up the invitation to partake in God’s rule and reign! The irony is that it is the religious who are blind to God’s kingdom activity and they are in bondage to their own scripts of interpretation.
Notice the reasons for refusal to participate (v. 18-20) for they are the same old excuses we hear today – I have places to go, things to do, people to see. Now, in the Torah men could be excused from war when they were in these circumstances. (see Dt. 20:5-7) There are times when we need reprieve and must focus on differing domains to bring God’s rule, but do not stay there!
Do not hide behind your blessings of business, property, and relationships lest they become your hindrances! Jesus is inviting us to a scandalous banquet (see v. 1-6) that involves doing work on the “wrong” days (see Jn. 5:17-18) with the “wrong” people (see Lk. 4:16-21), but the very things that should be spurring the Church on are often stifling and stagnating the her!
There are so many LOST opportunities because we cannot or will not see what God is doing and where He is doing it! So many Christians live upon the heap of what might have been while God is looking for the what has never been. Can you imagine one day facing your Creator and explaining to Him that, in spite of all that He created you to be and provided for you to maximize that potential, all you did with it was get comfortable and serve yourself?
May I encourage you to pray intensely upon this epidemic problem within the Church today?
Seriously and humbly ask the Spirit to show you how you have bypassed the feast of God for the scraps of this world.
How have you been snubbing the celestial celebration of our King? What excuses or world concerns have you used to justify your inactivity to extend God’s rule and reign in your life and the lives of others?
Remember: you have never met a mere mortal and you have never encountered just a normal day. If waking up every morning just to make it through is normal, let us cast votes for abnormality!