The marriage supper of the Lamb

At the conclusion of the seven plagues that punish the inhabitants of the world for their universal sin against God, John said, “I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand” (Revelation 19:1-2). This remarkable conclusion to the judgment of the world leads to the announcement of a marriage ceremony that is about to take place. John heard the voice of a great multitude saying, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8).

“The imagery of a wedding to express the intimate relationship between God and His people has its roots in the prophetic literature of the Old Testament…The fact that this marriage takes place in heaven implies that the church has been raptured previously” (note on Revelation 19:7). Immediately following the announcement of the Lamb’s wedding, the scene shifts and the bride and groom’s departure is depicted. John said, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses” (Revelation 19:11-14, NKJV).

John’s reference to the armies in heaven following Christ as he goes into battle suggests that there might be a dual purpose to the Lamb’s marriage. It might represent both the unification of the body of Christ with Jesus, its head, and the restoration of fellowship between God and mankind. “Their robes of white indicate that the armies of heaven are the redeemed church — the bride of Christ — returning in triumph with her heavenly bridegroom” (note on Revelation 19:14). Apparently, the marriage supper takes place on Earth because John said, “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great” (Revelation 19:17-18).

Jesus’ parable of the marriage dinner indicated that the guests that were invited to the wedding wouldn’t come (Matthew 22:2-3). Therefore, Jesus said, “when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests” (Matthew 22:7-10, NKJV). Afterward, the king discovered a man that wasn’t wearing a wedding garment and he asked him, “‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:12-14, NKJV).

Jesus’ parable of the marriage dinner seems to indicate that the marriage of the Lamb is related to the millennial reign of Christ. The wedding guests might be the people that are left on the Earth at the end of the Great Tribulation and the marriage ceremony what actually takes place during that thousand year time period. At the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, just before Christ’s millennial reign starts, John stated, “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 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 worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:19-21, NKJV).

Lamb of God

John’s visit to the throne room of heaven took place at a time when an important event was commencing. As he viewed the worship of one who sat on a throne by twenty four elders who proclaimed, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created,” ( Revelation 4:11, NKJV) John “saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1). The mysterious book is believed by some to be a copy of the New Covenant that God enacted when Israel was about to be expelled from the the promised land in actualization of the most severe covenant curse (Major Covenants of the Old Testament, KJSB, p. 16). John said about this book, “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon” (Revelation 5:2-3).

The fact that no one was able to open the book or to look at its contents suggests that it was a legal document of some sort that might have contained private information, perhaps a will that could only be read by the heir to the estate. John said, “So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals'” (Revelation 5:4-5, NKJV). The Greek word translated prevailed, nikao means to conquer or get the victory (G3528). This is the same word that was used in each of the messages John was given for the seven churches regarding their reward for overcoming (Revelation 2-3). Jesus said in his message to Laodicea, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21, italics mine).

The specific victory that Jesus won took place when he died on the cross at Calvary. John said, “And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Revelation 5:6-7). The transfer of the book from the right hand of him that sat on the throne to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29) likely signified the completion of God’s plan of salvation. At that point in time, it’s possible that the Lamb’s work will be finished in that everyone that wants to accept his substitutionary death on the cross as payment for their sins have already done so. John said, “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).

The scene that took place as John looked on could have been a type of coronation in which the Lamb of God was ascending to the throne. The elders worship of the Lamb signified their acceptance of his authority over them. What seems to be clear about what was happening was that a transfer of power was taking place and the Lamb was claiming his inheritance which was documented in the book with seven seals. One of the roles that Jesus fulfilled was the kinsman redeemer of Israel. The kinsman redeemer was a blood relative that qualified to buy back property that had been sold for debt. “The book of Ruth is a beautiful account of the kinsman-redeemer. His responsibility is summed up in Ruth 4:5: ‘What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.’ Thus the kinsman-redeemer was responsible for preserving the integrity, life, property, and family name of his close relative or for executing justice upon his murderer” (H1350). It says in Ruth 4:13 that after Boaz claimed Elimelech’s property, Ruth became his wife.

One aspect of what was taking place in the throne room in heaven was the settlement of Israel’s debt of sin against God. After the elders fell down before the Lamb, John said, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10). The Greek word translated redeemed, agorazo (ag-or-ad’-zo) is properly translated as “to go to market, i.e. (by implication) to purchase” (G59). Jesus purchased or bought back the souls of believers from Satan with his own blood which was shed on the cross. The prophet Hosea portrayed this transaction when God instructed him to purchase his wife out slavery. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again and love your wife, even when she is loved by another and is not faithful. Love her as the Lord loves the people of Israel, even when they turn to other gods and love cakes of dried grapes.’ So I bought her for fifteen pieces of silver money and ten baskets of barley. Then I said to her, ‘You must stay with me for many days, and be faithful to me. Do not have another man, and I will also be faithful to you’” (Hosea 3:1-3, NLV).

One of the parables Jesus told the religious leaders that wanted to kill him was about a marriage dinner. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come….But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’” (Matthew 22:2-9, NKJV). The marriage supper of the Lamb that is recorded in Revelation 19 indicates that the great whore must be judged and the blood of God’s servants avenged before the wedding can take place, chapters 16 – 18 record that process. Revelation 5:13 appears to take place at the end of that process. It says, “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’” (NKJV).