“O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” (Isaiah 25:1, ESV)
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”” (Isaiah 25:6–9, ESV)
Each Thanksgiving we gather with our family to feast. A feast can be simply defined as “a meal that is well prepared and greatly enjoyed.” Yet it is so much more than that. When we take a day of rest, like the Sabbath, or a holiday like Thanksgiving, and we stop from our labors to enjoy our blessings, we are taking advantage of a blessed freedom that God has provided. Moses brought this to Israel’s attention.
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15, ESV)
They could rest because they were not slaves anymore! They could enjoy the freedom to take a break from their labor because God had set them free! God was bringing his people from a place of grueling and endless work and meager rations to a land flowing with milk and honey. When we have the opportunity (though unfortunately not all people do) to stop working, to rest, and to feast, we are experiencing blessings from God.
Yet, there is even more going on when we feast. Douglas McKelvey, in his book Every Moment Holy, boldly states, “to gather joyfully is indeed a serious affair, for feasting and all enjoyments gratefully taken are, at their heart, acts of war.” He goes on to describe them as a recognition, for those who believe in Christ, that the suffering, pain, and trouble of this world “will not have the final word,” and that these things we enjoy now are a foretaste of the delights to come. These pleasures will be unending for those of us who will be joining Jesus in paradise eternal.
This then becomes a war taunt against the Devil, Satan, our great foe. It rubs in Satan’s face the victory Jesus won for us as Christ thwarted all the Devil’s temptations, ransomed the whole world from sin with His own precious blood, and conquered death and the grave by His resurrection!
As we, who rejoice in Christ’s victory, take the best food and drink we can muster, letting the aromas waft to our noses, the flavors lingering on our palates, enjoying the sights and sounds, the laughter and the good company, we are tasting a small slice of heaven. It is a veiled glimpse of the Great Banquet that Jesus is preparing for His bride, the Church (see Revelation 19:6-9 and the passage above from Isaiah). It is a victory cheer from the Church in the midst of a tiresome battle, for we know that our Lord Jesus has already won the war!