The Marriage of the Lamb
The Marriage of the Lamb
Brad Mills / General
Revelation / Joy; Heaven; Marriage of the Lamb / Revelation 19:1–10
Revelation contains many contrasting themes. Darkness is followed by scenes of bright light. The torments of persecution on earth are followed by the glories of saints in heaven. In this case we jump from the theme of the world lamenting at Babylon’s funeral to the saints rejoicing at the wedding celebration of the Lamb.
The death of Babylon left the inhabitants of the earth who identified with her corruption in deep mourning. Her judgment was swift and shocking for those who had been enamored by her beauty and wealth. Their whole world had been flipped upside-down and all they could do was weep. However, in spite of losing everything, they refused to repent.
The second coming of Christ causes unbelievers to lament and believers to rejoice. This passage reflects on the passionate praise of “a great multitude”. It is their heartfelt response to the end of wickedness. Believers rejoice at the sight of Babylon’s judgment knowing that it will usher them into the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb.
Not until immorality has been finally eradicated can the marriage of the Lamb be fully celebrated.
Read Revelation 19:1-10.
I. Praising the Judgment of Christ’s Enemy (1-5)
Following John’s vision of the death of Babylon and the lamentation that immediately followed, John hears “the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven…” (1a). Their praise opens with “Hallelujah” which is the combination of “praise” (hallel) and “the LORD” (Yahweh). The word occurs twenty-four times in the Psalms and four times in Re 19. And that is all. It is believed that Jesus and his apostles—in sync with Hebrew tradition at Passover—sang the Hallel Psalms (Ps 113-118) during the last supper.
Therefore, its placement at the very end of the psalter (Ps 150:6), at the climax of Christ’s ministry, and in the last song of the NT, reveals the theme of Hallelujah as the culmination of the fulfillment of God’s promises.
This is followed by adoration for God’s “salvation and glory and power” (1b). These attributes of God are in direct relationship with the truth and justice of “his judgments” (2a). By judging the great prostitute, God “has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (2b). It is God’s answer to the prayers of the martyrs who pleaded for the Sovereign Lord to “avenge our blood” (Re 6:10).
The great multitude rejoices that the smoke of Babylon ascends to heaven forever—representing the end of her seductive influence (3). Individuals seduced by Babylon and the beast will experience the same fate (Re 14:11).
The twenty-four elders and four living creatures around God’s throne fall down in worship agreeing with the praise of the church triumphant (4). And a voice from the throne exhorts everyone in heaven—from the smallest to the greatest—to give their unhindered praise to God (5). God remains at the center of the scene. It is before the throne of God that the church triumphant declares their praise.
The Church in the OT always had a problem with remaining faithful. Even though God initiated a covenant with her that involved rescuing her from abandonment and providing for her—so that she was adorned with beauty and splendor (Ezek 16:8-14)—she took the blessings of God and offered them to false gods (Ezek 16:15-58). This occurred repeatedly throughout the OT.
God makes the same accusation in Hosea regarding unfaithful Israel. She used God’s good gifts to try to gain favor with her lovers. The temptations of the world were too strong for His bride. She became a prostitute, whoring after the gods of her neighbors. Even after being repeatedly rescued and brought back into a right standing within the covenant, the seduction of the world overpowered her. Although this grieved the Lord, it did not surprise him…
Before the foundation of the world, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made a pact to redeem a people out of the corrupt masses of humanity. The Father would send his Son into the corruption. The Son would live in the midst of the filth of this world without ever becoming filthy himself. He would live his entire life facing every kind of temptation that is common to man, and never once would he give in.
He is the only human who never deserved to die. But he would willingly give his life as a ransom for many. His perfect sacrifice satisfied divine justice, paying the penalty for sin. And after dying on the cross, he rose again from the grave three days later proving his victory over sin and death!
When the church in heaven sings praise for the judgment of immorality it is with this gospel mission in mind. They were each individually saved from the clutches of Babylon. Not only that, but they were also filled with the Holy Spirit—who initially drew them to the Father and continued to fill them with a reverent desire to please him.
That is why we gather now. Our hearts are being transformed so that we desire Babylon less and less and crave Christ more and more. As believers—from the smallest to the greatest—are being sanctified we are enabled to grow in godliness. Our fear of the Lord increases so that our fear of man decreases. As we behold the glory of the Lord in worship, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). We represent various stages of maturity, but every stage reflects the grace of God shown to us through Jesus Christ.
› After praising God for the judgment of Christ’s enemy, the same great multitude shifts her focus to begin…
II. Praising the Salvation of Christ’s Bride (6-10)
In response to the exhortation that came from the throne, the great multitude appears to roar even louder as they praise their Almighty God who reigns (6). The title they attribute to God proclaims his omnipotence—his sovereign power. The greatness of their expression is in proportion to their longing for it on earth. Christ’s return marks the first time that his reign is uncontested.
The verb “reigns” is identical to “begun to reign” in Re 11:17. This marks a new phase in his reign as it descends from heaven to earth. The harlot has been removed. And that fact allows the praise of the Church to be unhindered. Their worship is full because his kingdom has now become fully established “on earth as it is in heaven.”
They exhort one another to “rejoice and exult and give him the glory” because the wedding day has finally arrived for the Lamb and his bride (7). The bride received “fine linen, bright and pure…the righteous deeds of the saints” to wear (8). This is an interestingly worded phrase. She was granted/given the ability to clothe herself. John could have easily said either that the bride clothed herself, or that she was clothed by another. But John intentionally includes both ideas in the same phrase.
She passively received fine linen with which she would actively clothe herself. This is not vague or difficult to understand. Our theology is wholly consistent with this grammar. First, it conveys the idea that the saints receive a pure garment from the Lord to replace their filthy rags. Second, it conveys the idea that the Lord enables his Bride to practice personal holiness.
This involves mortification and vivification. Paul exhorts believers to “put off your old self…and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:21-24). If we are to enter into the wedding feast of the Lamb, we must be enabled to persevere in righteousness.
This wedding garment is specifically called “the righteous deeds of the saints” with which she “has made herself ready” (7). This imagery comes from Isa 61:10.
Poythress: The saints are distinguished from the world by their righteous acts (2 Thes 1:5; Matt 25:31-46; 5:16). At the same time, these acts are not the product of autonomous effort, but planned and empowered by God (Eph 2:10; Phil 2:12-13).
We see this same combination of active and passive verbs in relation to the white garments of the saints. In Sardis, some of the saints garments had not yet been soiled because they continued to walk in white “for they are worthy” (Re 3:4-5). The saints are said to “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Re 7:13-14).
The angel instructs John to write “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (9). The vision shifts from the metaphor of the church as Christ’s bride (corporate) to the church as guests invited to attend the marriage supper (individual). There is a corporate and individual aspect of the communion of the saints.
The weight of the reality of what John saw crashes upon him so that he worships at the angel’s feet (10). The angel immediately rebukes John for the inappropriate direction of his worship. His instincts were natural and good, but they were misguided. So the angel reminds him that he is “a fellow servant” and all worship is to be directed to God.
This is the second time we have seen John doing something inappropriate. The angel had to correct his marveling at the great prostitute (Re 17:6) and now another angel has to correct his misplaced worship. We are reminded that John is still a flawed man. Although he is witnessing the majestic view of the saints in glory, he remains fallible. Suppose a saint were to reach to the highest realms of human holiness, he would remain hindered by indwelling sin.
Hosea illustrates God’s redeeming grace in the midst of his bride’s unfaithfulness. In chapter three, he finds her being sold at a slave. As the bids come in, it is his voice that rises above the rest to purchase her back for “fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley” (Hos 3:2). He redeems her, calls her for himself, and exhorts her to remain faithful to him even as he promises to remain faithful to her. It is hard to imagine anything could possibly change in her behavior.
The repeated failures of an unfaithful people are met by the steadfast love of a faithful God. Only the sacrifice of the pure and spotless Lamb could provide the saints with the security of their inheritance. It is only through the death of Christ, that the saints can receive the garment of righteousness.
And it is only by the enabling of the Holy Spirit that saints can keep their garment from being soiled by the world. But it is not until the return of the Lamb that immorality will be finally eradicated, ushering his bride into the eternal celebration of the marriage feast.
In Matt 22:1-14 Jesus tells a parable of a king who hosts a wedding feast for his son. He prepares a wonderful dinner, but those invited did not attend. Some had other priorities while others mistreated the messengers. In their place, the king told his servants to extend the invitation to everyone they find. As the wedding hall was filled, one of the guests entered without a wedding garment. Maybe he was simply following the crowd, but not taking the invitation seriously. Whatever the reason, the result was devastating.
Matthew 22:13 ESV
Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Those who do not attend the wedding supper of the Lamb will attend another feast that is described in terrifying detail in the next section of this chapter (Re 19:17-18, 21). Everyone will attend one feast or the other.
If you have not received the garment of righteousness, look by faith to the Church’s one foundation—Jesus Christ. It is only by his death that we can receive the garment we need to enter the everlasting celebration.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 9:14 PM February 2, 2020.