Published July 3, 2008
Rev. 19:6-9; 11-16, 19-21
Related Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies for Life, July 20
Nov. 18, 1995 will forever remain etched in my memory; this was the day that my wife and I were married. With fond memories, I recall my then wife-to-be feverishly making preparations for that great day. And even though it required a great deal of work for her, from making her gown to planning the celebration, the wedding was not a burden.
To be sure, my wife appeared quite happy when the day finally arrived! In many ways, John’s description of the Bride of Christ in Revelation 19 matches my own wedding experience and observations.
Recall that throughout the book of Revelation, John has sought to encourage believers by reminding them of Christ’s ultimate victory over Satan and his followers. In this present chapter, John encourages Christians by stressing two meals: the wedding feast of the Lamb and the supper of God. One represents a day of salvation, while the other corresponds to a day of judgment.
Wedding feast of the Lamb
Notice how John describes this first meal. It is a day of great celebration, not unlike all wedding feasts. Indeed, John reveals that a great multitude, “like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder” were praising the Lord (19:6). This group was celebrating because God’s heavenly reign was about to break into reality on earth.
John is describing Christ’s return through the lens of a Hebrew wedding. From the Hebrew perspective, a couple was betrothed to one another, followed by a period of time when they prepared for the actual wedding. When the wedding day finally arrived, the groom would return for his bride and together with their guests, they would proceed to the groom’s house for a wedding feast.
In several places, Scripture identifies the people of God as the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5; Hos. 2; Jer. 3). Like the Hebrew wedding, the Church has been preparing itself for that great day. “Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself” (19:7).
We can rejoice for two reasons: the day has come and we have prepared. Not only has the Bride been preparing, but also the Groom Himself will provide the Bride’s wedding garment (19:8).
Finally, John declares, “Blessed are those who have been invited” (19:9). Here, we recognize why this was such good news for John’s readers. God could have chosen anyone to be His Bride, but He chose the church.
Consequently, she not only receives garments of “fine linen” and the opportunity to enjoy the great wedding feast, she also receives salvation.
These first ten verses are all part of God’s people celebrating the salvation that God brings (19:2). And John’s readers, as well as Christians of all times, continue to receive encouragement from these words because God, “the Almighty” (19:6), has promised that these words are “true” (19:10).
Supper of God
Sadly, not everyone has been invited. Indeed, John starkly contrasts the salvation of those who have been invited to the wedding feast with the destruction of those who will be at the supper of God. In this second section (19:11-21), John describes the return of Jesus Christ.
With this return, Jesus – “Faithful and True” – begins to judge and make war against His enemies. In this chapter, John reveals the destruction of the Antichrist and his followers, and in the next chapter, John will describe the binding and the end of Satan himself (20:1–15).
In vivid language, mainly reminiscent of Ezekiel’s vision (Ez. 39:17-20), John describes how an angel invites birds of prey to come to this second meal. “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of commanders … the flesh of everyone, both free and slave, small and great” (19:17-18). In other words, John writes that no enemy of God, regardless of rank, will escape invitation to His supper.
Nevertheless, the enemies of God attempt to “make war” with God, but to no avail. Indeed, John writes, “The Beast was taken prison, and along with him the False Prophet … Both of them were thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword … and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (19:20–21).
What an irony! Those who accept the mercies of God are both guests and the Bride at the wedding feast. Those who reject the mercies of God are both invited to the supper of God and are the supper of God.
Application of these verses to the life of every believer seems quite clear. First, salvation for the followers of Christ is certain. Second, ultimate destruction is certain for those who reject Jesus Christ and His offer of salvation. Third, these are the only two choices.
When Christ returns, we will either be feasting with Him at the wedding feast of the Lamb, or we will be feasted upon at the supper of God. What will you be doing when Christ returns?
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