“Eschatology” (Part 25: Marriage of the Lamb

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III. The Book of Revelation. S. The Marriage of the Lamb (19:1-10). 1. Rejoicing over the judgment on the harlot. “1 After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; 2 because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.’” a. Why was Jerusalem judged? (i) She was corrupting the earth with her immorality/idolatry; turning others away from Christ and God and to the beast (emperor worship). (ii) She was guilty of the blood of the saints (Matt. 23:34-36). b. Heaven rejoices over God’s judgment on Jerusalem. (i) They rejoice for two reasons: (a) He has justly judged Jerusalem for her spiritual adultery: “He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality” (v. 2). (b) He has brought vengeance on these wicked for their persecution of the saints: “He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her” (v. 2). (1) “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also” (Rev. 6:9-11). (2) “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). (ii) Praise is the fitting response when: 1) God answers prayer, 2) When God reveals His glory, as He does here in His justice. (a) God delivered them (salvation); they give Him the credit (glory); and extol Him for His might (power). (b) In doing this, they also exonerate Him of all blame: He is fully justified in talking this action (His judgments are true and righteous).

2 (c) God never does anything unjust or unrighteous. He will not punish the innocent, nor will He let the guilty go free. c. They praise God for a fitting judgment: “And a second time they said, ‘Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever’” (v. 3). (i) She has committed spiritual adultery, and so she receives the punishment of a harlot: she is burned with fire (Lev. 21:9). (ii) Notice that it is everlasting fire: (a) Meaning she will not be raised up again as the bride of Yahweh, the people of God. (b) It also means that those who committed these crimes – the leaders and the peoples of Israel – will be burned with everlasting fire. (c) “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:11-12). d. All of heaven rejoices in this act of powerful and sovereign justice: “4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’ 5 And a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.’ 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns’” (vv. 46). 2. The Marriage of the Lamb. “‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God’” (vv. 7-9). Now that the unfaithful harlot has been put away (the Old Jerusalem), the Lord takes a new wife (the New Jerusalem). Once the Lord deals out judgment to faithless Israel, He at the same time takes to Himself a new bride, the church. This isn’t an event that will take place at the end of time; but one that took place in the past and is still ongoing. a. Dispensationalism teaches that once the church has been raptured, the righteous dead raised, the Tribulation has been completed, Christ has returned, the Sheep and Goat Judgment has reached its conclusion, that the wedding feast will take place on the old earth at the beginning of the Millennium. (i) “Expositors have debated whether the wedding will be in heaven or on earth. While the difference is not that important, the interpretive problem can be resolved by comparing the wedding described here to weddings in

3 the first century. A wedding normally included these stages: (1) the legal consummation of the marriage by the parents of the bride and of the groom, with the payment of the dowry; (2) the bridegroom coming to claim his bride (as illustrated in Matt. 25:1-13 in the familiar Parable of the 10 Virgins); (3) the wedding supper (as illustrated in John 2:1-11) which was a several-day feast following the previous phase of the wedding. (ii) “In Revelation 19:9 ‘the wedding supper’ is phase 3. And the announcement coincides with the second coming of Christ. It would seem, therefore, that the wedding supper has not yet been observed. In fulfilling the symbol, Christ is completing phase 1 in the Church Age as individuals are saved. Phase 2 will be accomplished at the Rapture of the church, when Christ takes His bride to heaven, the Father’s house (John 14:1-3). Accordingly it would seem that the beginning of the Millennium itself will fulfill the symbolism of the wedding supper (gamos). It is also significant that the use of the word ‘bride’ in 19:7 (gynē, lit., ‘wife,’) implies that phase 2 of the wedding will have been completed and that all that remains is the feast itself. (The word commonly used for “bride” is nymphē; cf. John 3:29; Rev. 18:23; 21:2, 9; 22:17.) (iii) “All this suggests that the wedding feast is an earthly feast, which also corresponds to the illustrations of weddings in the Bible (Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13), and thus will take place on earth at the beginning of the Millennium” (Bible Knowledge Commentary). b. However, this event already has and still is taking place. (i) He betrothed His new bride to Himself through the preaching of the Gospel. (ii) He took His new bride upon the completion of His putting away of His unfaithful wife. (iii) It appears that it was also at this time the wedding feast mentioned took place (since the wedding feast always take place in conjunction with the marriage), and afterwards (when more are added to the bride and periodically when the bride celebrates her marriage to Christ). (a) When Israel was wedded to the Lord, the wedding celebration didn’t take place well after the event or at the end of the relationship, but at the beginning and during that relationship through the various feasts (ceremonial feasts) the Lord had instituted for worship. (b) Now that the Lord has dealt with faithless Israel, He takes a new bride and celebrates that relationship with her, a relationship that began at Pentecost and continues when each new soul is added to the church. The Church is the wife of Christ now, not sometime in the future. (1) “The destruction of the Harlot and the marriage of the Lamb and the Bride – the divorce and the wedding – are correlative events. The existence of the Church as the congregation of the New Covenant marks an entirely new epoch in the history of redemption. God was not now merely taking Gentile believers into the Old

4 Covenant (as He had often done under the Old Testament economy). Rather, He was bringing in ‘the age to come’ (Heb. 2:5; 6:5), the age of fulfillment, during these Last Days. Pentecost was the inception of a New Covenant. With the final divorce and destruction of the unfaithful wife in A.D. 70, the marriage of the Church to her Lord was firmly established; the Eucharistic celebration of the Church was fully revealed in its true nature as ‘the Marriage Supper of the Lamb’” (Chilton, Days of Vengeance, 473). (2) “The marriage union of Christ and the church is not a single act or thing. Every union of a believer with Christ in baptism is marriage to Christ, and is representative of the whole relation” (Wallace, Back, 416). (3) The marriage supper of the lamb is mentioned here to remind us that the Lord is never without His bride, His people. “The Church takes the place of Old Testament Israel and becomes the new Israel of God, and God’s people continue to be married to Him” (Bass, 416). (4) “The marriage supper is a metaphor for the final repudiation of the harlot and the introduction of the bride. This is the covenant meal or marriage supper, which seals the new relationship. It is accomplished when the Bridegroom overthrows the unfaithful wife and punishes her lovers, the kings of the land with whom she has committed adultery” (Leonard, Come Out of Her My People, 139). (5) This is exactly what Christ said would happen: “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:11-12). (6) “The marriage of the Lamb is the union of Christ with believers, and is therefore essentially a fact of spiritual life. The feast or supper of that marriage is a figure for the delightful fellowship, the blessed entertainment and fruition of such vital union with the Prince of life. The marriage of the Lamb is a process continually going on as long as such unions of Christ and his beloved and elect ones continue to be consummated” (Terry, Biblical Apocalypse, 441). (7) This was the wedding feast to which Israel was invited, and it still took place when she rejected, but with different guests. “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, “Tell those who have been invited, ‘Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.’” But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm,

5 another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire’” (Matt. 22:1-7). (8) Everything was ready to consummate that marriage – Christ had come, had lived, had died, had risen, had sent His apostles to gather the guests – Israel refused, but the elect Jews and Gentiles accepted. (iv) We are told how the bride is prepared for this marriage: through the work of Christ, “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (v. 8). (a) The bride (the church) is dressed in fine linen, which represents the righteousness by which she is saved and made acceptable to the Bridegroom, Jesus. (b) This righteousness is said to be hers, but it’s hers only by imputation. As Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:8-9, “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (c) On the other hand, it’s also true that true saints will do good works, as James tells us, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:17), and as Jesus tells us, “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matt. 7:17). (v) Finally, the angel reminds us what a great blessing it is to be invited to this marriage feast, “Then he said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God’” (v. 9). (a) The invitation is the call of the Gospel. Those who receive the invitation, put their trust in Christ and turn from their sins, become part of the bride and participate in the banquet. (b) But those who refuse the invitation are severely punished precisely because of the great privilege they refused. Such was the case with Israel. 3. John’s response, “Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’” (v. 10). a. John was so overwhelmed by what he saw, he was tempted to worship the angel who showed him this glorious scene, but the angel, very rightly, refused.

6 b. The testimony he brought was not His, but Christ’s. (i) An angel is merely a fellow servant, a created being, one who is also involved in the work of the Gospel – by rendering service to those who inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14) – and certainly not worthy of worship. (ii) But Christ is worthy of worship, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” which means either: (a) The Spirit of prophecy bears witness to Him: He is the subject of this vision. (b) Or Jesus is the meaning behind (spirit of) this prophecy. (c) Either way, it means that Christ is worthy of our worship. (1) “When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” (Matt. 14:32-33). (2) “And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him” (Matt. 28:8-9). (3) “While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God” (Luke 24:51-53).