Banqueting with God
March 22nd, 1959 @ 8:15 AM
BANQUETING WITH GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-22-59 8:15 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message. The sermon this morning is going to be a little different kind of a sermon but one that I think is greatly, greatly needed. In our following through the life of Moses in the Book of Exodus, we now turn to the twenty-fourth chapter, chapter 24 of the Book of Exodus:
And God said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel.
And Moses alone shall come near the Lord: for they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.
And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.
And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.
And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
And he took the Book of the Covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.
And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.
Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
And they saw the God of Israel: there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: they saw God, and did eat and drink.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to Me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day God called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
The passage that I am to speak of this morning is Exodus 24:9, 10, and 11:
Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
And they saw the God of Israel: there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in its clearness.
And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: they saw God, and did eat and drink.
What a strange and unusual arrangement. Does not say, "And they saw God and bowed down to worship." Or, "They looked upon the great Jehovah Almighty and adored Him that made heaven and earth." Or that they prostrated themselves in humility. Does not mention anything except that they saw God, and did eat and drink. How opposite that is to practically all of the ancient teachings of the world. And how opposite that is to practically all of the unspoken passions, persuasions, and feelings that we have in our hearts in this modern day. "And they saw God." Doesn’t say they adored Him, doesn’t say they worshiped Him, all it says is, "And they saw God, and did eat and drink" [Exodus 24:11].
I am to speak this morning of the social, the physical, the body in spiritual religion. It is a strange thing how that ancient philosophical and how that ancient Oriental persuasion of dualism continues unabated through all the millenniums and through all the generations and through all the centuries, that somehow the physical is not also of God, but that somehow what is physical is inherently evil and sinful and wicked, as though God had not made it and as though God was not delighted with it – as though spiritual matters were ethereal, and celestial, and up, and out, and intangible, and beyond – but mundane and terrestrial and bodily matters are somehow beneath, and below, and vile, and unacceptable, and wicked.
You’ll find that ridged, hard dualism even in the exalted philosophy of Plato. Matter is one thing – mood, mind is something else, and mood and mind is exalted – this is debase and debasing. "The real things in life are the patterns, the ideas," said Plato, "This is just a transitory shadow, this substance down here." You’ll find it expressed in so many other religions like Zoroastrianism, the Parsee religion. There’s that dualism again: God and holiness and purity on one side, evil and matter and body on the other side.
In the days of the apostles, John and Paul and their successors, you had a tremendous drive in the civilized world by a philosophy called Gnosticism. And one of the basic tenants of Gnosticism was this: that the soul and the spirit of a man was one thing and that the body and matter of a man was another thing. And that all evil lay in the matter, in the body, in the physical and that all purity and holiness abode in the spiritual and the two never touched each other.
And the deduction from the Gnostic, of course, was that a man could do as he pleased in the body, in the physical, in the matter. It was no matter at all, and it did not touch his soul, did not touch his real self. So in his body, he did just what he wanted to. If there was sin in it, and there was of course, and he admitted it, well, that was just a matter of the physical, but the soul was untouched. It was a very convenient kind of a philosophy. Now that came into the Christian religion early, early.
There came to be into the Christian faith itself a persuasion and a feeling and a teaching that matter – the physical, the body – was inherently evil and must therefore be subjugated and subdued and destroyed; and that all of good and all of holiness and all of godliness was to be found in the spirit. And that gave rise to your many, many monastic, anchorite, stylite orders, these men who felt themselves too holy to mingle in the world, to walk among men, to live out in the world as ordinary men live. So they shut themselves off; they built a wall around themselves, and they followed certain habits and followed certain ways, whereby they beat the body, and they lived in abstinence and in self-denial, all because there was evil in the body, in the flesh, in the physical itself.
You’ll find that in the Bible here, how they amended the text, how they added to it. For example – and by the way before I say this, may I point out to you, if you want to know what the original language actually said get you an American Revised Version of the Bible of 1901, that’ll be the best one you can buy, the American Revised Version of 1901 – now it is easy to see how these monastic orders would add as they copied the Scriptures, would add once in a while to the text. Now look at this. Here’s one of them, in Romans 8:1 Paul wrote, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," period! That’s the way that Paul wrote it. But one of those monks added to the text, "Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." For to him, the flesh was inherently evil. It was wicked. So he added a little touch of superior spirituality there. Paul says, "There is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus," period! But he adds, "Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Now that’s an innocent thing. It doesn’t matter particularly, but Paul didn’t say that, it’s not in the Bible, he just added that.
You’ll find another instance of it in the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians: Paul is talking about the body:
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid!
[1 Corinthians 6:15]
Then he speaks about this body of ours:
Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and you are not your own. Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
[1 Corinthians 6:19-20]
That’s the way Paul wrote it, but one of these monks added to the text, "And in your spirit, which are God’s." For to him, it was just impossible to glorify God in the body; the body is inherently evil and vile and wicked. So he had to put "in your spirit" also. It’s innocent, nothing there that is, well, bad, but it just isn’t what Paul said. It isn’t what God said.
Now when you bring that philosophy down today, why, most people have it in their minds, and you’re going to see that in a minute as I carry through this message. So many people have it in their minds that spirituality is something that is ethereal, it’s up there, it’s out there, and they compartmentalize their religion. This is spiritual, and holy, and sanctified, and godly, but of course, this living in the body, and this being in the flesh, why, that’s something else. That’s not religious, that’s not spiritual, that’s not holy, this isn’t; holiness and spirituality is up here, and the physical and the mundane are down here. All right, I want to speak first of what God has to say about that, then I want to compare it with what you’ll find in the world around you, in the world of today.
God created matter; He invented it, we didn’t. God created the body; He invented it, we didn’t. Evidently God likes matter. Evidently God likes the physical, evidently God likes body. Why He did it if He didn’t, I could not understand. I would say that is a plain, simple, basic assumption. God made it Himself, and evidently God delighted in it. And the Book says that He did [Genesis 1:31]. He delights in the work of His hands, and all of this that you see is God’s handiwork [Genesis 1:4, 12, 18, 21, 25]. And all of it speaks of the wisdom and glory of God.
We can go far more than just a basic assumption. We can follow through far beyond a deduction. When the Lord God came into this world, He came into a body! Now you just got through reading that. In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, "Sacrifice and offerings Thou wouldst not, Behold a body hast Thou prepared for Me," Hebrew 10:5. Here’s another one John 1:14: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," walked among us, "we beheld His glory," the glory of Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, in a body. Now if flesh is inherently vile and wicked and if matter is an affront to God, you have the strangest contradiction there when you say that the Son of God became incarnate. He became flesh and blood, He became a body, Jesus did; just like you have.
Now another thing that the Bible says, the Scriptures say that spirit abhors this embodiment; that’s one of the strange things of God’s world. "For you know," says Paul in 2 Corinthians :
For you know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have an building of God, a body of God, a house of God, a tabernacle of God; an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tabernacle, in this body, we groan.
[2 Corinthians 5:1-2]
We have sick, we have the earache, the stomachache, the toe ache, ingrown toenails, eye trouble, heart trouble, every kind of trouble you can think of. "In this we groan," we have all kinds of sorrows and troubles, "For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon," to be in our body, in our house which is from heaven, in the resurrected body:
If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked,
– disembodied spirits, unclothed –
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; all kinds of sicknesses and distresses and evil.
[2 Corinthians 5:2-4]
And as you get old, you get all kinds of other things. And finally you can’t see, and you can’t hear, and you can’t walk, "it is a burden," he says. But even then, Paul says:
Not for that we would be unclothed
– without a body –
but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
– that we might have our celestial body, which is from heaven
[2 Corinthians 5:4]
Paul says there, that it is not according to God for a man to want to be naked and unclothed; a disembodied spirit. For somehow a spirit loves to be incarnate, it loves to have a body. That’s what the Book says. That’s all I’m here for is just to tell you what God says, and that’s what God says, the spirit abhors disembodiment. That finally comes down, as I shall say in a minute, to the great fundamental tenant of the Christian faith, that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the keystone of what it is to be a Christian, the resurrection of the body.
Now let’s go back to that: this abhorrence of disembodiment. No man, says Paul, would look forward under God, in the will of God, to dying, to being disembodied. What we look forward to is being clothed upon with a resurrected body, a glorious house not made with hands.
Now may I illustrate that for you, the abhorrence of spirit for disembodiment? Several times lately – I do not know why these things come in little clusters, in little clusters like this – several times lately, people have asked me, "Pastor, what is that, when Jesus cast the demons out of the Gadarene demoniac and sent them into the swine? [Luke 8:26-34]. What about that?"
That is an exact illustration of what I’m talking about. Spirit greatly abhors disembodiment. And when those demons saw that Jesus was going to send them into the abyss, into the darkness of disembodiment, they plead with Him that day at least be allowed to go into those swine. And for the purpose of illustrating the darkness and horror of the demoniac world, Jesus let them go. But they cannot embody themselves in the animal world. And when those swine were troubled, not knowing, maddened, not realizing, they rushed headlong forward. There was the lake. Now the spirits would not have drowned those swine. For the spirits wanted to be embodied. And when the swine were destroyed, of course, that destroyed the bodies in which the evil spirits could dwell. And the whole thing is an illustration of the terror and the horror and the depth of the demoniacal world.
When evil spirits get into you, the spirit of denial, or of blasphemy, or of a filthy mouth, or of an evil tongue, or of lust, or of all of the evil things by which a man can be possessed in this world, and sometimes, it is beyond description, all of that seen there is just a little illustration of the terrible horror of the darkness of the unseen demoniacal world.
Now, to go back to this passage in the fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians; Paul says that the spirit of a man seeks to be clothed upon, embodied [2 Corinthians 5:2-4]. We don’t look forward, I don’t at least, and I couldn’t imagine your looking forward to being a disembodied spirit out there in limbo somewhere. When I am in heaven, I shall see Jesus, a Man, the Man Christ Jesus. "Handle Me, and see that it is I Myself: for a spirit hath not flesh and bone, such as ye see Me have" [Luke 24:39]; and we shall be like Him. I shall have this body, you shall have your body, resurrected and glorified. God likes it that way. It pleases God to make it that way.
And now, may I continue? The great, pivotal keystone of the Christian faith is this: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I haven’t time to speak of these things. I’ve hardly got started this morning, and the time is mostly gone. So I just point it out to you. You read for yourself. The great, climatic chapter of the gospel defined by Paul, the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; he says: "Brethren, I declare unto you, I define for you, the gospel of the Son of God" [1 Corinthians 15:1]. And then the chapter is on the resurrection, "He died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures" [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. Then that marvelous, incomparable passage of the resurrection of the body [1 Corinthians 15:12-58]; all of that is at the very heart of the Christian faith.
All right, let’s compare it now in a moment or two with what we find today. I was preaching on the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke here in this pulpit one time. And in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the Lord Jesus appeared to His apostles, and He eats with them. The resurrected Lord now, He eats with them. They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and He ate it before them. And they gave Him a piece of a honeycomb, and He ate it before them. And He is the one that said, "Handle Me and see that it is I Myself" [Luke 24:39-43]. I am not a spirit, a phantom, an aberration, flesh and bones, "handle Me and see."
Well, I was preaching on that here in this pulpit. I don’t invent these things; I just take it out of the Book as it comes. There happened to be in the presence of the pastor that morning, in this congregation, there happened to be a devout follower of Mary Glover Patterson Baker Eddy that morning. And that dear saint here in this auditorium went out highly offended and said to one of my members who told me about it, she said, "The sermon this morning was crude and rude and blasphemous!" For you see, the number one basic tenant of the religion of Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy is this: that matter is inherently evil and sinful. So in order to get rid of sin and of evil, they deny that there is such a thing as matter. And the body doesn’t exist, and the world that is physical doesn’t exist, it’s just in your mind, it’s just in your mind.
I haven’t time to follow that through. But when it comes down to you, you fall into that many, many, many times. This is religion, and this isn’t religion. And you divide it, you compartmentalize things in your mind and put them in different categories; now this is holy, and this is mundane; and this is spiritual, and this is terrestrial. You listen, God’s religion is this: that all of it, all of it is to be unto God. Everything you do, everything you have, every piece of you, all that you possess is to be dedicated to God. For it all is of Him, all of it. If I have a spirit, that is of God. If I have a body, my body is of God. And if I have an appetite, the appetite is of God. And whatever it is, I am to serve the Lord and magnify the Lord in my body, he says here. And in my heart and in my soul; all of it is to be unto the Lord.
If I eat, I am to eat in thanksgiving, praising God, blessing God for it. If I am to sleep, if I am to get up in the morning, if I am to lie down at night, if I am to go out or come in, all of it is to be unto the Lord. We’re to glorify God in all of our life, the physical no less than the spiritual.
They saw God and did eat and drink. And some of these days in the marriage supper of the Lamb, that is what you’re going to do [Revelation 19:6-9]. When you see Jesus some of these days; we’re going to sit down at the marriage supper, at the bridal supper of the Lamb, and we’re going to eat, and we’re going to drink with our Lord Jesus in the kingdom of heaven. All of your life is to be that way.
Now may I say a word about it? I ought to quit already. The Old Testament religion was that way; that body was a sacrifice unto the Lord. And the peace offering was nothing but a communal meal, like practically all of the sacrifices. They were communal meals. And the peace offering – ah! I can just see that. A family would bring a peace offering, give it to the priest, and the family would bring all of their friends, and with the priest, they would make the sacrifice. They’d cook the meat, and they’d eat it there. They’d cook the offering, and they’d eat it there together, the priests and the family and the friends. They called it a peace offering. It was a communal meal.
The Passover was never to be observed alone. It was to be by the family, and if the family wasn’t big enough, they were to invite the fellow next door, and they were to do it together. And the religion of the New Testament is like that. It is social or it is nothing at all; all of us together in the Lord. You’re either going to do it that way, or you listen to me, you’re going to have a divided social life among your people. They’ll be out in the world for their social life and then down here for respectability’s sake on Sunday.
I say with all of the fervent persuasion of my soul that the whole life of a people ought to be in the assembly and congregation of the Lord. Your social life ought to be godly and spiritual and holy, just like your worship of the Lord in the sanctuary, in the congregation. All of it ought to be in the Lord. The social life of our children, the social life of our young people, our eating and our drinking ought to be unto the Lord, all of it. John Wesley said in the gospel of Christ there is no religion but social religion, and there is no holiness but social holiness. And I believe it.
The congregation of God’s people centering their whole lives before the Lord; it’s a family religion. It’s childhood religion, it’s youth’s religion, it’s old age religion, it’s the assembly religion, it’s the life’s religion; it’s all of it unto the Lord. Oh, what an appeal. What an appeal God would make to His people; put your family in the will of God. Put your social life in the will of God. Rear your children in the love and admonition of the Lord. And whatever you do, whatever you do, to eat, to drink, to sleep, to rise, to come and to go; whatever you do, do it unto the Lord, all of it is to be of Him.
Now we must make this appeal. And while we sing the song this morning, while we sing it this morning, somebody you to give your heart to Jesus, to put your life in the church, a family of you to come, children to come, however the Lord shall open the door and lead the way, somebody you, you come. You come, on the first note of the first stanza, to give your life to the Lord or to put your life with us in the fellowship of the church, while we make this appeal, will you come and stand by me? While we stand and sing.
BANQUETING WITH GOD
1. When they saw God, they ate and drank – unusual
2. The body in spiritual religion
II. Ancient religions have duality – physical does not include God
1. What is physical is thought to be inherently evil
2. Gnosticism – body is one thing, spirit is another, evil was in the body, perfection was in the soul/spirit
3. Most people today believe spiritual things are ethereal spiritual is up there and physical is mundane and down here.
III. God created matter, the body, physical things.
1. The Bible says God delighted in what He created
2. Jesus was given a body of flesh, just like ours
3. Why would God become a man if He abhorred physical things?
IV. Spirit abhors this embodiment
1. Demons feared disembodiment
2. God’s solution is not disembodiment and spiritual limbo but a new resurrection body
V. Keystone to Christianity is resurrection and receiving a resurrection body