This sermon on Isaiah 25:6-9, “Feasting Forever with the King,” was delivered by Matt Bedzyk at the funeral of Simon Wickey on May 27th, 2022 at ECC.
At a wedding at Cana in Galilee, Jesus turned water into wine. This, John tells us, was “the first of his signs” he did to reveal his glory (2:11). But think about it: Why did Jesus choose this as his first sign? The first public miracle of Israel’s long-awaited Messiah wasn’t a healing, an exorcism, a storm-calming, or even a resurrection. It was making delicious wine to keep a party going. Why? Well, as with all of his miracles, this is a sign pointing to who Jesus is and all he came to do, that we might believe he is the Christ, the Son of God, and have life in his name (John 20:31).
But this sign is also meant to point us back to a passage in the Old Testament that fills this miracle with significance and living hope. This is found in the prophecy of Isaiah, in chapter 25. Here, Isaiah has been describing the great and final Day of the Lord, “the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom. 2:5). This day is coming because all have sinned and rebelled against the one true God. We have suppressed his truth, spurned his goodness, broken his law, and foolishly exalted ourselves above our Maker in arrogant self-sufficiency. As a result, Isaiah tells us that even now “a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt (Isa. 24:6). The most painful, all-too-familiar evidence of this curse is death. Funerals remind us of this fact; they confront us with the awful reality of the curse of sin.
We now live in a broken, frustrated world full of suffering and loss. The Bible says: “Sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). And what we need is to be rescued from this body of death. It’s as if the Fall has caused all the colors of our world to turn to gray. And on the day when God judges those who dwell on the earth in righteousness, they will all fade to black. Isaiah tells us then there will be no more wine or feasting, music or singing. All partying will cease to exist.
Yet that Day will not only be a day of judgment and retribution. Though the wine will have finally run dry in the city of this world, another feast will have only just begun. This is because…
A King Has Been Enthroned on Mount Zion (24:23)
At the end of chapter 24, where Isaiah describes the destruction of the city of this world, we learn that a city still stands! There, outshining the glory of the sun and the moon, we discover that “the Lord of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem” (24:23). The mountain of the Lord remains.
Chapter 25 then begins with a song of joy: “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure” (Isa. 25:1) The singer is rejoicing that the Lord has judged the world in righteousness, but also because he has been “a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (25:4). This is the song of those who have come to find refuge in the city of God.
This tells us that the King enthroned on Mount Zion is not only a just and mighty Ruler but also a merciful Savior. He is Yahweh, the God of Israel, who purposed from before the foundation of the world to create and redeem a people for himself. And he is faithful to his promises. He makes this song possible because in love, he sent his Son, Jesus, into our rebellious world to save us from the day of his wrath. God himself, in Christ Jesus, took on flesh and was obedient unto death for us, his enemies. On the cross, he bore the judgment we deserved for our sin. But God raised him from the dead! This means that Jesus Christ the Righteous is the King enthroned on Mount Zion. He is the risen Lord who offers salvation through faith in his name.
Believers belong to this city in life! By grace through faith, we are forgiven of our sins, delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13-14). But how then do we make sense of the death of someone who dies in the Lord? The answer is that, while it is appointed for man to die (Heb. 9:27) and to return to dust because of the curse of sin (Gen. 3:19), those who have fled to Jesus for refuge are “saved in hope” (Rom. 8:24). According to the great mercy of our God, they are “born gain to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
So, what is this hope then? Is it that when we die, we will be at home with our Lord in heaven? No; the blessed hope is the day when God in Christ makes all things new. All the saints are eagerly awaiting for the day of resurrection, when that which is mortal is finally swallowed up by life, when the perishable puts on the imperishable. We still await the redemption of his body and the life of the age to come—which Isaiah describes next. Not only has a king been enthroned on Mont Zion, but
A Feast Has Been Prepared on Mount Zion (25:6-9)
Though all feasting in the city of this world will be no more, God’s people will feast forever with their King in his eternal city: “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” (Isa. 25:6).
In the Bible, banquets of rich food and well-aged wine were pictures of blessing and victory, of joy and abundant life. Feasts were held to remember God’s faithfulness to his covenant people. They were happy occasions celebrating the blessing of fellowship with God and one another.
Jesus spoke often of the great feast to be held in the kingdom of heaven during his ministry. In fact, the Bible tells us that not only did the Son of Man come to seek and save the lost, and give his life as a ransom, but in Luke 7:34 we read that the Son of Man came “eating and drinking.” So, when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding at Cana, he was revealing that he is the fulfillment of Isaiah 25! He is the Lord of the Feast! He is the one who died and rose again that he might feast with us, his redeemed people, through endless ages in his kingdom.
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. (Isa. 25:7-8)
The picture here is as if people are coming to this great banquet with a shroud over their tear-stained faces. This is the veil of death, a picture of the curse of sin that has frustrated the entire creation and makes all good things come to an end. It looks like a scene from a funeral. This is because death is the last and greatest enemy, the final power from which we need to be freed. But we rejoice for the death of death has been accomplished through the death of Christ!
The language here is beautiful: God in Christ won’t simply remove the veil of death; he will swallow it up, enveloping the insatiable grave in such a way as to destroy it completely. And he won’t simply take away the pain and sorrow associated with death; he will lovingly wipe away every tear from every face. He, the Maker of the Universe, who entered our suffering fully in Christ, will comfort us and tenderly assure us of his never-ending love.
The good news is that all of this is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! He has defeated death for all those who are united to him by faith. He is the Banquet-master because he is the Snake-crusher, the Curse-bearer, and the Grave-swallower. And the apostle Paul says, “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:5). The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us and will one day give life to our mortal bodies. This is our hope.
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.” (Isa. 25:9)
God’s people must wait their entire lives to take their place at this table. Sometimes, this waiting can seem unbearable. On days like today, we might even be tempted to give up waiting. But our present sufferings are not worth comparing with future glory. It will be worth the wait when we, along with all the saints, recline at table and are served by the Master of the Banquet.
The gospel is that God in Christ laid down his perfect life for our sins, in order that we might enjoy the new wine of his grace. And our hope of feasting forever with the King is as sure his empty tomb. However, don’t miss this one final truth, friends. These joys are only experienced in one place: Mount Zion, the kingdom of our God, the city where the risen Lord Jesus reigns as Savior King. If you choose to live in rebellion against the Lord, if the city of this broken world is where you choose to reside, then God’s wrath remains upon you. Apart from Christ, you will perish. But for those who repent of their sinful rebellion against God and cling to the promise of salvation by trusting in Christ, you can be sure that you will be welcomed into the feast of his love. Kiss the Son, and take refuge in him, you will know the blessing of his abundant life.
Beloved, let us continue to wait upon the Lord our God. Let us rejoice in his great love and be glad in the salvation he has secured by the blood of his Christ. As we mourn the loss of a husband, a father, a brother, and a friend, may we continue to feast in light of the future resurrection. As we wait for the day our tears are wiped away, let us rejoice in hope of the glory of God, the Lord of the Feast.
- John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986), 464-65.
Matt Bedzyk serves as lead pastor at Emmanuel Community Church where he has faithfully served in many capacities for most of his life. He received his Master of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Matt and his wife Brianna have three children: Lorien Grace, Owen James, and Vivian Jane. In his spare time, you can find him reading, brewing coffee, enjoying music, and supporting Manchester United and OG esports.