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.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
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,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Right in the middle of this bleak section of Isaiah, there’s this visceral, hopeful vision of God’s promise: A feast. This makes sense to me (and, frankly, it’s in the middle of some promises—e.g., vicious judgment—that don’t quite make sense to me, though I trust God nonetheless). This kind of day, not only full of food and wine but also full of friends and celebration, is worth waiting years for. On that day, it will be easy to say what’s hard to say now: “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.”
Right in the middle of this bleak section of world history, we too have this promise. In America: Police shootings, in both senses. In France: Another terrorist attack. In Turkey: A night of the citizens fighting the army. Nonetheless, God is still God, and this promise is closer than it was yesterday.
Rich food and well-aged wine don’t necessarily mean white tablecloths. A feast is any time there’s more good than one can take in—food, perhaps, but people, more so. I can think of a few “feasts” from our time in Seattle this summer, when friends or family were gathered and I wanted to throw my watch away, when I wanted hours with each person and the moments overflowed with more than I could savor.
God’s promised feast will be a feast of new friends, even former enemies. God will swallow up “the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.”
God’s promised feast will go and go. “He will swallow up death forever.” There will be time to make these friends and cherish them, time without end.
This morning, we had breakfast at a “ruin bar” in Budapest. It’s a ruined building, turned into a gathering place. The espresso machine was hissing. A farmers’ market was buzzing. A quartet was bouncing. Families were chatting. Friends were laughing. Something broken was made new, and so shall our world be: No longer a ruin, now a place to cherish friends and celebrate God.
“It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.’”