Understanding The Apocalypse

Revelation 19:4-10
Chapter 32

In Ephesians 5:22-33, the Apostle Paul, writing under inspiration of the Holy Spirit described the marital relationship of a husband and wife as analogous to the Church, in its relationship to the Lord.

Just as a man and his wife are one flesh through marriage, we the Church, are members of Christ's body, flesh, and bones because we are the Bride of Christ. But how can this be? When according to John in Revelation 19:4-10, this "marriage" is yet to come. The answer is found in knowing the marriage customs of the ancient world.

Unlike the practice of modern western civilizations where "boy meets girl," they fall in love, are married and live happily ever after, a marriage at the time this was written, was not the result of a chance meeting. It was a binding legal agreement between families that began when the parties involved were still children. Mutual love was not necessarily a factor in the process and most often, the marriage contract was made for political or financial reasons.

The first stage of the marriage began with a contract between the parents of the betrothed that provided for payment of a suitable dowry. As soon as the dowry was paid the contract was binding on both parties and the couple were legally married even though they were still minors, unable to assume adult responsibilities.

The second step in the process came after the groom reached maturity and established his own home. He would then go to the home of the bride, accompanied by a host of friends, and with great ceremony escort her to his own home.

The final act in the marriage contract was the marriage supper. This was a feast of celebration that all the family and friends of the couple were invited to attend. During this supper the groom would publicly acknowledge the bride as his wife and thereby, accord her, her rightful position.

The marriage of the Church to Christ is a similar process. The betrothal contract was entered into and consummated when the individual members of the Church were born-again. The dowry paid for them was the blood of Christ and although the whole process is not complete, the Church is now legally, the Bride of Christ.

The coming of the Bridegroom for his Bride will occur when our Lord Jesus Christ comes for His Church at the rapture. With great ceremony the Bride will be escorted into the home of the Bridegroom and in the words of the Apostle Paul, "So shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

The final step where the Church is officially recognized in her position as the Bride of Christ, will occur at the "marriage supper of the Lamb." This marriage supper is the primary subject of Revelation 19:4-10.

We begin with the

I. Announcement of the Lamb's Marriage Supper

"And the four and twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen, Hallelujah! And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, and like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty peals of thunder, saying, Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation 19:4-7).
A key to understand these verses is the statement "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him." This is exactly what the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures and the great multitude are doing. They are rejoicing and praising God because He is omnipotent and because He reigns.

That He is omnipotent has been proven by the casting down of Satan, the judgment of the harlot, Babylon and the judgments poured upon the earth. In spite of the attempts by Satan, the harlot, and the unrepentant inhabitants of the earth to dethrone the Almighty through insurrection, and refusal to worship Him, He still reigns. This would not be possible if He were not omnipotent.

No wonder, the occupants of heaven are thankful the Lord reigns. Can you imagine what conditions would be like if Satan had prevailed in his insurrection? There would be no heaven, indeed the only word to describe what would exist if Satan had his way is Hell.

Not only is this a time for rejoicing because "the Lord God omnipotent reigns," it is a time for rejoicing because "the marriage supper of the Lamb is come and his wife hath made herself ready" (the word "marriage," in v:7, is rendered as "marriage supper," to reflect the meaning of the Greek word used. This word is properly translated "marriage supper," in v:9).

Understand, this is not the legal binding of the Church to Christ as His Bride. The legal binding took place when each member was born-again. It was through the new birth that, "His wife hath made herself ready." In keeping with the marriage analogy, she made herself ready by accepting the terms of the marriage contract.

Also, the Lord Jesus Christ paid a dowry to purchase His Church. The dowry was His own blood, shed as the redemption price for sins, thereby allowing anyone who accepts His marriage contract, to be born-again into His Church.

Accepting the marriage contract amounts to trusting in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ as the complete payment for one's sins. The Bride of Christ makes herself ready by trusting her Bridegroom to save her. There is no other way to prepare.

Because she prepared herself by accepting the marriage contract, at the marriage supper, the Bride will be presented and installed in her exalted position as wife. The Church will be officially recognized as one with Christ. Then, in the words of 1 John 3:2, "We shall be like him."

Becoming like Christ is the emphasis in Revelation 19:8, where John discusses,

II. The Raiment of the Bride

"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses (righteous acts) of saints."

Clearly, the fine linen, clean and white, represents the righteous acts or deeds of the Saints. Therefore, we know John is not talking about the imputed righteousness of Christ that comes with the new birth of the believer. He is talking about the Saints actually being made righteous, that is, incapable of sin. For the bride to be like Christ, she must be righteous, not just covered with righteousness. Here is an explanation of the difference:

We understand and believe when a person trusts Christ as Savior, that person's sins are imputed to, or placed on Him. Hence, Christ becomes our Sinbearer and pays our penalty. At the same time, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer who then has a standing before God because he is cloaked in this imputed righteousness.

While this imputed righteousness allows God to view the believer as righteous, under the covering Christ has provided, the believer is far from righteous. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:18-20, that sin resides in our flesh and compels us to the wrong things even though we desire to do otherwise.

Several years ago, someone brought a tray of caramel apples to the monthly youth activity at our church. They looked delicious and the young people could hardly wait. However, unknown to nearly everyone was that one of the "apples" was really an onion.

I'm sure you can imagine how startling it was for the person who took a bite expecting a juicy apple. No amount of sweetness on the outside could change the bitterness of the onion underneath.

The Christian's situation is similar. The righteousness of Christ covering the believer does not change the sinfulness underneath. As long as we have this body of flesh we have sin in our lives and therefore, we can never be like Christ.

Because sin still resides in the body of flesh and sin always brings death, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:53,

"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
Only after, we have been changed, only after, we have been given glorified bodies will believers be like Christ, fully righteous as He is righteous. The marriage supper of the Lamb is the celebration of the righteousness of His bride, the Church.

Next we read,

III. The Marriage Supper Guests Are Blessed

"And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God" (Revelation 19:9).

There are two ways to understand what John was told to write: It could mean those who are invited to the marriage supper will receive a blessing for being there or it could mean only the blessed will be invited. I think the latter is the case.

We know from Revelation 19:4-6, the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures, and the great multitudes, are the ones praising God and rejoicing for the coming of the marriage supper. This text clearly refers to the throne of the Lord and we know from Revelation 4, God's throne and these who worship Him at His throne, are in heaven. This is strong evidence the marriage supper will take place in heaven.

To be truly blessed by the Lord one must have a saving relationship with Him. This is the result of faith and culminates with the believer's entrance into the presence of God for eternity. Therefore, the presence of these individuals before the throne of God is evidence they are already blessed.

Aslo, The blessing of God is not predicated on an invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb. His blessing is based on Grace and appropriated by individuals through their faith. Therefore, it seems reasonable that only the blessed will be invited to the marriage supper and not that the invited will be blessed. The responsibility of humanity is not to work for an invitation, but to believe for salvation.

Therefore, John was instructed to write the guest list for the marriage supper of the Lamb. All the blessed of God are invited. All the Saints from all the ages, along with all the angelic hosts will be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, to witness the presentation of His bride.

Notice, John's directive to write the invitation was followed by the statement, "These are the true sayings of God."

IV. John's Response

"And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not! I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).

To this point the voice instructing John to write, "Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb" has not been identified, so when it said, "these are the true sayings of God," John apparently thought he was hearing the voice of the Lord. He did what any God-fearing person would do in the presence of the Lord. He bowed in worship. However, John is told to stop because the speaker is his "fellow servant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus."

Many say the one speaking to John is an angel, but angels are not "fellow servants" to humans. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:2, that we will judge angels and Hebrews 1:14, says angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. Therefore, they cannot be our "fellow servants" for who sits in judgment of his equal or is served by his equal?

Certainly, angels are not our brethren for they are not born of Adam and they do not have the "testimony of Jesus." Clearly, the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ has been committed unto men, not angels. Also, beyond the clear statements of the text that do not relate to angels, it is logical John would have recognized an angel. After all, he had been talking to angels and watching them do a variety of chores throughout the Revelation, without failing to identify one.

I believe the speaker was exactly who he said he was, a "fellow servant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus." In other words, he was one of the Saints of God and John mistook him for the Lord because he was glorified. This Saint was as Jesus is, like all the Saints who will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The speaker knew the statement, "Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb" was "the true sayings of God" because he had experienced the blessing and was himself, the proof.

Although his final words seem directed to John personally, his words, "Worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" are a statement giving the reason all should worship God. A paraphrase of this statement will aid in understanding: "Worship God because the testimony of Christ is the whole purpose of the Scriptures."

To reveal the Lord Jesus Christ to mankind as our only Lord and Savior is the primary purpose of Scripture and without this revelation we would all be lost in sins. Therefore, we should,

"Worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy"

From "Understanding The Apocalypse"
A book of sermons by Pastor Jim McColloch, Th.M., Th.D.
© Copyright 1994, 1999