Let us lift our eyes and follow the finger of Isaiah pointing ahead to the final solution to sin, death and the devil. In midst of Isaiah’s judgment prophecies, often he will lift the eyes and ears of his audience (hence, us) to see beyond the immediate circumstances, away from the destruction that sin brings.
Chapters 24–27 are often referred to as “Little Apocalypse [Revelation].” In the chapters leading up to this, God through Isaiah pronounces judgment upon individual nations: Assyria (14:24–27), Philistia (14:29–32), Moab (15:1–16:14), Damascus (17:1–14), Ethiopia (18:1–7), Egypt (19:1–20:6), Babylon (21:1–10), Edom and Arabia (21:11–17), and Tyre (23:1–18).
After the assault on these enemies of Israel/Judah, it would seem that such judgment should be enough. But not so. Now God has Isaiah address the entire world, which faces the same judgment (24:1–23). Sin has corrupted not just the really bad nations, the enemies of Israel, but the entire world.
In the midst of this gloom, Isaiah offers hope and salvation, in terms of a vision.
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.
Behind this promise stands the greatest news: This God, who loves us and has not forgotten us, now offers more:
He will swallow up death forever;
…… and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
…… …… and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
…… …… for the LORD has spoken.
This is followed by the faith response of the people:
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
…… let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
What a contrast! For those who have suffered and been rejected by the world, and even by its own rulers, God swallows up death, he wipes away tears, and takes away reproach. Notice how that reaches its climax in the final Apocalypse (Revelation 21:3–4):
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 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.”
Let us lift our eyes and follow the finger of Isaiah pointing ahead to the final solution to sin, death and the devil.
A believers in Jesus Christ, we sometimes get discouraged, sometimes overwhelmed. In this text, Paul reminds us that our prayers, our hope, our destination have already been determined. Thus, such a perspective changes everything about our lives because “The Lord is at hand.” Therefore,
…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:6–7)
Even more, because we are “in Christ” (our sermon theme for the past few weeks and continues in October), we have this promise:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (4:11–13)
Jesus tells a parable about a wedding invitation and the graciousness of the king: (vs. 2) “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,” sadly the response was not in line with the invitation. (vs. 3) “and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.” How sad that a wondrous invitation is spurned.
But it gets worse: (vs. 5–6)
But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
The king is not deterred, so he sends his servants out again: “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find” (vs. 9). The king wants to share his joy with everyone, even providing everything that is needed to be a guest of the king.
Then comes the biggest surprise: (vs. 11–13)
But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
So what happened that the king responded this way? The man who showed up was really no different than the earlier ones who spurned the king’s invitation. He had no “wedding garment.” In other words, the king provided everything, including the appropriate clothes to wear in the presence of the king. The man had no such garment; he was an interloper, thinking he could be there “with his own clothes.”
Unlike Paul who gave up his beggar clothes of righteousness under the Law, and took on the clothes of the King (Philippians 3:8–9), the robe of Jesus’ righteousness, this wedding guest tried to get by on his own. And it doesn’t work.
Are we still trying to get by on our own righteousness? Have you been clothed in Christ? Jesus spoke earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (5:20). Indeed, only the righteousness of Christ exceeds that demand. And it is yours—by faith.