Elon, North Carolina
We are coming to the end of the Book of Revelation. There are only four chapters left in the book. Revelation 19 brings us to three great events in biblical prophecy.
Those three events are the Marriage of the Lamb, the Second Coming of Christ and the Battle of Armageddon. Today, we will be looking at the Marriage of the Lamb. The Bible begins and ends with a marriage.
The Marriage of the Lamb is a love story. Many think that the Book of Revelation is a horror story. There are demons and dragons. There are seven headed monsters. There are demon-possessed politicians.
There are demon-possessed insects in the book. There are locusts that torture people so much that they want to kill themselves. God’s people are slaughtered and butchered in this book.
The truth is that Revelation is not a horror story but a love story. The whole Bible is a love story between God and people. It is the story about how a bride is chosen for His Son.
It is the story of how Jesus paid the dowry price for his bride. He gave up His life for his bride. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25 NIV).
It is the story of how Jesus protects His bride. He defeats the enemies of His bride. The Beast conquered the saints and overcame them, but Jesus overcame the Beast.
It is the story of how Jesus prepares a home for His bride (the New Jerusalem). He will come back to get his bride and take them to that home.
The wedding of the Lamb is an event that should be important to each one of us. This will not just be a wedding. It will be our wedding. We will be there. We are part of the bride.
Everyone loves a wedding. 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.
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 $30,000.
A Royal Wedding
Even more spectacular than a regular wedding is a royal wedding, when a king or someone with royal blood gets married. The last one I watched was the marriage of was the wedding of William and Kate in 2011. They are now the Prince and Princess of Wales.
They had a wedding in London. They had 1900 invited guests. Millions watched the event on television all over the world. That wedding did not cost $30,000. It cost thirty-four million dollars.
The wedding in Revelation 19 will be a royal wedding. It will be the wedding of King Jesus. It will be the greatest wedding in history.
It will be the ultimate wedding. Jesus and His bride get married and live happily ever after. It will be a wedding like no other. How will this wedding compare to weddings today?
In some ways this wedding will be similar to weddings today. In some ways, it is even similar to western weddings. In other ways, it is completely different.
An Unusual Wedding
This will be an unusual wedding. There will be no best man at this wedding. There will be no bridesmaids. There is no ring. There will be no rehearsal practice. Three things will make this wedding very unusual.
1) It will be a corporate wedding
Jesus will NOT be marrying one person. He will be marrying a group of people, a very large group of people (men and women).
2) It will be a divine wedding
This is not just a marring between humans but a marriage between God and humans. Jesus is a man, but He is also God.
3) It will be a symbolic wedding
We know that from the name, the Marriage of the Lamb. It is the marriage of a lamb. Lambs can’t get married. This is not a literal, physical marriage. We also know it from the wedding clothes.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people (Revelation 19:8 NIV)
We are told that these wedding clothes are symbolic, not literal. This marriage is a symbolic union. Marriage is the closest relationship on earth between two people. It is the most intimate bond between two people.
That is a picture of the relationship of God and His people. It was a picture of the relationship between God and the covenant people in the OT. It is a picture of Jesus and the church in the NT but it is just a picture.
In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30 ESV).
Jesus said that in heaven we will not be married, and we won’t be getting married. Mormons believe there will be marriage in heaven.
They believe in something called “celestial marriage,” but Jesus said, “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
You won’t be married to your spouse in heaven. There will be no marriage in heaven and because there will be no marriage, there will be no sex and no children born in heaven.
Five Important Takeaways
Even though there are some differences, there are some ways that this wedding is similar to weddings today. I want us to see some of these similarities.
1) This wedding will be an occasion of great joy
All weddings are joyful occasions. Weddings are times of celebration. There is music. There is dancing. Everyone smiles. They wear their best clothes. The wedding of the Lamb will be an occasion for rejoicing as well.
Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us REJOICE and BE GLAD and GIVE HIM GLORY! For the wedding of the Lamb has come” (NIV).
This is a huge contrast from the last chapter. In Revelation 18, there was not a lot of rejoicing. There were THREE WOES (Revelation 18:10, 16, 19). There was a lot of mourning. People were sad and crying. They were weeping. Why? Babylon was destroyed.
When we get to Revelation 19, the mood changes. People are happy, not sad. They are not morning. They are celebrating. They are having a big party and are loud.
In Revelation 19, we go from lamentation to praise. We go from lamentation on earth to praise in heaven. There are FOUR HALLELUJAHS in this chapter (Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6). We go from a funeral to a wedding.
There was a funeral in Revelation 18. In Revelation 19, we do not see a funeral but a wedding.
2) You have to be invited to this wedding.
We receive invitations to weddings. We have to RSVP. There is an invitation to this wedding. Did you receive an invitation? Have you been invited? Do you have a wedding invitation?
Blessed are those who are INVITED to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9 NIV).
You have to be invited to this wedding. Many think that all people are invited, but it is our decision whether we accept the invitation or not. That would be the Arminian way to read this, but it is not what this it is talking about.
Not everyone is invited to this wedding supper. The unsaved are not invited to this wedding. Only the saved are invited. How do we know? This is a beatitude.
Remember, there are seven beatitudes in Revelation. Seven times we see the word “blessed” in Revelation. Each time we see that word in the book, the blessing only goes to some people. It does not go to everybody.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Revelation 1:3 NIV)
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” (Revelation 14:13 NIV)
Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.” (Revelation 22:7 NIV)
3) There will be a dress code at this wedding.
Brides usually wear white. It is traditional. It is the symbol of purity and innocence. This bride will wear white. She will be dressed differently from the prostitute. The prostitute wears red and purple (Revelation 17:4). The bride of Christ will wear white.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Revelation 19:8 NIV).
You might think this makes the bride rather plain looking (no gold, pearls and jewels) but keep in mind that fine linen was expensive. It was a luxury item in the ancient world. The same Greek word (βύσσινον) is used of the wealthy woman in the last chapter. She was also dressed in fine linen.
“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; FINE LINEN, purple, silk and scarlet cloth (Revelation 18:12 NIV)
‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in FINE LINEN, purple and scarlet,
and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! (Revelation 18:16 NIV)
What does the fine linen represent? Not just salvation. Our wedding garments are not salvation. The bride is not saved by good works. The bride had some dirty robes that needed to be washed in order to get saved.
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14 NIV).
These garments represent good words. They stand for the “righteous acts” (NIV) or “the righteous deeds” (ESV) of the saints. It is in the plural.
What does that tell you? It tells us that the bride was known for righteous deeds. The harlot, the counterfeit bride, was known for uncleanness, sin and abominations.
We are not saved by good works, but true believers will have some. We were created for good works. We were chosen by God for good works. If you are really saved, you will have some.
4) There will be preparation for this wedding
Many brides today spend a lot of time getting ready for their wedding. They spend hours putting their make-up on and doing their hair. This bride will prepare for her wedding as well.
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7 NIV)
This is interesting. The bride MADE HERSELF ready (19:7). She has to prepare herself for this event. That is her responsibility.
It doesn’t say that God made her ready. We make our wedding garments now. We make our wedding garments by how we live on earth.
5) This wedding will be followed by a reception
Most weddings have a reception afterwards. Some serve alcohol and some don’t but they all usually have really good food.
The marriage of the Lamb will be followed by a marriage supper. It will be followed by a wedding feast. Sorry Baptists, but this feast will involve wine.
Jewish weddings always have wine. In fact, Jesus made some wine miraculously at a Jewish wedding in His day. In fact, at the Last Supper, when Jesus ate a Passover meal with his disciples and what did He say?
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27-29 NIV)
There will be a lot of other food as well, although one preacher assured me that there will not be any squash on the menu. Now, when we go to a wedding reception, it is just a meal. The Jews had a wedding feast that lasted for about a week.
Many believe that the wedding feast in Revelation 19 will take place during the Millennium. It will last a thousand years. If that is the case, it will be the longest wedding feast in history.
Who is the Bride?
There is a controversial question in this section. It is a deep theological question. Who is the bride? We know who the groom is. The groom is Jesus. This is called “the marriage of the Lamb.” Who is the bride? There are two views.
1. The bride represents the church
Many believe that the bride represents the church. She represents NT believers. Paul compared the relationship of Christ and the church to a husband/wife relationship (Ephesians 5:25-27). The church began at Pentecost.
If this is the case, then the bride would NOT include OT saints. She would NOT include Tribulation saints. That is a very popular view in some circles, especially if you believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church.
In fact, some believe this passage is proof of the pre-trib rapture of the church. The bride is in heaven before the return of Christ to earth.
The argument is that the church must have already been caught up to heaven. This is a marriage in the sky, as one preacher described it.
One argument in support of this view is that the chapter also mentions invited guests (Revelation 19:9).
The bride can’t possibly be the same as the invited guests. They must refer to OT stands and others who are saved but not part of the church.
Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Job will all be there as invited guests but not as the bride. That is the standard position in some circles but there is a second view.
2. The bride represents all of the redeemed
A second view is that this represents all of the redeemed. The bride will not comprise just NT Christians but every person that Jesus died for. She represents everyone whose name is in the Book of Life. There are three reasons for this view.
1) The bride is made up of saints
It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints (Revelation 19:8 ESV).
Who are the saints in the Book of Revelation? They represent saved people but not saved people from one time period. The word is used of Tribulation saints.
The saints will be alive on earth when the Antichrist comes to power because he will make war with the saints and overcome them (Revelation 13:7).
The saints will be killed by the prostitute woman. She will be drunk with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6).
We are told that “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” (Revelation 18:24 ESV)
2) The bride is dressed like other believers
There is no hint here that the bride wears one thing and everyone else wears something else. All of the saints wear the same thing. Jesus promised, “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white” (Revelation 3:5 NIV)
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 that return with Jesus wear the exact same thing that the bride is wore just eight verses earlier in Revelation 19:8. They have to refer to the same group of people.
Everyone agrees that when Jesus returns, He is going to return with all believers who ever lived, not just the NT church.
3) The bride lives where other believers live
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:9-10 NIV)
Where will the bride’s home be? It will be the New 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” (Revelation 21:3).
It is where all of the people of God will live, not just some of them. There will not be any second-class citizens in heaven.
There will be guests there as well as the bride, but it is possible to see them, not as two different groups, but as the same group looked at two different ways.
It is possible to see them as pictures of the same group. We are both the bride collectively and guests individually. There are many MIXED METAPHORS in Revelation. It is common in apocalyptic literature. Jesus is both the Lamb and the Shepherd at the same time (Revelation 5:5; 7:17).
In an earlier chapter, John was crying because he could not open a scroll. One of the twenty-four elders said, “Don’t’ cry. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is able to open it and he turns and sees a lamb.” (Revelation 5:1-6). Jesus is both a lion and a lamb.
Applications for Today
What are the applications from this passage for us today? There are several.
1) Be Saved
If we are not saved, we will not get an invitation to this wedding. We will not be part of the bride. We will miss the wedding supper. We will not be at this event. We will not be clothed in white. Are we part of the bride of Christ? Are we saved?
2) Be Righteous
We have already seen that the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. The first question is, are we saints? The second question is, Do have righteous deeds?
Is our life characterized by righteous deeds? What are we doing to make our wedding garments? That is how we glorify God. We do not do all of these deeds in our own strength and power.
We are told that fine linen, bright and clean, WAS GIVEN her to wear.” They are not our robes by nature. We did not have these robes before. They had to be given to us by God. God is the one who empowers and enables us to do good deeds.
3) Be Faithful
The Bible describes believers as married to Jesus. Paul 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” (II Corinthians 11:2 NIV)
We have a spouse. Are we faithful to our spouse? Do we live our lives faithful to him? We will be presented as pure to our bridegroom. It is a picture of physical purity.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! (I Corinthians 6:15 NIV)
This goes beyond physical purity. God’s people in the OT also entered into a marriage relationship. Israel was the wife of Jehovah. God described the nation in the OT as an adulteress wife. She committed idolatry and child sacrifice. She worshipped all kinds of gods. How faithful are you to Jesus?