Proverbs 9: 1-6 (Pentecost 13 – 2015)
“The Feast of Wisdom”
You have been invited to a dinner party. A wonderful variety of food and drink are set out on tables. Look closely: trays of carrots, cucumbers, celery, healthy salads and light meats, low-fat yogurt and cheeses – stuff that is good and good for you. Look closely. Trays and trays of potato chips, cheese and sausage, Cheetos, fattening dips and sauces – stuff that is pleasing and good, but not good for you, especially if eaten excessively. Included are the finest wines, the widest variety beverages, coolers of craft brews … fruit punch, ice cold milk, 100% juices, and pitchers of cool, refreshing water. An invitation for so many things calls for wisdom and self-control.
The Holy Spirit has prepared a wisdom feast. He has prepared a meal of God’s eternal, life-giving Wisdom. He has sent out invitations. In the proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom is personified as the Host of the feast. It is appropriate for us to see Christ, the Word of God, in this personification. Paul reminds us “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God … It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 18, 30).
His Feast is Ready
“Wisdom has built her house. She has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.” The seven pillars are a picture of completeness. Seven is God’s number of complete redemption and his salvation in Christ is the foundational support for all Wisdom. The slaughter of meat and the mixing of wine and the setting of the table also solidify that all things are now ready. There is nothing left undone in the Wisdom of God. There is nothing lacking in his plan to give eternal life in heaven to all who believe in his Son Jesus.
In the Garden of Eden mankind rebelled against God’s Wisdom to follow the feast of the Devil’s folly. Eve looked at forbidden fruit. Adam ogled with her at all the thought of disobedience. Eve was deceived to think that the Devil’s way was the way to gain more wisdom that what God has already given (Genesis 3:6). Adam was with her. In the eating of the forbidden fruit, Wisdom was lost, knowledge of guilt was gained, and fallen mankind began to perceive God’s Wisdom as foolishness.
But even in the Garden, God was graciously preparing his festival of Wisdom. Even there he was setting the table of Salvation. Even there he was dishing up Wisdom that leads to eternal life through his Son Jesus. Since then he continued to mix up the wine of forgiveness, the meat of reconciliation, and the table of heavenly blessings for his people in Christ.
Generation by generation, the recipes of God’s Wisdom were written down in the historical accounts of God’s people and in the prophets of old. Then, one day in time, a Son was born to a peasant woman in a stable. That Son grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor of God and men” (Luke 2: 52). He demonstrated himself to be the Son of God the Wisdom of God made to be a human being with us. He was like us in every way, with the exception that he was without sin and Holy before God (Hebrews 4:15). He fulfilled every aspect of his Father’s Wisdom. Then, to shame the wise, Jesus became the foolishness of God on the cross. Jesus offered his life for the guilt of the world. Jesus fulfilled the promise in the Garden to crush the serpent’s head and to bring spiritual peace between God and his fallen creation. As the final explanation point to the banquet of God’s eternal Wisdom, Jesus shattered the power of death and grave on Easter morning. In celebration of that event his believers rejoice and sing: “This is the Feast of Victory for our God! Alleluia! (CW 265 refrain).
Wisdom Has a Clear Message
“[Wisdom] has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city: ‘Let all who are simple come here!’ ” The feast of Christ as wisdom is ready. The news of this feast goes out in clear invitations!
God has not hid the news of his festival. His preparations were done in full view on the main street of town. He is known by the world. Even those who reject him must acknowledge his raw power and glorious Wisdom. All mankind are “without excuse” (Romans 1: 20). He has given us his Word for our learning. He wrote it down in factual accounts. He wrote on tablets. You can read it on your “tablets.” He sent people to help us hear and understand it. He sent out his “maids.” [Christ] gave some to be apostles and prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service” (Ephesians 4: 11-12). He has not done it in secrete. He has shouted his invitation from the heights of heaven and in plain view to those on earth!
Wisdom invites “Come, eat my food and drink what I have mixed.” The Hebrew simply translated is: “Come, attack, struggle with, this loaf of bread.” Imagine the famished teenager who comes home from school. He doesn’t just eat dinner. He attacks it. He devours it. He relishes in it! Christ offers up this invitation, echoed in our study of John 6 these past few weeks “Come and eat of me. I am the Living bread, that came down from heaven (verse 51-58).”
We pray “Lord, you have given us your Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that through patience comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and hold faithful to hope of everlasting life” (TLH p14). Lord, create in us that famished desire for every thought and phrase, as if life itself depended on devouring each morsel. Read the Word. Struggle with the Word. Tackle the Word. Digest the Word. He promises to send his Holy Spirit to teach this Wisdom to the simple hearted, as Paul promised Timothy, “Reflect on what am I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” (2 Timothy 2:7).
Wisdom Invites the Simple
Another feast has been prepared. Solomon warns in later verses of this chapter that “Folly is loud, [too]. She is calling from high points in the city, [too]. She is calling out to those who pass by [too].” (13-15). The Devil calls us to the world with enticing fruit. His poison was laced into the heads of Adam and Eve as though good for them. Do not be deceived by the same invitation!
So the Lord calls for Wisdom from the simple-hearted. “Leave your simple ways and you will be saved.” Parallel to the Simple is the phrase “those who lack judgment.” Wisdom reminds us that we are easily led astray. We are just as easily influenced by the one who made forbidden fruit look good to our first parents. This calls for Wisdom for the simple hearted – a Wisdom Christ alone can, and does, give.
- Folly calls us to push the snooze button and eat the bread of idleness on Sunday. Wisdom in Christ helps us rejoice with those who said “let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122: 1).
- Folly invites, with the ease devises, to satisfy our natural hungers for sin. Wisdom in Christ motivates me to say with Joseph “How can I do this wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
- Folly entices a person to reach for the glass that would the first of one too many. Wisdom in Christ reminds us all to “instead be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and his quenching joy!
- Folly spreads the junk food table of false theology and the crusty bread of humanity. Christ invites and empowers me to say with Peter you who have the words of eternal life (John 6: 68)!
These, and many other struggles, call for Wisdom, especially when we recall that the Devil has a way of making dangerous food look pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom! (Genesis 3: 6).
Rejoice, simple at heart. With Christ there is forgiveness, and therefore he is feared (Psalm 130:4). At his feast of Wisdom is water connected with his Word reminding us of the refreshing news of eternal life! At his feast is the heavenly bread of his Word and mercies which are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). At his feast there is his body and blood given with bread and wine, proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26). At his feast in forgiveness in his blood and eternal life in his Resurrection!
“It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 18, 30). By God’s Grace, come and dine on the richest of fare (Isaiah 55:2) and live forever in Christ’s Feast of Victory in heavenly mansions bought with his blood! Amen.