And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast … And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. …
This is Your Word, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your Truth. Your Word is Truth. Amen.
Fellow redeemed: There is nothing theoretical about your life. You endure pain, suffer loss, know heartache, and the hurt goes to your very core. You do theorize though, about why there must be so many tears, and you create rationales to explain the cause of such sorrow. Very often you point to the person or thing instrumental in the crisis of the moment and consider yourself its victim. Sometimes though, you attempt to get to the root and source, the true and essential cause of the ongoing tragedy of life. Some may see an overarching conspiracy of powerful and evil men behind it all. Others grow fatalistic and resign themselves to the notion that this just must be the way it has to be. Or you may have peeled the outrages and tragedies of life back deeply enough to be convinced that God is behind all your tears.
There is nothing theoretical about your life. There is nothing theoretical about your pain. So it follows that your theories aren’t going to get you very far in uncovering the truth. If you start from a false premise, your conclusion is bound to be false as well. The one thing you do not, under any circumstance wish to admit is that the source of your misfortune is the very sin which you bear. So it has ever been for you, for you were born already weighed down and suffering the thorough corruption of sin, causing you to think and do evil always in the sight of your Creator. You, in a word, are the problem, for you carry with you that sin which fatally poisons you.
It’s too easy to hear our Lord’s parable today and think yourself on the side of the saints. In fact along with the guy who said he had to go inspect the property he’d just bought, the guy who claimed he needed to go test drive the oxen the salesman had just delivered, or that newlywed couple who supposed the whole world had to stop just because they’d gotten married, you are in that gang. Jesus says that “they all with one accord began to make excuses.” and then “For I say to you that none of those who were invited shall taste my supper.”
When Jesus tells a parable, if you want to understand it, hold it up in front of you like a mirror. You are the one He’s talking about. Your sin is a stench in His nose. There’s no sense wondering why bad things happen to you. You’ve got it coming. In fact, you’ve earned eternal captivity to eternal death. Yeah, there may be somebody or something who was the instrument behind the latest bad thing that happened to you. Yeah, for all I know there may be some conspiracy of powerful guys conspiring to rule the world. But go deeper, peel back the layers, and you’ll see—no, not God— you’ll see it’s your own sin dragging you into hell. And there’s nothing theoretical about that at all. Get over yourself, stop making excuses, you know this is so. Your own heart, always ends up accusing you. And as harsh as my words may be, your heart’s accusation, where God’s Law is written, is far worse.
You can’t make this better. But there is hope. When the Disciples despaired and cried to Jesus “who then may be saved?” He told them “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The Lord can save you from your own fault, from your own wrong, from your sin. The Lord alone can remove your shame, your offense, your damnation. Hear again, what He says to you today: And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast … And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. …
In typical Hebrew style, the meat of this passage is the middle bit, with everything else orbiting around it. The Lord promises through His prophet Isaiah that He will destroy the veil that is spread over all people, and swallow up death forever. When you hear about a veil, that’s a covering that keeps you apart. The veil in the Temple stood as the barrier separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the world. The veil which keeps the Lord and humanity apart is the offense of sin. But God has vowed that He would destroy this veil. And the effect is to bring us back together with Him. In our sin, to be brought near God is to surely die. But He vows that “He will swallow up death forever…”
The Lord promised to destroy the veil that kept us from Him. He Himself promised to swallow up death. There is nothing theoretical about it. And Jesus has kept His Word. For He sent His Word, He emptied Himself of His glory and humbled Himself to be born a man. Jesus is God, the Lord, and He suffered the same disaster of sin you are suffering, but, He had no sin of His own. He suffered the same disaster of pain and loss and hurt as you, but He suffered not only your sin, but the sin of the entire human race. And He took your sin and the burden of the eternal death you have coming to you, and He climbed His mountain, from Jerusalem up to the top of Golgotha, or Calvary, the mountaintop where sinners were executed. He went for you to this mountain, and was lifted up to suffer death, your death, to pay the penalty of sin, your sin, and dying, took death itself into His own body, and swallowed it up forever. Death sought to take that man who had no sin, but bore yours for you, and He took death itself hostage, and has confounded and destroyed it. At that moment, as Jesus gave up His spirit into death, what happened? The Scripture tells us at that moment the veil of the Temple was torn down in two from top to bottom.
Jesus kept His ancient promise, He has taken your sin and torn it in two, for He paid for it. He suffered your death, and swallowed it up forevermore.
And your salvation from eternal death, the consequence of your sin, has been accomplished by Jesus, the One alone who has delivered sinners from their sin, and the dying from eternal death.
So now, we have seen the central thing, let’s take another look at what the Lord promises around the Triumph over the destroyed veil of sin, and the conquest of death. Back out to the first promise made in our text from Isaiah, and see it written “And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast” Again, none of this is theory. Our Lord is not speaking in word pictures. He means what He says. So what feast has the Lord your God made for you? It is the feast which Jesus made for you on the night He was betrayed. Looking toward what He would accomplish for your salvation, He took bread, blessed it saying “take eat, this is my body” and the cup too, saying that here, in His blood is the remission of your sin. The Holy Supper which we receive in thanksgiving from the Lord’s Table, His Body and Blood, broken and shed for you delivers to you what Jesus promises, and where there is forgiveness, there is also life and salvation. It is here, at the Feast Jesus sets before you, a foretaste of the ongoing feast of heaven, that Jesus connects you by His means of Grace to His Triumph and Victory, wherein He has destroyed the veil of sin and swallowed up your death forever.
And in the end, on the Last Day, the last promise is effected, and right now you may be comforted by it. Having made all things new, having brought you who are in Him through death to eternal life, identified here in the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah as the Lord who is Yahweh, and again in the Revelation we find the promise again made, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” [And the Lamb] who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Your sin is dreadful indeed, for it leads you to eternal death, and every evil which befalls you is a foretaste of it. But God has sent His son Jesus to remove the penalty of your sin in His own death, and so has taken the sting of death forever. Even the misfortune which may now bring tears to your eyes, the Lord who loves you is using in the end to refine and strengthen your faith in Him, so that “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” God loves you, in Christ Jesus you are forgiven, by His Word and Means of Grace you are kept and strengthened through this life of sorrow, already rejoicing in the forgiveness you have received and the eternal life which is to come. The Spirit works in you now, and is bringing you home, and you shall receive every blessing won for you.
The Peace of God which passes all understanding guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus our Lord.