Chapter 17 Meanings
The Banquet Halls
The banquet halls stand for individual churches, and the weekly meals represent Sunday worship services where teachers and preachers “serve up” God’s grace to the people like table waiters. This is why I depicted church leaders as servers at the meals. The Seven in Acts 6, who were the prototypes for deacons, were put in place to serve food to widows so the Apostles would not have to “neglect the ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables” (Acts 6:2).
The banquet halls made of wood (the same material as the cottage) depict churches that operate according to Scripture. Golden banquet halls are churches that have adopted worldly values and ways of thinking. Wood, in the story, represents the Scriptures—unimpressive to men, but glorious to those with eyes to see. Gold represents the world’s glory.
Some churches, out of a desire to appeal to the masses, compromise biblical standards and trim the offensive parts of the gospel. Such churches become worldly and lose their spiritual power.
Guardians vs. Warriors
The guardians stand for angels. The concept of each person having a guardian angel is not explicitly stated in Scripture, but that certain angels are assigned to certain people seems to be implied in Matthew 18:10.
The primary task of angels is to minister to the saints.
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).
The warriors depict demons.
Popular stories of spiritual warfare have depicted a war carried out mostly between angels and demons with humans offering prayer support. In Escape from Paradise, I have labored to show a more biblical model—a war between humans and evil spirits with angels offering support to the humans (Ephesians 6:12, Hebrews 1:14).
There is some indication in Scripture, however, of conflict between angels and demons when demons attempt to prevent angels from ministering to us. The evil spirit behind the Persian empire resisted the angel sent to Daniel for twenty-one days until Michael came and helped him (see Daniel 10:13).
Chapter 17 Questions
|Surrounding the … cottage stood hundreds of smaller buildings. … “Every week we all gather there to observe the cottage.”
“Why would you do that? I thought you could enter the cottage itself.” -p.139
In what sense does the Sunday gathering resemble a banquet? What “delicacies” are served? See John 21:15.
The pastor’s primary task is to feed the flock. Ministering God’s Word to people is cast in terms of feeding because the truths of Scripture satisfy the appetites of the soul and nourish and fortify the heart.
What are some reasons believers gather rather than simply seeking God individually? See Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 4:10; Proverbs 18:1.
Heb.10 – God designed us to need mutual encouragement to successfully live the Christian life.
1 Pe.4 – God dispenses the grace we need through the various spiritual gifts. Without access to a wide variety of Christians and their gifts, we miss the grace God has for us.
Pr.18 – Isolating oneself is a trait of selfishness, not spirituality.
God designed churches to do many things. Given the following passages, which function of the church do you believe God wants to be most central? Mark 1:38; Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:19-20; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Timothy 3:15, 4:13.
The preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
|“We enjoy individualized exploration of the cottage daily,” Watson explained. “But many of the most beautiful colors are not immediately apparent. So on the first day of each week we gather, and as we dine, the banquet servers, who study the cottage daily, point out colors we could not see on our own.” -p.138|
Read Psalm 119:16-20,24. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your level of desire for and delight in God’s Word? What could you do that might help increase them?
I’m thankful to God that he has given me a deep love for his Word. From childhood, I have always had a passion for it—one of the few elements of the Christian life that seems to come a little easier to me than to many others. I like to think I’m at a seven or eight, but that’s only if I compare myself to certain people who name the name of Christ today. But in comparison to the author of Psalm 119, with his soul consumed with longing for God’s laws at all times, it may be a stretch to put me at a two or three.
I think the best way I could increase my desire for Scripture would be to reduce my tendency to attempt to satisfy the appetites of my soul with the world’s junk food, spoiling my appetite for real food and drink.
Given the fact that all believers have the Holy Spirit to teach them, why do you think the Scriptures place such a high premium on the importance of teachers and preachers? See Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Timothy 3:2.
The Holy Spirit does not simply infuse knowledge into our heads. He does teach us, but when he does so, he uses means. He uses the Bible, and he also uses teachers.
Understanding God’s Word requires a great deal of study, meditation, and prayer. God gifts certain people with special ability to understand Scripture, apply it, and communicate it. To reject that is to reject the means the Holy Spirit has ordained, which is to reject the Spirit himself.
|Surrounding the … cottage stood hundreds of smaller buildings. Some were ornate, with opulent decorations and impressive architecture-not as impressive as the buildings in the city, but similar in style. Some were even gold in color. The ones closest to the cottage were the least remarkable, built mostly with wood. -p.138|
Read about a church that considered itself rich in Revelation 3:17-18. If you were to visit a church like this, what do you think it would be like?
I would expect it to be packed. All services and events very well attended. Amazing facility. Great reputation in the community. And impressive numbers on every external marker of church success.
In some ways, we adapt to the culture around us so as not to offend (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). In other ways, we are forbidden to conform. Where do we draw the line between the two? See Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 6:17-7:1.
We must contextualize the Gospel so that it is understandable to receptive unbelievers. Common examples of failure to contextualize:
- Forcing western traditions that are unrelated to the Gospel upon a foreign culture
- Speaking in “Christianese” that is incomprehensible even to the receptive unbeliever.
- Failing to preach the Gospel in such a way as to demonstrate its applicability and implications for the life of the average person.
- Having a snobbish, unloving, unwelcoming, inhospitable, exclusive or indifferent attitude toward the lost.
On the other hand, while it’s important to adapt ourselves to the context, we must never adapt the gospel. Also, we must never adapt ourselves to anything in the culture that is sinful (compromise).
There should be a stark, immediately noticeable contrast between us and the world in affections, motives, speech, and actions (Php.2:15). Our efforts to win their friendship and movement toward them must never occur in the areas of their vices (Jas.1:27). Accommodation is good in areas of tradition and culture that are completely neutral but must never involve areas of morality and purity.
Common examples of compromise:
- Making entertainment the purpose of “worship” music (“Worship” that does not have God as its focus is detestable to God – Isa.29:13).
- Lifting human methods above expository preaching (Preaching was the method Jesus used Mt.4:23, commissioned the Apostles to use Mt.10:7, and that we are to use 2 Tim.4:2).
- Moving the Church from the center of God’s plan (Eph.1:22,23, 3:10, Heb.12:22,23)
- Making the main function of the Church focus more on the lost than on the saved (Ministry is described in Scripture mostly in terms of ministry to the Church, Eph.4:11-16, 1 Cor.12-14, see especially 14:26).
- Moving closer to the world in the area of vices (such as coarse language Eph.5:4, use of alcohol designed to approximate the way the world sins with alcohol to win their favor Jer.15:17, or excessive involvement in entertainment; particularly impure forms Ps.101:3).
- Minimizing the offensive aspects of the Gospel such as sin and the evil of the human heart (Ro.3:10-18), culpability before God (Ro.3:19), judgment (Acts 17:31), wrath (Rev.16:19), hell (Mk.9:43), the need for repentance (Acts 17:30), the sovereignty of God (Acts 17:24-27), and Jesus’ calls to complete devotion (Lk.14:26-35).
- Developing a “church” in which those who love the Lord with all their hearts are in the minority (Heb.12:22,23).
|“I suspect it was the strength of another,” Watson said. “A guardian, perhaps.”
“… The Ruler assigns them to protect us and help us when we need it.”-p.141
What is the primary task of angels? See Hebrews 1:14.
To minister to people.
|Sol, Watson’s guardian, had only used one hand to steady Watson and push him up the hill. His other still clutched his sword. Below lay three warriors, all gravely wounded and regretting the decision to engage Sol. -p.141|
Some take Matthew 18:10 to imply that each believer has a specific “guardian” angel assigned to him/her. What is your view?
I think it’s likely that we have guardian angels.
|Gadol surveyed the gathering of humans in the banquet hall. “They don’t even realize we’re here, do they?”|
What role do angels play in church services? See Ephesians 3:10.
They learn about God’s wisdom by watching the church.
|His stomach growled. He knew he should be concerned about more important things-like learning the truth about why his friend was murdered. But try as he may, his mind could not be diverted from its fantasies about the fruit in that little bag.|
When you know you should focus on more important things, but some craving or lust is captivating your attention, what is the solution? See Colossians 3:1-2. What are some strategies for doing this?
The solution is to set your mind and heart on things above, not on earthly things. The more time we spend thinking about things from a biblical, spiritual perspective, the more repugnant sin will look to us and the more attractive righteousness will appear.
Some strategies are Scripture memorization and meditation, listening to Christian music, listening to sermons, conversations with godly people about spiritual things, reading books, articles, etc. with biblical insights, and prayer.
|“What did you do with the fruit?” Adam asked.
“Hid it down that way,” he said, pointing with his chin, then flinched at a stab of pain. “But I don’t want it. Honestly, I’m sick of running after fruit. I’m sick of it all.”
… Adam’s His stomach growled…. his mind could not be diverted from its fantasies about the fruit in that little bag.
What can make the giving up of one’s life of sin feel like gain rather than loss? See Matthew 13:44-46; Luke 15:16-17; Psalm 63:3.