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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Two Suppers

The differences between the things that are and the things we perceive are probably too great to enumerate.

In North America many of us live in suburbia alongside what appear to be perfectly pleasant, civil human beings. And by the standards of our day they are. Sure, like everyone they have secrets — desires that they wouldn’t express during a family get-together and things they have done about which nobody is aware — but by and large these are pretty normal, civic-minded, responsible individuals.

Have they sold their souls to Satan? We would say it’s unlikely, even absurd.

But things are not always as they appear. Revelation 19 contains the account of two very significant dinners. Two great suppers are heralded by two great proclamations, but the differences are considerable. I guarantee that the folks who participate in the latter feast never imagined they would end up there.

The First Proclamation

The first proclamation goes like this:
“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
     Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
  for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
     and his Bride has made herself ready;
  it was granted her to clothe herself
     with fine linen, bright and pure’—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ ”
Note that this is a proclamation about an event. It is not an invitation. The invitations to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb are currently in circulation, as they have been for the past 2,000 years. By the time this supper is publicly proclaimed, there will be no seats available. There will be no party crashers.

The Second Proclamation

But there is a second proclamation in Revelation 19:
“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead,

‘Come, gather for the great supper of God,
     to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains,
  the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders,
     and the flesh of all men, both free and slave,
  both small and great.’

And I saw … armies gathered to make war … and the rest [the armies and the kings of the earth; everyone except the beast and the false prophet] were slain … and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”
This supper is grisly beyond words. I cannot imagine that anybody who will end up as carrion on the plains outside of Jerusalem actively and intelligently chooses his or her fate. Nobody gets up in the morning, brushes their teeth and says, “I’d like to serve Satan and be violently exterminated by the returning Christ”.

Nobody.

Into the Abyss by Increments

No, such choices are incremental. Each step into the abyss seems perfectly reasonable at the time it is taken.

What can we say about such things? We decide between Ford and Honda, between Eddie Bauer and Levis, between chocolate and vanilla dip. We take the decisions that seem sensible at the time given the information that we have. We do not often think about life and death. We do not generally think in terms of principalities and powers.

I don’t know which generation it will be, but there will be a generation, probably soon, that thinks itself perfectly average; that makes decisions on the basis of what appears expedient and reasonable. What will appear reasonable to that generation is going to war on behalf of the beast. After all, what other option is open to those whose considerations are first and foremost pragmatic?

And that generation will find itself at a supper it did not anticipate.

Likewise, there are those perfectly normal North American suburbanites who recognize there is something beyond the everyday commercialized pseudo-reality painted for them by the media. Who look for something true, honest and faithful in the middle of faux-everything. Who heed the opportunity afforded by the present Day of Grace, grab on to that which is eternal and substantial and hold on for dear life. These folks do not necessarily have a crystal clear picture of their future glory with Christ to guide them. The details of the marriage supper, after all, are hardly spelled out for us. The choice before them is not obvious to the senses or to the mind of the natural man. Rather, by faith they perceive that which is invisible to the world around them.

The “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” do not stand up and announce their presence for us.

That’s one reason so many are lost.

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