In our journey through the Book of Revelation we have come as far as chapter 19.
May the study notes below encourage you to undertake your own study of this book, and this event that is arguably the most anticipated in all history!
For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Jesus’ first coming, there are eight that speak of His second coming! In fact, the very first prophecy in the Bible uttered by a prophet is a prophecy about Jesus’ second coming. It was by Enoch, and is recorded in the book of Jude: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15). This gives a good summary of one of the key aspects of the Second Coming, namely the judgment on this unbelieving world.
Throughout scripture there are actually three distinct reasons given for the second coming:
- To deliver Israel in the midst of her darkest hour
- To judge the ungodly nations of this world that have survived the Great Tribulation
- To re-establish the throne the throne of David
Let us look briefly at what the Bible says of these three things:
Jeremiah refers to the time of the Tribulation and says: “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him. 31-33
We have already seen in Revelation chapter 12 that Israel will be forced to flee into the wilderness of Edom (modern day Jordan) because of the combined armies of Antichrist that will be amassed against them (something we will explore further in this chapter). At the height of this anti-Semitic persecution the situation prophesied in Hosea will come to pass, where God states: “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early”. (Hosea 5:15). Because of their rejection of the Messiah, Jesus blinded Israel’s eyes (as recorded in Luke 19:37-44), and then ‘returned to His place’ at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Jesus has remained at His Father’s side for the past 1900+ years, but when in the midst of their affliction Israel cry out, Jesus will mount His white horse and ride out of Heaven with all the majesty of a conquering king and come to Israel’s aid to defeat her enemies. We read: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save [this description can only refer to Jesus!]. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? [in other words, why has Jesus got blood splattered on his garments, just like the splashes and stains that you would get if you were treading on grapes in a winepress? – the answer is then given…] I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come”. (Isaiah 63:1-4). Those trampled here are Antichrist’s forces and those joined with them. The redeemed is a reference to Israel who will be delivered.
Satan of course knows that Israel crying out to God for deliverance is a pre-requisite for the second coming; so if he could destroy Israel first, would that prevent the second coming?? It would seem that Satan thinks so, for throughout history he has continually tried to wipe out Israel, destroy her completely. Yet still to this day, despite his great attempts through the Holocaust and the Islamic nation’s hatred of Israel, Israel still exists as an identifiable ethnic group living in their own land.
The second reason for the second coming is for Jesus to judge the living nations that have survived the Great Tribulation. In Matthew 25 we read: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matt 25:31-46).
In this passage we are told that all the nations of the world will be gathered before Jesus and He will separate them as a shepherd separates sheep and goats. These nations will be judged depending on how they have treated His brethren – Israel. Those nations who have supported and defended Israel throughout the centuries will be spared and blessed.
The nations who have oppressed or persecuted Israel will be thrown into Hell, there to wait until the Great White Throne Judgment (in Rev 20).
The third reason for the second coming of Jesus is to re-establish the Throne of David, as originally promised in 2 Samuel 7 and as confirmed to Mary by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1.
It should be remembered that Jesus was actually heir to the throne of Israel, being of the royal line of David through Joseph. But as God foretold through Hosea (3:4) Israel have not had a king since the time of the Babylonian captivity in 587 B.C.
In 2 Samuel 7, God promised David “when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels [i.e. Solomon], and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever”. (2 Sam 7:12-16)
This promise of an everlasting Davidic dynasty is to be fulfilled through the Messiah, the Son of David.
When the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary he declared to her: “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31-33
Jesus did not sit on the Throne of David and rule over Israel during His first coming, and in actual fact, it was precisely because the Jewish leaders thought Jesus was about to lead an insurrection against Rome and set himself up as king that they had Him crucified (see John 11:47-50). The disciples also thought Jesus was going to deliver the nation from the bondage of Rome and become king over Israel, hence Peter’s attempt to wage warfare when he chopped off the ear of the high priest (Matthew 26:51 / John 18:10). Even after the resurrection the disciples asked Jesus: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
The issue therefore was never a question of whether or not Jesus was destined to sit on the throne of Israel. He was and always has been. The only issue to be settled was when?
After the resurrection Jesus left this earth to go and prepare a place for His bride (see John 14:1-3 / Eph 5:25-27), and also to wait Israel cry for help as already mentioned.
The Throne of David has now been vacant for over 2500 years, but we are now poised on the brink of the return of the rightful Heir. He will not only reign over the whole house of Israel (see Ezekiel 37:21-22), but over the whole earth from Jerusalem (see Daniel 2:44 & Daniel 7:13-14)
The first 5 verses of this chapter now record Heaven’s response to the destruction of Babylon that we have seen in chapter 18.
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
Once again we have the Greek phrase ‘Meta tauta’ – ‘after these things’, that is, after the events of chapter 17 & 18. John hears a ‘great multitude’ in heaven praising God for His judgment on the false religious systems of this world (that have all come under the umbrella of ‘Babylon’) that have deceived so many and led multitudes to hell.
As we noted, the events of chapter 17 & 18 actually take place during the first three and a half years. Obviously it would make no sense to record Heaven’s response to Babylon’s destruction until after we have seen the event. Thus if we were to try to be strict with the chronology, this response (verse 1-5) would most likely occur at or around the three and a half year point.
Heaven’s declaration is ‘Alleluia’. It is a world that is only found four times in the New Testament – all in this chapter. The word is the un-translated Greek form of the Hebrew ‘Hallelujah’ and literally means ‘Praise Yahweh’.
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.
Again we have a declaration that God has been just in bringing the judgments that we have witnessed in chapter 17 & 18 of the false religious system that brought ‘great spiritual confusion’. She is identified as having killed the servants of the Lord. Much of the worldwide church has been suffering persecution for centuries. But it has been said that if persecution is to come upon the Church in the west, it is as likely to come from the ‘established church’ as from the governments. The more the ‘visible church’ compromises and embraces the world (and moves toward a one-world-church), the more those who take the Bible seriously will be ostracised and labeled as fundamentalists etc.
Paul said: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”. (2 Tim 4:3-4)
Regarding those who would water down, allegorise or distort the truth of scripture Paul said: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Tim 6:3-5)
And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
It really will be cause for praising God when we finally see the destruction of false religion, and note; the effects of this punishment will last forever as a testimony.
And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
This is the last mention of the twenty-four elders, at least by this title, for from now on they will be seen as the bride of Christ. Most of us would fall down in awe before the four beasts! How awesome will it be to see these incredible creatures fall before a holy God?
And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
This is applicable at all times and should be a constant response of those that know Him and therefore fear Him and have become beneficiaries of His grace, mercy and love.
Following Heaven’s response to the destruction of Babylon, verses 6-9 now focus on one of the most anticipated events in history… the moment the Heavenly Bridegroom receives His bride! Right from the Garden of Eden, marriage was intended to depict this Heavenly union – as Paul emphasises in Ephesians 5: 22-33.
In John 14 1-3 Jesus told His disciples that, just as a typical Jewish bridegroom would do, He was returning to His Father’s house to prepare a place for His bride, and, again as a Jewish bridegroom would do, He will come again with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) and then take His bride back to His Father house.
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Notice that this voice is as a ‘great multitude’. This would seem to link this company with the Tribulation martyrs seen in Rev 7:9. It is fitting that they cry out that God is all-powerful because we are about to witness the Lamb being united with His bride. Since Eden, God has been working behind the scenes in the affairs of man to bring all things to this conclusion. In Ephesians 3:10-11 Paul explains that God’s wisdom is demonstrated by the existence of the Church – Christ’s bride. We read: “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”
God is omnipotent and that which He purposes He will perform.
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.
Notice that it is the great multitude that makes this declaration; this shows that the great multitude are not the bride, but rather they are those who announce that She has made herself ready and that the marriage has come. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:22-32)
We could spend hours unraveling all that is in this incredible passage; however it is clear that Christ views the Church as His bride; He gave Himself for her and He has made provision for her to be ready for her wedding day by providing His word wherein she may wash. Jesus is coming back to receive unto Himself a bride without spot or blemish. (There is an incredible parallel between this wedding and a traditional Jewish wedding, (see Appendix A)).
If you are a Christian you are part of the bride of Christ. How are your wedding preparations going? Any bride would prepare for her wedding day, paying attention to even the smallest details so that she can be pleasing to her husband-to-be. If an earthly bride would do this for an earthly husband, how much more should Christ’s bride be getting ready for the big day?!
Of the crowns that are promised to believers it is no coincidence that the crown of righteousness is promised to those who are looking for, and love the fact that He is coming back for them. (see 2 Tim 4:8)
Again, just stop for a moment and let it sink in; that Jesus, the Creator, who holds all things together by the word of His power, wants to be united with you for eternity. It is for this reason that Paul emphasises that we should live lives worthy of our calling. (Eph 4:1 / Col 1:10 / 1 Thes 2:12 / Rom 6:2 / 1 Peter 1:13-16). Even here and now we are told that He has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places” (Eph 2:6).
Children are told fairy stories of frogs that are kissed and are exulted far beyond their position, but the magnitude and scale of what we have been given far eclipses even the most imaginative story. Considering this brings into focus statements such as the following:
“How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom 6:2) “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2 Tim 2:4)“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1)
Some Bible commentators have suggested that this event – the marriage supper – will not take place until we are back on earth, and that the invited guests will be the repentant Jews and the gentiles that survive the Tribulation. The text however would seem to clearly place the supper (vs9) immediately after the marriage (vs7) and before the Second Coming (vs11).
In reference to the wedding guests, see the comments on verse 9 in a moment; but one other indicator that would place this event as occurring in heaven is found in Mark 14:25:
“Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Jews have four cups they drink at Passover – 1) the cup of bringing out, 2) the cup of delivery, 3) the cup of blessing (or redeeming) and 4) the cup of taking out. It was the 3rd cup that Jesus drank from when He said the above, thus leaving one cup still to drink – which will not be drunk from until we are taken out of this world and united with Christ in His Father’s kingdom!!
…..and give honour to him
At any wedding the groom is honoured, how much more so when not only the bride, but all the guests are there only because He has come an unfathomable distance to rescue them and thereby making their attendance at this great occasion possible.
Notice also the timing of this event: it is after the destruction of Babylon the great and thus, as we have deduced, is toward the end of the seven-year Tribulation period. A Jewish wedding ceremony traditionally lasts for seven days; as almost every other part of Christ’s marriage to His Bride has been modeled on a traditional Jewish wedding, could it be that this one will also last for seven days, just prior to the Second Coming? (again, see Appendix A).
Another point worth mentioning is that this event is happening in Heaven. You’ll agree that weddings go much better if the bride is in attendance! So yet again we know that the Church – the bride of Christ – cannot be on earth during the Tribulation. Amazingly there are still those who wonder if the Church will have to endure the Tribulation, and therefore these people often place the Rapture at the same time as the Second Coming. In doing this they cause the bride to miss her wedding day!
The question is really quite simple: Was Jesus death on the cross sufficient to pay the price for our sin or not? If, as we know, it was, then we will not have to endure God’s wrath during the Tribulation, and furthermore it would make God unjust if He left the Church on earth during this time – see Gen 18:25.
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
“The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” The wedding gown of the church is the righteous acts of the saints. This is a difficult concept to accept, because it is impossible for us to stand before Christ in our own righteousness. Paul wrote of this: “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). You see, by faith we can trust Christ—not only for the forgiveness of sins but for the impartation to us of His own righteousness. Then why does John say that the wedding garment is the righteous acts of the saints? Well, the wedding gown will be used only once, but we will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ throughout eternity. We as believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, not to be judged for our sins in reference to salvation, but for rewards. Through the ages believers have been performing righteous acts which have been accumulating to adorn the wedding gown. By the way, what are you doing to adorn that wedding gown? What are you doing for the Lord today? (J Vernon McGee)
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
John is specifically told to make mention of the fact that those who are invited to the marriage supper are blessed. Who are these wedding guests? There is still a great debate among scholars on this issue, however if we break it down into what we do know we are really only left with one question instead of many.
We know that the Church is the bride of Christ, so that only leaves two groups, the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation saints. It seems clear that the Tribulation saints – referred to as ‘a great multitude’ in Rev 7:9 – are the ones who are now seen announcing the marriage supper (in verse 6-7) so they are obviously there (See also Appendix B), so the only question is whether the Old Testament saints are part of the bride or among the wedding guests.
There are good scholars on both sides of this question. One often quoted verse in support of the Old Testament saints being ‘friends of the Bridegroom’ rather than the bride is John 3:29 where John the Baptist said: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.” However as David Guzik, former director of Calvary Chapel Bible College, Germany, points out: What this verse is saying is that “John is the “best man” – who, in Jewish weddings, arranged many of the details of the wedding, and brought the bride to the groom”. This is in effect what John the Baptist came to do, i.e he pointed the way to the Messiah, leading the bride to the Groom.
This verse would not then appear to be teaching that the Old Testament believers are to be excluded from the Church. Indeed Paul tells us that one of the functions of the Church was to unite both Jews and Gentiles together in Christ (Gal 3:28). We also know that the thief on the cross – who believed in Jesus for his salvation – went to paradise. Almost all scholars believe this to be the same place as also referred to as Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22) where all the Old Testament saints who had died had gone. Thus, if the thief on the cross and Abraham, David, Daniel, Ezekiel etc were all in the same place, it seems reasonable that there is no distinction between them, i.e. they are all to be considered part of the Church and therefore part of the bride of Christ. Also, around the New Jerusalem we find 12 gates with the 12 Tribes of Israel named on them and 12 foundation stones named after the Apostles; thus both Old and New Testament believers united in eternity.
A final confirmation of this is given in Matthew 8:11: “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
In verse 9 we read “and he said to me” but we are not told who the ‘he’ is. Here however we find out that it is not an angel but a brother who has the testimony of Jesus. This is again strong support for the view expressed in the comments on verse 9. It is reasonable to assume that this was not someone that John had known from the early church (bearing in mind that John received this Revelation in about 96AD), John would have surely recognised any of the early Church leaders (and it would be reasonable to assume that whoever this person is they are of importance given that they are in an extremely important role); therefore we must conclude that this person is one of the Old Testament believers. The fact that they have the testimony of Jesus surely means that they are part of the Church.
It is just a conjecture, but I personally believe that this character may be Daniel for reasons stated in our previous studies.
The Greek could be translated: “The evidence of Jesus is the breath of prophecy”. In other words, prophecy breathes the fact that Jesus is the I AM, the Messiah, the First and the Last.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
A liberal minister once said to me in a disparaging tone “I suppose you think that Jesus is coming back on a white horse?” Now I’m only a simple man but my answer was based on the fact that this verse states that Jesus will come back on a white horse, so I said “Yes, I do believe Jesus is coming back on a white horse”.
To me it’s simple: you either trust what the Bible says and let it interpret itself, or you interpret it yourself – at which point you are trusting in your own ability (not generally considered a good idea according to scripture!).
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
I am so glad that when Jesus looks at me it is with love and not with eyes as a flame of fire. The crowns on His head are diadem’s – a royal crown and not a stephanos crown as worn by Antichrist in Rev 6:2, which is the crown given to someone who is victorious in contest.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
The only blood in Heaven will be Jesus’. The blood on His garment will be His own. The significance of this is seen in Genesis 37 in the account of Joseph and his brothers:
“And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces”. (Gen 37:31-33)
Here we see a scapegoat whose blood is shed before Joseph’s garment dipped in its blood and the garment is then presented to their father so that he can identify it as his sons. That is the type; the reality is that Jesus was the scapegoat whose blood was shed instead of ours. The bloodied garment that Jesus is seen wearing in this verse had been presented to the Father as evidence that His son had been slain. Now however, because the Father raised up His Son from the dead, Jesus again puts on this garment
Jesus is the Word of God. God’s Word personified. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
The armies in heaven that will return with Jesus will include the angels (as confirmed in Matthew 25:31) and the saints (the Bride of Christ)) as stated in Jude 14.
Note however that we will not be involved in the fighting. Jesus himself will ‘trample His enemies’ (see again Isaiah 63:1-4)..
Our fight in now, as we wrestle daily against sin. In some senses we would prefer to fight alongside Jesus at His return, much like Simon Peter, bolstered by Jesus’ presence was prepared to take on the army that had come to arrest Jesus in John 18:10. It is far less glamorous to resist temptation when no one else is watching, and no one will applaud the victory. Bu this is precisely where the battle is to be fought.
This is or moment to stand with all the resource of Heaven, Jesus at our side and take on the enemy on his own ground. If we resist him he will flee. Jesus will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear. And although others might not see, your Saviour sees, and these righteous acts as you war against the world, the flesh and the Devil will one day adorn your wedding garment.
As Paul admonished Timothy, be strong therefore in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. Fight the good fight. Don’t get entangled with the sin that so easily ensnares, but keep your eyes on Jesus.
Appendix A – A Jewish Wedding
Marriage to the Jews is extremely serious, it is a ‘holy institution’ ordained by God. Its very name in Hebrew, ‘Kiddushin’, means “sanctification”. In 1 Thes 4:3 we read: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you should abstain from sexual immorality”. If God’s will for the Church is that we be married to His Son, how appropriate that our being ‘set apart’ (sanctified), and our remaining pure should be joined together in this verse.
A typical Jewish wedding is separated into two parts, 1) the ‘Ketubah’ (Betrothal), and 2) the ‘Huppah’ (wedding ceremony), which is followed by the conclusion/wedding feast, ‘Nisuin’. This is very much like our engagement, which would be followed by the wedding day/Reception. The Ketubah to a Jew however, is a far more serious commitment than we tend to view an engagement. The Ketubah is in fact a marriage contract between the groom and his bride. After the groom has purchased his bride, he draws up a contract in which he undertakes to give all that he has in order to provide for every need of his bride, not only while he is alive, but also in the event of his death. This is exactly what Jesus has done for us. He has purchased us, and has written a new covenant in His blood to ensure His bride – the Church – has been given ‘exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20).
To mark this contract, the Jewish groom and bride drink from a cup of wine. Our agreement was sealed in an upper room (Matt 26:28) where the Groom shared a cup of wine and said “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:29) After this, it is customary for the Chatan (groom) and Kallah (bride) to remain apart for the time leading up to the wedding day. During this time the groom will return to his father’s house to prepare a room for his bride. Our Groom said: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)
The bride, meanwhile, will visit the ritual bath known as the Mikveh. The purpose of this is so that she can cleanse herself spiritually and enter marriage in a state of complete purity – without spot or blemish.
One part of the ritual includes removing all manmade things (such as jewelry and nail polish etc) and then being fully immersed in water while reciting a special prayer. She is supervised and assisted during the ritual to ensure it is done correctly. This is incredible! The Holy Spirit has been given for the Church to prepare us to meet our Bridegroom.
We too should be fully immersed in the water of God’s word, so that we should be without spot or blemish (Eph 5:25- 32). We should purge ourselves of all that is in this world, “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
At the appointed time, the Jewish groom will then return with a shout and a blast of a ram’s horn to claim his bride and take her back to the ‘Huppah’, which is traditionally held at his father’s house. By entering the house, the woman is declaring her official independence from her family and accepting the protection of her husband.
What a parallel this is to the Rapture when there will be a blast of a trumpet and a shout, and then we will rise to meet Jesus in the air.
As with a Jewish wedding we will also go back to the Father’s house, thus forever severing our ties with this world. For a Jew, the wedding ceremony now begins and the couple say their ‘vows’ reciting ‘the seven blessings’ whilst holding a second cup of wine. These blessings begin with 1) praising God for His creation in general, then 2) praising Him for making man in His image, 3) then praising Him for making a “two part creature”, man and woman, 4) then acknowledging that only together can they be complete. 5) In the fifth blessing they pray for the restoration of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. 6) The sixth blessing expresses the hope that the bride and groom will grow in love for each other, focusing their love as exclusively as Adam and Eve, when there was no one else in the world. 7) Then finally, the seventh blessing is a prayer for the Messiah to come and redeem the Jews from exile, so that peace and tranquility will reign over the world.
Once the seven blessings have been said, a Jewish couple will drink from the second cup of wine and the marriage is sealed. Again, Jesus said: “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:29) After this comes the wedding feast and celebration, usually accompanied by much singing and dancing! At the end of this, the Sheva Brachot, the wedding blessing, is pronounced. The same is true for the Church, for in Rev 19:6-9 our own ‘Sheva Brachot’ will be pronounced.
In Matthew 22:2-3 we read “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son…” If God has indeed arranged a marriage for His Son, is it surprising that it has been arranged to model a Jewish wedding, when His Son was in fact born as a Jew?
Appendix B – The Wedding Guests
The view that the wedding guests will be the Tribulation saints would seem to be consistent with the parable that Jesus told in Luke 14:16-24. In that parable Jesus responds to someone who has just declared: “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God”
Jesus then says the following: “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” (Luke 14:16-24)
What was Jesus getting at? What was He trying to tell us?
Well, according to Matthew in Matt 13:35 “Jesus spoke unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
So one of the purposes of Jesus’ parables was to reveal things not previously known. We also find that ‘a certain man’ etc. always alludes to the Son of Man – Jesus (cf. Matt 13:24/13:37). So, here Jesus is saying that there is going to be a great supper (in the kingdom of heaven) to which He will invite many. Of those who have ‘official invitations’ none will come but rather they will make feeble excuses (demonstrating a love for earthly things). Jesus will then send His servant to call those not considered important by the establishment, who are found in the streets and lanes of the city. These are they who recognise their own weakness and insufficiency. However there is still room, so the servant is sent out again to compel any who have ‘ears to hear’ to come in before it’s too late and the door is finally shut. Jesus closes by giving a chilling statement saying that none of those who were called will taste of His supper.
My interpretation of this is that the ‘established church’ that will enter the tribulation are the ones with the official invitations – as one commentator put it: ‘they are converted to Christianity but not converted to Christ’ – hence they have missed the Rapture but should now be the first to realise what is going on. However their love for the pleasures of this world is their real motivation and they refuse to accept the offer. Jesus will then send out His ‘servant’ (144,000 Jews? / Two witnesses?) to invite all who recognise their helplessness and need for a Saviour. There is still room so an eagle preaching the everlasting gospel (Rev 14:6) is sent out to preach to them that dwell on the earth to ensure that all who will are gathered in – then the door will be shut, the 7 vials will be poured out on the earth and it’s inhabitants. In heaven however a great multitude will rejoice at being given this last amazing opportunity to come to the marriage supper – and as John is told to write: Blessed [indeed] are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.
TO BE CONTINUED…