The WMSCOG’s Misinterpretation Of Isaiah 25:6 “Aged Wine”

This article was submitted by a former deacon of the WMSCOG.

When I was a member of the World Mission Society Church of God, one verse in their doctrine was a pillar of my faith; Isaiah 25:6 (additional verses included for context). 

6 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.
7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

Isaiah 25:6-9 New International Version

The World Mission Society Church of God interprets this verse to mean that in the future there will be a feast that contains wine that will swallow up death forever.  The WMSCOG says that this mountain is their definition of Zion, that this feast is their Passover celebration, and the Lord that prepares it is Ahn Sahng Hong.  It took about 8 years in the church for me to realize that perhaps these verses could be interpreted to be about Jesus at the last supper or the coming of the new heaven and new earth in Revelation. 

The WMSCOG teaches that the Lord in the above passage cannot be Jesus and must be Ahn Sahng Hong, because of the use of the word “aged.”  It is further taught that the wine was first opened at the time of Jesus, then sealed up for 1,600 years, from the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD until 1948 (although Ahn Sahng Hong did not begin to preach or observe the Passover until several years later).

Now, let’s get into the specifics of wine preservation. According to the WMSCOG’s interpretation, the wine was “opened” the first time at the coming of Jesus, then sealed, and reopened at the time of Ahn Sahng Hong. Therefore, this wine would be called “corked.”  After wine is opened, after about 5 days it begins to turn into a vinegar due to oxidation.  For wine to be aged, it should never be opened. Meaning, Jesus should never have served this wine that swallows up death. Once opened, it would undoubtedly spoil over the following 1600 years.

Now to understand the reason why this wine is called “aged.” It becomes a matter of translation and intent.  When you view the King James Version and several other versions, you see how this wine is meant to be described in more detail. In the KJV it is called “wine on the lees.” 

6 And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.

Isaiah 25:6 King James Version

I once was teaching a WMSCOG bible study to a KJV-only person (if you are a member of the church and have gone preaching in the southern states of the US, you will know the type for sure) from the perspective that “it doesn’t matter which translation, they will all say the same truth I am delivering.” Then this verse came up and I had to do some fancy bible verse gymnastics in order to explain it away.  The phrase “wine on the lees” is uncommon and would make little sense to most people.

When wine is made, yeast is added to the grape juice, in order to convert the sugar in the juice to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Once the process of fermentation is complete, the yeast will drop to the bottom.  The sediment is referred to as gross lees which is made up of the yeast, grape skins, stems and other byproducts which are discarded. However, some of the yeast is very fine and takes a long time to settle to the bottom.  The flavor of the wine becomes increasingly richer the longer it remains in contact with the finer lees. That is where the expression, “aged like fine wine” comes from.

Subsequently, the wine in this verse can be interpreted in two ways. The wine is either aged, meaning unopened for many years, or high in quality.  The quality of the banquet is echoed several times throughout the verse. Note that the verse does not refer to “the most ancient of meats and the oldest of wines,” but rather emphasizes the quality. 

So let’s put on our thinking caps (or thinking yamakas) and take a deeper look at the original Hebrew text.

The Hebrew to English translation of Isaiah 25:6 can be found on BibleHub.

As you can see, the descriptive word for the wine in Hebrew is lees (or dregs in the Strong’s concordance). If you copy and paste the Hebrew word שְׁמָרִ֖ים into Google Translate, the result is yeast.

Although some translations such as the NIV simply describe the wine as aged, the emphasis is on the quality of the wine, and greatness of the feast that the Lord is preparing. There is no reference to a wine that swallows up death forever, being served and then remaining unused for any length of time. In fact, there is no direct link to the wine being what swallows up death at all. If this were to be the case, then the choicest of meats may also be credited to swallowing up death. If this is the case, then according to the WMSCOG’s interpretation, God would be serving us 1600 year old meat. Clearly, Isaiah 25:6-9 describes a banquet of the highest quality, and is not about how long this oxidized (spoiled) wine has been sitting around.

Reading further, it says in verse 7 that God will remove the shroud from all peoples (a shroud is a cloth that is used to cover the dead for burial) and wipe the tears from all faces.  What is important to remember here is that in the time of Isaiah, the Jewish people were the only ones known to be God’s people. But in the time of Jesus, a future event for Isaiah, we see all people being welcomed into God’s banquet and God removing death and sorrow from all nations. In conclusion, the scene in the above mentioned verses more accurately applies to Jesus at the last supper and to the saints entering Heaven (often compared to a banquet; Matthew 22:2, Luke 14:15, Revelation 3:20-21).

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