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A Banquet to Remember

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09/09/2009 A Banquet to Remember Knox 16 PC

371/691/682 Psalm 31 Isaiah 25:6-9 John 6:53-58

OOPS! An antique Chinese bottle was sold in 1974 for 420,000 pounds—just over a million dollars. Sotheby’s the auctioneers, said it was a world-record price for any work of art other than a painting. The 16-inch-high bottle, dating from about 1400 in the early Ming period, was sent for sale anonymously and was bought by a London dealer. Only three bottles of the type are recorded as having survived, experts say.  
  UGH! The banquet scenes we have here on earth represent greed and gluttony. Take for example, the French Revolution of the 18th century. What were the famous words quoted by the Queen of that day? In response to the needs of the poor and needy all around them this lady had the audacity to say let them eat cake.
The indulgences of the royalty was beyond all comprehension and imagining. It is said that a table once owned by Louis XVI was sold recently for over $400,000. Wine would have been drunk out of golden goblets. If they were on the cheap, they would only be made of silver. The small percentage of one to 3% of people in the nation held all of the money and real estate and anything else of any value of all. The enemies here are those of gluttony and greed.  
  It is lived out for us today in modern 21st-century Canada in the Ponzi schemes of financial gurus. Approximately 3% of the population of this country make over $100,000 a year. The vast majority of those people make a lot more than $100,000. The rest of us are getting by.
There are many things to turn the heads of Christians. These are the things that Jesus tells us to beware of. There are many things that we do not need to taste any longer, because we know they are of no value at all. How do we know that? Because when we have tasted of the Lord, we know there is nothing better than him. The wealth of the world cannot compare to the coming banquet of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  
  The emperor Nero revelled in earthly possessions and set his heart upon them. From his splendid throne as the ruler of the Roman Empire, he commanded that gorgeous porches a mile long be built around the palace. The ceiling of his banquet hall was equipped at great expense with hidden showers that lightly sprayed perfume upon all who came to visit him. His crown was worth a half million dollars, and his mules were shod with silver. Whenever he travelled, a thousand chariots accompanied him, and he refused to wear the same garment twice no matter how costly and beautiful it was.
Taxing the people unmercifully, he was able to pay extravagant sums of money to anyone who could devise new methods of entertaining him. Yet with all his riches and splendour he was a peevish, gloomy, dissatisfied man. The immense wealth he had amassed could not satisfy his soul. Not being rich toward God, he committed suicide.  
  AHA! He has taken me to the banqueting hall, and His banner over me is love. Song of Songs 2:4. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. The table referred to here by David is the full pasture lands or range and a huge mountainous range. A place where enemies would find it hard to come up into and get to you. It is a place that has been researched well by God and prepared especially for you and me. Here we find safety, provision, and the presence of the living God.
WHEE! In one of the first anniversaries that we had as a couple we went to have dinner in the restaurant at the top of the CN tower. It was luxurious. And in the course of one hour of sitting there eating, the restaurant would revolve 360̊. It was a wonderful sight to see all of Toronto and the surrounding area there before us. Back then it only cost us about $100. But what is that compared to the one who says he will provide for all of your needs out of the richness of his glory?  
  Once a young boy had a favourite pastime of hunting frogs along the banks of a pond near his home. While stalking those frogs, he was unaware of their unique visual powers which enabled them to elude him so easily. Later he learned that the frog's optical field of perception is like a blackboard wiped clean, and that the only images it receives are objects that directly concern him--such as his natural enemies or the food he needs for survival. Therefore, these amphibious little creatures are never distracted by unimportant things, but are aware only of the essentials and whatever may be dangerous to them.
Though these "mesas" may have been remote and hard to reach, the energetic and aggressive sheep owner takes the time and trouble to ready them for the arrival of his flocks. Early in the season, even before all the snow has been melted by spring sunshine, he will go ahead and make preliminary survey trips into this rough, wild country. He will look it over with great care, keeping ever in mind its best use for his flock during the coming season.  
  Then just before the sheep arrive he will make another expedition or two to prepare the tableland for them.
He takes along a supply of salt and minerals to be distributed over the range at strategic spots for the benefit of the sheep during the summer. The intelligent, careful manager will also decide well ahead of time where his camps will be located so the sheep have the best bed grounds. He goes over the range carefully to determine how vigorous the grass and upland vegetation is. At this time he decides whether some glades and basins can be used only lightly whereas other slopes and meadows may be grazed more heavily. He will check to see if there are poisonous weeds appearing, and if so, he will plan his grazing program to avoid them, or take drastic steps to eradicate them.  
  The parallel in the Christian life is clear. Like sheep, and especially lambs, we somehow feel that we have to try everything that comes our way. We have to taste this thing and that, sampling everything just to see what it's like. And we may very well know that some things are deadly. They can do us no good. They can be most destructive. Still somehow we give them a whirl anyway.
The Psalmist was to write in Psalm 31. How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.  
  We cannot lose sight of the context of this table even within that one verse five. You anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows. We are going to be talking next week about healing and abundance, fullness of life. That is the context of the table which the lord prepares before our enemies.
How can these trinkets have any long-lasting effect in controlling our lives when we look upon and understand what is the table of the Lord?  
  A minister phoned in his Sunday morning sermon title to the religion editor of the local newspaper. He said, "The topic for my message is, 'The Lord is My Shepherd.'" "Is that all?" asked the editor. Trying to make a spiritual point, the pastor replied, "That's enough!" On Saturday, His topic for the sermon read: "The Lord is My Shepherd - That's Enough!"
The prophet Isaiah was to say to a people struggling with their enemies. On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine, the best of meats the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  
  The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people's disgrace from all the earth. God is bringing all believers of the Earth to this table prepared in the presence of our enemies.
The Good Shepherd talks about making the two sheep folds one. The banquet is made clear in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. He prepared that wonderful feast as he moved out of the safety of that small room where his disciples gathered around the table and as he demonstrated the vision of what the Passover really means.  
   "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, You have no Life in you. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has Eternal Life, and I will raise them up at the Last Day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.
Jesus abides in us and we in him. We are sitting at the banquet table now in faith. In the presence of all our enemies we sit now. Jesus served this great banquet on the cross. He is the Host, he is the Sacrifice, he is the main meal in a spiritual way.  
  Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. Jesus says, this is the bread which came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died but, whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.
What we find in our Shepherd is that we have everything that we need. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Death is the last enemy. Death has been defeated at the cross, at the banquet table of the Lord.  
  YEAH! During World War II an ocean liner left a British port headed for the United States. Enemy subs and cruisers were scattered about, placing the ship in peril as it crossed the Atlantic. The captain was given secret directions charting the route. Added were these instructions: "Keep straight on this course. Turn aside for nothing. If you need help, send a wireless message in code." After a few days out at sea, the crew spotted an enemy cruiser on the horizon. It appeared to be trailing them. The captain immediately sent a coded message: "Enemy cruiser sighted. What shall I do?" The reply: "Keep straight on. I'm standing by." No friendly vessel could be seen, but the captain kept the liner on course until it safely reached the port. Within a short time, a British warship slipped into the same harbor. Although it had been out of sight, it had protected the passenger vessel.
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