Elon, North Carolina
We have been studying the Book of Revelation for some time and we come now to a very exciting part of the book. Every topic from Revelation 19 to the end of the book is phenomenal. Our topic tonight is the marriage of the lamb. Next week, we will look at the Second Coming of Christ. The following week we will study the Millennium. Lastly, we will look at the eternal state. You do not want to miss any one of these topics.
Today, I want to talk about a wedding, the marriage of the lamb. The marriage of the Lamb will be one of the greatest events in biblical prophecy. It will be the consummation of the desires of the Father for His Son. Many marriages on earth result in unhappiness and do not last but this will literally be a marriage made in heaven. Jesus was not married on earth but he will be married in heaven.
Did Jesus Marry Mary Magdalene?
Ron Brown claims in his bestselling book The Da Vinci Code that He was. He claims that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child from her named Sarah and that his bloodline survived. He claimed that this fact was hidden by the church for thousands of years. People who love conspiracy theories love this one. He gets it primarily from an extra-biblical book called The Gospel of Philip which is part of the Nag Hammadi Library.
And the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene but Christ loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?”
How do we answer that? Most people have not read The Gospel of Philip. You probably did not do your devotions from The Gospel of Philip this morning. Is there any truth to the idea that Jesus was married? No. It is complete fiction. It may make a great novel but it makes terrible history. It is a complete myth.
1. There is no historical evidence that Jesus was married.
There is no historical evidence of this. None. The NT does not say that Jesus was married. It mentions the wives of Jesus’ disciples but never says that he had a wife. It does not call Mary Magdalene his wife. It does not say that he was married to Mary Magdalene or to any other woman. The Bible mentions Jesus having brothers, sisters, and a mother but not a wife. Secular historians of the time do not say that Jesus was married.
2. The Gospel of Philip is not a reliable historical document.
It is a book of mostly sayings but it is not a reliable historical document of what Jesus said or did It was written about two hundred years after the time of Jesus (early third century or late second century) and was not written by the real Apostle Phillip. It is a forgery.
3. Even The Gospel of Philip does not say that Jesus married Magdalene and had a child by her.
All it says is that he kissed her. What a kiss meant in the ancient world was very different from what it means in Hollywood. It had different cultural connotations. In the Middle East and European cultures, people greet one another with a kiss. It is non-sexual. It is a kiss of friendship. Sometimes, it is even done on the mouth.
In The Gospel of Philip, the disciples do not complain that Jesus kisses Mary Magdalene or complain that he kisses her on the mouth. They complain that he seems to love her more than them. If Jesus was married to Mary and the disciples asked him, why do you love her more than us, you would have expected him to say, “because she is my wife” but it does not say this. This quotation does not prove that the two were married and had children.
Orson Hyde (1805-1878) was an important early leader in the Mormon Church. He was a Mormon missionary for thirty years. He not only believed that Jesus was married, he believed that Jesus got married when He went to the wedding in Cana of Galilee (Journal of Discourses, IV, 259). That was a popular Mormon view in the 19th century. Was he right? No. Jesus did not get married at Cana. We know this because John 2:2 says Jesus and his disciples were INVITED to this wedding. If he was the groom, he would NOT be invited to the wedding but would be inviting others to the wedding.
Jesus didn’t get married while he was on earth but he is going to get married in heaven and it will be an occasion of rejoicing. Revelation 19:7 says, Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come”. Last time, we saw the command to rejoice was in 18:20. Everyone was to rejoice that God destroyed Babylon and avenged the saints. Now they are told to rejoice because the wedding of the lamb has come.
Most of us like weddings. Weddings are times of great joy. They are great times of celebration. There is a lot of food at weddings. They are big events. They are planned for months. Many are usually invited. We dress up for weddings. We have a photographer take pictures so we will not forget the event. We spend a lot of money on weddings. Many spend thousands of dollars. The average cost of a wedding in the US is about $25,000.
Even more spectacular than a regular wedding is a royal wedding, when a king or someone with royal blood gets married. Many of you may have seen the royal wedding in 2011. Prince William & Catherine Middleton had a wedding in London. They had 1900 invited guests. Millions watched the event on television all over the world. I watched some of it. This is a royal wedding. It is the wedding of the Lord Jesus.
In some ways, it will be similar to weddings, like ours. In other ways, it will be very different. It will not be a physical wedding. It will be a spiritual wedding. Jesus said that there will not be any marriages in heaven. He said, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).
The bride of Christ will not be a literal woman, any more than the whore of Babylon stood for a literal woman. The bride of Christ stands for a group of people. We will see later what group of people that will be.
Believers will not be the literal bride of Christ, anymore than we are the literal body of Christ or literal sheep or literal branches. This will not be a literal bride and the bride will not wear a literal wedding dress. We are told that the dress is symbolic (19:8). It stands for the righteous acts of the saints. The picture is symbolic.
The point of the marriage symbolism is intimacy. The marriage relationship is the most intimate relationship that you can have on earth. It is the highest expression of physical love between two people. It is the most complete and exclusive bond that a man and woman can share. That love and relationship is formally and legally acknowledged in a wedding ceremony. The bond between Christ and his people will one day be formally and publically acknowledged and he will put them on display. There will not be a ring or vows or a honeymoon.
Jewish Wedding Customs
Many look at the wedding of the lamb in terms of Jewish wedding customs. Some believe that this is patterned after a Jewish wedding. Jesus was a Jew. Revelation was written by a Jew and has a sacrificial lamb in it. There were several steps to a Jewish wedding. It is a little different from marriage customs in America.
In the first stage, the parents chose who they wanted their child to marry. The groom’s parents would purchase the bride with a dowry. The two would sign a marriage contract (ketubah). That is what would have occurred before the foundation of the world when we chose us in him before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) when certain people were given by the Father to the Son (John 6:37, 39). Christ paid the dowry price. He bought the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
The second stage was betrothal in which the man and woman were considered husband and wife but did not live together. They still lived with their parents. The groom was separated from his bride for a whole year. They couldn’t see each other for a whole year and could only communicate through a friend. Unfaithfulness during that time period is grounds for a divorce. Why did this last a year? It was a virginity test to prove that the woman did not get pregnant during that time.
That is the period in which we live now. The church at this period of time is described in the NT as engaged to Christ and legally married to him. We do not see him right now but are to be spiritually faithful to Christ as we wait for him to come and get us. II Corinthians 11:2 says, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”
In the third stage, the groom fetches the bride and brings her to the Father’s house. The bride did not know when this would occur. The bridegroom prepares a new home for his bride, like Jesus prepares a new home for us. They were married and had a celebration that lasted seven days. The church is right now waiting for Jesus to return to take them to his Father’s house (John 14:1-3).
After the wedding is the wedding supper. Isaiah 25:6 says, “Here on Mount Zion the Lord Almighty will prepare a banquet for all the nations of the world—a banquet of the richest food and the finest wine” (GNT). According to OT scholar John C. Whitcomb, this passage describes the menu of this future wedding feast. According to that verse, the meal will include fine wine and The Jewish supper lasted for seven days. This may last a thousand years during the Millennium. Jesus may have alluded to this when he said, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). Jesus said that there will be eating and drinking in the kingdom (Luke 22:29-30). In fact, he even told a parable about a wedding supper. Matthew 22:1-14 is the parable of the wedding banquet.
There may be some value in comparing this to Jewish wedding customs. Different countries and cultures have different wedding customs. Revelation 19:7-9 mentions four things about this marriage that I would like to look at – the wedding invitation, the bride’s preparation, the bridal party and two events.
When we have a wedding, we invite people to the wedding. We send out invitations. There is an invitation to this wedding (19:9). James Macdonald calls this “the hottest invitation in the history of humanity”
Revelation 19:9 says, “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” To go to this wedding you have to be invited. You have to get an invitation. You cannot come on your own. The question is who is invited to this wedding? Is everyone invited to this wedding? Does the wedding invitation go out to everyone and only certain people accept it or are only certain people invited to this wedding.
There is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is that everyone is NOT invited to the wedding. We normally do not invite everyone to our weddings. A special blessing goes along with this invitation. BLESSED are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ It is one of the seven beatitudes of Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 20:6; 22:7, 14).
All of the other beatitudes do not apply to everyone but only to certain people. The first beatitude was for those who read and obey the book. It is not for everyone. The second was for those who die in the Lord. Those who do not die in the Lord are not part of this blessing. The third was for those who are ready for the return of Christ. Those who are not ready do not receive the blessing. None of the first three applied to everyone but only to certain people.
This is an invitation only to the saved (cf. 17:14). It is an invitation to righteous beings (angels and men). The unsaved will not be invited to this wedding. The bad news is that only certain people are on the invitation list. The good news is that if you accept Christ and get saved, you can get on the list.
Our passage mentions two events – the marriage of the lamb (ό γάμος του αρνίου) in 19:7 and the marriage supper of the lamb (το δειπνον τοΰ γαμου του αρνιου) in 19:9. There is the wedding and the reception after the wedding. When will the wedding take place?
Revelation 19 mentions four events that will take place chronologically.
1. The Destruction of Babylon
2. The Marriage of the Lamb
3. The Second Coming of Christ
4. The Battle of Armageddon
Based on this chronology, the marriage of the lamb has to take place AFTER the destruction of Babylon, which takes place at the END of the Tribulation. The destruction of Babylon takes place during the seventh bowl judgment (16:17-21), the final judgment of the Tribulation Period.
The Bride’s Preparation
There is preparation for this event. We see this in 19:7-8. The bride has to be prepared for this event. It is a special occasion and that occasion requires planning and preparation. Women spend hours on their make-up, hair and dress. The bride of the lamb has to get ready for the wedding. Here’s the cool thing about this. In order for her to get ready for the wedding, there is something she does and something that God does. There is a human and divine side. This shows divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
God provides the wedding dress. We see that in 19:8 – “Fine linen, bright and clean, WAS GIVEN her to wear.” She had to be given that by God. That is salvation. We do not earn our salvation. If you are not saved, you will not be part of the bride.
That is strange. It does not say that she made herself ready with the righteousness of Christ but with the righteous acts of the saints. This does not mean that they were saved by works. We already saw in Revelation 7:14 that the saints “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. The bride had some dirty robes that needed to be washed in order to get saved. What this does teach is that good works follow salvation (14:13).
The bride also has a role in the preparation. The text says that she “MADE HERSELF ready” (19:7). She has to prepare herself for this event. That is her responsibility. It doesn’t say that she was made ready by God. How did she make herself ready? She made herself ready with “the righteousness of the saints”. This woman is the exact opposite of the woman in Revelation 17 who is not clothed with righteousness. She is a prostitute clothed with impurity, filthiness and abomination but Jesus’ bride is clothed with righteousness.
That is why there are all kinds of exhortations in Revelation to believers. This bride will not just have righteousness on the inside (imputed righteousness), she will have righteousness on the outside. Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20) and he was not talking about imputed righteousness in the context.
The Bride’s Wedding Gown
Notice what the dress of the bride will look like. It has four characteristics.
1. It is white
This is in contrast to the purple and scarlet clothing of the prostitute. The bride wears a white wedding gown.
2. It is shining.
The gown of the bride of Christ is radiant. It sparkles and shines brightly.
3. It is clean.
The word in Greek also means pure in contrast to the impure whore of Babylon.
4. It is simple. The whore of Babylon was glittered with gold, precious jewels and pearls (17:4). What the bride wears is not ornate or lavish.
The Bridal Party
Three groups make up the bridal party of this wedding. The text mentions the bride, the groom and the invited guests. There is no mention of best man or bridesmaids or groomsmen or flower girls or ring bearers, just the bride, groom and the guests. Who are they?
Everyone knows who the groom is. Jesus Christ, the Lamb, frequently referred to Himself as a bridegroom. Jesus is the groom in the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14. He is the groom in the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Here it is called “the marriage of the lamb”. The center of attention is not the bride. It is the groom. It is the marriage of the lamb. Here a lamb gets married. The lamb who was slain and overcame now gets married.
Who is the Bride?
The real question is who is the bride? This is more controversial. Christians do not all agree on this question. It is not an essential doctrine. Dispensationalists would limit the bride of Christ to the church. I agree with dispensationalists on many points but I believe that the bride cannot be limited to everyone saved from Pentecost to the Rapture. I believe that the bride represents the saved. The bride stands for all of the saved from Adam to the last person saved before the Second Coming. Everyone whose name is part of the book of life is part of the bride.
Why the Bride Includes All of the Redeemed
How do we know this is correct? There are three hints in the text. There are three ways we know that this group has to refer to all of the redeemed .
1) The use of the term “saints” supports this view in 19:8
The robe of the bride stands for the righteousness OF THE SAINTS (19:8), so the bride must be synonymous with the saints. What does the word “saints” mean in Revelation? A simple study of that word in the Book of Revelation shows that it is not limited to Pre-tribulation Church Saints. It is a general term and often refers to Tribulation Saints as well (cf. 13:7; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24).
2) The clothing of the heavenly armies supports this view.
Revelation 19:14 says, “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean”. These armies in19:14 are wearing the exact same thing that the bride is wearing just eight verses earlier in 19:8. They have to refer to the same group of people. It must refer to the bride. Jesus is going to return with the church. He is also going to return with other believers as well. Everyone agrees on that point. The church will not be the only believers to return with Jesus to earth. All of the saints are wearing the same thing. There is no hint here that the church saints are wearing one thing and everyone else is wearing something else.
3) The city of the New Jerusalem supports this view as well.
In Revelation 21:2, 9-10, “the bride, the wife of the lamb” is identified with a city, the New Jerusalem. “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem”. It will be the capital of the eternal state. It is where the people of God will live for all eternity. It is where God will dwell with people. “They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (21:3). It is where all of the people of God will live, not just some of them. There is no evidence that the church will be the only group to live in the New Jerusalem and everyone else will live somewhere else.
1. Are you invited to the marriage supper? Will you receive this special blessing?
2. Are you living a righteous life? Will you be clothed in “fine linen bright and clean”?