With the celebration of Easter, most of us have been treated to a spiritual as well as a physical feast. Six hundred years before Christ, Isaiah spoke God’s word about the feast that awaits all who will come to Him in faith through His Son, the Rock of our salvation:
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.
On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death for ever. 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. (Isa. 25:6-8)
When God lifts us up with him on the mountain of the Lord, we will feast on all His wonders; we will taste and see that the Lord is good. We will experience firsthand the best of everything, take it in and fully digest it, because Jesus swallowed up death and all that is painful forever. By His infinite mercy and love, Jesus has washed away with His own blood the sin that was our disgrace.
On that day, there will be no flicker of doubt, no nagging questions for those who have persevered in their faith. The lordship and work of Jesus in swallowing death will be absolutely clear to them. We might call this The Greatest Swallow of All Time. It was certainly the hardest.
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.” (Isa. 25:9)
This is the destiny of those who believe and keep their trust in Jesus intact; who realize and resist another swallow. While Jesus has already swallowed death for us, Satan is constantly at his work of trying to swallow us.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Satan knows that suffering is hard for us to swallow. It’s one of the tools he uses to try to pry us away from trusting in God. He works to convince us that a believer shouldn’t have to suffer, that life in a fallen world should be easy for us, that we should ignore Scriptures that declare otherwise. He accuses God of being unfair, unjust and unloving. He wants us to move away from dependence on God and toward self-pity, depression, substance abuse, attempts to buy happiness – whatever will take our eyes off God and put them on ourselves. If he can convince us, then Satan is able to swallow us whole.
But Peter urges us to be hard to swallow, to make Satan choke on us. We do this by recognizing that suffering comes to us all, that God can and does redeem suffering by using it to mature and refine us, that God continues to love and care for us and will end our suffering at the right time:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
What happens to those who turn away from God? Isaiah delivers God’s judgment on Moab, a symbol of rebellion against God, against those who trust in themselves and their abilities:
The hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain; but Moab will be trampled in their land as straw is trampled down in the manure.
They will stretch out their hands in it, as swimmers stretch out their hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands. (Isa. 25:10-11)
We all suffer. What we need to ensure is that we’re suffering for the right reasons and have the
right perspective. Then we’ll see death swallowed up in eternal victory.
Otherwise, we’ll be swallowed up by suffering, and our inheritance will be swimming in manure.
May this be a reminder to watch what we swallow, and who is trying to swallow us. Let’s feast on God’s Word, God’s finished work on the cross, and rejoice that His continuing love can protect us and enable us to experience death swallowed up in victory.