Image above accessed 15 April 2021 at https://www.slideshare.net/newlifebiblechapel/wedding-of-the-lamb-3108966
I pointed out in the last post that Revelation 19:1-5 seems more like a closing of Chapter 18 than a beginning of chapter 18. However, the relationships of events within the chapter are compelling for it also to be a part of chapter 19.
Note with me the destruction of the scarlet prostitute (vss. 1-5) contrasts with the Second Coming of Christ (vss. 11-16 as the red indicates on the chart below). And the Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (vvs. 6-10) contrasts with the Carrion feast of the birds who feed on the bodies of those killed at the the Battle of Armageddon (vss. 17-21) as the blue indicates on the chart below.
In this post I want to deal with the Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.
First Century believers would be encouraged by this invitation. They were left out of many regal events in Rome’s social life. They will hereafter share in the feast since believers form the Bride of Christ, the Bridegroom. They would see how they would be at the very heart of the celebration with Christ! Alienated no more in heaven, they will rejoice now in their worship over their being with Christ in glory after this life.
The theme of these verses is—
We are betrothed to Christ, and we must continue faithful to Him until He comes for us.
I. The Bridegroom will return for His Bride though the waiting should now seem long.
vs. 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.”
The verb ” reign” is in the past tense in the Greek—For the Lord God Almighty reigned. This is a specialized use of the past tense in Greek—the ingressive = “begun to reign.” We should translate this phrase: “For the Lord God
Almighty has begun to reign.” Christ returns to earth to drive all enemy combatants from the field of battle. The Greek for “Almighty ” (pantakrator) the one who has unrestricted power exercising absolute dominion. It is the Old Testament Greek Translation (the Septuagint = LXX) equivalent of the Hebrew Lord of Armies (Yahweh Sebaoth). (see Biblehub, below.)
Image above left is by Jan Henryk Rosen, Christ Pantocrator, Washington, DC; it is in the ceiling of the apse. “Christ is watching over His own.” (image from Wikipedia.)
The Hagia Sophia has been turned into a mosque again recently. In Byzantine era, it was the largest Church in Christendom. It fell to the Muslim invasion in 1453 and was made into a mosque. Under the reign of Sultan Suleiman I, the Christian mosaics and frescoes were plastered over. The same happened in Greek Orthodox Churches after Turkish invasion of all of Greece. When the country was liberated in the 20th Century, the plaster was removed and Christ Pantokrator was still there. He had been watching over His own even though no one could see His image under the plaster.
Jesus Christ, as Pantakrator, has always reigned earth from Heaven. This phrase serves to emphasize Christ will come in great glory and the earth will be filled with it.
vs. 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;
II. Our Bridegroom has provided all we need to be with Him for all eternity.
vs. 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.
Wedding imagery is used often in the Bible to describe what the kingdom of God is going to be like when it comes on the earth. Matthew 22:1-3—
1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.
The Old Testament frequently uses the image of marriage to describe Yahweh’s relationship to his people. Hosea 2:19—And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.
Isaiah 54:5—For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
The Bride’s white linen is in marked contrast to the purple garments of the prostitute. Johnson points out that linen was an expensive cloth in the ancient world that was used to make the garments of priests and royalty. White indicates both cleanness and brightness. Note the balance of the Biblical statements concerning the Bride’s garments. They are given to her and she made herself ready. This indicates that righteousness is not meritorious, it is a gift, and she has kept herself pure. Compare Matthew 22:2,11-14—
2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son… .11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 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.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Bible Customs versus Modern “Brides Maid’s Dresses and Groomsmen Tux Rentals”
The wedding garments were always supplied by the host, so the man in the parable had no excuse for not having one on. He either refused to put it on initially, or had soiled the one he had been given and had taken it off. Either way, he had not responded correctly to the invitation of the King. “Righteous acts (dikaiomata) are not meritorious works that lead to salvation. Good works are the result of being in a right relationship with the Lord.
Biblical and un-Biblical views of Righteousness
Faith + Works = Justification (Works-righteousness is an un-Biblical view)
Faith = Justification with no works afterward (Anti-nomianism is also an un-Biblical view)
Faith = Justification + Works (is the Biblical view)
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The difference between these views is where we put works. In the un-Biblical views faith and works either are a requirement for justification or superfluous to justification. In the biblical view works flow from a right relationship with God. All the works to earn salvation were supplied by Christ in His active obedience to God and His law.
My professor of ethics at RTS, R. C. Sproul, said this about righteousness in salvation—
Righteousness involved in justification [being declared to be in right standing with God] is always an “iustitia alienus“—an alien righteousness. A righteousness that’s “extra nos” [ouside of us]—a righteousness that’s apart from me, [is] not mine inherently. It belongs to Christ. And what Christ does is when I put my trust in Him, He imputes or counts to me His righteousness. And on the basis of that imputed righteousness, God declares me just right now. So that if I die right now, I go heaven right now because I’ve all the righteousness I will ever need to get there, namely the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That’s good news. (see Sproul, below.)
III. Now is the time to live in light of Christ’s invitation to be His Bride.
vs. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
The second step for the coming of the kingdom of God on earth is the marriage of the Lamb. The event which will inaugurate the marriage is the marriage feast of the Lamb. Old Testament marriage customs are in view here. There were three steps to marriage—
Engagement (contract agreed on) Image from YouTube
Step #1 Engagement—a contract between families for the two young persons (often made when the young mere children).
Betrothal (waiting) Image from YouTube
Step #2 Betrothal—a 9 month to 1 year period of waiting to prove the purity of the Bride (entered into when the groom reached marriageable age). The bride remained in her home doing what ever work she usually did.
Wedding Feast (consummation) Image from YouTube
Step #3 Wedding Feast—takes place at the groom’s home (the only ceremony that took place), and then afterwards they began their life together).
IV. We must steer clear of worshiping anyone or anything but Christ.
vs. 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
This verse may be an allusion to the tendency in the early church for gnostics to worship angels. Gnostics were an exclusive group that said salvation comes by receiving a special, secret knowledge that only our group can give to those initiated into our group. Colossians 2:18-19 alludes to an early Gnosticism that threatened the Church—
18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
Hebrews 1:13-14 gives us a proper view of angels—
13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
The angel rebukes John for even giving the appearance that he was worshiping an angel. God alone is entitled to worship! The angel is describes himself as the fellow servant or slave (sundoulos) together with John.
Let us take fresh courage to live out our loyalty to Christ in light of what awaits us in glory!
We will move on in the next post to the Second Coming of Christ.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
BibleHub. (2021). Panakrator, G-3841. Accessed 16 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/3841.htm
ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Sproul, R. C. (2019). “An Alien Righteousness.” a Ligonier resource. Accessed 16 April 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/alien-righteousness/
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