在这个世界上，没有任何一个盛宴是永无休止的. 在天堂, 我们将进入这个伟大的和无休止的宴席. 作为神的儿女, 我们的座位是肯定的. 让我们来看看这四道荣耀,辉煌的菜 . . .
In this world, there is no such thing as a never-ending feast. In heaven, we will enter into the great and endless feast. As children of God, our seats are affirmed by God, The Host Himself. Let us look at these four-course glorious feast . . .
We all like to be invited to some special functions, be it a birthday party, a wedding celebration, a reunion dinner etc. In fact, as one grows older, it is good to be invited to anywhere and anything, even for just a cup of tea.
One day, my husband Eugene came back from a high school class reunion lunch and announced to me, “Dr Ho’s daughter is getting married at the end of next year. The date is not fixed yet but he wants to book us in advance to grace the occasion.”
“Sure, we have almost a whole year to prepare for it. There shouldn’t be any problem. It is such an honour to be included in this happy occasion,” I said.
Then six months later, Dr Ho informed Eugene that the wedding would be held in November but the date was not set yet. I still thought there should not be any problem in attending the wedding dinner. But two months to the occasion the invitation card arrived and we almost had to send our apology because the date fell in the midst of the busiest period in our church calendar; right in the middle of an Elders and Deacons training course, a Women’s Conference, a Family Seminar and a Church Family Camp!
Where could we find time to go to the wedding dinner? But the invitation was extended to us a year ago and we should not just brush it aside because of some other appointments. So we decided to find time to go in spite of the busy schedule. We did go eventually and enjoyed the feast very much, especially meeting up with my husband’s old friends.
Every wedding is unique and special in its own way. This wedding invitation came with a very special message, ‘No gifts or flower arrangements please. Instead, may we suggest you consider sending your blessings to the bride and groom in the form of a donation cheque to ___ Endowment Fund. All cash received will be forwarded to the above-named charity.’
In other words, no guest needed to worry about bringing a gift to attend this wedding dinner because the parents were wealthy enough to host the occasion so that those who were invited could come to enjoy the wonderful feast held at a six-star hotel completely free! But if they wanted to show appreciation to the hosts for including them in the feast, they could share their blessings with those who were less fortunate in the society. Their graciousness and generosity reminded me of another ‘Wedding Invitation’ recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 22:1-10, The Parable of the Marriage Feast.
In this parable, the invitation to salvation is likened to the instance of a certain king who sent out invitations to people inviting them to come to his son’s wedding. He worked out a guest list and sent his servants to inform the guests about the feast well in advance. When the time came he again sent out his servants to remind the invited guests to come but they all turned down the invitation. What a slight against the king! But the king was very patient and forbearing with those who deliberately spurned him, so he sent out yet another group of his servants to remind the people about the feast saying, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed and all things are ready. Come to the wedding” (Matt 22:4). Notice how these people responded to the king’s kindness, ‘But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them’ (Matt 22:5-6).
We were told that the invited guests either ignored the king’s invitation or refused to come and went about doing their own business. Some of them not only disregarded the king’s kindness, but also abused and killed his messengers. If you were the king, being treated so shabbily by your subjects in spite of your immense patience and kindness toward them, what would your response be? Finally the king’s patience ran out and in wrath, he sent his armies to destroy these ungrateful people and sent his servants to the countryside to gather as many as they could to fill up the banquet hall. Anyone who received the invitation and came to the feast was welcome and the hall was filled.
What can we learn from this parable?
God, the Creator of all mankind, is the King who has sent out the invitation to people of this world to come to this great Feast because He knows that they will never invite themselves; so He initiated the inviting. People in this world are heading for destruction because of their sin, but God in His mercy has prepared a way for them to go back to Him through His Son Jesus Christ who came to this world to be their Saviour.
The invitation is given to all the people and not just a particular group. God is so gracious, so infinitely willing to extend His invitation to the people of this world to come to Him to enjoy this wonderful Feast. Therefore all of us are invited and the Bible tells us that Jesus the Son of God Himself calls us to come to Him saying, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). All of us are labouring under the crushing burden of sin, whether we realise it or not. The load of sin only gets heavier and heavier each day and we cannot get rid of it ourselves. If we do not have a Saviour to lift up this burden from us it will crush us to eternal death someday.
Jesus calls us to go to Him, promising to lift us out of this dire situation and He will give us rest. When the invitation is extended to us, we must go to Him if we want true rest for our souls. Accepting the invitation is to turn from the love of this world to God through His Son Jesus Christ by repentance and faith. In order for sinners to re-establish a right relationship with their Creator, God must first initiate the process by working in their hearts, without which men can hear the outward call but they have no inward desire to come to Him.
If this is a great Feast, what will be served on the table? The guests would like to know what is on the menu so that they can anticipate what they are going to enjoy as each course is being served. In this feast only the best and the most satisfying things are being served. There are 4 courses in this Feast:
1. Joy and peace in life
Once a person comes to the Feast prepared by God, he has his greatest need satisfied; the forgiveness of sins. Jesus Christ will wash away all his sins with the blood He shed on the cross for sinners. Then the robe of righteousness will be given to each sinner who comes to the Feast so that each one of them will stand before God justified. No one can pay his way to come to God; neither can he do any good works to earn his way into the banquet hall. The only way to be admitted is by receiving Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and he will have the privilege to enjoy all the wonderful things God has laid down on the table.
Once a person is admitted into the presence of the King, he is no longer treated as a stranger at the table but accepted as an adopted son of God’s Family. How delightful it is to be able to sit at the King’s table and to enjoy all the good and great things that He has prepared for His people.
This Feast is not like any other earthly feast which ends at a certain time or when the last course is served. This Feast lasts forever, and this first course lasts as long as a person is alive. In Christ he is given real peace and rest in his heart because he is now at peace with God and he will never have to fear about being condemned when Jesus comes to judge the world one day. Though in the world there are uncertainties, yet those who come to God will be assured of His presence with them in every situation in life – in sadness or joy, in war or peace, in health or sickness, in prosperity or poverty. Indeed, God will never leave those who claim Jesus as their Saviour. This is only the first course.
2. Blessedness at death
The second course begins when we leave this world at death. For Christians, death is a marvellous experience, but for non-believers it is the most terrifying thought in life for they have no idea what lies ahead of them the minute they die. The Bible says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Ps 116:15). When a Christian leaves this world, immediately he enters into the presence of the Lord of glory Who receives him with open arms. We do not know what it will be like yet, but we can imagine the joy it will be when one minute we are in this sin-sick world with all the sufferings, dangers, crimes and evils surrounding us and the next minute we enter into Paradise, completely holy and pure without any trace of sin. There we will see our Saviour Jesus Christ face to face in all His glory and splendour. What a wonderful thought and what a marvellous hope for all those who have accepted the invitation to come to the Feast! That is the second course.
3. A glorious celestial body at Resurrection
The third course is served at the resurrection. What happens at the resurrection? Those who are already dead in Christ will be raised first and incorruptible bodies will be given to them; then those who are still living will be transformed into the same immortal bodies (1 Cor 15:52-54). This vile disease-ridden mortal body will be made like Christ’s glorious body and our soul which has been reunited with Christ in glory will be clothed in this imperishable body and the complete man with soul and glorified body will enter into the eternal state.
When Christ comes to judge the world, all those who have been united with Christ and have been redeemed will already have been acquitted of their sins but those who have not received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour in their lifetime will be judged and condemned to eternal punishment.
4. Unending Joy in Eternity
The fourth and final course will be enjoyed in eternity and this course will never end. It is going to be the sweetest and most satisfying course of all. In Heaven there will be no more tears or sorrow, only unspeakable joy in the presence of God, worshipping Him with the holy angels and all the other saints.
If you want to enjoy all these good and wonderful things, you have got to accept the invitation Jesus has given out, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).
Why do people reject the invitation?
The Bible tells us that though they know the King yet they do not acknowledge Him as King; though they depend on Him for everything they need in life (even the very air they breathe belongs to Him), yet they are ungrateful people thinking that they are wiser then their Ruler and they reject Him. They want to choose whom they like to be their king and refuse to follow the One who holds them accountable to Him. Though they know that one day their King will judge them for all their disobedience yet they continue to violate His law and even teach others to do the same. This just goes to show how depraved human nature is.
Another reason why people reject the invitation to come to the Heavenly Feast is their love for the present world. They look at their earthly possessions as more important than their eternal joy. One says, “I am too busy working and making money, I have no time for God!” Another says, “I already have a religion, I don’t need to believe in Jesus Christ.” Some reject the invitation because of the fear of men, “My parents will disown me, my wife will be angry with me, my friends will leave me”, etc. But things of this world can never be compared to the lasting joy one can have in Heaven because all the things in this world will one day pass away and all that you possess will be taken away from you. Therefore we must be wise and make plans for our eternity.
What will be the consequences of rejecting God’s invitation to salvation?
Those who have rejected God’s invitation to come to Him will be judged and will be condemned to eternal punishment because their sins have not been cleansed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Do not think that you have a whole lifetime to decide on when you want to come to God because the invitation He is giving out today may not be opened to you tomorrow. Once a person dies, his opportunity to receive the invitation will be gone forever and his eternal state is sealed. When Christ comes again to judge this world, there will not be a second chance given to those who had refused to come to Him.
One day, the doors to this “Wedding Feast” will be closed forever, and by then no one will be able to enter in. Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” Those who will not call upon Christ as their Saviour, will someday find Christ calling upon them as their Judge. Think about it: Christ the Great King invites you to come to Him. What a wonderful privilege! But at the same time, what an insult it is to His Majesty if you refuse to hear Him.
You will not refuse an invitation from your own president to attend his banquet, will you? Well, even if you do there is no eternal consequence because he has no power to send you to eternal Hell. But today you are invited by the Great Saviour of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ to this wonderful Feast and I urge you not to let this opportunity pass you by, for you may never hear Him extending His call to you again.
~ Dixie Chua - is one of the editors of Fishers.