Thursday, November 13, 2014

REVELATION 19: 1-10 “ARE YOU INVITED TO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB?“

It has been a while now since we have  been in the book of Revelation  and  it  would  be helpful if  I  gave you a  short  summary  in terms of what  we have considered previously  as we are now rapidly heading towards the end of this  great part of (often neglected) Scripture.  The  Revelation has been given to  the church to remind her  that she  exists  in the midst of  a gigantic spiritual war. The Revelation  assures us of the outcome: “They will make war on the Lamb,  and the Lamb  will conquer them, for he is the  Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called chosen and faithful.” (Rev. 17 : 14)
I  remind you then that the  Revelation to John begins  with a focus  on  the struggles of the church (Rev. 2&3)  against  the deceptions  of  false teachers ( 2:6, 15,20ff)  and as she is at the mercy of  the satanic   persecutions of  the synagogue of Satan (jealous  Jews – 2:9; 3:9)  and of the  Roman empire.   All this provides a general picture  of the experience of  the church  in all the ages . 

Before we consider  Rev. 19,  and  the thrilling account of the marriage supper  of the Lamb (19:7,9,17) we    need to take  note of  the  contrast  between the bride of Christ (19:7) - the church  and  the great multitude  (19:1,6)  preparing  to meet  her  heavenly bridegroom (the  Lamb 19:7,9) and the  great  prostitute  Babylon, the bride of the dragon   who  is  committing spiritual adultery with  the nations ( 17: 1-2,5;15-16).  This is the war between the bride/  Christ  and the prostitute/ Satan.  
In order to  appreciate this contrast  between the  bride of Christ and the bride of the dragon, we  must go back to  Rev. 16:17-21 ,  the  account of the 7th bowl  of  God’s wrath poured out.  The 7 bowl judgments  are  the last of  the  three  cycles of judgment found  in the  Revelation to John,  the other two being the seven seal judgments  and the seven trumpet judgments .

We saw  that the 7th bowl  judgment splits  Babylon into three parts,  along with all of the cities of the nations   which were linked to Babylon  (16:19).  Babylon is  then  introduced  as  the great prostitute  in Ch. 17.   In 17:9 -10 we learn  that  this  immoral  city  is seated  upon seven  mountains. We are told  that  from  this city  a series of 7 influential kings ( 5  who had fallen by this stage)   had ruled their  evil authority  (17:9-10) .   John and the readers of his day knew that this city  referred  to Rome . Rome was  now the symbolic  “Babylon”,  for  Babylon in the  eyes of  the OT  Jews  had  always been understood to be  a  city of  oppression, persecution  and  humiliation  for  the Jews.  Rome had become a highly immoral city and  she exported  her vileness to the nations . Her emperors  hated Christians , because  by their lives and testimonies they condemned  their practices of the  Roman  empire. This was the case also with the Babylon  which in OT times  was a thorn in Israel’s flesh. She was  depicted  by  Israel’s prophets as the epitome of  godlessness,  and the  prophets  foresaw  a day , when under the wrath of God ,  Babylon  would  fall and  be repaid for all her sins.  This is what  Rev. 17-18 is all about!

Revelation 18 describes the  fall of Babylon and  the subsequent  responses  of both and heaven (18:1-8; 21-24) and earth (18:9-20) in response  to the judgment of God  upon Babylon.   Heaven  rejoices  at her judgment  but the  earth (all those who had loved  and depended  upon the prostitute) weeps and wails and mourns   over  her  loss (18:9,11,15,18)  because in so doing  they  that loved the prostitute  have lost all their wealth! That which the lovers of the prostitute  lived for was now  gone.  The closing verses of chapter 18  describe a mighty  angel   crushing Babylon with a millstone  (18:21-24). All this is  a reminder  and an encouragement to the saints  to be patient and to persevere. It is an assurance that the  great prostitute  which has made the life of the church so difficult on earth , and who has  killed  many  saints  will be  crushed by God. Her fate is sealed, her doom is sure.  This brings  us  to  Rev. 19:1-10  , the vision of  the church , the bride of  the Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation  19: 1-10

[19:1] After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,[2] for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute  who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” [3] Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

Whilst  Babylon ,   the city of man has been prospering and going from  strength to strength in her iniquity , mocking , persecuting , seducing  and killing the saints, God has not been idle. In the midst of  the prostitutes deceptions  upon the people of the earth,  God  has always been in the business  of  gathering the church, the elect of God  over  all the ages. He has been  preparing a bride for his Son, and as  the end  of  the great prostitute -  Babylon is  now complete, the kingdom of God  and the  long- awaited   “marriage supper  of the Lamb” is about to  happen. The picture of  the  destruction of the prostitute (which was begun in 16:17ff)  now gives way to the picture  of the marriage of the Lamb, and heaven’s citizens celebrate with frequent  hallelujah’s !  ( see  19:1,3,4,6)

In Rev. 18:20,  we find the first invitation  from  God  to begin the celebration: “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints,  apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment  for  you against her.” Justice is finally done! God has now avenged the blood of all those who have suffered for righteousness sake at the hands of the  great prostitute. God has  avenged  all those  who remained poor in spirit[1] (humble)  while the  prostitute  made her people to boast  in their own glory. God has avenged  all those who mourned over sin  while the  prostitute made  her people revel  in sin; God has avenged  all those who  remained meek while the  prostitute taught  her  to  be  proud and self- assertive ;   God has avenged all those all those who hungered and thirsted after righteousness while the prostitute taught her people  lawlessness ;  God has avenged all those  who were merciful, while the prostitute  taught her people  self -centeredness; God has avenged  all the pure in heart  whilst with the help  of  the prostitute  many people  set up idols in their hearts ;  God has avenged  all the peacemakers  whilst the prostitute  currently stirred up war and strife among the nations.  God has finally avenged all  those  who were  persecuted   and harassed  while  the prostitute   caused her customers to live  in a fool’s paradise.  I am  quoting Jesus words in the beatitudes , and He concludes: “Great is their reward in heaven”  (Matt 5:  2- 12).  

Notice too that this is no small group rejoicing in heaven. John describes them as a great multitude  ( 19:1,6  - see  also  Rev. 7:9 -   “ a great multitude  that no one could from every nation, tribe, people and language”) .  All of them have come out of the great tribulation, which is the entire period of time between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ.  The true church  has  suffered  on earth,  but  her  time has now come to celebrate! The  church is  finally at rest – Hallelujah!

[4] And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”  The worship and the praise  goes as always  to God , and  we note in verse 5 that  immediately after their “Amen!” another voice is heard, directing the  church in heaven  to worship the God who has delivered  His people from their enemies :  “And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”

The destruction of Babylon  is a  cause for celebration[2] ,  for the church has entered into her promised rest  (Hebrews  3:7 - 4:13), but there is more  to that celebration  than this  . Here is  the beginning of the consummation- that which happens when  a marriage is formalized. And so we read in vv. 6 & 7  : [6] Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God  the Almighty reigns. [3][7] Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”

A wedding is a  time of celebration  and fine dressing  . And so we read:  [8] it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. Please note :
·       the wedding garments are said to be given to the bride by her groom before the wedding.[4]
·     Clothed in His righteousness  the church   shows  evidence of her  love for Christ  through the showing of her righteous deeds. The church is  not only righteous by proclamation; she is also righteous by demonstration!  …” we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:8-10) One way in which the bride prepares herself for the marriage  feast is by remaining faithful to her bridegroom is to resist  the seductive ways of the prostitute and by living righteously .

Jesus  transforms His people  into a radiant, spotless church,  something which Paul  points out   in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

With the time for the wedding now at hand, we read in verse 9 : “And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”  
In Matt. 22:1-14 / Lk 14:15-22, Jesus told a parable about a  wedding banquet, in which a  king invites a number of people  to the wedding of his son, but they say that they   are too busy to attend. Here in John’s vision, the people in Jesus’ parable who refuse to come to the wedding would be those who would rather serve the beast and the prostitute.

Since Christ’s invited guests  (Israel) will not come, we read that the king “said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” In fact, Jesus goes on to speak of how the king provided his guests with appropriate wedding garments. So here is the wedding  invitation from God to attend the wedding of his Son. But this invitation is not that of a guest, but as a bride!

To all of you who are trusting in Jesus Christ through faith alone, you have received your invitation to the marriage supper of Christ the Lamb. And we are invited to this wedding not merely as guests or spectators. We are invited to become Christ’s own glorious bride: “radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! Amen.




[1] See Matthew  5:2-12  ( Beatitudes)
[2] This doesn’t mean that God has not ruled  over all prior to this moment. Of course he did. But until this moment, God has ruled according to his long-suffering mercies, allowing evil to run its course, even allowing the dragon, the beast, the false prophet and the harlot to persecute his people. No longer. God’s wrath is now complete.
[3]  The Lord God Almighty reigns.”  Should be translated as   “The Lord God Almighty has begun to reign!” (an ingressive aorist tense ,  not a present tense). John hears the great multitude shouting “Hallelujah!” with great intensity because something dramatic and climatic has happened .
[4] In Isaiah chapters 61-62, the prophet speaks of God giving to his people, Israel, fine wedding garments, which are said to be “garments of righteousness.”

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