The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB
- We saw last week that the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18 marks the end of the seven-year tribulation period.
- Revelation 19 begins with rejoicing in heaven over the judgment of the great whore, that is, the world church (19:1-6).
- Continuing their praise, this great multitude then announce the marriage of the Lamb to His bride (19:7).
- What a contrast! "The great whore" (19:2) and the Lamb's wife (19:7).
- John Walvoord says, "The marriage symbolism is beautifully fulfilled in the relationship of Christ to His church. The wedding contract is consummated at the time the church is redeemed. Every true Christian is joined to Christ in a legal marriage. When Christ comes for His church at the rapture...the Bridegroom goes to receive His bride....Then follows...the wedding feast. Here it is significant to note that the bride is already the wife of the Lamb, that is, the bridegroom has already come for His bride prior to His second coming described in 19:11-16" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- In other words, the rapture will take place before the seven-year tribulation described so vividly in Revelation chapters 6 through 18.
THE TIME AND PLACE OF THE MARRIAGE SUPPER (19:7).
- A distinction should be made between the marriage and the "marriage supper." In the New Testament, the church is pictured as a virgin waiting for the coming of her bridegroom (II Cor. 11:2).
- This means the wedding union is still future as well as the wedding feast to follow.
- The wedding takes place at the rapture, and the bride will be all the New Testament saints from Pentecost to the Rapture.
- This prophecy in Revelation 19 describes the marriage supper, which will take place in heaven after the rapture, and after the judgment seat of Christ.
- The phrase “his wife hath made herself ready” (19:7) indicates that the marriage supper will take place right after the judgment seat of Christ (cf. I Corinthians 3:11--15; 9:24-27; II Corinthians 5:10, 11; II Timothy 4:8; I John 2:28; II John 8; Revelation 22:12).
- The marriage supper will have to be in heaven because it will follow the judgment seat of Christ, which will also be in heaven.
- Furthermore, the saints ("the armies") will follow the Lord Jesus Christ when they descend from heaven in Revelation 19:14.
THE PARTICIPANTS AT THE MARRIAGE SUPPER
- The "wife" in Revelation 19:7 is distinguished from the great multitude identified in chapter 7 as martyrs out of the great tribulation.
- The four and twenty elders are mentioned throughout the book of Revelation -- in chapters 4, 5, 7, 11, 14, and 19. The last reference is in Revelation 19:4.
- These four and twenty elders represent the New Testament church, and they will be part of the bride. That is why they are not mentioned again after the marriage supper.
- Those who are at this wedding supper are said to be "blessed" (19:9). These guests at the marriage supper will be Old Testament believers.
THE BLESSINGS AT THE MARRIAGE SUPPER
- In Revelation 19:8 a beautiful picture is drawn of the holiness and righteousness of the church at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
- The bride is described as arrayed in “fine linen, clean and white,” and the interpretation is then given: “for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (19:8).
- The word for “righteousness” is in the plural, and is the word for righteous deeds. This “righteousness” is the righteousness wrought by God in the lives of God's people.
- Lehman Strauss said that at the marriage supper, "each of us will be wearing the wedding garment of our own making.”
- Dr. Strauss was referring to the judgment seat of Christ, which will immediately precede the marriage supper.
- Justification is the act of God by which a believer is declared righteous, in contrast to sanctification where the believer is made righteous.
- This sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is described in Ephesians 5, where the church is described as the bride of Christ.
- Ephesians 5:25-27 says, Christ "loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
- This sanctifying work of God brings the believer's spiritual state up to the level of his position in Christ.
- Sanctification has three aspects -- positional, progressive, and future ("glorification").
- This righteousness is pictured here as the fine linen which adorns the wife of the Lamb (Rev. 19:8).
- In verse 9, John is instructed to write that those who are invited to the marriage supper are truly blessed. This means there will be believers at the marriage supper who are not part of the bride of Christ because the wife of the Lamb is distinguished from the attendants at the wedding.
- The wife is the New Testament church, and the attendants at the wedding will be Old Testament saints, and others saved before our Lord organized His church.
- John the Baptist said, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled" (John 3:29).
- Many Bible teachers say that the tribulation saints will not be participants at the marriage supper because their resurrection takes place later (Rev. 20:4).
- The angel speaking the words of Revelation 19:9 is apparently the same one who on other occasions has informed John that he should write "Blessed" (cf. 14:13).
- This beatitude is the fourth of seven beatitudes in the book of Revelation, and is followed by the statement “These are the true sayings of God.”
- So awesome is this revelation that John falls at the feet of the angel in an attitude of worship (19:10).
- However, this reaction is not appropriate because angels are not to be worshipped. Only God is to be worshipped (19:10; cf. 22:8, 9).
- The end of verse 10 says, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This means that all Bible prophecy is designed to draw us closer to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- Second Peter 3:11 says, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness."
- Studying Bible prophecy and understanding Bible prophecy should lead to increased holiness and godliness.
- I have observed that Christians who understand Bible prophecy are more evangelistic and missions-minded. They pray more and they give more.
- John Walvoord says, "Christ is not only the major theme of the Scriptures but also the central theme of prophecy. The statement introduces the passage which follows on the second coming of Christ in glory to the earth" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- There are many, many references to the marriage supper in the Bible (cf. Matthew 25:1-13).
- The foolish virgins took no oil with them, and while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept (25:1-5).
- "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut" (25:10).
- Don't be foolish. The Lord is coming back, and it could be very soon!