Posted by: stpowen | April 5, 2014

Revelation (14) The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Isaiah 25:6-8. ‘And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-defined wines on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever.’

Chapter 19 divides itself into four scenes or sections.
1. Heaven’s rejoicing at the fall of Babylon.
2. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
3. The Vision of the White Rider.
4. The Defeat of God’s Enemies.

Vs. 1-4. ‘After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honour and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!”’

The passage is clearly based upon Jeremiah 51:48. There is a tremendous contrast with Chapter 18. There the merchants and shipmasters and the kings of the earth werelamenting over Babylon and crying out, “Alas alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!” But in heaven there is rejoicing (cf. Luke 6:21-25). What would we be doing? We have to live in this present world, we have to do business here to some extent, but where is our home (Phil. 3:20)? Where is our treasure? Are they in this world, or the world to come? ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matt. 6:21). Where is your heart?

A ‘great multitude’ representing the whole of heaven rejoices and glorifies God for the destruction of Babylon. In 4:11, glory, honour and power were ascribed to God; now salvation is added. The Hebrew word, ‘Alleluia’ is found only in the Psalms and here in Revelation 19. Its meaning is simply, ‘Praise God!’ God is worthy of all our praise at all times. In 4:11, He is praised for His work in creation; here it is also for what He has done in the redemption of His people through Jesus Christ and for His righteous judgement of Babylon. His judgements are acclaimed as being ‘true and righteous’ (cf. 16:7), for Babylon, and through her, Satan, has committed two great sins: she has corrupted the earth- that is, the unredeemed- and persecuted the righteous (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12).

As usual throughout Revelation, the imagery is largely taken from the Old Testament. Verse 2 seems to be reflecting the judgement of God upon Jezabel in 2 Kings 9:7. Verse 3 declares, ‘Her smoke rises up forever and ever.’ Here the imagery is of God’s judgement upon Edom in Isaiah 34:10. It is worth looking up these references because there is no doubt that John had them in his mind when he wrote these verses. Verse 4 looks back to 4:4, 6. The elders represent mankind redeemed by God, and the living creatures, who are the cherubim (compare Ezek. 1:10 with 4:7), represent the angelic beings. All the population of heaven unites in praising God for His victory.

V.5. ‘Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small or great!”’

Now God’s people on the earth are instructed to join in with the worship of heaven. Don’t be confused by the ‘and.’ There are not two categories here, but one; a better translation might be, ‘Praise God, all you His servants, even you who fear Him….’ We can give this praise even now because Satan is already defeated (12:9; Mark 4:27; Luke 10:18) and the doom of Babylon is assured.

Vs. 6-7. ‘And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”’

Here we have the last hymn of praise in the Bible, celebrating the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. It is worth reading Isaiah 25:6-9 before proceeding. As in verse 1, a ‘great multitude’ is praising God. The many waters and the thunderings suggest that all creation is joining in. God has always been omnipotent and has always reigned, but only now, at the end of the age, is His power and His rule seen by all. Now at last we see the consummation of God’s great plan for the world, illustrated by the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride, the redeemed of all ages. As Hendricksen {1} says, the Bride was chosen in eternity, announced in the Old Testament. She was betrothed when Christ came into the world, taking on our flesh and blood; the bride-price was paid at Calvary, and now, at the end of time, the Groom comes to claim His bride. We, as believers, are both bride (as the Church) and wedding-guests (as individuals). The images flow into one another.

V. 8. ‘And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.’

The clean, white linen of the bride’s wedding dress contrasts with the gaudy attire of the harlot (17:4). Linen was worn by the O.T. priests (Exod. 28:42) and believers are a nation of priests (1 Peter 2:9). These clothes are given to the bride- they are not her own. Her own clothes by nature are fig leaves and filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6; 61:10; Eph 5:26-27). So what are these ‘righteous acts’? They are the ‘Good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ (Eph. 2:10). Good works are only acceptable to God in those who are clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ, yet God’s gracious work in our lives produces good works in us. The gracious, godly conduct of Christians is an ornament of the churches and a rebuke to the world (1 Peter 3:16). Outsiders may rail against the Bible and its doctrines, but they find it harder to dismiss the righteous lives of believers. Let us make sure that our lives give that sort of witness.

V.9. ‘Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”’

Interestingly, the words that the angel commands John to write are similar to those spoken to the Lord Jesus by a man at a supper party (Luke 14:15). Our Lord used the occasion to preach the parable of the Great Supper. The saying is certainly true, but do you know it, not just theoretically, but experientially? It is one thing to speak warm words about heaven, but another to make sure that the words apply to us. Have you, the reader, responded to the Lord’s gracious invitation with genuine (Joel 2:13a) repentance and faith? Does your life bear witness that you are one of those whom He has called? The parable of the Supper ends with these sobering words: “I say to you that none of the men who were invited shall taste my supper” (Luke 14:24). Shall you?

V.10. ‘And I fell at my feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”’

This verse represents the closing of two visions: the downfall of the harlot and the marriage of the bride of Christ. John is so carried away by the scene of heaven and the bride, along with the angel’s words that he falls down to worship him (cf. also 22:8-9), only to be soundly rebuked. We must not worship anything but God, certainly not His messengers (angels), be they Calvin, Spurgeon or Lloyd-Jones, nor experiences, be they never so wonderful (Col. 2:18-19). The true prophet is the one who testifies of Jesus.

In verse 11, we see what appears to be an entirely different scene, but in fact it follows on very smoothly from what we have been reading. We have been seeing Christ coming in love for His bride, the Church; now we see Him coming in vengeance upon His enemies. We saw heaven open in 4:1. Then it was for John to go up; now it is for Christ to come down. (compare Mark 13:26; 14:62; Rev. 1:7). He is called ‘faithful and true’ because He fulfils all the promises of Scripture (2 Cor. 1:20) and because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, in contrast to the father of lies. He is also the righteous Judge. The imagery for these verses is drawn from Isaiah 63:1-3, 6). The ‘many crowns’ that He wears (v.12) are not the stephanoi of 6:2, but diademoi, crowns of authority and power. ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’ (Matt. 28:18). The name that He alone knows represents the totality of His character, which is unsearchable by man (Rom. 11:33), but we are told that He is the word of God. Therefore He wears a sharp {2} sword, recalling Heb. 4:12. Those with Him are the saints, taken up to heaven to meet Him (1 Thes. 4:17) and now returning with Him to share in His victory. The ‘rod of iron’ is drawn from Psalm 2, and the winepress from Rev. 14:19-20 and Isaiah 63:3. Christ’s victory over the power of Satan and His reign over the new heavens and new earth will be absolute and visible to all, for He is ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’

To die and be left unburied to the attentions of the crows and vultures was regarded as particularly shameful in ancient times. In Greek mythology, one could not enter Hades, the abode of the dead, unless buried {3}. So while, as in all the scenes in Revelation, we need not take verses 17-18 entirely literally, it tells us that those who are found in rebellion against the Lord Jesus when He comes again will come to an ignoble end. This applies not only to mere foot-soldiers but also to kings and captains (cf. 6:15). God’s judgement upon His enemies will be final and severe. The imagery is taken from Ezekiel 39:4.

In verse 19, the reference is to Psalm 2 again. ‘The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and His Anointed.’ We do not have to imagine a literal last battle with tanks and aeroplanes fighting against God, but all those who take their stand in opposition to Christ will certainly come to ruin at His coming. ‘So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt. 13:49-50).

V.20. ‘Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.’

The reference is to Chapter 13. It is worth having a glance before proceeding. The beast here is the beast from the sea, representing human secular power. The false prophet is the beast from the earth and represents false religion {4}. They are both ‘cast alive into the lake of fire.’ Hell is forever. Verse 21 might seem to contradict that, but it represents only the first death. See 20:14-15.

The greatest and most dramatic of all days has been described. It is not an altogether pleasant picture, but it shows assuredly that Christ will be vindicated against His enemies. We may find it happier to dwell on the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, but what a spur the fact of hell should be to our evangelism! ‘And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise Him up at the last day’ (John 6:40).

    Notes

{1} William Hendricksen, More than Conquerors (Baker Book House). Highly recommended.
{2} Most manuscripts add ‘two-edged.’
{3} It occurs more than once in Homer, and is the main theme in the Antigone of Sophocles.
{4} See https://marprelate.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/revelation-9-chapter-13-the-two-beasts/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: