Here God promised to lift the pall of suffering and death that humanity labors beneath since the fall of Adam in Eden (cf. Genesis 3:17-19). After silencing the worldly lifestyle of escapists revelry (cf. 24:7-13), God promised to give a fivefold relief by providing salvation from the worldly lifestyle that continually sought to drown its sorrows with the distraction of intoxicating activities. He promised to do this at Zion, the mountain of His holy habitation. As an indication of His complete salvation He promised (1) to swallow up the covering cast on all people (v.7); (2) to swallow up the veil spread on all nations (v.7); (3) to swallow up death (v.8); (4) to wipe away tears from all faces (v.8); and (5) remove the reproach of His people (v.8).
Contrasted with the curse of arduous labor from cradle to grave (cf. Genesis 3:19) is God’s provision of a feast of rich food and refined wine (v.6). In the garden God cursed the ground to produce thorns and thistles. The work that humanity had already been tasked to perform (cf. Genesis 2:15) would thus become arduous, causing him to sweat in order to produce his crops. At God’s holy mountain His people would be invited to purchase rich food, milk and wine without money and without cost (cf. Isaiah 55:1-2).
Sin veiled God’s glory and separated humanity from the relationship we were created to possess. Sin also blocked the fellowship He desired to express through prayer and spiritual intimacy (cf. Isaiah 59:1-2). Throughout the Old Testament access to God was limited or denied on the basis of personal and corporate sin. The office of high priest was instituted so that men could intercede before God on behalf of His people. Once annually the high priest was permitted behind the veil to make atonement for Israel’s sin (Leviticus 16). At His mountain, God promised to one day remove the veil indicating complete approval and undeniable access to His holiness for all people and nations.
Not only did sin veil God’s glory and block access through prayer, but the consequences of sin brought suffering, sorrow, and ultimate death, which is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). Thus the sentence of death engulfed all men because all have been made to sin under the law (Romans 5:12-21). At Zion, God would not only commute the death sentence, He will eradicate death altogether (v.7) because He alone would conquer sin. He will wipe away all tears because our tears are but the outward sign of our inward turmoil. His defeat of death would signify complete victory over each and every adversary of mankind, death along with its tormenting demons.
“Righteousness exalts the nation but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:1). To reproach someone, is to address them with disapproval or disappointment. Throughout the Old Testament God voiced his displeasure with Israel first through the Judges and then through His Prophets. At His mountain, He promised to remove the reproach of sin and accept them as His righteous children.
Those who heard and accepted God’s promises during the prophecy of Isaiah did so with faith looking forward to the fulfillment of His promises. We, on the other hand, look back with faith grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He alone conquered death and it’s tormenting demons by living in perfect obedience to the law and then dying in our sinful stead (2 Corinthians 5:21). On Calvary’s cross, Jesus pronounced His work of redemption finished and surrendered His Spirit to the Father. The Father removed the reproach of sin by expressing His approval in tearing the temple veil which separated the Most Holy from His people. Jesus’ resurrection on the third day serves as a declaration that all men’s adversaries were defeated and all authority is now and forever held by Him. He ascended into Heaven where He ever intercedes for mankind as our exalted High Priest. The grace He extends to His children includes: His righteous, holiness, sanctification, and justification. In short, all who’s faith is anchored in Him are completely saved.
Finally, while our faith in His finished work for salvation looks back to the gospel, our faith also looks forward to the consummation of all things. For even though the last enemy has been defeated, in the consummation death, Hell and the grave are destroyed. God’s people reign with Him in His holy habitation and the feast He promised will come to fruition. Where does your faith look?