The Messianic Resurrection / Wedding Banquet
The doctrine of the Messianic Banquet is a complex and marvelous one. It involves the idea of the Wedding/Remarriage of the Lord, the resurrection, the kingdom, salvation, The New Creation, etc.. These are all interrelated to this subject. In other words, this Banquet is fundamentally eschatological and soteriological doctrine. One thing that should cue us into this is that the Banquet would be established “on this mountain” i.e. on Zion.
In Messianic prophecy Zion is the “capital”, the source and focus of the coming kingdom, salvation, the resurrection. John Watt points out that this Banquet is for those upon whom death, disgrace, the shadow and the shroud, had come. And is what can only be considered a challenging concept, he points out that “the death” that the prophet is promising would be destroyed, was not physical death!:
The death is the most substantive of them all (he points out that the text mentions the shroud, the shadow, the death and the disgrace, dkp- all have the definite article, indicating that these elements are to be viewed virtually synonymously) while the disgrace of the people is the most relevant in the context. The thought that this refers to ‘death’ per se ignores the definite article. A specific ‘death’ is to be swallowed up. A specific ‘disgrace’ is to be removed. This death and this disgrace comprise the shroud and the shadow over all the peoples, the very ones that had been invited to the feast. They are the peoples whose disgrace he will remove from the land. (John Watt, Word Biblical Commentary, Isaiah, Vol. 24, Isaiah 1-33 (Waco; Word Publishers, 1985), 331).
Watt is pointing out what is widely accepted, that is that the Banquet is fully established at the time of the resurrection. (Although it should be noted that his observation that “the death” in view is not physical death per se is not widely held). What is to be noted here is that this shroud, this disgrace, the death, would come as a direct result of “the people” who resided in “the city” which sat in the midst of “the land” violating “the everlasting covenant”- i.e. the Law of Moses!
In other words, the covering, the disgrace, the death are all covenantal curses imposed on Israel because she abandoned the Lord. We established this in our last article so be sure to read it. It is very important to understand the connection between the Banquet and the resurrection. But that connection is established firmly not only in this context but by examining two related prophecies.
Isaiah 65 The New Creation and the Banquet
Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, My servants shall eat, But you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, But you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed; Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit. You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord God will slay you, And call His servants by another name (Isaiah 65:13-15).
This prediction is clearly set within the context of the judgment of Israel. It is the judgment of Israel because “when I called you did not answer” (65:12; cf. 66:4). So, at the very time of the judgment of Israel, the time she would be cast out and leave her name as a curse to the righteous remnant, the Lord would make a feast for His saints. This agrees perfectly with 25:1-6, where we have shown the Banquet on Zion is set at the time that the fortified city was destroyed and the temple was to be turned over to foreigners.
Not only that, this Banquet is set at the time of the New Heaven and Earth, which, we should note, is universally admitted to be ushered in by the resurrection!
You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord God will slay you, And call His servants by another name; So that he who blesses himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Shall swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My eyes. For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying (Isaiah 65:15-19).
So, to reiterate the point, we find the judgment of Old Covenant Israel (for violating the Law as in 24:1-5). At that time of judgment and destruction, the remnant are given a great Feast, and that Feast is set in the New Heaven and Earth. Two or three things need to be observed:
★The promise of the Banquet and New Creation is undeniably linked. Notice that “for” at the beginning of v. 17.
★We should also see the linkage between the Banquet and the Wedding and the Wedding is the time of the restoration of “all the tribes of Israel” (Isaiah 62 / Hosea 1:9f/2:21f/5:15-6:16). As we shall see shortly, the connection between Wedding and Banquet is clear in the teaching of Jesus.
★ It is critical to see this time of the coming of the New Creation as a time of covenantal judgment. Context demands this since the judgment would come on Israel, again, because “when I called you did not answer.” But there is more.
The Lord posited the judgment on those who had refused to hear His call and the ensuing New People / Creation, as a time when the Old Creation would be forgotten: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (65:17).
The word “remembered” here is from Zakar, and carries with it strong covenantal connections and connotations. As Jason Meyers notes:
‘Remember’ is a common term associated with covenants. It does not mean that God forgets and needs a reminder. The verb could be idiomatically rendered ‘to act in order to fulfill the covenantal oath or obligations (Jason Meyer, The End of the Law, NAC Studies in Bible and Theology, (Nashville, TN; B and H Academic, 2009), 245, n. 41).
This covenantal context for God “remembering” plays a critical role in the eschatological narrative. For instance David Chilton (and others) noted the strong covenantal nature of the book of Revelation and its prediction of the imminent judgment of the enigmatic city “Babylon.” He cites J. M. Ford (p. 275):
The phrase suits the liturgical setting of the text. The libations have been poured out, but instead of the memorial being a turning of God towards his people with grace and mercy, it is for judgment. God’s ‘remembering’ is always an efficacious and creative act, not a mere intellectual activity; he remembers in the act of blessing (transmitting vitality or life) and cursing (destroying). The irony of v. 19 lies in the exhortation to Israel to ‘remember’ God’s covenant and kindness in general She was especially admonished, as in Deuteronomy 6, to keep a perpetual remembrance of the Exodus and Sinai events, to recall them day and night, and never to forget God who brought them to pass… In this chapter the author intimates that because Israel forgot and became arrogant, the Egyptian plagues were turned back on her. Even then she did not repent but blasphemed (cf. Job 1:22; 2:10), and God remembered her for judgment.” (David Chilton, Days of Vengeance (Ft. Worth, Dominion Press, 1987), 416).
The point here should not be missed. We find the judgment on Israel for not responding to the Lord’s call and for violating the Old Law, resulting in: “the Lord God shall slay you and call His people by another name.” That judgment leads directly to the New Creation, and the Old Creation is no longer remembered covenantally. Her Old Covenantal standing is gone. This is the very epitome of “Covenant Eschatology”!
Now, it is admitted by virtually all commentators that Isaiah 65-66 serve as the source of the NT
predictions of the New Creation. But since Isaiah 65 undeniably posits the coming of the New Creation as the direct result of the destruction of Old Covenant Israel, this establishes my premise that all NT eschatology is based on the OT promises made to Old Covenant Israel.
But let’s return to the issue of the Messianic Banquet of Isaiah 25:6 and Isaiah 65 keeping in mind that both passages clearly posit that wonderful time and event at the time of the judgment of Israel.
Notice now Jesus’ own application of the prophecy of the Messianic Banquet:
And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:11-12).
Commentators are widely in agreement that Jesus was here alluding directly to the prophecy of Isaiah and the eschatological Banquet.
R. T. France says,
The imagery is that of the Messianic Banquet (cf. 26:29; Luke 14:15; 22:30), a prominent theme in Jewish eschatological expectation, derived from Isaiah 25:6″ (R. T. France, Matthew, Tyndale Commentary, (Leicaster, England; Intervarsity Press, 1987), 156f).
Tom Holland, says that in Jewish expectation and belief: “The Lord would come into His temple (Isaiah 4:2-6), and, finally, the wedding between God and his people would be celebrated with a great cosmic banquet (Isaiah 54:1-8).” (Tom Holland, Contours of Pauline Theology, Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-Shire IV20 1TW, Scotland, UK; Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 21).
M. H. Manser, in the Dictionary of Bible Themes, offers this about the subject of the Messianic Banquet. He says it was:
A symbolic portrayal of the blessings of the age to come in which those chosen by God share in a rich feast with the Messiah. In the NT this is often pictured as a marriage supper with Jesus Christ as the groom and the church as both bride and invited guests. The feast, which will take place after the consummation of God’s kingdom, is prefigured in the Lord’s Supper. (Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. Logos).
The Lexham Bible Dictionary adds credence to all of this:
The concept of a messianic banquet is developed in both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament banquet anticipates a time when the Messiah will come and restore all things to Israel. The New Testament further develops this promise in the person and work of Christ and His ushering in of the age to come.
Old Testament Significance
The Old Testament often uses banquet metaphors to tell of the blessings that will come when the Messiah arrives. Throughout the Old Testament, God reminds Israel of a coming savior who will right every wrong done to Israel and reestablish the people in the land. These promises of blessings in a coming age are often couched in terms of a great banquet (Smith, Table Fellowing, 626). For example, Isaiah 25:6-8 includes a metaphor of a giant feast, which communicates the Lord’s provisional abundance when He restores to Israel all the blessings He has promised (see also Joel 2:24-28).
New Testament Significance
The New Testament links imagery of a banquet to Jesus Christ. In the Gospels, Jesus compares the future kingdom to a great wedding banquet to which the bridegroom arrives and everyone feasts (Matt 22:2; 25:1-10; Luke 14:16; Bryan, Traditions, 77). Additionally, Revelation 3:20 presents a promise of table fellowship with Jesus for those who respond to Him. Revelation 19:6-9 states, “Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet of the marriage of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9, author’s translation). Thus, the New Testament presents the wedding feast of Christ and His bride, the Church, as the fulfillment of the messianic banquet promised in the Old Testament.// (McMains, M. J. (2016). Messianic Banquet. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press – Logos). (EoQ).
We could multiple this kind of quote, but it is not necessary. Any attempt to divorce the concept of the Messianic Banquet of Isaiah 25:6 (and Isaiah 65) from the resurrection, the kingdom, the New Creation, The Messianic Wedding and salvation, clearly lies outside the bounds of scholarship – not to mention scripture. For those who-so commonly appeal to “church history” and the early church writers, this should be significant.
The indisputable fact is that historically, the subject of the Messianic Banquet is eschatological to the core. The Messianic Banquet is the Wedding Banquet. It is the Resurrection Banquet. It is the Kingdom Banquet. It is the New Creation Banquet. With this in mind, that leads us to look closer at Matthew 8:11-12 which we have mentioned earlier. We will do that in our next installment.