Last night I was reading in the book of Proverbs and I got to this passage which I had read several times before.
Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” (Proverbs 9:1-6 ESV)
Reading this passage this time gave me a feeling that it was awfully familiar with a passage from the New Testament which is none other than Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-14.
One day when Jesus was speaking about the kingdom of heaven he compared it to a wedding feast given by a king for his son. When everything was ready he sent his servants to call the people who were invited, but they would not come. So he sent other servants, saying:
“Tell those who are invited, See I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”
But the invitees still wouldn’t pay attention to the king’s invitation and each went about his business and some even treated the servants shamefully and killed them. This kindled the anger of the king and he sent troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he told his servants to go to the main roads and invite as many as they can find, both bad and good, because those who were invited were not worthy. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he found one who wasn’t wearing a wedding garment, so he asked him how he had gotten in there with no wedding garment and the man was speechless. So he had him thrown out into the outer darkness bound by his hands and feet where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, saying:
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
The striking similarity between the two passages caught my attention, especially the fact that it is the same person making the invitation in both passages, since Wisdom refers to Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:24, Colossians 2:3). Additionally, in both instances the invitation is to come and have fellowship with him.
In the first passage, Jesus is calling everyone who is simple and lacks sense to come eat of his bread and drink of his wine (a direct reference to what he would later say in John 6:51,54) by leaving their simple ways and walking in the way of insight. Jesus is calling everyone to stop having fellowship with the evil one (Proverbs 4:17) and come have fellowship with him, thus acquiring wisdom and eternal life.
In the second passage, it is an invitation to both the good and the bad where a change from old garments to wedding garments is required to be able to stay for the wedding feast where there will be fellowship with the king in celebration of his son.
I think it is noteworthy that in both cases the call of God comes to everyone, regardless of their initial state. The change happens only after responding to the call, which is why Jesus finishes by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen”, to show that the election doesn’t happen before the call but the call happens before the election.
Everyone is invited to attend the wedding of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9), but it is only the people who will respond to the invitation and change their garments who will be attending the celebration. It is only the people who will leave their simple ways and walk in the way of insight and come eat of the bread of wisdom and drink of her wine (Proverbs 9:5-6).