I was driving to my son’s 30th birthday party and feeling a dread of parties. I could sell you on the fact that I register a strong “I”for “Introvert”on the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), and that would be a clean, clinical explanation. But I know there is a good dose of not so neither-here-nor-there fear of man in the mix, too.
Cruising along from Glenside to Fishtown I started musing about parties I know in the Bible. (Hmm, that would be a great Jeopardy category, would it not? “Parties in the Bible for 800, Alex.”) The first that came to mind was the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), where Jesus turned water into wine and saved the day.
The second I remembered was a party in the Old Testament that didn’t go so well for the Persian King Belshazzar and his advisors (Daniel 5), who were getting drunk out of goblets pillaged from Solomon’s Temple. Just then the disembodied hand of a man appeared and wrote on a wall before all the terrified guests these cryptic words: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin” (“God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end.”)
And who can forget the 180-day party of King Ahasuerus, which he followed up with another seven-day party just to wind things down? When the monarch was good and pickled he sent for his queen to show her off to the princes. But she declined to come, which set off a chain of events in which God wrought a narrow escape from Israelite extinction.
There are other parties in the Bible (Exodus 32:6; Judges 14:10-20; Judges 16:27; 1 Samuel 25:36; 2 Samuel 13:23-29; 2 Kings 7:8-9; Mark 6:21-29; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 19:9), some of them glorious, some inglorious. But in every one of them, the history of salvation was advanced in some way. Isaiah 9:7 says that of the increase of God’s government “there will be no end.”
God has always done a lot with parties. If I am heading to a party in a depressed mood and without expectations, that is nothing but lack of faith in the living God who is still always at work. Prayer and joyful anticipation—rather than sullenness and no expectation of God’s work—are the appropriate attitude when on your way to a party.