Have you ever been to an elaborate feast that of any kind?
In the Old Testament, the feasts were an event designed to celebrate the relationship between God and man. There were many different types of feasts, but they all were created for great pleasure and enjoyment for the individual and families. They were to partake heartily of the gifts that were offered; freedom, debt’s removed, extraordinary favor was bestowed on the poor and needy from those had plenty, and most of all to honor the well-being of all the guests. Wow! I’m in, what about you? Well, I would like to venture together on to the scene of a sovereign ruler who had prepared a beautiful wedding feast in honor of his cherished son, only one problem remained, everyone that was invited did not come. (Mathew 22:1-13) They chose to go about their busy lives and had no interest in feasting at the ruler’s table any longer. He became very angry and sent his servants to destroy their cities. So the father sent his servants out again to the cities to invite all they could find to come to the banquet table, because it was ready to feast upon and receive. They gathered everyone they came across and brought them to the King’s table. The wedding hall was now filled to capacity. As the monarch entered the banquet hall and noticed all of his guests, he realized there was someone without a wedding garment. He could not believe his eyes for no one dare enter his presence without the adorned beauty of the wedding garment. He called for his servants to take him away out into the darkness.
In this parable, the King represents God Almighty and the son embodies Jesus Christ. The affluent wedding guests initially invited stands for those who know Jesus but simply “do not have the time” in their busy lives to come and partake of this beautiful friendship. And lastly, the one who entered without his wedding garment symbolizes those of us who simply will never be able to feast on high, in rest, with Jesus because we deem ourselves unworthy to the call. The father was a sovereign ruler who went to exorbitant lengths to plan an elaborate wedding feast for his beloved son. He treasured him with all of his heart and wanted everyone in the land to draw close and fellowship with his son on this most joyous occasion. He longed for the people to celebrate his son and wanted to lavish his guests with the best of everything but they simply did not understand the art of receiving from the king. Our Father has moved heaven and earth to bring forth his beloved Son at the perfect time so all of humanity could continually enjoy celebrating the life of Jesus in us.
Jesus’ desire is that everyone come to his table and receive all these great and glorious gifts that he has waiting for us on high through his completed work. But God knows the heart of man and like the guests who were swept away by the fulfillment of things (like the rich young ruler) and excessive busyness so it is with his children. We believe our time is precious and tasks must be accomplished, we certainly do not have a moment to dwell with the our Lord, it is way to costly. So life quickly begins to progress and we have completely forgotten our number one priority, which will always be getting to experience the Son of Man. What about the one who came in his old ragged clothes? Do you know in the depths of your being that the only place to truly fellowship with Christ Jesus and receive from his Finished Work, is in the beauty of his holiness? This man believed he would never be worthy enough to stand in the presence of the King and therefore did not know how to remove his old filthy rags. In the early centuries, while intricate celebrations occurred, to enter the banquet hall, the monarch’s guest were required to wear a wedding garment, a robe or article of clothing adorned with great beauty, given by the ruler of the land. That is the key, we will never be worthy enough, no matter how hard we try to do, but thanks be to God who gives us that adorned beauty through the offering of Christ Jesus, so that we will forevermore “be” worthy in the sight of our Sovereign ruler and reign on high. Hallelujah! So the wedding attire symbolizes the robe of righteousness that we have been graced with in Jesus name. The father desperately wanted the guests to feel equally important as his son on this grand occasion, certainly not undeserving. So it is with God, we can enter the kingdom and accept Jesus into our hearts but never, ever reach the high places without fully experiencing the beauty of our righteousness, our new life from the inside out. This is why Isaiah 61:10 states, “I will rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Do you remember your wedding day, or have you forgotten that great celebration or maybe it is about to occur? Duane’s face was aglow the minute he laid eyes on me not just because of my engaging Wedding gown (even with the flies stuck inside the layers of the netting within my dress and veil, which was quite humorous) but the inner radiant beauty he knew had captured his heart a year earlier. After all, this was the Almighty’s desire that we begin anew knitting our hearts together as one in Christ Jesus. Amen!
Our righteousness (worthiness) is referred to as a the embellished couple on their wedding day. This is the inner radiant glow of grace and beauty that the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus roots in us. Psalm 34:5 tells us, “Those who look to him are radiant, their faces will never be ashamed.” We now have a morally right character, a changed heart but we are to walk in that embodiment and allow it to exude from our countenance as we increasingly fellowship with Jesus. We are alive and made new and we celebrate daily with shouts of joy and dancing from the rooftops so that the world may come and feast at the Almighty’s table with us. When we truly walk in this manner of righteousness in Christ it is for others to behold a sincere change of heart, ultimately so God will receive the glory of our lives. In Mathew 5:20, Jesus is telling his disciples, to feast with Christ, their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. They took pride in what they accomplished, so that others would take notice. The kingdom of God takes place from the inside out because it produces a changed heart and new motivations in life, which springs forth the recognition of celebrating our worthiness in Christ Jesus.
If we lived in our unworthiness and unrighteousness mode it would be like a potter leaving something unfinished upon the wheel, never really taking the time or desiring to complete the task, just passing it by. Eventually it would get in the way of everything she did in the studio and her life because it would constantly be occupying her thoughts with why she had not completed it, and it would never have the privilege of becoming a beautiful masterpiece for others to see. When we do not fully clothe ourselves in the garment of righteousness our inner man will live in the destruction of utter darkness and prevent us from living in the beauty of his holiness. Praise the Lord he has fashioned us through his work to wear a new glorious adornment in life, our worthiness, all that is needed to come and receive on high. That is why Christ experienced the tremendous weight of this journey to the cross and on the cross, so we could live freely and fully alive on the other side of the cross. Which one of the guests are you, the one who was too busy to fellowship with the son or the one who deemed himself unworthy to fellowship?
Haggai was a prophet called by God to help restore his living sanctuary, his very presence, back into the hearts and lives of the Israelites during the reign of King Darius around 520 A.D. Haggai’s name means “Festal restorer”, in other words God had placed Haggai at the perfect time with his people to joyously revive and stir a lost vigor into their spirit man and return their heart’s desire back toward their Master and King, God Almighty. Building the temple was to take precedence over restoring their own homes. One of the groups had just come back from exile and was elated about being home again and starting their lives over. Had they already forgotten their true purpose for returning? What about you? Do you know deep within you heart your true purpose for being here? Well, God had instructed the Israelites to take heed to his presence first, the true calling of their heart, which was the reassembling of his Holy Temple. They had begun the task of rebuilding the temple for about a year after their return from exile but quickly lost their passion and became diverted with their own agenda. Has that ever happened to you? Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Guard (keep watch by day and night) your heart with all vigilance (alertness) for out of it flows the springs of life.” Take care to let your relationship with Jesus permeate above all else your inner condition, so that his Spirit can freely flow out from our lives; through his beauty, power, goodness, favor, honor, righteousness, love, and kindness, etc. So because of their self-effort, harden emotions and complacency toward the Father’s heart, Haggai sent a message telling the people that God would send a drought to the land, so that their produce would not grow, and their vats would be empty. Do you think that was enough to capture their attention? What about you? When a dry spell hits your life, like a ton of bricks which way do you go?
Well, in my house we have a fun song that we sing, “When your in a situation, turn right, turn right!” That means head deeper into the mighty presence of Jesus, do not go toward the outward man like we seem to have a tendency to do and that’s exactly what the Israelites did. James 1:24-25 states, “He who looks at himself in the mirror and goes away and at once forgets, what he was like. But he who looks into the perfect law (which is Jesus), the law of liberty and perseveres (in for the duration) being no hearer but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in all his doing.” Christ is the only mirror image we are to reflect, the perfect law of freedom, righteousness and worthiness receiving from on high, who transforms and not conforms to man and his diversions. Many believers have spent a lifetime deviating from their true path in Jesus Christ; Trying to fix up our homes perfectly, producing kids that are in perfect working order and have the best of everything, making the most money can buy only to pour it back into something other than building God’s kingdom. (That is way too exhausting and zaps the life out of you)
Somewhere along the way, we have been taught that we cannot, we must not detour off the course “we have planned” for our lives. All the while our very spirit, our heart’s desire to find rest of some kind is slowly moving toward decay. “If I could just do one more thing, then I can settle down into Jesus, getting back into reestablishing his kingdom within my heart.” Sound familiar? That was me for many years, but how long does it take to get to the end of a lollipop? Well, for me about the time I was truly willing to come to the end of myself, only to allow Jesus to have my whole heart with no strings attached and no more finagling a way out, so ultimately he could take me to the heights of heaven. Fellow heirs, it is a new day dawning, and now is the time to receive! As the end of Mathew 22:14 states, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Jesus simply means many will come willingly in to the kingdom, but few will heed to the call of laying all aside to hunger and thirst to know his name forevermore. Thanks be to the living God who is more than able to take our heart of stone and complacency and turn it in to a “heart of flesh” for his Kingdom. (softening toward our Lord) That is exactly what he did for the Israelites. Haggai brought a festive celebration back in to their hearts again as God restored their land and made his presence known throughout the ends of the earth. With great fervor, the Israelites completed the Temple five years later.
About twelve years ago when we went into full time ministry, I had to reevaluate my relationship with Jesus; was it based solely on my outward appearance, or did I possess a true inward change? I desired to play the role and dress the part perfectly, with the way that I looked, organized my home and customized my children and spouse, that was priority to me. “Get to work”, I told myself. The busier I became the further I ran away from feasting at the King’s table. There was just not enough time in the day to recline with my Jesus. “Help, murder, police, someone has stolen away my true identity, and how do I find it again amongst all this rubble?” My wayward soul desperately needed to be festively restored. Just as Haggai came for the Israelites, Jesus came to my rescue and I began anew, this time for good, he stirred and prodded my inner man until my primary concern everyday was celebrating my relationship with him and partaking mightily from his goodness on high.
“All things are ready come to the feast,
Come for the table now is spread,
Ye famishing, ye weary come,
And thou shalt be richly fed.” – (Hymn by Fannie Crosby)