And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make to all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees…
This prophecy spans the Gospel dispensation. First, it presents to us the Gospel dispensation in its present state of grace. The prophet says "In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things." By "this mountain" the prophet intends Mount Zion; and from the literal Mount Zion it was that the Word of the Lord went forth, being preached in the first instance by the forerunner of Christ, and then by the incarnate Son of God Himself. And all the blessings which have flowed to the Church and to the world have come to us from Jerusalem — that Jerusalem which is the type of the Christian Church And you will observe that this Gospel dispensation, with its blessings and its privileges, is spoken of under the familiar imago of a feast. This imagery is eminently calculated to present to us an idea of the fulness of the grace of the Gospel. It is not as if God was offering provision to starving men just enough, as we should say in common parlance, to keep body and soul together. It is not a scanty provision: it is not a provision simply of bread and water. Now, in order to see what is meant let us apply this, in the first place, to the Gospel dispensation in its bearing upon sinners to whom the invitation is first addressed. You mark, in the first verse, that it is a feast of fat things. It is a feast of wine in the very best condition — wine which is old, settled upon its lees, and which by reason of its age has now attained its very best and choicest flavour. Now, let us observe how aptly this illustrates the provision of the Gospel in its aspect to those to whom the message and the invitation are still addressed. When we, for instance, as ministers, are called upon to deliver this invitation under any circumstances, we feel that we are entirely unhampered by any limitation as to persons, or by any limitation as to the question of sufficiency and adaptation to those who are invited. It is not, I mean, a scanty hospitality which God has provided. It is not such that he who has to deliver the invitation in this church, or anywhere else in the midst of the streets of London, has to consider, "Well, the Gospel is only intended for a certain class of sinners; the Gospel is only intended for certain kind of sins; and before I deliver this invitation I have to decide whether this is a case which it will suit, — whether this is a case which is included in the provision that is made, — whether I may not be deceiving and disappointing this man." No such thing. It is a feast; it is a feast of fat things; and it is a feast of the very choicest wines. What does all this mean when we strip off the imagery, — when we look at this not as a beautiful piece of prophetic poetry, but in its reality, in its actual bearing upon men to whom the Gospel is addressed? It means to say that there is abundant rich provision for every sinner. It means to say that God in His love has provided for the case of every man. It means that the blessings of salvation which we have to offer in Jesus Christ are not scanty blessings, — that they are not such blessings as leave us any doubt as to whether they will meet the case of this particular man, but that the salvation which is in Christ is a feast, and a feast of fat things. And then, again, take the aspect of this Gospel towards those who have already received the invitation, and who are, so to say, sitting down at the feast table. Every believing man who is in Christ is as a man sitting down at a perpetual feast. Everyday is, in this sense, a feast day to him. Every day is a day upon which he is to be feeding upon Christ, and to be nourishing his soul with the rich and costly blessings of salvation. Better to have the feeblest faith than to be an unbeliever. But is this the condition in which God would have His believing people to be? I say, no such thing. God intends that you should receive, and receive without doubting, and receive without reserve, when you come to Christ, the fulness and the freeness of His grace. He intends that you should believe Him when He says "Thy sins are forgiven." He does not expect of you that you should be content with saying "Ah, at some time or other God will forgive my sins: there is hope that my sins will be forgiven." He intends to make you feel, and desires to have you realise from day to day, that it is not simply bread and water, but that it is wine and milk. There is this unbroken continuity between what we call "grace" and what we very properly call "glory." You observe how this appears clearly in the end of the passage, because the prophet flows from one thing into the other as naturally as possible. What I want you particularly to mark, as one of the chief things I would impress upon you, is how, beginning with this Word of the Lord in Jerusalem — beginning with the taking away of the yell from off the faces of all people — beginning with the invitation to repent and believe and receive the remission of sins through our Lord Jesus Christ — the prophet goes on to what we find ultimately to be at the very end of the dispensation; how naturally, as if there was no break, as if it was just one flow of grace until, if I may so express it, the river of grace is lost in the vast expanse of the ocean of glory. There seems to be no chasm. Indeed, wherever there is in any young man or in any old man, in any woman or in any child, a work of grace — real, saving grace — that is the beginning, and glory with all its details and all its blessedness, all its companionships and all its occupations, will be nothing more than the full efflorescence and the full development and the full consummation of that work of grace which is begun. Well now, you see, these are blended together in the text; and the apostle says that God will in that day fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah, and that He will "swallow up death in victory." He will not do it before. Death is not swallowed up in victory, even when the triumphant Christian dies. But the apostle says, interpreting the words of the prophet, "Then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written"; that is, when the voice of the archangel shall be heard, and the trumpet shall sound, and when the graves shall give up their dead, and when they that have gone down to the grave in a natural body, in dishonour, in corruption, in feebleness, shall be raised in power and in incorruption and in glory, — "then shall be brought to past the saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." And this is to be followed by the fulfilment of the declaration of the prophet, interpreted by the figure of the Apocalypse. God is then to wipe away all tears. Tears, as we know, on earth, have many sources. There are the tears of penitence: we shall have to shed them no longer. There are the tears of anguish on account of temporal sorrow and bereavement and bodily suffering: we shall have to shed them no more. There are the tears of anxiety amid all the pressing cares of life. There are the tears of despondency and disappointment. We shall have to shed them no more. There is another source of tears while we are yet in the body. You and I have often shed tears from another cause — tears of joy. And why do we shed tears of joy? Because the joy is sometimes so sudden, it is so deep, it is so great, it so thoroughly overmasters us and transports us, that the feeble body cannot bear it; and the result is that tears course down our cheeks, and, as we say not infrequently, we "weep for joy." There will be no weeping for joy after the resurrection. Because, though we shall have the joy, we shall be capacitated to bear it: we shall have the joy, even the joy of our Lord, but our whole nature will be strong enough to enjoy that joy, and so there will be no more tears.
(J. C. Miller, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.