St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

An Old Testament Picture Of Heaven

Sermon on Isaiah 25:6-9

Text: 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 and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 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. The LORD has spoken.
9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

What do you think heaven will be like? Do you have a picture of what heaven is like? How would you describe it to someone else? I suppose how we would describe heaven to someone else would depend, at least in part, on the age of the person we are talking to. What would seem pleasant to a five-year-old might not exactly be what would be pleasing for a fifty-year-old. I think that we all have a picture of heaven in our minds, but sometimes find it difficult to describe it to others. God, in his great love for us, gives us some very beautiful pictures of heaven in his Word. Normally, when we think of descriptions of heaven in the Bible, we think of the New Testament, especially those found in the book of Revelation. However, there are some very beautiful descriptions of heaven in the Old Testament, as well. This morning we are going to look at one of them as we study this portion of God’s Word. As we study this OLD TESTAMENT PICTURE OF HEAVEN, we will SEE 1. Some Things Will Be Taken From Us and that 2. We Will Be Thankful For Their Loss.

Isaiah wrote the words of our text on the background of victory for God’s people. He spoke of the destruction of all of the nations that opposed God’s people. God would champion his people to victory over all of the evil that stood in opposition to them. After that pronouncement, we find the words of our text, which speak of the joy and bliss that wait for God’s children.

Isaiah, first of all, describes heaven as a great feast. He speaks of “a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine — the best of meats and the finest of wines.” (Verse six) Isaiah, then, goes into great detail about the lavishness of the meal that is set before us. There are no cheap meats or poor quality wines. These are the best foods that are available. Nothing has been held back in reserve. Only the finest of food and drink is served at this feast. Whether or not, we will actually eat and drink in heaven is open to debate. Yet, Isaiah uses this picture so that our frail human understanding can at least partially comprehend the riches that we will enjoy in heaven.

There will be some things that will be taken from us, but we will not miss them. It says in verse eight, “The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces.” We certainly face enough sorrows in our lives. Sometimes, there is one problem after another. Things don’t go right, no matter how hard we try. We face loss, heartache and sorrow. Little children cry over many things, some of which may seem minor to us. Yet, when they feel the loss of something, they cry about it. As we get older, we may be able to control our tears a little more, but we do not lose the sadness that we feel. How we long for that day when we will feel absolutely no sadness. God tells us that there will be no sadness in heaven. Every tear will be wiped from our faces. We will only experience the joy and happiness that comes from leaving this world of sin and sorrow.

Our text also tells us in verse eight that God, “will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.” This mainly refers to the disgrace that God’s people feel, because they are God’s people. When people make fun of us because of our faith, it is difficult for us to handle. Sometimes we want to shrink back and not let the rest of the world know that we are Christians. This, however, is not what God wants us to do. Jesus tells us, “Let your light shine before others.” Don’t hide the fact that you are a Christian. Let others know how you feel about those things and situations that offend your faith. To give us encouragement, God tells us that he will remove all the disgrace that we feel here on this earth, because we are Christians. The Lord is more than able to compensate for any loss that we may face because we are Christians.

God also tells us in verse eight, “He will swallow up death forever.” There will be no more death. Death is not natural. God did not create man to die. However, when sin entered the world, so did death. In heaven, there will be no more sin. We will be holy. Here on this earth, death causes a great deal of pain, even for those who are Christians. We know that believers go to heaven and that their fight on this sinful earth is over. We praise God for having given that person a saving faith. Yet, we who are left behind feel a sense of loss. In heaven, we will never have to feel that sense of loss ever again, because death will no longer have any power over us. How we long for that time.

God tells us that all the evil and bad things in this world will be taken from us, when we get to heaven. We will only experience good things as this picture of this rich feast shows us. Yet, as wonderful as the loss of all of these evil things in life will be, we will receive something even more wonderful. We will be in God’s presence forever.

Isaiah gives an example of a song of praise to our God in verse nine, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” We sing a song of praise to God for our salvation. We praise our God that he has saved us from our sins and the certain, eternal death in hell that we earned for ourselves. We thank God that he loved the unlovable and sent Jesus into this world to suffer and die on the cross to pay for all of our sins. We praise him for coming back to life on that first Easter. We thank him for sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts to create a saving faith in our hearts. Right now, we only partially realize the fullness of our salvation. We haven’t yet felt the full joy and peace that will be ours in heaven. Our lives will be ones of praise and joy in heaven.

Our lives will also be ones of complete service to the Lord, the kind of service that he desires. In our lives here on this earth, we try to live lives that are pleasing to God out of thankfulness for all that he has done for us. Yet, so often, we fall short of the goal of living a life of service to the Lord. Our sinful nature gains the upper hand, at times, and we fall into sin. We try hard, but we so often fail. There in heaven we will finally be able to serve our God as he should be served. We will finally be able to completely live a life of thanksgiving to God for all that he has done for us.

This is an Old Testament description of heaven. There are some people who say that the Old Testament believers did not have a full understanding of spiritual things. Yet, as we read more and more of the Bible, we see very clearly the many similarities that are found in the descriptions in the Old and New Testaments. For example, many of the descriptions that are found here match those found in Revelation. Revelation 21:4 tells us, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” We also find in Revelation 19:9, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.” We praise our God for giving us his Bible, which is full of pictures of the heaven that he has prepared for us. The more that we read our Bible, the more we grow in our faith and look forward to being in heaven.

We are invited to this feast that God has prepared for us. Let us not act like those who were invited to the feast in our Gospel Lesson. Those people refused to accept the invitation that was given to them, choosing to do something else. They didn’t feel any appreciation for what was offered to them. As a result, they lost their chance. Dear friends, keep the goal of heaven in front of you. You cannot earn heaven. Jesus already did that for you. Don’t take the invitation for granted. God gives you this invitation freely, out of love for you. We thank God for this gracious invitation to this wonderful feast.

Sometime ago, I ran across the story of a father and a son, who were traveling west by train. As night fell, these two were treated to a most beautiful sunset. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon, the boy was so impressed by what he saw that he exclaimed, “Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, how wonderful the right side must be.” God has given us many beautiful vistas here. Yet, they pale in comparison to the beauties of heaven. Every time we see something beautiful in creation, we are reminded of the beauties of heaven. We thank God for the many wonderful descriptions of heaven that he has given us. We know that it will exceed anything that we can even imagine. How we long to experience them all. May God keep us as we journey each day one step closer to the home that he has prepared for us. As the hymnist wrote, “I’m but a stranger here. Heaven is my home.” Amen.