Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost (text from The Bible in 90 Days) 11/8/2009

A Great Feastwith Rich Food and Well-aged Wines

Lessons:     1 Kings 17:8-16     Psalm 146 (8)     Hebrews 9:24-28     St. Mark 12:38-44 Semicontinuous Series     Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17     Psalm 127 (3)   Prayer of the Day     O God, you show forth your almighty power chiefly by reaching out to us in mercy. Grant us the fullness of your grace, strengthen our trust in your promises, and bring all the world to share in the treasures that come through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Text from "The Bible in 90 Days"

25:6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever.Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.


Isaiah 25:6-9 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

After a long haul through Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon (when did it become the Song of Songs?), our “Bible in 90 Days” readers have now come to what is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Isaiah’s ministry took place during one of the most tumultuous times in the history of Ancient Israel. He began offering his prophetic utterances to the people around 740 bc or so, during the reign of King Ahaz of Judah (arguably one of the worst kings Israel ever experienced). He continued until about 700 bc, when Hezekiah was king of Judah. During his ministry, Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel (in 722 bc) and the fortified cities of Judah (in 701 bc). Babylon eventually conquered the southern kingdom of Judah (in 597 bc).

Throughout the first section of Isaiah (roughly, chapters 1-39), we read Isaiah’s words of warning to the leaders of Judah during the final years before they were conquered by foreign armies. The second section (roughly, chapters 40-55) probably dates to the middle of the sixth century bc, and the time when God’s people were enslaved in a foreign land. The final section (roughly, chapters 56-66) is set near the end of the sixth century bc, during the time when God’s people returned to a destroyed land, and begin the long, painful process of putting their lives back together.

This week’s text is situated in a section (24:1-27:13) that is especially hard to date. It describes a time when the great empires will be destroyed by God’s judgment, in contrast with a time when God’s reign will take hold over the world. The images of destruction are frightening, but those depicting God’s reign are inspiring, such as the one in this text of “a great feast, with rich food and well-aged wines.” The hope described in this section of Isaiah is of a joy that will fill the hearts of all people – even those beyond the traditional boundaries of Jewish life. And where does this joy come from? The Prophet makes it clear:

[God] will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, And the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth For the Lord has spoken. [verse 8]

God will defeat death, eliminate grief, and restore the faithful people to their rightful place.

How often our days are marked by grief and death. We are surrounded by bad news: war, poverty, hunger, crime, failing health, broken relationships, depleted stock portfolios… the list seems to go on and on.

Yet amidst the darkness, believers hold on to the hope that God will have the final say. Death will be swallowed up forever. Tears of joy will replace tears of sadness and grief. Hope will replace fear. The day will come when we sit down to a great feast, with rich food and well-aged wines.

This is not a vision rooted in fantasy or denial, but a vision rooted in the power of God that restored Ancient Israel in their most desperate hour. We trust and believe that this power of God will move in our lives as well, and for that we are eternally grateful.

David J. Risendal Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Text:

  1. What caused Israel to lose hope during the time of Isaiah?
  2. What did God want them to learn during their time of exile?
  3. How did Isaiah encourage them, and give them a a vision for what God would do for them?

Connecting with This Week’s Text:

  1. When has my own sense of hope failed me?
  2. Who has God sent into my life, in order that they might strengthen me, and empower me to live with joy again?
  3. Who is in need of my own encouragement today?

Scheduled Readings for "The Bible in 90 Days" 9/13/2009 - 12/12/2009

Date

Begin Reading At Sermon Based On
9/13 Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1-19
9/20 Leviticus 1:1 Exodus  16:2-15
9/27 Deuteronomy 23:12 Deuteronomy 6:1-9
10/4 1 Samuel 28:20 Joshua 24:1-3, 14-18
10/11 1 Chronicles 1:1 1 Kings 3:5-12
10/18 Nehemiah 13:15 Nehemiah 1:4-11a
10/25 Psalm 89:14 Job 38:1-11
11/1 Isaiah 14:1 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
11/8 Jeremiah 33:23 Isaiah 25:6-9
11/15 Daniel 9:1 Ezekiel 2:1-5
11/22 Matthew 26:57 Micah 6:1-8
11/29 Acts 6:8 John 20:19-31
12/6 Hebrews 1:1 Romans 5:1-11