The wedding banquet is not about exclusion but inclusion.

It is always easy to assume something when you do not understand the times and context of what Jesus said, and insert your interpretation into a passage.

I was told twice in 3 weeks that Matthew 22 actually speaks about people being invited into salvation even after AD70. It sounds something like this:

“The wedding feast of the Lamb began in 70AD when Jerusalem was burnt down but people are being invited into the feast AFTER 70AD until the future resurrection.

Revelation 19 “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

Matthew 22 “Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

– We see God inviting people to the wedding feast AFTER 70AD !! But only the people who wear wedding clothes are allowed. Only those who have washed their robes by the blood of the Lamb – only those whose names are written in the Book of Life are allowed into the New Jerusalem at the final resurrection! The Book of Life is for all who believe in Christ to receive immortality.”

The Rebuttal

Now I have already addressed the issue about the book of life, so I won’t go into that. What I find intriguing is how these writers speak about the burning of their city and the murderers. So they argue that was AD70 and thereafter salvation was again offered to people after AD70. There was even a man who was cast out after AD70.

The problem with this interpretation is that it was done without knowing a very important fact. Jesus was nor speaking to us or about us. Neither was the subject about salvation. Please also note that this banquet was also spoken about in Luke 14.

Let me explain.

In Jesus’ time, a Jewish community called Qumran lived near the Dead Sea. They talk about the messianic banquet and who can enter in and eat at the table with the Messiah. They concluded that no one who is defiled in the flesh, paralyzed, lame, blind, deaf, or dumb could attend, and, of course, Gentiles would not be invited.

Origins of the Messianic Banquet

Almost nothing was known about the origins of the Essene practice of a Messianic Banquet until the discovery of the Qumran texts in the mid 1900’s. In these we found fragments of every book of the Tanakh (except Esther) as well as the writings of the Essenes. These writings include the portions that describe the Messianic Banquet in The Rule of the Congregation (1QSa) and The Manual of Discipline.

In the text known by its designation as 1QSa we find the concept of a banquet now that is celebrated in the “End of Days” or the “End of the Age” looking forward to the very fast approaching “Age to Come.” There are several biblical passages that inspired the Essenes to do this, mainly from Isaiah 25:6-8, but also from Isaiah 55:1-2 and 65:13-14. Isaiah 25:6 says:

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.

The idea of the Messianic Banquet was strongly entrenched in the culture of first century Judaism. A feast, banquet, or wedding, was a favorite metaphor of Jesus’, so now let’s compare the Essene Messianic Banquet to the one Jesus talked of.

In The Rule of Congregation (known as 1QSa), we find the description of the banquet. Interestingly, the very first thing it goes into is who will not be allowed to participate in the Messianic banquet.

They believed that the “Last Days” were rapidly coming and so they had to decide who would be allowed to come and fully partake in the banquet and who would not, and of what importance each person would be of at the table.

Seating at the Messianic Banquet

1QSa 1:1-2:20 gives an interesting description of the roles in the future Messianic kingdom, depicted by what order you are sitting at the banquet. In ancient times, people would sit in order of importance at banquets. In the case of the Essene Messianic Banquet, it was based primarily on age with the older men taking the progressively higher spots. It is therefore interesting to remember that Jesus said on the matter:

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)

Only the Elite were invited

Next we find who will be excluded from that final banquet in 1QSa 2:5-8. Ritual purity was of chief importance to these people, and it was believed that anyone who was disabled was because of sin, and they would therefore not have a seat at the coming banquet:

“No man with a physical handicap-crippled in both legs or hands, lame, blind, deaf, dumb or possessed of a visible blemish in his flesh- or a doddering old man unable to do his share in the congregation- may en[ter] to take a place in the [messianic banquet].” (1QSa 2:5-8 QUMENG, substitution mine 1.)

Notice how the old, blind, deaf, lame, and sick were excluded from the Essene Messianic Banquet. In stark contrast we see the Messianic Banquet of Jesus:

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14.)

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered ALL the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” (Matthew 22:8-10)

Notice that everyone who could be invited had already been invited at that time. Jesus said ‘the servant gathered ALL the people they could find”.

In Jesus’ banquet, everyone is invited, especially those of less fortune. Jesus follows up this command with a parable (Luke 12:15-24) where the invited guests turn down the invitation and so he goes to the streets and alleys and invites the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.

What Matthew 22 and Luke 14 were really about?

Jesus is “sticking it” to the Essenes. The Essenes thought they had it all down – they even had a rulebook for who would participate in the coming Messianic Banquet and what order of importance you would be in. But Jesus said that those who were invited (the super religious elite) turned down the request, and now the very opposite of what they thought the banquet would look like will come true. Jesus again turns the world on its head with a major reversal of fortune.

The Essenes thought they had it all right. They even thought they knew who would be at the final banquet with the Messiah, and yet they ended up turning down the invitation.

My submission here is that the point Jesus was trying to make was that the Jewish leaders and the Essenes got the Messianic Banquet wrong. In fact the man who was not wearing the wedding clothes was probably an Essence in his white robes.

These Are Not post AD70 events.

These are events which are very much about the transition of covenants which was pre A. D. 70.

The reason is simple. Jesus said “many are invited, only few are chosen”. Paul tells us those chosen were in the pre-AD generation.

Romans 11:5 New International Version (NIV)

So too, at the PRESENT TIME there is a remnant chosen by grace.

That ‘present time’ was about AD 30-70.

The parable is not talking events after A. D. 70. In fact, after the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70, the Jews wrote that, “As long as the Temple stood, the altar at the Temple atoned for Israel, but now a man’s table atones for him” (Talmud, Berakhoth 55a).

The Jews knew that the messianic banquet had taken place when the Temple fell.

I hope this note (although extremely long) helps us to understand the context of Matthew 22 and also Luke 14 which basically addresses the messianic banquet.

It is not about losing your salvation, its about how the servants had gather ALL they could fine and included them into the banquet when the Essenes believed only the elite can partake of it.

It’s actually a message about inclusion.

PS:

Interesting note. During the Jewish Revolt sometime between 66 and 68 CE, the site of Qumran was destroyed were destroyed. “In 68 CE, Qumran fell to the Romans and the sect ceased to exist. Archaeological remains show that Qumran was burnt to the ground. Whether the inhabitants were killed or captured is unknown, but, in any case, with the great destruction of the land and the people, all sectarian groups faded from view.” Qumran was the home of the Essenes.

2 Comments

  1. hi simòn
    you seem a sincere man.but i think you must realise that not one of us will now understand everything.pure religion is looking after the widows and fatherless.
    so i think we must all consintrate on that.Christ is the one that will come do the repair work and undo the work of the devil. you will drive yourselve and everybody listening crazy if you try to figure out everything.
    regards
    sarel

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