The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!"
6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!
7 "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."
8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
9 Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." (NKJ)
The connection between last weeks message and this weeks is seen in the closing words concerning the Lord Supper in the gospels. Matt 26:29 "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (NKJ) The Wycliffe Commentary correctly connects the two events. "'I will not drink henceforth.' This statement directed the gaze of the disciples ahead to the Father's kingdom (the Messianic kingdom of God, and to a time of joy and fellowship at the great Marriage Supper."
The Lord' supper was in anticipation of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. That supper that follows the Lord's return for His people. In order to understand this passage we need to better understand the weddings and the marriage supper that completed the marriage contact.
Though marriage customs varied in the ancient world, usually there were three major aspects: (1) The marriage contract was often consummated by the parents when the parties to the marriage were still children and not ready to assume adult responsibility. The payment of a suitable dowry was often a feature of the contract. When consummated, the contract meant that the couple were legally married. (2) At a later time when a couple had reached a suitable age, the second step in the wedding took place. This was a ceremony in which the bridegroom accompanied by his friends would go to the house of the bride and escort her to his home. This is the background of the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1--13. (3) Then the bridegroom would bring his bride to his home and the marriage supper, to which guests were invited, would take place. It was such a wedding feast that Christ attended at Cana as recorded in John 2:1--12. (1)
It is this final stage of the marriage that we have in view in Rev. 19. Jesus purchased His bride at the cross of calvary 2000 years ago. The next phase takes place when He returns to the earth to take that bride to His home in heaven. Sometime between His return for the saints and His return with the saints, He will fulfill the prophecy in this passage. He will take His bride to be His wife. The idea is not that of an husband and wife but rather speaks of a special relationship that will exist for ever between Jesus and those who are here described as the bride.
One thing that takes place after the rapture that we do not discuss in Revelation is what Paul referred to as the Judgment Seat of Christ. We do not have time to go into it here except to say, that it is a time when the saints will be judged according to their works. Each work will be displayed of the true nature of it. Those works that do not measure up to the scrutiny will be burned up, leaving only those works that are of the gold, silver and precious stone quality.
Rom 14:10-12 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. (NKJ)
2 Cor 5:9-10 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (NKJ)
1 Cor 3:12-15 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (NKJ)
These judgments will be necessary before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place. Let us now look at this passage.
- It is a time of great rejoicing and praising God. Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory
- When we discuss rewards we must never loose sight that even the good things that we accomplish is due to the Spirit of God working in us.
- Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (NKJ)
- 1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, (NKJ)
- That has a tendency to keep us humble.
- 1 Cor 1:27-29 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. (NKJ)
- So the rejoicing here is that we might expect at a grand wedding.
- Notice how the event is referred to. for the marriage of the Lamb has come
- The Lamb is the focal point in Revelation.
- Lamb is used over 30 times in the book.
- Everything in Revelation is only secondary when it comes to the Lamb.
- Ps 115:1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. (NKJ)
- The lamb is the theme throughout the Bible.
- Used almost 200 times in the Bible
- The first reference to a sacrificial lamb in the Bible is found Genesis 22 where Abraham and Isaac are on their way to sacrifice Isaac when Isaac asks about the lamb for the burnt offering and Abraham says, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." (NKJ)
- How prophetic, that Abraham foretold that God would provide the Lamb that would take away the sin of the world. John 1:29, 36
- This bride has prepared for this event. His wife has made herself ready."
- Paul speaks on this same theme in writing to the church at Corinth.
- 2 Cor 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (NKJ)
- Paul understood this concept that the church at Corinth was as it were in a covenant relationship with Jesus and was therefore responsible to remain faithful to Him.
- The church is to be unlike the nation of Israel in the Old Testament that is liked unto an unfaithful wife who has played the harlot with all the pagan nations and their gods.
- The betrothal was so binding that any unfaithfulness is considered adultery and is punishable by death.
- He also speaks of the character of the bride when writing to the Ephesians.
- Eph 5:25-29 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (NKJ)
- Jesus has not abandoned us, but provided many benefits to keep his bride pure.
- He has provided the Spirit that works in and through us.
- He has provided the Word that cleanses us.
- He has provided ministers and fellow believers to keep us single hearted to Him alone.
- And He expects these things to bring fruits in our lives.
- Now not all have the same fruits.
- Some do not apply themselves, and will suffer for it at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
- Salvation is by grace alone but God has ordained that we have good works and will hold us accountable.
- Eph 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (NKJ)
- And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen,
- Clean and bright
- Here we see a contrast to the attire of the great harlot.
- Where the garments of the bride of Christ may seem simple to some, they represent the purity that Christ will have in His bride.
- God is a holy God, and His Son is also holy, and His bride will be in keeping with that holiness.
- We of course understand that we of our own selves have not true righteousness.
- The basis of our acceptance before God is totally on the basis of grace and the finished work of Jesus Christ.
- But there is something beyond that in view here.
- The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
- We are told that this fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
- Now that involves our works and our rewards we received at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
- In verse 8 a beautiful picture is drawn of the holiness and righteousness of the church in that hour, for the bride is described as arrayed in "fine linen, clean and white." We are not left to imagine what this means, for the interpretation is given: "for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." The word f or "righteousness" (Gr., dikaiomata) is the word for righteous deeds and is in the plural. The reference, therefore, seems to be not to justification by faith but rather to the righteousness wrought in the lives of the saints who comprise the wife of the Lamb. It seems that this is the sense of the unusual phrase "his wife hath made herself ready." (2)
- Now my interpretation of this that many are not going to qualify to be a part of this bride.
- Now let me say that I do not know what all the requirements are, and I don't think anyone else does either.
- But I think we can imagine those who definitely would not qualify.
- I had a professor in seminary who often said, "It pays to be faithful."
- I know some people who are saved, at least they claim to be but have no intention of getting to heaven but by the skin of their teeth.
- Paul talked about those, whose works would be burned up and they would themselves suffer loss and yet still make it into heaven.
- God furnishes the wedding with guest. Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'"
- Now I do not think there will be tears in heaven over past sins.
- Salvation is by grace.
- Some will be plenty glad just to get there even if they have few works that will get through the fire.
- Notice that there are guest.
- Who are these?
- I think these are those who do not make up the bride.
- It will include the Old Testament saints.
- And even John the Baptist
- John 3:29 "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. (NKJ)
- John excluded himself from the bride.
- John was the link between the Old Testament and the New.
- But do not feel bad for John, he said his joy was fulfilled.
- Have you picked up in the parables the importance of guests.
- In Matt 22 a parable of a wedding feast is told and how that those who were first invited were destroyed for their response to the invitation.
- But notice that even though those invited originally did not come, yet the king filled the hall with guests for his son's wedding feast.
- Matt 22:8-10 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. (NKJ)
- Notice it says blessed are those invited to the marriage supper of the lamb.
- It will be a great blessing even if we have not been faithful enough to be in the bride.
- When I think of the faithfulness of many who have given all, even their lives for Jesus, I think that we might not be as significant as we might think.
- But remember God has not called us to be great.
- He has not called us to be somebody.
- He has not called us to exalt our own selves or our agenda.
- He has called us to be servant.
- Faithful servant.
- It pays to be faithful.
- Are you satisfied with your measure of faithfulness.
- Yes it will be a great blessing to be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, but shouldn't we strive to achieve the best for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
The following pages are from Walvoord
THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB ANNOUNCED (19:7--8)
19:7-8 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, arid his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should he arrayed in fine linen, clean and while: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Continuing the praise of the Lord their God, the great multitude now announce a major feature of the Lord's reign upon earth, namely, His marriage to His bride. In verse 7, the great multitude express their joy that the marriage of the Lamb has come and that His wife has made herself ready. William R. Newell is certain that the marriage of the Lamb occurs in heaven. He writes, "Where is the marriage, with its attending marriage supper, celebrated? The answer can only be in heaven; for the scene is wholly heavenly. No one can read verse 6 with out coming to this conclusion." The text, of course, does not say where the marriage takes place. It merely announces that the marriage of the Lamb is come. This event is obviously subsequent to the destruction of Babylon, but, if this occurs at the end of the great tribulation which immediately climaxed and succeeded by the second coming of Christ, the more normal presumption would be that the supper would take place on earth in connection with thee second coming to the earth itself.
It is most significant and in keeping with the concept of a pretribulational rapture that those in the great multitude composed of tribulation saints should thus regard the wife of the Lamb as an entity other than themselves. The word for "marriage" is the same as that translated in verse 9 "marriage supper" (Gr., ganios).
Though marriage customs varied in the ancient world, usually there were three major aspects: (1) The marriage contract was often consummated by the parents when the parties to the marriage were still children and not ready to assume adult responsibility. The payment of a suitable dowry was often a feature of the contract. When consummated, the contract meant that the couple were legally married. (2) At a later time when a couple had reached a suitable age, the second step in the wedding took place. This was a ceremony in which the bridegroom accompanied by his friends would go to the house of the bride and escort her to his home. This is the background of the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1--13. (3) Then the bridegroom would bring his bride to his home and the marriage supper, to which guests were invited, would take place. It was such a wedding feast that Christ attended at Cana as recorded in John 2:1--12,
The marriage symbolism is beautifully fulfilled in the relationship of Christ to His church. The wedding contract is consummated at the time the church is redeemed. Every true Christian is joined to Christ in a legal marriage. When Christ comes for His church at the rapture, the second phase of the wedding is fulfilled, namely, the Bridegroom goes to receive His bride. The third phase then follows, that is, the wedding feast. Here it is significant to note that the bride is already the wife of the Lamb, that is, the bridegroom has already come for His bride prior to His second coming described in 19:11--16. That which is here announced is not the wedding union but the wedding feast. This has been variously interpreted as relating to the wonderful fellowship in heaven following the rapture or to the millennium itself. Of primary importance at this point, however, is the order of events. The third phase of the wedding is about to take place, namely, the feast, which presumes the earlier rapture of the bride. The translation would be much improved in verse 7 if it would read 'for the marriage feast of the Lamb is come."
Another problem of interpretation is the proper inclusion of the term "wife." In the biblical use of the figure of marriage, variations can be observed in both the Old and New Testaments. Frequently in the Old Testament, as for instance in the book of Hosea, Israel is described as the unfaithful wife of Jehovah to be restored to her position as a faithful wife in the future millennial reign. While marriage is often used as an illustration of various truths, the norm for the doctrine is that Israel is already married to Jehovah and has proved unfaithful to her responsibility as a wife. By contrast, in the New Testament the church is pictured as a virgin waiting for the coming of her bridegroom (II Cor. 11:2). In this case the wedding union is still future as well as the wedding feast. The dispensational distinction between the saints of the present age belonging to the church, the Body of Christ, and saints of other ages, such as those in the Old Testament or those in the future tribulation, therefore seems to be observed in this passage where the wife is distinguished from the great multitude identified in chapter 7 as martyrs out of the great tribulation. The "marriage of the Lamb" is properly the marriage supper of the Lamb, the final aspect of the marriage relationship between Christ and His church.
In verse 8 a beautiful picture is drawn of the holiness and righteousness of the church in that hour, for the bride is described as arrayed in "fine linen, clean and white." We are not left to imagine what this means, for the interpretation is given: "for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." The word f or "righteousness" (Gr., dikaiomata) is the word for righteous deeds and is in the plural. The reference, therefore, seems to be not to justification by faith but rather to the righteousness wrought in the lives of the saints who comprise the wife of the Lamb. It seems that this is the sense of the unusual phrase "his wife hath made herself ready."
In Ephesians 5:28--27 Christ is said to be carrying on a present work with His church "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" with a view to the future presentation in glory as stated in verse 27: "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." The present work of sanctification of the church must be distinguished from justification. Justification by its nature is an act of Cod by which a believer is declared righteous, in contrast to sanctification, as in Ephesians 5:26, which is the work of God in the believer to bring his spiritual state up to the level of his position in Christ. The righteousness thus wrought in the life of the believer is pictured here as the fine linen which adorns the wife of the Lamb. Though even this righteousness is a product of the grace of God, it is distinguished as being related to human works, an experience, rather than to a divine fiat. The fine linen may, in some sense, be a part of the reward given at the judgment seat of Christ to those who have served the Lord, here seen collectively in the wife of the Lamb.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE GALLED TO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER
19:9-10 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of Cod. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Following the praise to the Lord and the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb by the multitude, John is now instructed to write that those who are invited to the marriage supper are truly blessed. In this verse, as in verses 7 and 8, the wife of the Lamb is distinguished from the attendants at the wedding, the wife apparently being the church, and the attendants at the wedding the saints of past and future ages. The unfounded notion that God heats all saints of all ages exactly alike is hard to displace in the theology of the church. The fact that the divine purpose is not the same for Israel, the Gentile believers, or the church of the present age is plainly written in the Word of God. Such distinctions, however, should not be made greater than they really are. God does not deal with Israel on the same plane as He does the Gentiles, nor does He deal with the church on the same plane as He does the Gentile saints or Israel. Each has its peculiar advantages and particular place in the divine program. Just as no two individuals have exactly the same destiny, so no two nations or groups in God's program are treated exactly alike. In all these relationships God is completely sovereign, righteous, and wise.
The angel speaking the words of verse 9 is apparently the same one who on other occasions has informed John that he should write (cf. 14:13, but contrast 21:5 where the command is from God). The beatitude here expressed, the fourth beatitude of the book, is enforced by the statement "These are the hue sayings of God." While this fact is rather obvious in the context, its statement reinforces the sovereign character of this divine revelation. So awesome is the revelation that, according to verse 10, John falls at the feet of the angel in an attitude of worship. Such a reaction, however, is not appropriate for an angel, and John is rebuked with the statement that the one speaking is "thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus." The word for "servant" (Cr., syndoulos) could be translated "fellow slave." It is most significant that not only men who are redeemed are by this token bond- slaves of Jesus Christ, but the angels also have a similar obligation of implicit obedience to the Lord. Together they form the body that bears testimony to Jesus. The command "Worship God" means that only God should be worshiped.
1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 271
2. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 272
This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com