The Coming Banquet for All the Peoples
“And Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.”—Isa. 25:6.
1. Rather than enjoying a banquet, what is the world as a whole experiencing?
THE world as a whole is not enjoying any banquet of rich foods and drink now. Rather, the world is getting hungrier year by year. This dangerous fact is continually being pointed up by the reports published of famines, food shortages and undernourishment in large areas of the inhabited earth.
2. For what reasons is India a pointed example of this?
2 For example, disquieting reports have been coming from that great subcontinent of India. Newspaper headlines of October 10, 1964, read “INDIA’S GRIM CAPITAL—Food Shortages and Water Pollution Aggravate Tempers and Peril Health.” (New York Times) Earlier, or on August 2, 1964, the headlines read: “Hunger Grows in India—Major Crisis in the Nation Is Feared as Population Growth Outpaces That of Food Production.” This is not due to a shortage of farmers. Of India’s 450,000,000 people more than four-fifths live in the rural sections. Owing to improved methods and equipment, the Indian farmers produce more, but the yearly crop of Indian babies is too much for them. It is of little comfort now to millions that India’s Food Minister predicted in Parliament that India would be able to feed herself by the end of the fourth five-year plan in 1971. For many persons that remains to be seen.—New York Times, September 11 and August 16, 1964.
3. What are indications on the matter of poverty in the United States of North America?
3 “This Rich World of Ours Faces Famine” is the way an American Socialist newspaper headlined an article, under date of September 19, 1964. Even in the United States of America it is reported that widespread poverty exists in certain regions. Back in 1960 the late President John F. Kennedy was reported to have said: “The facts are that seventeen million Americans go to bed hungry every night.” This meant about one-tenth of the country’s total population back there. Four years later a $950-million antipoverty bill was approved by the American Congress, and, at the time, President Lyndon B. Johnson said: “This Administration, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”
4. What warnings have been sounded by British historian Toynbee and Pope Paul VI?
4 Back in 1959 the British historian Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee, when speaking before the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in Rome, said that the peoples of the world will have to keep the growth of the population under control. Mankind must do this, he said, if it “is now going to save itself from the casualties formerly inflicted upon it by pestilence and war.” He warned: “Sooner or later, food production will reach its limit.” (New York Times, November 3, 1959) In the first Christmas message that the ruler of Vatican State, Pope Paul VI, delivered on December 23, 1963, he agreed that the world’s leading problem is that of putting an end to physical hunger, but he was not willing to have Roman Catholics help solve the problem by birth control, which control he termed “illicit.”
5. During the past several years what has happened to the world population, and what is foreseen for it by 2000 C.E.?
5 The increase in the world’s population each year has come to be so great that it has been called a “world population explosion.” Back in 1961 the world population went up by 50 million. But now the year’s increase is 63,000,000, according to a report to the United Nations in 1964. It reported that the world population is gaining at a record rate; the annual rate of increase is rising. Not only in Asia, where almost half of mankind live, is the growth very great, but in Latin America the population, which was at 200,000,000 last year, is growing so rapidly that it is expected to double in twenty years; and the study made by the United Nations estimates that by the end of this century it will rise to from 625,000,000 to 750,000,000. In fact, that United Nations study sees the people of the entire world doubling by the year 2000 C.E., getting near to six billion or even past that.
6. What causes the trouble about this situation, and since World War II what has the world situation come to be as regards hunger?
6 The trouble about this situation is that the increase in the number of people is exceeding that of food production. In 1963-1964 there was a record production of several commodities and increase in many harvests, but this increase in food production was too small to counterbalance the growth of the world’s population. So the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported from Rome, Italy, last September 11. Some time earlier the Director General of the F.A.O. said that, because of this imbalance between world population growth and food production increase since the second world war, “up to half of the world’s population, 1,500 millions, suffer from hunger or malnutrition or both.”—New York Times, as of September 12, 1964, and November 20, 1963.
7-9. (a) What, then, is the greatest danger threatening mankind, of its own making? (b) According to columnist Arthur Krock, what is the “most dangerous bomb of all,” and in what respects?
7 What, then, is the greatest danger that threatens mankind at its own hands? Not warfare with nuclear bombs and bacteriological and radiological weapons, but this food problem due to the world’s rapid population growth. Even though a third world war never came, this food problem would remain and grow worse till the breaking point was reached. This danger was warned against by the well-known columnist Arthur Krock, in an article entitled “The Most Dangerous Bomb of All.” He said:
8 “In the rush of the great nations to produce nuclear weapons capable of agonizing mass destruction. . . , their Governments have paid small attention to the limitation of a more dangerous instrument for the destruction of civilization that is swiftly being assembled. The social scientists have named this weapon ‘the population bomb,’ . . . The Population Reference Bureau . . . has been laboring ever since to awaken the people of the world to their self-produced menace which in maturity can infest the planet with . . . ‘billions of half-alive starving peasants, condemned to short, miserable lives of hatred and hunger.’ . . . The ‘more than half of the world’s population’ that live in crowded areas, ‘disease-ridden, poverty-stricken, illiterate,’ are on the verge of a population explosion, wrote Professor Notestein.”
9 Later, columnist Krock, under the heading “Chief Problem on Earth Gets Some Attention,” wrote: “The formulae for a glowing future . . . omit even mention of a trend which, if unregulated, will crowd the planet by 2000 A.D. with millions more people than its resources can provide for. This problem has been aptly termed ‘the population bomb’, because it has the explosive potential of doubling the number of inhabitants of countries which cannot decently house, feed, employ, etc., those they have. . . . ‘Not talking about it because it is controversial and uncomfortable is a luxury . . . we cannot afford.’”—New York Times, as of October 2 and November 13, 1959.
10. Is our talking about a “coming banquet for all the peoples” therefore unreasonable, and what fact affects our answering aright?
10 Certainly in the face of such world trends our talking here about a “coming banquet for all the peoples” seems unreasonable. But is it? Of course, if treating all the peoples of earth with a banquet depended upon the combined food producers, the politicians, the religious leaders, the sociologists and the scientists, the prediction of such a banquet would seem farfetched. However, it does not depend upon men who, since the year 1914, have been caught in an “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out,” as Jesus Christ predicted nineteen centuries ago. (Luke 21:25) It depends upon the Almighty God, the Creator of us and of the planet on which we live. In his loving-kindness toward his human creation Almighty God has promised this banquet of good things to eat and drink. He has had this promise put down in writing, so that we can read it with our own eyes. He put his name to this promise and for the honor of his name he must make it good.
11. What question is it therefore fitting for us to ask ourselves, and why?
11 God never failed in even one of his promises that was due to be fulfilled before now. Because of his reliability, he will not fail in his promise to provide a banquet for all the peoples. So the question for each one of us to ask ourselves in all seriousness is, Will I accept God’s invitation to that banquet? One way by which to show whether you will accept his invitation is your being willing, your being interested enough, to listen now to the good news about it. Are you?
TIME OF ITS FULFILLMENT
12, 13. What promise does Jehovah make in Isaiah 25:6 and what question arises as to the location?
12 Then let us take the Holy Bible and turn to the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter twenty-five, verse six, and read this inspired promise in God’s own name: “And Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.”
13 Let us note, please, that Jehovah of armies has promised to prepare this rich banquet at a place that he calls “this mountain.” There are many mountains on the earth, but which one is this? It is the one in which Jehovah of armies is most interested.
14. Which mountain does Isaiah 24:23 identify as the one, and why will moon and sun become ashamed of themselves, as it were?
14 Hebrew was the language in which Jehovah God first gave his announcement of a banquet for all the peoples, and in less than ten lines above this verse (Isa. 25:6) in the Hebrew text he names the very mountain where the banquet will be made. There we read these words about God’s kingdom: “And the full moon has become abashed, and the glowing sun has become ashamed, for Jehovah of armies has become king in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and in front of his elderly men with glory.” (Isa. 24:23) So glorious will be God’s kingdom that the gleaming full moon will not be able to compare with it in glory, nor even the glowing sun at high noon. They will, so to speak, become ashamed of themselves.
15, 16. Are people right in not looking to Zionism or the present-day earthly Jerusalem for the promised banquet, and why is the correct answer so?
15 At the mere mention of Mount Zion, many persons might think that this has something to do with “Zionism,” but they are wrong. This has nothing to do with the modern movement called Zionism, which was begun as a political movement by Jews throughout the earth in 1897 but which not even all Jews believe in or support.
16 Neither does this have anything to do with the Jerusalem of today, as the ancient walled city is now a Moslem possession and the modern city to the west, outside the walled city, is a Jewish city, the capital of the Republic of Israel. Also, as regards the original Mount Zion, on which stood the city of David, this is not inside the walls of the present-day Moslem city of Jerusalem although it still belongs to the Moslem kingdom of Jordan. So the people in general are right in not looking to the political movement of the Zionists or the present-day Jerusalem for the enjoyment of God’s promised banquet for all the peoples.
17. Why is there doubt about the value of this promise of a banquet today, and who helps us to locate the time of its application?
17 Could there, then, be another Mount Zion and another Jerusalem to which to look for the realization of God’s promise of making a banquet for all the peoples? It is a long time since God made the promise. God made the promise through his prophet Isaiah about the year 732 before our Common Era began; which means about 2,696 years ago, Isaiah’s book of prophecy being finished about then. How do we know whether this hoary prophecy has any value today? How can we be sure that this prophecy of a banquet applies to our time or to the near future? Happily the voice of inspiration or the pen of inspiration helps us to get the satisfactory answer to the question. How so? Well, one of the inspired Bible writers was the Christian apostle named Paul. He, in particular, gives us the inspired key to the right answer.
18. How does that man get tied up with enabling us to locate the prophecy’s time of fulfillment?
18 This man Paul, who became a Christian after Jesus died and was resurrected in the year 33 of our Common Era, wrote an inspired letter to the Christian congregation in Corinth, Greece, about the year 55 C.E. In this letter he quoted from Isaiah, chapter twenty-five, from right after the prophecy about the banquet. Now, what does Jehovah God go on to say right after he announces the coming banquet for all the peoples? He makes another reference to “this mountain” and says these remarkable words: “And in this mountain he will certainly swallow up the face of the envelopment that is enveloping over all the peoples, and the woven work that is interwoven upon all the nations. He will actually swallow up death forever, and the Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces. And the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for Jehovah himself has spoken it.” (Isa. 25:7, 8) For a certainty, all the nations stand to benefit by the realization of this prophecy.
19. What pertinent quotation does Paul make, and in what context?
19 Well, now, in his letter to the Corinthian congregation the apostle Paul speaks at length about the resurrection from the dead, and, when bringing his chapter of the resurrection of the spiritual Christians to a thrilling climax, Paul quotes from Isaiah 25:8 and applies it. He says: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’ ‘Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?’ The sting producing death is sin, but the power for sin is the Law. But thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
20. To what time does Paul apply the fulfillment of the words quoted by him from Isaiah 25:8, and how do we figure that out?
20 Those words, written in 1 Corinthians 15:52-57, were penned in the first century of our Common Era, but the words that the writer Paul quotes, “Death is swallowed up forever,” were written in the eighth century before our Common Era. However, does the apostle Paul apply those quoted words to his own time, in the first century? No! He applies the words to the time of the “last trumpet,” which sounds after God’s kingdom, mentioned in 1Co 15 verse fifty, is established. Paul applies the words as beginning to be fulfilled at the resurrection of those who will be joint heirs with Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom, which resurrection takes place after Jesus Christ has come into his kingdom and turns his attention downward to this earth, where a remnant of his faithful followers and joint heirs still remain alive. (1 Thess. 4:14-17; Rev. 12:1-17) In this way the apostle Paul locates the fulfillment of those words far into the future from his own day back there in the first century C.E.
21. To whose time does Paul apply the fulfillment of the quotation, and how do we know this?
21 In fact, the apostle Paul applies the time for the fulfillment of God’s promise to “swallow up death forever” to our own time. How so? Because in our time since the year 1914 C.E. we have the world conditions and events proving that God’s Messianic kingdom was born in the heavens and Jesus Christ his Son came into the kingdom in 1914, when World War I broke out and when an era of violence began that has only grown worse since that year.
22. The year 1914 marks the end of what Biblically foretold period of time, and in what way is it a favored time in which we are living?
22 In fact, the Bible’s own time schedule connects up with the dates of world history and marks the year 1914 as the date for the birth of God’s promised kingdom in the heavens. By Bible time-schedule measurements the “times of the Gentiles,” or “the appointed times of the nations,” ended in autumn of that year, and the things that Jesus Christ predicted nineteen centuries ago began being fulfilled in their foretold order. (Luke 21:5-24, AV, NW; Dan. 4:1-32; 12:1-4) So we are the ones who are living in the favored time when death must begin to be swallowed up, this miracle beginning first with the faithful dead followers of Jesus Christ who were promised a share with him in his heavenly kingdom. Revelation 20:4-6 calls theirs the “first resurrection.” As it is a resurrection to life with Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom, it is a resurrection invisible to our eyes.—1 Cor. 15:50.
PLACE FOR THE BANQUET
23. Since Paul locates the time of the fulfillment of God’s promise concerning death, what else is true in consequence?
23 Something else follows as a result of the apostle Paul’s application of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning death. What? This heart-cheering fact: If the time for fulfilling this prophecy concerning the swallowing up of death has its beginning in our time, then God’s promise of a banquet for all the peoples also has its beginning in our days. This banquet promise is part of the same prophecy concerning what Jehovah God will do in “this mountain.” Hence we can begin thinking about accepting the invitation to it.
24. Since God’s kingdom is in the heavens, why is it that Isaiah 24:23 speaks of His reigning in Mount Zion and Jerusalem?
24 God’s kingdom by means of his Son Jesus Christ is in the heavens. How is it, then, that the prophecy of Isaiah 24:23 foretells that “Jehovah of armies has become king in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and in front of his elderly men with glory”? It is because the Mount Zion and the Jerusalem in which this prophecy and the next succeeding prophecy are fulfilled are not the present-day Jerusalem and Mount Zion in the Middle East, but are the heavenly Mount Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem.
25. Of what was ancient Jerusalem, when faithful, a prophetic picture, and how does Paul show a difference between that back there and the Jerusalem of his time?
25 Ancient Jerusalem on Mount Zion, when it was a city faithful to Jehovah God and his worship, was a prophetic picture of the spiritual Jerusalem on the heavenly Mount Zion. In the Jerusalem of nineteen hundred years ago Jesus Christ was condemned to death and handed over to the Roman soldiers to be put to death on a stake, to which he was nailed. The apostle Paul shows the difference, therefore, between the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem when he writes to his fellow Christians: “The Jerusalem today . . . is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” (Gal. 4:25, 26) The Jerusalem that slavishly followed its religious leaders and witnessed the murder of Jesus Christ was later destroyed in the year 70 C.E.
26. According to Hebrews 12:22-24, what is today the city of the one living and true God?
26 In this year of 1965 the city of the one living and true God is not any earthly Jerusalem, whose walls today do not even encircle earthly Mount Zion, but is the one named in Hebrews 12:22-24, where the Hebrew Christians are told: “You have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, . . . and the congregation of the first-born who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, . . . and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.”
27. On what mountain is God’s kingdom located in Revelation 14:1-3?
27 In the last book of the Bible, which records the vision seen by the apostle John, he saw this heavenly Mount Zion and saw standing upon it the once-sacrificed Son of God, Jesus Christ, together with the faithful followers who become joint heirs with him in the kingdom: “I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. . . . the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth.” (Rev. 14:1-3) Thus on heavenly Mount Zion and in the heavenly Jerusalem Jehovah God reigns gloriously by his Son.
28, 29. (a) In what mountain, therefore, does God make the promised banquet, and where will people enjoy it? (b) How will it be possible for mankind to enjoy it there?
28 So, then, “this mountain” in which Jehovah of armies makes for all the peoples the banquet of well-oiled dishes and of refined aged wine is a heavenly mountain, symbolically speaking. Does this mean that the peoples will have to go to the invisible, spiritual heavens in order to enjoy this banquet? Will they have to leave this earth? No! Where, then, will they be able to enjoy the banquet to which they are invited? It will be right here on earth, where today so much famine, poor distribution of food supplies, hunger, undernourishment and slow starvation obtain among a rapidly growing world population. How will that be possible?
29 It will be possible because this earth, God’s creation, is the realm over which his heavenly kingdom rules. This earthly territory of God’s kingdom will never be destroyed, and the race of mankind will never have to leave it. Prophetic Psalm ninety-seven, Ps 97 verse one, says to earth’s inhabitants: “Jehovah himself has become king! Let the earth be joyful. Let the many islands rejoice.” Even despite world conditions today we can rejoice.