Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Isaiah 25: Feasting on fat Things

Isaiah begins this chapter with praise to God.   Reflecting on the previous visions, he talks about the destruction of great and proud cities.   On the face of it, it seems shallow to praise the Lord for a heavy hand, so I think that the fallen city images in v2 are symbolic of the evil organizations and combinations of the world, brought low in their ripeness. 

In verse 4 we learn who it is the Lord lifts up and protects:  The poor, the distressed, those beset by the storms of the world.    The relief to them will be like when a cloud covers the sun on a hot day, or being in a sturdy home during a storm.   This is a great blessing offered to us, and in this blessing is a reminder that the peace the Lord gives is “not as the world giveth”.  The Lord is not inclined to take away our trials, but rather provides a way for us to endure them.  Isaiah expresses his joy and praise even though he was in the midst of great turmoil.  He knew that he must experience death, but death is “swallowed up in victory”.  What is this victory?

Verse 6 speaks of a feast of various things including “wines on the lees”.  It happens that my dad mentioned this phrase to me about the same time I was studying this chapter.  It means wine that has been allowed to sit with the sediments and yeast for longer than usual.  This gives the wine a richer, warmer flavor and would be akin to the fatted calf, being prepared especially for a feast.    This phrase is repeated in section 58 in the Doctrine and Covenants:

  8 And also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor; yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail;

  9 Yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited.

  10 First, the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble;

  11 And after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come.

This passage in turn links us to the parable of the marriage feast found in Matthew 22:1-14.  The order of the invitations is very interesting.  First, the privileged and noble are invited, but these scoff at the invitation, so the Lord swings the doors open and invites the poor and humble.   One way we can view the marriage feast is that it represents the reconciliation with God that the Savior provided through His atonement.   The joy of this reconciliation will be sweet indeed- like a marvelous feast laid out with the best food and the best wine, specially prepared for that moment. 

Let’s keep this reconciliation in mind as we return to Isaiah verse 9:

And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

In that day, we will (gladly) say, “this is our God; we have waited for him”.   How long will we have to wait?  Long enough that when he comes we will be ready to receive him with joy, welcomed as a Savior.     This scripture has dual meaning.  The first and more obvious meaning is the great and dreadful day of the Lord for which all of the Earth is waiting.  Pretty much all Christians are anticipating this event, which will surely happen.  However, there is another coming of Christ that we must be aware of, but which is largely denied by the world.   To illustrate, I will quote a few scriptures:

2 Nephi 11:3  2 And now I, Nephi … will liken [Isaiah’s] words unto my people … for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.

Moses 7:4 And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face;  

Genesis 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Rev 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

John 14:23 - Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

D&C 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

One day, we will literally be reconciled with God, as a people collectively, and as people individually.   Joseph Smith taught this principle beginning at the day of the first vision when the Father and the Son appeared to him.   The ministers of the day were flabbergasted and incensed by his claims.   That God should actually appear, that one of us should talk with him face to face, this was nothing short of blasphemy.  This is understandable because they had been conditioned by centuries of spiritual darkness to believe that the heavens were shut.    Lucifer, our common enemy, has ever fought against this doctrine.   One of his great lies is to convince us that we cannot be reconciled with God in the literal, glorious way that God intends.   Our enemy has done this both overtly (the heavens are shut) and subtly (visions and miracles are for the prophets).  Yet, we are warned not to deny miracles and the gifts of god.  The greatest of all of these is to stand confidently in His presence.      

The key to a happy reconciliation is patience (2 Pet 1:6).   The prophet Nephi said that we must press forward with a perfect hope that one day God will keep his promised and reveal himself to us.  We are talking about a hard, constant, and pressing journey.   The scriptures term it as “enduring to the end”.   It begins when we are born again, resolved to live by all of God’s commandments no matter what the cost.  It ends… well we can’t really predict when it will end for us personally, but we can be assured we will know when the time comes, for it will be a victory over death.  May we all be victorious.






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