The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-10)

This vision is connected to the previous one through the contribution of the heavenly choir who celebrated the events described in each. The connection is made by contrasting the prostitute Babylon with the true Bride. Both are described as cities in the Book of Revelation and the activities of each are summarised – the activities of the city of man is described as immorality and those of the Bride as righteous deeds.

The contrast is also shown in the outcome of the lives of the citizens of each city. Those who belong to Babylon are destroyed with her whereas those who belong to the heavenly city are going to a celebration. This celebration is endless. It is common in the Bible to describe the fullness of salvation through the illustration of a wedding feast. In those descriptions, details may differ because they are highlighting different features of the occasion.

There is also a possibility that readers are given another reminder of heaven before further descriptions are given of awful events that will take place in God’s judgement on his opponents. This has been a common feature of the Book of Revelation. John was given a description of glory before then being given descriptions of judgement.

The arrival of the wedding day
We can see from the account that God gets the glory for the arrival of the wedding day. It has happened because he is the One with universal power. Down the centuries, there has been many attempts to resist his aims, but all those attempts were futile. No matter what the opponents did to his kingdom and his people, his cause has survived and will triumph in the end.

There is an important lesson for us here as we live in our situation which we often assume is more difficult than what was faced by previous generations. Of course, it all depends on where God’s people live. Life has been fairly comfortable for the church in our culture and we have assumed that was the norm. The reality is that the church survives because of who God is. And his plans will be achieved.

Who are those praising God in this vision? It could be angels, it could be the saints, it could be both. In favour of identifying them as angels is the fact that those praising are referring to the church as a distinct body which could be regarded as separate from the heavenly choir. Yet it could also be the expression of praise by the saints because at last the church is complete. One thing is certain – this is a greater Hallelujah chorus than Handel ever imagined.

We can learn from this expression of praise in heaven how we should engage in it on earth. First, there is affirmation, then there is exhortation, and then there is anticipation. The affirmation rehearses who God is and what he has done, the exhortation is a mutual expression of encouragement, and the anticipation concerns the banquet. Obviously, on this occasion, worship is at its height. Yet even when it is more mundane, we should imitate the heavenly worshippers in how they did it. We could apply this as follows: before we come together we think about God; when we come together we encourage one another to participate; and having done so, we then look forward to what God might provide for our spiritual benefit.

The attire of the bride (vv. 7-8)
It is helpful when thinking about the details of the marriage supper to realise that the process in view here is how betrothals occurred at that time. An agreement was made regarding the couple; this was followed by a period between then and the actual wedding in which the couple were regarded as husband and wife; and then there was the actual wedding. One of the activities of a Jewish bride during the period between the agreement and the actual wedding was for her to make her wedding dress.

It is not difficult to see the parallels between that and what John says here. Jesus and his people become one at conversion – that is like the agreement. As his people wait for the wedding day, they make their wedding garments – this activity has nothing to do with merit, but is an expression of devotion. Then when Jesus returns, there will be the actual wedding.

Some are puzzled by the words that say the fine linen represents the righteous deeds of the saints. Their surprise is connected to the common explanation that the garments of salvation that believers wear is the imputed righteousness of Jesus. Of course, all the saints receive that garment when they believe in Jesus and it is their permanent attire as far as their standing with God is concerned.  Yet it is unlikely that such a garment is the one described here.

Instead, it looks as if at the wedding feast the members of the Bride will be allowed to wear as a garment the actions that expressed their love for Jesus when they were in this world – instead of imputed righteousness, it is imparted righteousness that is intended. In a sense, this should not surprise us. Even although none of his actions were sinless, the apostle Paul expected to receive a crown of glory as a reward for his years of service of the Lord. And he said that the same blessing would be given to all who loved the appearing of Jesus.

Of course, if we will wear then what expressed our love for him in this life, there is a real challenge for us to meet. Regarding earthly marriages, a lot of care is taken with the bride’s dress. How much more care should be taken with the attire for the heavenly wedding!

It is amazing to think about the nature of the attire. Linen was the type of garment associated with kings and priests, and the mention of it is a reminder of who God’s people are. They were a royal priesthood even when they were on earth and frequently in the Bible they are addressed by those names. Moreover, the actions are now described as bright and pure. Often on earth those actions of obedience were a struggle and always they were marked by sin to some extent. Others were forgotten about long ago, yet here they are contributing to the beauty of the Bride. Although she is now glorified (bright), the glorification is connected to what they did for Jesus out of love. And although she is pure, she is so because they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and can wear them on this notable day.

I suppose we could say that we as a congregation are helping one another to make our wedding garments. And we could say that our activities today are connected to our wedding garments. Even although we will fail, we need to ensure that what we do comes from love to Jesus so that we will be able to wear it in a transformed manner on that great day. On that occasion, we will see the outcome or effects of what we did for Jesus. Maybe we gave financially in a sacrificial way and Jesus used those gifts to bring the gospel to many people. Maybe we prayed earnestly for something and Jesus made the something into an incredible outcome far beyond what we could imagine.

We should note that these garments are the ones that God will want his people to wear. He is the One who will grant it, who will give permission for them to wear such attire. Moreover, he is the One who has brought them to a state of perfection, who has given them total sanctification, who has completed what they did for him. This is a reminder that he is pleased with what his people do for him out of love. And we know that they only did them because he enabled them to do them. As Paul says to the Philippians, believers work out their salvation because God had already worked in them by his grace.

The affirmation (v. 9)
The angel then states a benediction. He says that those who are invited to the marriage supper are blessed. This is not a reference to the general call of the gospel in which everyone is invited to believe in Jesus. Instead the invitations to the marriage feast are sent to those who, in line with the illustration, have already signed the agreement and are now in the meantime waiting for the feast to begin. In a mixing of metaphors, the members of the Bride are now the guests.

Those who would have read this statement from this book for the first time would have been going through difficult circumstances connected to persecution and other problems connected to their profession of faith in Jesus. We could say that their making of the wedding garments was bringing them great trouble. They needed to hear divine consolation and comfort. And they are reminded that, despite their circumstances, they are truly blessed.

The rebuke (v. 10)
Most believers have had their embarrassing moments. John here has one when he attempts to worship the angel. Maybe he was so caught up in the glorious description that he forgot the messenger was not the subject of his message. Yet even the rebuke he received was a statement of assurance because John was told that he was still a servant of God and a member of his family. We can learn from the method of the angel how we are to correct one another.

Good angels and converted humans share one purpose, which is to testify to Jesus. His glory is their common theme, and instead of bowing to an angel John should have joined him in bowing before God. This is our testimony too as we speak in a prophetic manner to the world.

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