Monday, August 6, 2012

Who's Coming to the Great Banquet?

Reflections: In each of today’s passages, we see God’s vision and preferred future for His people. In the psalm they are likened to the cedars of Lebanon, which rise up and shine above all the other trees. This is God’s vision for the temple, where He would be worshipped and the nations would know that He is the one true God.
In Joshua 13-14, we see the division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel. Notice the precision with which they report the allotment. The Reubenites and Gadites and ½ tribe of Manasseh (one of Joseph’s sons) receive the land east of the Jordan. The 9 and ½ other tribes (including Joseph’s other son Ephraim) would receive the land just as Moses commanded. The Levites would not receive land but would be provided for by the people.

Note this is the vision which God had given Moses and the instructions for allotting the land. It was the vision God had given him which he did not get to see, but now was being realized through Joshua and the other leaders who followed Moses’ lead. Notice the importance of leaders passing on vision to the successive generation, as this principal vision was carried out over 3 generations of leaders. Oftentimes the preferred future God gives a visionary leader may not be fully realized until those they have trained after them follow in their footsteps.

Finally, Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for his departure by giving them a vision of the great wedding banquet. Rather than trying to pin down Jesus’ doctrine of eschatology and exactly how this is going to happen, we see some general principles which guide us as we await Jesus’ return.

1.) God’s desire is to see the banquet room full.
2.) Despite being invited many made excuses of why they couldn’t make it.
3.) God sends servants to present the invitation.
4.) There is no guarantee the servants will be treated well despite who they are representing.
5.) When those invited reject the invitation, the least and the lost are compelled to come to the banquet (represented by the poor, blind, crippled and lame).

As we await Jesus’ return, these verses remind us one of the primary things we are to about is inviting people into God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. God has given us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and through the Spirit working in us we can be ambassadors of the King. People today will make excuses of why they don’t have time to get involved in God’s kingdom activity in the world, just as they did in Jesus’ day. Though we don’t know when Jesus’ return will come, it is real clear how we can be ready, as we are about God’s business of reconciling the world to himself through Christ. It is also real clear that we are not to be discriminating in inviting people into the kingdom through Christ. We will be surprised at those we think would come and don’t, and those we don’t think will come and yet show up!

Psalm 92:9-15
9 For surely your enemies , Lord,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him. ”

Joshua 13:8-14:5
Division of the Land West of the Jordan

14 Now these are the areas the Israelites received as an inheritance in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel allotted to them. 2 Their inheritances were assigned by lot to the nine and a half tribes, as the Lord had commanded through Moses. 3 Moses had granted the two and a half tribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levites an inheritance among the rest, 4 for Joseph’s descendants had become two tribes—Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds. 5 So the Israelites divided the land, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Luke 14:7-24
The Parable of the Great Banquet

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

The righteousness of the righteous shall not save them when they transgress; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, it shall not make them stumble when they turn from their wickedness. Ezekiel 33:12

The disciples went out and proclaimed that all should repent. Mark 6:12

O holy One, we know that we disappoint you every day, despite our efforts. Give us the strength and courage to acknowledge when we fail you, and through your grace to persevere in seeking to do your will. Amen.

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