Week Nine: The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Think back at the most amazing wedding you’ve ever seen. Many of us remember Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981. I was only 11 years old, but remember it like it was yesterday! I will never forget it! The wedding has been estimated to cost around 48 million dollars (that’s over 100 million in today’s economy)! (Hitchcock, The End, p. 224). As beautiful as this storybook wedding was, we all know its tragic end. They may be royalty, but they are still human. This week we’re looking at another royal wedding, but this one is eternal and divine.

Revelation 19:6-8 says, “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (NASB1995).

“To fully understand what this event involves, one must first understand the background of the Jewish marriage system at the time of John’s writing. It involved four distinct steps.”

Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 161

Marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church as exemplified in Ephesians 5:25-27. Paul calls it a mystery as it is truly the greatest love story ever told. The four steps in the Jewish marriage process illustrate God’s plan for the Church – the bride of Christ, concluding with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Historically, the first step in the Jewish marriage process happened when the father of the groom arranged for the wedding and paid the bride price (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 161). This is clearly seen in God the Father making “the arrangements for His Son and [paying] the bride price, which in this case was the blood of the Messiah” (Fruchtenbaum, p. 161). This step would be similar to the “proposal” of marriage we have in our culture. When comparing it to the Church’s relationship with Jesus, you could say it happened when God the Father arranged for Jesus to be born of a virgin, born to die to pay our bride price. The price of our sin.

The second step in the Jewish marriage process is the Betrothal of the bride and groom. Hitchcock says, “the betrothed couple were considered to be husband and wife, and any violation of the relationship was considered adultery and punishable by death” (The End, p. 227). This is similar to “engagement” in our culture, but obviously much more serious and legally binding. During the Betrothal period, the bride and groom were physically isolated from each other for months while the groom went to prepare a home for her at his father’s house. Jesus promised to not only prepare a place for us, but to come again and receive us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also (John 14:3).

The third step in the Jewish wedding process is the wedding ceremony. Usually after about a year, the father of the groom would send him to fetch his bride. Only the father knew the exact timing of this event. The bride’s responsibility was to be ready at any given moment for her bridegroom to come for her. This idea depicts the Rapture of the Church. “Someday, at the appointed time, the Father in heaven will tell His Son, ‘Go, Son, and get Your bride and bring her home!’ Christ will come and rapture His bride, and she will be presented to Him as a glorious, unblemished bride” (Hitchcock, The End, p. 228). Just like the Jewish bride in ancient times, we don’t know when the Father will send our Bridegroom to come and get us. Many scoff at the idea of Jesus returning for His bride after 2000 years have passed and the Church is still waiting. But we know that the patience of God is salvation and while we have life and breath in our lungs, we have an opportunity to prepare ourselves to see our Bridegroom face to face one day. He could come for us at any moment and we must be alert and watchful. The wedding ceremony for the Church seems to take place in heaven after the Judgment Seat of Christ. Given the chronology in Revelation 19, the Church seems to have already received her reward at the judgment seat of Christ and is wearing white garments.

The fourth and final step in the Jewish wedding process is the marriage feast. “Upon the wedding party’s return to the father’s house, a feast was ready for family and friends, much like what we call the wedding reception today, except much more elaborate” (Hitchcock, The End, p. 229). This step points us to the future event that is described in Revelation 19:7-8, The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. “In verse 8 a beautiful picture is drawn of the holiness and righteousness of the church in that hour, for the bride is described as arrayed in “fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 272). Walvoord goes on to say that “the righteousness thus wrought in the life of the believer is pictured here as the fine linen which adorns the wife of the Lamb. Though even this righteousness is a product of the grace of God (p. 272).

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb seems to usher in Christ’s second coming. It appears that the feast takes place on earth after we have returned with the Lord. The actual feast may occur during the interval of time between the Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom. We don’t know the exact timing of the feast, but Scripture seems to point to the beginning of the Millennium or right before – during the interval. Along with the Old Testament Saints, the guests at the banquet include “people belonging to God who survive to the end of the tribulation” (Tsarfati, Revelation, p. 218). What an incredible celebration this will be!

You might be wondering why we are discussing the Marriage Supper of the Lamb while still in Part One of our End Times series! I felt we needed to get the eschatology of the Church nailed down before we started into the Tribulation (Part Two of our study). I also think it’s important that we ponder the implication that our wedding garments seem to be associated with the Judgment Seat of Christ. This connection is partly from the idea that the bright garment of clean white linen represents the righteous acts of the saints as well as the statement in verse 9, “His bride has made herself ready.” I am reminded again of Paul’s statement, “star differs from star in glory.” How bright will our garment be? Will we enjoy the Marriage Feast to the fullest, or will we have regret? Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, “For I am jealous for you with the jealously of God Himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband – Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent” (NLT). I think all the warning passages in the New Testament directly point us to that glorious day when we stand before the Bema Seat (Judgment Seat) of Christ. May we all be daily presenting ourselves as living sacrifices to Him so that one day we will enjoy Him to the fullest.

I am also reminded of Paul’s words in Romans, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” Praise God for our Bridegroom! “He gave Himself, He sanctifies, He cleanses, and He represents [the bride] to Himself. There is not one thing listed that we are responsible for other than to stand there in faith to be cleansed by His blood, washed by the Word, and presented spot-and wrinkle-free, holy and without blemish. That is how we have “made [ourselves] ready as a church. It’s the same way we made ourselves ready as individuals for eternity. We repented of our sins, we accepted Christ’s forgiveness, we committed to serving Him as our Lord, and we let Him take care of the rest” (Tsarfati, Revealing Revelation, p. 218).

Week 9: Homework Reflections

The only assignment for this week is to read and meditate on Revelation 19:1-10. I can’t wait to get to this in more detail in our study. For now, take some time to journal your thoughts after reading the above passage.

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