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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 5

The Great Supper

Thus far we have set forth a number of scriptural principles with respect to God’s dealings with man. We have shown those principles at work specifically in two groups of people: those who lived from Adam to Noah and also in the nation of Israel. In each case there was an extended day of opportunity followed by a countdown to certain judgment ... “sudden death overtime.” Each era ended with a very tiny minority saved and judgment falling upon the rest.

The overriding principle at work was declared by God in Gen. 6:3. “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” The opportunity that God in His grace has given to rebellious and sinful man is not an unlimited one. There comes a of day reckoning. There comes a time when the door of salvation, once opened wide, is closed and closed forever.

Man cannot be saved when he wants to. He must come when God calls or remain lost. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44.

Picture lost man as someone in a river moving rapidly towards a waterfall. The man has no hope of avoiding certain death apart from a miracle. Suppose then that a hand is extended to him. He is informed of his predicament and offered rescue. Everything depends on whether or not he commits himself fully and unreservedly to that extended hand. If he fails to do so and that hand is withdrawn then what hope does he have? His fate is sealed. The mercy of God is not to be trifled with. Heb. 2:3 says, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.”

There came a day when Noah and his family were shut in the ark and the world outside was left to its chosen fate. There came a time when the church was warned to flee Jerusalem and its inhabitants were left to the awful judgment of which Jesus had spoken years before. Luke 21:20-24. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb. 10:31.

God’s Great Plan

As we indicated earlier, God has been faithfully carrying out His great plan of salvation throughout the ages, in spite of the general darkness and unbelief. It is a plan He will complete. The very center of His plan is “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” I Cor. 2:2. What He accomplished through His death is all that is needed to bring many sons to glory, completely fulfilling His Father’s plan.

We have shown how God called Abraham and then dealt with the nation of Israel over many centuries for the sake of the tiny remnant of true believers therein. Isaiah 1:9. We saw something of their role in laying the groundwork for the kingdom Jesus established on the Day of Pentecost. The young church grew rapidly as God moved in great power to “harvest” the Jewish remnant.

It was God’s intention to establish a kingdom that was neither Jewish nor Gentile but reached out to people of every nation under heaven. This was a difficult thing for some in the early church to grasp. They were accustomed to thinking of God as “Israel’s God” and of Moses’ law as the key to serving him. As the Lord began to reach out and save Gentiles some of the Jewish believers felt strongly that salvation was not just believing in Christ but also keeping Moses’ law.

This issue became such a problem that the apostles and elders gathered in Jerusalem to consider it. We find the account of this conference in Acts 15. First, Peter recounted his experience in being sent of God to the household of Cornelius. He told how God had purified their hearts by faith, giving them the Holy Ghost on that basis alone. Then Paul and Barnabas reported their experiences of how God had mightily used them to carry the gospel to the Gentiles.

Then James took the lead. He referred to what Peter had said in these words: “God...did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” Acts 15:14. Then he referred to the prophets as prophesying that that very thing would happen. Specifically he quotes from Amos 9:11-12. This is only one of many prophetic passages in which God promised that He would reach out to the whole world.

In Amos 9, using the language of type and symbol, God promised to restore the “tabernacle of David” that had fallen into ruin. The purpose of this restoration, as quoted by James, was “that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Acts 15:17-18.

The tabernacle of David had been, for a short time, a center of genuine worship of God. I Chron. 16. However, the worship established by David had long since been abandoned by apostate Israel. They worshipped with their lips while their hearts were far from God. Matt. 15:8. Isaiah 29:13. Christ came to raise up true worshippers who would worship God in spirit and in truth. John 4:24.

All Things Are Now Ready

In Luke 14, Jesus gives us a picture of the gospel outreach in this present age in parable form. In this parable there is a great supper prepared and the focus is on three different groups of people who are invited.

The supper itself is God’s provision for man’s salvation. It is significant that the man said, “Come, for all things are now ready.” Luke 14:17. What a wonderful word! Just before Jesus died he declared, “It is finished.” John 19:30. Nothing is lacking in God’s provision for us. It is perfect! Nothing was left out that was necessary to fully save those who repent and trust Christ. We are complete in him. Col. 2:10.

Notice that the first group mentioned had already been invited before the feast was ready. Who do you suppose they were? Israel! God’s invitation had been extended to them for hundreds of years through the prophets. However, when the days of preparation were over and the time actually came, the nation as a whole wasn’t interested. As Jesus put it, “...they all with one consent began to make excuse.” Luke 14:18.

Notice God’s response: “None of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” Obviously this pronouncement was directed at those who had rejected Him and not at the true remnant. The invitation was withdrawn. God was through with Israel as a nation. Notice that in the parable the man never reissued His invitation to this first group. There continued to be a “remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5) who were redeemed from the vain traditions of their fathers, (I Peter 1:18) but Israel’s day was past, their opportunity gone forever.

The next instruction to the servants was, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” Luke 14:21. This pictures the preaching of the gospel during an extended day of opportunity during this present age. Notice the kind of people who are invited. Only people who can be made to feel their need of God are candidates for salvation. Matt. 5:3. Luke 4:18-19. Mark 2:17. At the end of this period of time the servants report that they had done as they had been commanded, “and yet there is room.”

At that point they were instructed to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23. Notice the sense of urgency. Time was short. There was a need to “compel.” This invitation takes place during a relatively short period of time following the general invitation and just before the actual feast. It represents God’s last call. When the feast day came all opportunity was past.

Notice also that in each phase of invitation the servants were sent to different people. God does not go back on bended knee to those who have rejected Him and beg them to reconsider. He will not always strive with men.

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