At The Banquet
“He brought me to the banqueting house and His banner over me was love.” —Song of Solomon 2:4
The best banquets I ever saw were football banquets, given by some lover of the university to the victorious team. They ate! Oh how that crowd of big huskies ate. They didn’t pick over things and eat a fork full and set it aside. They cleaned up everything in sight. They sang the songs of victory. They shouted out their praise of heroes and they yelled for their university. There was not a dead moment. Every man was a live one and had his appetite and his enthusiasm with him.
God would love to have men eat the great banquet of salvation and life in His Son Jesus Christ with great appetite. It is one thing to have the banquet prepared and the doors thrown open. It is quite another thing to tempt the appetite. Long ago God said: “All things are now ready,” but oh men are so slow in coming. Their very excuses show their lack of appetite. A man may call off the menu and get everything correct, but even that does not move men. But when they hear the shouts and the songs of those who are at the banquet and see their happy faces they begin to take notice. Oh my brother, remember the world is watching to see how you enjoy the menu discussed and preached about. They are not looking at the food. They are watching your face day by day as you eat of this banquet provided in Jesus. There are so many lean souls, joyless souls these days. They are at the banquet they say, but the world can find no banqueting signs about them. They do not seem well fed or delighted.
Working A Change
One of the missionaries on our platform told us of a field of labor among a very strange people and very degraded. When they talked to them they would not listen. When they sang for them they hid in their mud huts. They tried to show them trinkets but to no profit. The missionaries found that these people did not care for anything they had. “Something must attract them,” they argued, “or they’ll never even hear our message.” Finally one of the missionaries happened to put on a hat, a sombrero a friend had sent him from Texas. He walked into the mud-hut village with it perched upon his head. Instantly he had the eyes of the men. They followed him, they came back to his house with him and watched through the windows as he sat down and with beaming face praised God with his fellow missionaries that at last these men had an appetite for something. The chief wanted the hat, but the missionary held back and promised to have one brought by the next ship for him and his men. They watched him as he wrote the letter and it was a great day when two men took the letter away to the nearest mailing station. Now they would listen as he told them of other things while they anxiously awaited the coming of the hats. At last they came: one for each head man. They put them on and walked among the people with pride swelling in their hearts. Then they tried to go in their mud huts kneeling down and crawling through the low small hole opening, as they had in the past.
They found they could not get the big hats in, or if they did they would mash them and worst of all, they would have to take off their hats, and you that have seen your child go to sleep with its new Christmas present, a fine doll, know how they felt. Now came the change. It was either different huts and holes or no hats, and an hour had not gone by until a leading man had changed the size of the hole in his hut and could go in and out without taking his hat off. The others soon followed his leading, and before the week was over they were building houses like the missionaries and listening intently to the Gospel. Your joy, broad brimmed joy, in Jesus, should be a hat to make this old sin-doped world wake up, and want something that would get them out of their hell huts and mud holes to accept the truth, the banquet which Jesus has provided. Oh, get the joy bells in your heart, and broad brimmed helmets of salvation and walk among the people calling them by the things Jesus has done for you to the banquet provided for them also. Arouse an appetite in folks. Ask God to so feed you that you’ll make others hungry. “Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
God said, “let there be light.” Who cares to eat in the dark? Think of a banquet without lights. Yet there are thousands of men trying to take the Bible and understand it without that divine illumination of the Holy Ghost. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit what we would say of light. “When He is come He will guide you into all truth.” Here are men, critics of the Bible as bad off as a man trying to spread cheese in the dark instead of butter on his bread. They don’t know the difference between God’s treatment of and plan for the Jews before Christ and those who are born again and are now part of the body of Christ. Then they wonder why they don’t enjoy the banquet. Then they reach their hand in the dark and try to eat the Millennial desserts which come at the end of the age, when they should be taking His grace now, and counting it all joy when an ideal condition cannot be found about them. They should know if they would only ask for His light that we are in an enemy’s country now and His grace is sufficient, but that the next course in the banquet is Jesus back on the Earth Himself, King on David’s throne, and peace on Earth. Oh, the souls who are reaching in the dark for world peace when they should be partaking of pardon. “Let there be light,” and you will see what God is serving in this present course or age. It takes divine light to eat a divine banquet, prepared by the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The banquet is all prepared. God’s plans have all been made. God does not have to depend upon a crowd of so-called ministers in our day to arrange a Gospel for the 20th Century. The Gospel of the 1st Century is His Gospel to this day and hour. There is only one faith spoken of in the Bible. God never says faiths, there’s no s on it. It is “the faith once for all delivered to the fathers.” Abel had the same faith I have. He may have had more, but he had the same kind. He died in the faith of shed blood for salvation. Abraham walked up to Mt. Moriah with that same faith and came down with more of it, and Isaac, too, saw the slain lamb from the foundation of the world much more clearly after they had sacrificed the ram caught in the thicket at the side of the altar. They had the same faith we have, beloved. Jesus said of Abraham, “Abraham saw my day and was glad.” God doesn’t hold anything in His program back from His faithful ones. He said of Abraham in Genesis 18:17-18: “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do. See that Abraham shall surelybecome a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.” Can you not see that in these two verses God opens up the whole banquet menu of the places of the nations through the Jews and the final blessing when the Jewish nation is in its rightful place, and Jesus sits as king on David’s throne? Then He had told Abraham of His first coming and Abraham rejoiced in that and His shed blood for sin. You see the Gospel and the truth and the plan and the purpose of God in Christ Jesus do not need to be changed for our day. It is all fixed. The food is prepared and it is man’s part to come to the feast.
God’s Word is the menu, the bill of fare, the program. The Holy Ghost is the waiter who will help you in understanding and ordering. He will show you the courses or dispensations. He will turn you to 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” He will bring to you things new and old to make God’s plan for men and for the world and for the heavenlies very clear. First He always serves you with the righteousness of Jesus. He turns you to Matthew 6:33 in God’s program: “But seek ye firstthe Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Then He begins to tell you of great promises made by God and what will result. He turns to Jeremiah 33:3, and you read: “Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” You take God at His word. You call and you are not disappointed. Then He shows you a little rebuke in James 4:2: “Ye have not because ye ask not.” And you are encouraged to dare ask for all you need. You see we do not feed on things but on the bounty of Himself, even on His very life. The Spirit turns you then to such a wealth of supply that you are hardly able to believe your own senses. There it is in 2 Peter 1:2–4, and you shout as you believe and read: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us, all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”
At the banquet which Jesus is giving there hangs a banner of victory. All the rejoicing is because He is victor over the world, the flesh and the devil. We partake because He has victoriously undertaken for us.
Oh, so many Christians are asking these days about victory. As the time of Christ’s return is near, those who have their hope are purifying themselves even as He is pure. They want to be overcomers. Yes, He has conquered all our foes.
I have overcome for thee,
Thou shalt overcome through me,
Fight no more with broken sword,
Trust, oh trust thy conquering Lord.
Oh how few see that their struggles against the self life are useless, and turn from it as a broken sword and live in Him, and walk in the Spirit. You do not have to fail, there is victory in Him.
How wonderful it would be if just now you would give up and give over the battle to Him and then trust Him to undertake for you.
Mrs. Pemroy fought this battle out at a little tent meeting and God showed her His ability by the way her own life had been spent. She owned a millinery store in a small town in Missouri where she was born and raised. Her father lost his business and she was forced to do something to make a living. She was very proud, and since she had been forced into business, she had set her mark high and intended to be a great success in millinery. Mr. Henry Pemroy owned a great deal of coal land and had become quite wealthy. He had told her of his love and she did love him, but her pride would not let her drop the millinery business until she had made a great success. She would say to herself that the gossips about the town would say she couldn’t make a success of business and had to marry. Poor Henry Pemroy he waited around for some seven years while she struggled and wore herself down. He kept telling her that he could run a hundred millinery shops for her if she wanted them. But she had the secret pride in her heart. But success was as far away at the end of the seventh year as at the first. So on a Christmas day while Henry pleaded, she threw herself in his arms and sobbed it out and Henry became her husband. Henry had confided in the evangelist who was running the tent meetings. He had known him for many years. Mrs. Pemroy sat on the back seat listening as the preacher told of Jesus as our victor. She was a Christian but, oh victory, was far from her life. To give up and let the Holy Spirit run her life was not what she wanted to do. She was having the same fight with God’s blessed Holy Spirit that she had gone through with Henry. She had her plans made and she was working them with a high hand. She was the wealthy Mrs. Henry Pemroy and she wanted folks to know it. She had some great schemes to make that name famous. But God’s Spirit pleaded for a full right of way and she was in the thick of the fight and the people were singing and many were going to the altar as the evangelist reached her side. They greeted each other and the evangelist said: “Are you glad you dropped the millinery business and let Henry run things, Mrs. Pemroy?”
“Yes, I am,” was her answer.
“Then,” said the evangelist, “You love Jesus and He wants you to throw up these proud spirit millinery plans of yours and let Him be your life.” She almost ran to the altar and there she sobbed it out and arose a yielded soul to be or to do of the Spirit’s good pleasure. Her life became a refuge for many a storm tossed soul and she towed them along to the Savior who was indeed her very life.
One day a wealthy lady called to see about the change and Mrs. Pemroy was able to show her the light by saying:
“You see this lovely house and grounds?”
“Yes,” answered the lady.
“You see the business block down town called Pemroy Building?”
“Yes,” she said again.
“Well these things are not mine.”
“Yes,” said the lady surprised. “What do you own in your own name?”
“Nothing,” answered Mrs. Pemroy.
“Nothing,” almost shouted the woman. “I thought you were wealthy.”
“No, dear friend. It’s like this: I do not own any of these things, but Henry Pemroy owns them all and I have Henry Pemroy for my very own.”
That is your victory friend. Drop your struggling millinery business, or in other words, your own effort to lead a life of victory and take Jesus completely by accepting the Holy Spirit as a person, the blessed Comforter who has the victory and will be your victory. He will swing His banner of victory over you.
“And the greatest of these is love.” Divine love; this is not just human love. This is God’s great warm heart beating for us. The heart flow of Him who went to Calvary is love. Oh such wondrous love. “His banner over all was love.” Perfect love, that is the victory. Perfect love casteth out all fear. All God’s plan of redemption is just one great big love story, and it will be His great love forever that will make glorious eternal life for us.
The Illinois State Penitentiary is at Joliet. My good friend Dr. Brown visits the prisoners down there. One case especially drew his attention and while we were sitting waiting for meeting time the other day, he told me of it. The case was a young boy, who was not overly bright, and crippled or withered in his hand and foot and his poor face anything but pleasant to look upon. He had been sent to the penitentiary for stealing chickens and shipping them away. The boy hadn’t been in the pen long when the father was sent up for the exact same crime and the same term. The father made but one request of the judge and that was that he might be put in the same cell with his boy. The warden granted his request. Brown found them there in the cell together as happy as could be. The father told Brown how much he loved the boy. And Brown proceeded to tell the father that love like that was worthless when they were chums in crime—when he had to stop talking. The father was protesting.
“Oh, sir,” said the old man, “wait a minute. I’m no criminal sir, I just had to be near my boy and that’s the only way I could think of getting next to him. I love him. I couldn’t sleep at nights without him. I couldn’t think of him being locked up here all alone. So, well, I’m here. This is my boy.” And he hugged that ill-shaped boy to his heart and comforted him.
Oh, how could Jesus come into this old penitentiary of a world and take our cell and our crime upon Him. Become sin for us and conquer sin and death and then hug us poor sinners to His heart? But He did, and “He brought me to the banqueting house and His banner over me was love.” Oh, let Him bring you, too. Will you?