Accepting the Invitation to the Banquet
1, 2. (a) In what city did David rule as king over all Israel, and on whose throne did he sit? (b) Where does the one foreshadowed by King David sit ruling, and so what will be required of people on earth to enjoy the banquet?
IN FULFILLMENT of the prophecy of Isaiah 25:6 Jehovah of armies prepares the banquet for all the peoples on earth in “this mountain,” the lofty place of his heavenly kingdom. On the earthly Mount Zion of three thousand years ago, and in the city of Jerusalem of that time, King David ruled in the name of Jehovah. He represented Jehovah of armies as the real King over the nation and hence King David on Mount Zion was said to sit on “Jehovah’s throne.” David’s wise son Solomon succeeded to that throne. (1 Chron. 11:4-9; 29:23) On the heavenly Mount Zion the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was foreshadowed by King David, sits enthroned since the year 1914 C.E., sitting indeed on Jehovah’s throne, that is, at the right hand of God. (Ps. 110:1, 2; Acts 2:29-36; Rev. 3:21) By means of him God prepares the banquet.
2 For this reason, if the peoples on this earthly territory of God’s kingdom want to enjoy the banquet, they have to give their loyalty and devotion and obedience to this heavenly kingdom of God’s dear Son. In order to do this they do not have to leave the earth and go to heaven.
3. For whom has God made possible this banquet, and why do they need it?
3 Jehovah of armies has made possible this banquet for all the peoples by means of his Son Jesus Christ. How so? In this way: For almost six thousand years now all mankind have been dying, and at death they have quit eating and drinking. To eat and drink we have to live and stay in good health. In turn, to keep on living we have to eat and drink. All mankind have inherited sinfulness and death from the first man on earth, who sinned against God the Creator and brought God’s sentence of death upon himself before ever he became a father of children. (Rom. 5:12-14) Because of his rebellious sin against his Creator, the first man and his wife were driven from their perfect Paradise home in the garden of Eden, to die outside. Thus the ruining of the earth, and the famine, drought, hunger and starvation have come about as an outgrowth of man’s sinfulness. Says the Christian apostle Paul: “The wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Rom. 6:23.
4. How did God make the banquet possible by his Son and how did the Son compare himself with food?
4 In order to lift the condemnation of sin from mankind and remove its penalty death Jehovah God had his Son die sacrificially on earth as the perfect man Jesus Christ. He died childless, thus sacrificing even his right to become father to a perfect human race on earth. Long ago miraculous food sustained the life of his earthly nation for forty years when they traveled through a wilderness. Hence Jesus compared his perfect sacrifice to such food. He said: “I am the bread of life. . . . I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.”—John 6:48-51.
5. Where is the “bread of life” now, and so in order to eat and live forever what must the peoples of earth do?
5 Now this Son of God Jesus Christ is back in heaven and is reigning in his heavenly Father’s kingdom, in full possession of the value of his human sacrifice, the “bread of life.” Is it any wonder, then, that for the peoples of this earth to eat and live forever on earth, they have to recognize God’s kingdom on the heavenly Mount Zion? They have to accept God’s reigning Son, Jesus Christ, as their King, and they have to give him unwavering loyalty and obedience. They must do this by faith.
6. (a) Why would feeding on the “bread of life” be, in itself, a banquet? (b) What aspects are there to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a banquet.
6 Their feeding on the heavenly “bread of life” by means of faith would, in itself, be a feast, a banquet, if it results in everlasting life. What banquet on earth today, no matter how rich in many dishes, gives the banqueters everlasting life? But those who bow to God’s kingdom in the hands of his Son will do more than eat by means of faith. They will literally eat enjoyable earthly food to sustain that life forevermore in peace, health and happiness. Isaiah’s prophecy of a banquet has a literal aspect to it and not wholly a spiritual aspect. The loyal and obedient peoples will literally eat dishes well-oiled, “filled with marrow,” as it were, to sustain the heart and make the face shine. They will drink wine, well aged on the dregs and filtered, to make their hearts glad. (Ps. 104:14, 15) There will be no ill effects.
7. How does Psalm 72 regarding Solomon foretell the prosperous conditions on earth under the kingdom of God’s dear Son?
7 The prophecies tell of the prosperous conditions that will prevail on earth under the royal government of God’s dear Son. In the prophetic psalm regarding King Solomon it is written: “He will descend like the rain upon the mown grass, like copious showers that wet the earth. In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more. And he will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow. His fruit will be as in Lebanon, and those who are from the city will blossom like the vegetation of the earth.” (Ps. 72:6-8, 16) Such a period of plenty marked the reign of King Solomon, but Jesus Christ, who was foreshadowed by Solomon, is greater than Solomon. (Matt. 12:42) Hence abundance far surpassing that of the days of King Solomon will be produced on earth under Christ’s kingdom.
PARADISE RESTORED, MADE EARTH-WIDE
8. Under the Kingdom how will the earth be changed, in accord with Jesus’ words to the sympathetic evildoer dying on the stake?
8 This abundance, which will be ample enough to satisfy the hunger and bodily needs of all mankind, will call for radical changes in the earth from what it is today. There was no want of food in the earthly Paradise in which God placed the first man and woman in their perfect, sinless condition. Under Christ’s kingdom, which reigns on the heavenly Mount Zion, that Paradise will be restored and extended to the limits of the earth. Thus it will not be too small for all mankind to live in. So there was a wonderful meaning to the words of the dying Jesus Christ, when he said to the sympathetic man who was impaled on a stake beside him on that darksome day of Nisan 14, 33 C.E.: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:43, NW; Ro.
9. What prophetic description is given of that earthwide Paradise in Psalm 65?
9 The beauty and abundance of that earth-wide paradise under God’s kingdom is beyond our imagination. A prophetic description of it is given in the sixty-fifth psalm, addressed to God in Zion. In part, it says: “You have turned your attention to the earth, that you may give it abundance; you enrich it very much. The stream from God is full of water. You prepare their grain, for that is the way you prepare the earth. There is a drenching of its furrows, a leveling off of its clouds; with copious showers you soften it; you bless its very sprouts. You have crowned the year with your goodness, and your very tracks drip with fatness. The pasture grounds of the wilderness keep dripping, and with joyfulness the very hills gird themselves. The pastures have become clothed with flocks, and the low plains themselves are enveloped with grain. They shout in triumph, yes, they sing.”—Ps. 65:1, 9-13.
10. According to Psalm 67, what will the earth then give, and due to what?
10 To this description Psalm 67:6, 7 adds: “The earth itself will certainly give its produce; God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.”
11. In what way will Micah 4:3, 4 work out as a prophecy?
11 In that peaceful, warless world the prophecy of Micah 4:3, 4 will also work out in a literal way: “They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war any more. And they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”
MORE THAN MATERIAL FOOD
12. Will the providing of material food be enough for mankind under God’s kingdom, and what did Jesus say about the means of living?
12 More than just material food and drink will be provided for all the peoples who are favored with living under God’s kingdom by his Son Jesus Christ. Today the man that has everything that his heart could wish in the way of food and drink, including what the doctors of his health may prescribe, cannot keep himself alive forever. More than material food is needed now; more than natural food will be needed then under God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ, even at the end of a forty-day fast, quoted God’s own words and said: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’” (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3) Even more than material food, spiritual food is needed, and this spiritual food is the Word of God. His Word is his instructions and his commandments telling us what to do. Living in harmony with his Word and the doing of his will serve as real life-sustaining food and drink for mankind.
13. What did Jesus say about his own food and about the inadequacy of material abundance as regards life?
13 The greatest man ever on earth, namely, Jesus Christ, pointed out that fact. On another occasion when he was hungry, and before eating the natural food offered to him, he said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) In a warning against becoming victims of materialism Jesus said: “Guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” “For the soul is worth more than food and the body than clothing.” (Luke 12:15, 23) There is the danger, especially for the hungry, to make material earthly food a god and to worship their belly as their god.
14. In what form do hungry Indians want God to appear to them, but who else also can make their belly their god?
14 Years ago the Indian saint, Mahatma Gandhi, pointed to the frantic urge of India’s underfed masses, living on one meal or less a day, to do this very thing. For publication he said: “To the millions who have to go without two meals a day the only acceptable form in which God dare appear is food.” Yet not only the starving masses but also the ones abundantly provided for can make bodily food one of their false gods and treat their belly as a god and ignore the true God and his provisions for everlasting life.—Phil. 3:19; New York Times Magazine, December 20, 1959, page 28.
15. (a) Against what did Moses warn the Israelites after they got into the land of milk and honey? (b) How would Jesus, now reigning in heaven, feel about the food vital for mankind?
15 The prophet Moses warned the Israelites against the likelihood of their forgetting Jehovah God when they came into possession of the “land flowing with milk and honey” and enjoyed its abundance of good things. The result of this would be to turn to the worship of other gods and to earn destruction for themselves. (Deut. 8:10-20) Correspondingly, when Jesus Christ was on earth and was about to ascend back to heaven, he commanded his faithful followers to go to the very extremities of the inhabited earth and make disciples of people of all the nations by bringing to them spiritual food, namely, the things that he had commanded them. (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:6-11) Consequently, if Jesus felt that way about it when he was down here on earth as a man, how much more would he feel the same way about it when he reigns as King on the heavenly Mount Zion?
16. How does Isaiah 11:1-9 refer to spiritual food under Christ’s kingdom, and what did Jesus say will mean life to mankind?
16 In harmony with that fact the prophet Isaiah said concerning the reign of Jesus as a descendant of Jesse the father of King David: “Righteousness must prove to be the belt of his hips, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. . . . They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (Isa. 11:1-9) By growing in the knowledge of God and living in harmony with this spiritual food earth’s inhabitants will gain everlasting life; for Jesus himself said in prayer to God: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
THE DEAD TO ATTEND THE BANQUET
17. (a) What fears of farsighted men of today did God not have when blessing Adam and Eve in Eden? (b) So God has purposed that who also should attend the earth-wide banquet?
17 Today farsighted men of affairs are afraid that by the end of this century or shortly thereafter the earth will become filled with more people than it can provide for. Therefore, they believe that the population growth will have to be controlled and held down to a certain maximum for each generation. However, Jehovah God, who has prophesied a banquet for all the peoples, has no such fears. When he created the first man and woman and put them in the Paradise garden of Eden he told them to have many children and fill the earth, at the same time subduing it (not ruining it) and having domination over all the lower forms of animal life. (Gen. 1:20-28) The earth has never yet been filled with creatures to the extent that Jehovah God had in mind when talking to Adam and Eve. But the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ will see to it that the earth is filled with human creatures in God’s image and likeness and that the earth is everywhere subdued for the good of man and beast. To this end Almighty God has purposed for even the dead people in the graves to attend the earth-wide banquet.
18, 19. How is there, as it were, an envelopment over all the peoples, and a woven work upon all the nations?
18 Immediately after announcing the banquet God inspired his prophet Isaiah to add: “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.”—Isa. 25:7, 8.
19 In order that there may be unbounded, unmixed joy at God’s banquet for all peoples, is there not a need for God to do this? Is there not something that envelops all the peoples like a gloom out of which they can find no way of escape to brighter conditions and freer, enlightened movement? Is there not something woven, some web, that has been interwoven upon all the nations that keeps them from seeing clearly, that blocks their clear, unhindered vision of God, that prevents their having his full favor, that spreads itself like a condemnation over them, like a death shroud? The confused, perplexed, alarmed, unhappy, hopeless state of all peoples and nations today answers Yes.
20. How will God swallow up these things ‘’in this mountain”?
20 The Most High God looks down from above upon the face of this envelopment over all the peoples. He has purposed to remove it according to his promise to bless all the families of the earth. “In this mountain,” that is to say, by means of his kingdom on the heavenly Mount Zion, he will swallow up this bedarkening thing, this interference which prevents the light of his glorious truth from shining through and making men free. (John 8:32; 2 Cor. 6:14-16; 4:4-6) He will swallow up this web work of condemnation that has spread itself over all the nations because of inborn sin, inherited from our disobedient first parents. He has made ample provision for lifting this condemnation by the sin-removing sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ now the King. (John 1:29, 36) What a relief that will be to all who live to see it come in!
21. For whose benefit will all this be, and what is God obliged to do to make good his prophetic promise of Isaiah 25:8?
21 However, the benefit of this will not be for only the living. It will be also for the billions of dead mankind. How would God “swallow up death forever” if he left death that we inherited from sinner Adam reigning over all its victims? How would God “wipe the tears from all faces” if he left people bereaved of their relatives and other loved ones by that great enemy Death? For God to make good his prophetic promise he must raise the dead, without fear of overcrowding the earth. In view of his wisdom and power the earth will not become too crowded by resurrecting the dead.
22, 23. (a) Because of Paul’s quotation from Isaiah 25:8, does this promise apply only to the 144,000? (b) Where else also is part of that prophecy quoted, in what context, and to give what guarantee?
22 The swallowing up of death forever will not be confined to the 144,000 joint heirs who inherit the heavenly kingdom with Jesus Christ and to whom first the apostle Paul applied the glorious prophecy, in 1 Corinthians 15:54. More than these 144,000 who are redeemed from the earth have died or yet die. If death is to be swallowed up forever it must be wiped out with regard to all the rest of mankind, and it will be. In the very last book of the Bible, Revelation, in its second-last chapter Re 21:4, part of Isaiah’s prophecy is quoted. Why? To give us a final guarantee of the resurrection of the dead. In the Revelation the apostle John sees the heavenly kingdom of God coming into full power over the earth and transforming earthly conditions, producing a “new earth.”
23 Then John hears a voice from God’s throne quote Isaiah’s prophecy and say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:1-4; Isa. 25:8) On the basis of this the dead will be able to receive and accept God’s invitation to the rich banquet.
24. What thing, now being suffered from their enemies, will then be taken away from Jehovah’s people? And why?
24 What will then be the attitude of the peoples toward God? What will their attitude then be toward God’s people? Today those believers who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God through his Son Jesus Christ have many enemies throughout the earth and are reproached by these. The public records and court records are full of cases of the persecution against Jehovah’s witnesses. Jesus Christ himself foretold that it would be so; he himself as Jehovah’s chief witness was reproached and cruelly put to death by the religious leaders of his day. (Matt. 24:9; 10:22, 23, 34-36) But at the time of the banquet for all the peoples, the living and the dead, there will be a change. Isaiah 25:8 shows the result of Jehovah’s doing all these loving things for mankind, by adding: “And the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for Jehovah himself has spoken it.” Jehovah will indeed vindicate his witnesses and prove himself to be the true God.
25, 26. According to Isaiah 25:9 with whom will the people then be satisfied, and in what shall we yet rejoice?
25 Happy and fully satisfied will be all those who have dedicated themselves to him to be his people, his witnesses. The next verse of the prophecy assures us of this, saying: “And in that day one will certainly say: ‘Look! This is our God. We have hoped in him, and he will save us. This is Jehovah. We have hoped in him. Let us be joyful and rejoice in the salvation by him.’”—Isa. 25:9.
26 Is this not the kind of God that all right-minded, appreciative people will want? Is this not the kind of God in whom to hope? He will never disappoint or shatter our hopes, if we wait for him to make good his Word. We can already rejoice in his provisions for our everlasting salvation. Unable to keep the present benefits thereof to ourselves, we are eager to share our joy with others. We shall yet rejoice in our everlasting complete salvation by him through his reigning King, Jesus Christ.
ALL INTERFERERS REMOVED FOREVER
27, 28. (a) What is the great interference from which we must yet be saved? (b) Of what is the nation of Moab used as a symbol here, and what does Isaiah 25:10-12 say about it?
27 At present there is a great interference to the full realization of this banquet for all the peoples. This interference must be taken away; we must yet be saved from it. Do we see what that interference is? It is the oppressive, ungodly organization of man’s greatest living enemy, Satan the Devil. This organization must yet be destroyed. The visible part of it must be violently removed from the earth, for the earth belongs to God the Creator and is the realm of his kingdom. The full removal of that visible organization is prophesied under symbols in Isaiah, chapter twenty-five. In the prophet’s day the nation of Moab was part of the Devil’s visible organization and acted devilishly. At times the prophet’s own people had suffered at Moab’s hands, and it came to be one of the conspirators against Jehovah’s people. (Ps. 83:2-8) Using Moab as a symbol of the Devil’s earthly political organization, Isaiah 25:10-12 goes on to say:
28 “For the hand of Jehovah will settle down on this mountain, and Moab must be trodden down in its place as when a straw heap is trodden down in a manure place. And he must slap out his hands in the midst of it as when a swimmer slaps them out to swim, and he must abase its haughtiness with the tricky movements of his hands. And the fortified city, with your high walls of security, he must lay low; he must abase it, bring it into contact with the earth, to the dust.”
29. (a) Where will Jehovah’s hand settle down, and for what purpose? (b) Like whom will Jehovah slap out his hands, by what means, and with what effect?
29 In fulfillment of that prophecy, in “this mountain,” that is to say, in the heavenly Mount Zion, the hand of Jehovah of armies will settle down and exert its power, to do away with those on earth who would interfere with his announced banquet. In his capacity as the “Lord of sabaoth,” or “Jehovah of armies,” he has at hand powerful executional forces under the command of his Son Jesus Christ the King. Under these the visible political organization of Satan the Devil, symbolized by the nation of Moab, will be trodden down, crushed, just as a “straw heap is trodden down in a manure place.” By such executional armies Jehovah of armies will deal destructive blows at the Devil’s visible political organization, just as when a swimmer in ancient times slapped the water with succeeding strokes. Its fortified protective places with (as it were) “high walls of security” will be beaten down and laid low in the dust, never to be rebuilt again.
30, 31. (a) But what first must be destroyed on earth and how was it anciently symbolized? (b) What, therefore, is the “city” prophetically spoken of in Isaiah 25:1-5?
30 Thus the Devil’s visible political organization will be knocked off its haughty perch. But first Babylon the Great, which is the world empire of false Babylonish religion, will be brought down to everlasting ruin. (Rev. 17:1-18) The religious empire of Babylon the Great was foreshadowed by the ancient city on the banks of the Euphrates River, Babylon, which was outstandingly the enemy city in the history of ancient Israel. She was the great oppressor of Jehovah’s people. In the year 607 B.C.E. she destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its temple to Jehovah and deported the surviving Israelites to the distant territory of Babylon. There she held them in slavery until the Persian conqueror, Cyrus the Great, released them in 537 B.C.E., after he had overthrown Babylon as a world power. So no city matches better the unnamed city spoken of in the opening verses of Isaiah, chapter twenty-five, than does Babylon the Great, the oppressive, tyrannical world empire of false religion. Jehovah destroys her. Hence Isaiah says:
31 “O Jehovah, you are my God. I exalt you, I laud your name, for you have done wonderful things, counsels [of Jehovah] from early times, in faithfulness, in trustworthiness. For you have made a city a pile of stones, a fortified town a crumbling ruin, a dwelling tower of strangers to be no city, which will not be rebuilt even to time indefinite. That is why those who are a strong people will glorify you; the town of the tyrannical nations, they will fear you. [Why?] For you have become a stronghold to the lowly one, a stronghold to the poor one in the distress that he has, a refuge from the rainstorm, a shade from the heat, when the blast of the tyrannical ones is like a rainstorm against a wall. Like the heat in a waterless country, the noise of strangers [the invading conquerors] you subdue, the heat with the shadow of a cloud. The melody itself of the tyrannical ones becomes suppressed.”—Isa. 25:1-5.
32. What will the surviving eyewitnesses of the fulfillment of that prophecy do, and how will Jehovah God then rule?
32 When these religious and political oppressors of Jehovah’s people are destroyed, the eyewitnesses on earth will exalt Jehovah still more enthusiastically as their God. They will laud his name because of his having fulfilled their hopes and having saved them. (Isa. 25:1, 9) There will thus be on earth no more people who interfere with his purpose to spread a banquet of rich things to eat and drink for all the peoples. Jehovah of armies will rule as triumphant King in the heavenly Jerusalem on the heavenly Mount Zion, without a rival on earth. He will have put all the enemies of his anointed Jesus Christ as a stool for his feet, by the utter destruction of them.—Ps. 110:1-6; Isa. 24:23.
33. (a) What will Jehovah then make in “this mountain,” and who will enjoy it? (b) Hence how can we be happy today?
33 Then by means of his reigning Son, Jesus Christ, who is the “Bread of Life,” Jehovah will make in the mountain of His kingdom this long-promised banquet for all the peoples. The living survivors of the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon will enjoy it, and also the billions of the human dead who will be resurrected. Surely the appreciative ones will then accept God’s gracious invitation to the banquet and will eat and drink to life eternal. Happy are we today if we spread this good news everywhere!