Why does Greg Taylor read Isaiah 25 at funerals?
“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 forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”
— Isaiah 25:6-8 NIV
I read this Bible text at funerals. It's called "The Messianic Banquet" and Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah in 1 Corinthians 15, "death has been swallowed up in victory." Then he quotes a contemporary of Isaiah's, Hosea, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
Why do I read this at funerals? Because I take some cues from Catholic funeral liturgies. Some years back I attended a Catholic funeral and realized how much more scripture is read compared to most Church of Christ funerals. I committed there to read from Old Testament, Psalms, Gospels, and Paul at funerals. So I often read at funerals selections from Isaiah 25, Lamentations 3, Psalm 46, John 15, and 1 Corinthians 15.
What do you like about this text? What do you not like? Pray about what you like and do not like, asking God to reveal your fears of death, to show you more about what is in the life to come.
Is overeating a habit for you? Are regular meals an opportunity to overindulge? If so, keep in mind that every meal is not a banquet. Yahweh through the prophets condemns overindulgent living, eating, drinking, and buying. If you don't believe this, read Isaiah 5:8-30.
I once asked Life Church’s Craig Groeschel how he handles jealousy of other ministries. He said, “I make a donation.” Great idea! I’ve practiced this a time or two since when I get to feeling jealous about another ministry’s success. Lest someone poo poo jealousy and say that’s not supposed to happen, I wouldn’t trust someone who is a pastor who says such things don’t happen in his or her heart. They do and they will happen, and admitting it and learning strategies for giving this over to God — in this case literally giving — is important for healthy pastoral life.
If you are in a habit of only giving yourself things on a daily basis, consider the habit of giving something to someone that can help them. Is there someone who is obviously struggling nearby you? A neighbor, family member, church member, co-worker. Give them a gift, money, something that will help them without expecting anything in return.
Greg Taylor, M.Div.
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He holds degrees in Print Journalism from Harding University and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. Greg is working on his Doctor of Ministry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where The Journey is located. Greg is married to Jill, who is a math teacher at Broken Arrow High School. They have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, and of course they are very proud of each of what God has done in each one of their lives. Greg is author of several books you can order from your favorite bookseller.