One of the first chapters in the Bible that I memorised as a child was Isaiah 55. When I learned it I did not imagine that I would ever preach from it. But I did this morning, I think for the first time, about fifty-five years after I learned it.
It is an amazing description of God’s desire to enjoy a meal with us. Of course, Isaiah is using an illustration when he speaks about a meal in which God is the host who wants to speak with us. Important people would invite their influential contacts, but with God it is different – he invites the thirsty and the bankrupt (in a hot country like Israel, everybody would be thirsty). The Lord wants to provide a large table at which everyone can share his provision. When we realise that, our response should be one of amazement at the largeness of his heart, especially since it is our sins that have caused us to be thirsty and bankrupt spiritually.
No doubt, the imagery of a meal allows us to think what range of suitable courses would be offered by the Host. I mentioned four: the forgiveness of sin, the desire for heaven, the longing for company and strength for the journey. Many more could be suggested. The prophet describes the message we hear from God as we eat, and it is about his Son, and how it is possible for us to enter into an everlasting relationship with God through him.
It is customary at the close of a meal to thank the host for the range of dishes and the quality of the conversation. I suppose that is what the Host of this spiritual meal wants to hear from us. Gratitude for grace is the definition of how to live the Christian life.
But when is this meal going to end? It isn’t. Instead, one day, it will change locations. At present, we enjoy its provisions even although we are in a world of sin. In the future, we will sit at table in the world of glory. Some of the courses may change, but the topic of conversation will be the same – Jesus. The difference will be that we will be able to understand a lot more about him.
(reflections after the morning service)