THE MESSIANIC BANQUET AND THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST
One of the most fascinating things about the Bible – specifically in this case about eschatology – is that there are many themes and motifs that are discussed throughout scripture. As humans, we all have particular ways in which we like to learn, so the God of Heaven has provided us with many lenses to look at the story of redemption through in order that we can better understand its meaning and message. The theme that we will discuss today is that of the Messianic Banquet – also called the Messianic Feast, Marriage Supper of the Lamb, or the Resurrection Banquet. Some may object to some of these terms because they are not expressly stated in the Bible, but I do believe that it is a biblical term in the same way that plan of salvation or eschatology are biblical terms. The term Messianic Prophecy is a category of prophecies regarding the life, work, and message of the Messiah. The term Messianic Banquet is a reference to the spiritual feast that would be held at the consummation of the Messiah’s work in vindicating His people and making manifest the kingdom of Heaven. Craig S. Keener’s observation on Isaiah 25:6-7 is extremely helpful in understanding the Messianic Banquet:
In Isaiah 25:6–7 God announces a great banquet for all peoples (cf. Rev 19:7), and in Isaiah 25:8 the promise of deliverance from death. In Isaiah 25:9 God’s people celebrate their salvation, declaring, “Let us rejoice and be glad” in the salvation God had enacted on their behalf (slightly different in the LXX). The Old Testament and later Jewish literature often compared Israel to a bride wedded to God; cf. Revelation 21:2. The messianic age or world to come was also often portrayed as a banquet.
Adam Clarke’s explanation on Isaiah 25:6 is to the point:
This can be no other than the celebration of the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, which is frequently represented in the Gospel under the image of a feast … This sense is fully confirmed by the concomitants of this feast expressed in the next verse, the removing of the veil from the face of the nations, and the abolition of death: the first of which is obviously and clearly explained of the preaching of the Gospel; and the second must mean the blessing of immortality procured for us by Christ
The Messianic Banquet is the ultimate celebration of immortality, the manifestation of the kingdom of God, defeat of Babylon (Jerusalem) and death (spiritual death), and the perfection of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16; Luke 21:27-32). However, the fulfillment of the Messianic Banquet can be no later than the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 22:7). To state it in another way:
The Messianic Banquet is a celebration of the defeat of the death.
The Messianic Banquet coincides with the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
The defeat of the death was manifested at the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
The reminder of this article will go towards demonstrating this powerful fact that the Messianic Banquet is associated with the Resurrection of the remnant of Israel. For a second time, we need to reflect upon the whole of Isaiah 25:6-9 for a biblical concept of the meaning behind the Messianic banquet:
The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. (7) And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. (8) He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (9) And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6-9).
This entire context is a discussion of the last days of Old Covenant Israel after the flesh. It is sometimes referred to as the “Little Apocalypse” because of its relationship to the Book of Revelation . This article is not meant to be a detailed study of this text, so you should watch the video I have linked in the footnotes . Isaiah 25:6 teaches us that the Messianic Banquet would take place to celebrate death (not physical death but sin-death) being swallowed up in victory (a passage that Paul references in 1 Corinthians 15:56). If you follow the “in that day” statements throughout this text, you will find that the fulfillment of it would be when “He makes all the altar stones like pulverized chalk stones” (Isaiah 27:9; cf. Matthew 24:1ff).
An interesting note concerning this text is that death (sin-death) is only swallowed up for those “on this mountain.” The word mountain is used throughout the book of Isaiah to refer to the kingdom of God that would be set up in the last days (Isaiah 2:2-3; 11:9; 27:13; 65:25; 66:20). In this very context, the mountain is identified as Mount Zion (Isaiah 24:3). Paul said near the end of the Old Covenant age (Hebrews 8:13) that the first century Christians had “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22). So, they were told, “here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). This is the same city that John saw coming out of Heaven after sin-death was swallowed up (Revelation 21:1ff). How many New Jerusalems are there? How many brides of Christ are there? How many times must death (sin-death) be swallowed up? The point is that the Messianic Banquet to celebrate the defeat of spiritual death was soon to take place from the perspective of the first century saints, and would be fulfilled after the defeat of the city where the Lord was slain (Revelation 1:1, 3; 11:8).
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. (11) I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; (12) but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:10-12).
One aspect of the Messianic Banquet that really needs to be grasped is the fact that only the faithful would be allowed to sit at the table. Regardless of nationality, gender, or social status, anyone could join Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the table as long as they allowed their faith in God to manifest itself in faithfulness to His teachings. The reclining at the table stands in contrast to the casting out the sons of the kingdom. These sons of the kingdom were those who were of the elect nation, but since they refused to follow Jesus, they were cast out when the bondwoman (the Old Jerusalem) was cast out, and the nation was given to a people willing to bring forth the fruits of God’s vineyard (Galatians 4:22-31; Matthew 21:43; Romans 11:28; Daniel 7:27). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can attend this feast because they have been resurrected into life in Christ – the only place that immortality is (1 Timothy 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:10). Once more, this takes place in the kingdom of God – the holy mountain of our previous discussion (Isaiah 2:1ff).
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, (2) “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” (3) And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. (4) Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”‘ (5) But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, (6) and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. (7) But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. (8) Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. (9) Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” (10) Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. (11) But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, (12) and he said to him, “’Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?” And the man was speechless. (13) Then the king said to the servants, “’Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 22:1-13).
The main point I want to drive home from this parable is that the wedding banquet for the Messiah would take place when the city who killed God’s Son would be destroyed. This, as seen in an abundant amount of textual and extratextual sources, took place in AD 70. Burt Coffman indicated that this parable had Jerusalem in its sights in his comments on verse 7 . Knowing what we know about Revelation, Isaiah 25, and Matthew 8, it comes as no surprise that Jesus would continue to stay consistent with this theme. Keep in mind as you read this text that the Messianic banquet carries a lot of eschatological weight and implications – some of those being the establishment of the eternal kingdom, the defeat of death (sin-death), and the perfection of the church. Keep Matthew 22 in mind as we continue into our main text: Luke 14.
And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. (13) But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (14) and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (15) When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (16) But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; (17) and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ (18) But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ (19) “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ (20) “Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ (21) “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ (22) “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ (23) “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. (24) ‘For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.'”” (Luke 14:12-24).
This passage is truly fascinating, and its lesson concerning eschatology is priceless. I’m going to present the interpretation of it in bullet point form.
• When a friend invites another over for dinner, the invited individual often returns the favor sometime down the road. They are repaid with physical food at a physical feast.
• Jesus urges His disciples to invite the poor and the unfortunate to eat physical meat knowing that they would not be rewarded in a carnal way. Instead, they would be rewarded at the resurrection of the just.
• The resurrection of the just is mentioned three other times in scripture if memory serves me correctly: Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:14-15. That is not to say that those are the only resurrection passages, but they all are structured similarly to their source passage: Daniel 12. In the other texts mentioned, the resurrection of the just is mentioned alongside the resurrection of the unjust. This is the only place that it is mentioned alone.
• In response to this statement, the audience recognizes that Jesus is referring to the Messianic Banquet, so a man says, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Verse 15). Jesus, in passages such as John 6, indicates that He is the meat and the drink for those in the kingdom of God (John 6:32ff). He was, of course, speaking of His life-giving Gospel – not that we are to eat His physical flesh to obtain life (John 6:63).
• We then see that Jesus relates to His audience a parable that is strikingly similar and contains the same subject matter to that of Matthew 22 – the fulfillment of which is the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Get the point!
• The Messianic Banquet is the time of the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14)
• The Messianic Banquet was made available at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matthew 22:7, et. all)
• The resurrection of the just took place at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and we can have access to resurrection life now through the words of Christ (John 6:32ff).
Speaking to the power of this motif, Sam Dawson captured the heart of the Messianic Banquet with the following words:
What has Jesus just done in Revelation? He has invited the Jews into His kingdom during His earthly ministry, and they in large part rejected Him, and the apostles whom He sent with the same invitation. He burned their city in Revelation 18, and now what’s happening in Revelation 19? He’s going right on with the wedding. Again, His plan hasn’t changed one whit!”
J. Stuart Russell’s comments on Matthew 22 are well-worth reading:
It points clearly to the approaching consummation of the ‘kingdom of heaven.’ The vengeance taken by the king on the murders of His servants, and on their city, fixes the application to Jerusalem and the Jews. The Romans armies were but executioners of justice; and Jerusalem perished for her guilt and rebellion against her King.”
The Messianic Banquet was unquestionably made available at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. This is proof beyond any shadow of doubt that the resurrection of the just, defeat of death (sin-death), and the establishment of the eternal kingdom were all fulfilled within the generation of the first century saints (Matthew 24:34). Once more, J. Stuart Russell alleged: “At the risk, then, of being considered superficial and shallow, we shall hold fast to the plain teaching of the words of Scripture, turning a deaf ear to all fanciful and conjectural speculations of merely human origin, no matter how learned or dignified the quarter from which they come”
Written by: Daniel Rogers
April 30, 2017