THE BOOK OF REVELATION
THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH THROUGH CHRIST
Sermon #57 - The Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Revelation 19:1-9
INTRODUCTION - Our past studies in Revelation have been dealing with the overthrow and judgment of first century apostate Israel. This is a vital theme in New Testament theology. The old was being done away with and the new was taking its place. The old Temple and City were being replaced with the New Temple and the New Jerusalem, called the Church. As we study the New Testament, we realize that all the old terms which were once applied to Israel in the Old Testament are now taken up by the Church and are applied to her (she is the nation, royal priesthood, God's people, and the bride of the Lord). Apostate Israel has been pictured as the Great harlot in Revelation 18. Now, as Revelation 19 opens, there are two feasts presented. One is for the Bride of Christ, and it is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The second feast is a judgment upon Apostate Israel, and it is called the Supper of God. The whole chapter is filled with contrast as the Harlot and Bride are set against each other, one enters into the joy of the Lord while the other goes to judgment. Christ is featured as a mighty warrior, coming forth to do battle against His enemies, coming forth to establish the Church as His Bride. Before we look at the marriage feast of Christ and the Church, we must consider -
1) THE IMPRECATORY WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH - Revelation 19:1-6 - When apostate Jerusalem falls we hear the Church rejoicing and praising God for His vengeance. This theme was seen earlier (Revelation 18:20) and is the response of the Church which had borne the weight of persecution from these apostates. The response of the Church is fascinating and is certainly not something we are used to hearing these days. Perhaps we might find this response harsh because we ourselves have a very poor and limited view of God. Certainly the Church today has lost a sense of the vengeance and wrath of God. We like His grace but we often retreat from mentioning the terror of His judgments. Nor do we like to think of Christ in this way, yet His picture at the end of Revelation 19 should change our minds quickly. We have brought God down to our level, whereas we should endeavor to recover a sense of the majesty and glory of a holy God. Perhaps we also find this description of the Church rejoicing when enemies fall difficult to comprehend because we ourselves have not set a high standard of holiness in our lives. How can we be outraged at sin when we are indulging in the same crimes? Here we are taught how a holy Church responds to the downfall of enemies. At the center of its imprecatory worship is the concern for the honor and glory of God. What do we learn from the Church in Revelation 19?
A) THE CHURCH IS TO SEE THE FALL OF THE WICKED AS DELIVERANCE COMING FROM THE HAND OF GOD - God is the One who saves His people and delivers them from the hand of the wicked, and for this the Church should rejoice. When the wicked are brought down, we are called to praise the power of God for He has broken down our enemies so that His strength and deliverance might be manifested.
B) THE CHURCH IS TO SEE THE FALL OF THE WICKED AS THE EXTENSION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THIS WORLD - We should also understand that when the wicked fall, righteousness triumphs. God's judgments are always right and His vengeance is a display of His love for holiness. His people know that holiness is going forth when the wicked are judged. Do we love holiness this much? Do we realize that God's judgments will result in the spread of righteousness?
C) THE CHURCH IS TO SEE THE FALL OF THE WICKED AS THE ASSURANCE THAT WICKEDNESS SHALL BE JUDGED - No sin will go unpunished. Justice will eventually prevail. Even as our world is full of injustice, it is the hope and assurance of the Christian that all sin will be judged. Though the wicked may prosper and escape condemnation, they shall not prevail forever. Wickedness, like apostate Israel of old, will be judged and condemned by Almighty God.
2) THE BRIDE OF CHRIST AND THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB - Revelation 19:7-9 - There is a great contrast of imagery going on in these chapters. Earlier we were introduced to apostate Israel as the Great Harlot who is pitifully dressed in her royal robes, but is profaning herself with idolatry and immorality. Here, in complete contrast, is the glorious bride of Christ, the Church, dressed in righteousness. She becomes the New Jerusalem, the New Temple, and she is invited into the banquet with her Lord while the Harlot is judged.
How do we apply this Marriage Feast to our present position in Christ? There is no question that we have become the Bride of Christ and this is what John wanted the first century church to understand about themselves. Christ takes us as His own, and this relationship can be described in terms of a Groom inviting His Bride to a glorious banquet from which she feasts. The imagery can be seen in Paul's chapter in Ephesians which deals with the role of a husband towards his wife. In the greater sense, Paul is describing the present relationship which the Church enjoys with Christ.
A) THE MARRIAGE FEAST OF CHRIST IS REFLECTED IN THE WAY THAT CHRIST NOURISHES AND CHERISHES HIS CHURCH - Ephesians 5:29 - The Church has been invited to come and feast from her Lord. This is not a future event, but a very present reality in the life of the Church. Christ is presently the One who feeds His church, providing food and sustenance for her in this world. He especially does this through the ministry of the Church (Ephesians 4:11-13) and He has provided everything we need to become His holy people (II Peter 1:3). There is nothing lacking on the table of Christ. How does He feed His Church? In the public worship and teaching ministries of the Church, the Lord is constantly feeding His people. In our private devotions, He is there to nourish us. At the Communion Table we have His glorious presence to strengthen and uphold us in His grace. There is no excuse for weak, senseless, immature Christians, for Christ has invited us to His great banquet to feast.
B) THE MARRIAGE FEAST OF CHRIST FINDS ITS CULMINATION IN THE PRESENTATION OF THE CHURCH AS HIS PERFECT AND GLORIOUS BRIDE - Ephesians 5:27 - What is the aim of this great feast? Why does Christ bring us into the process of purifying, cleansing, and growth? His intention is that we should become His absolutely perfect Bride, which He will present to Himself in glory. The Church in her final state will be a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle. There will be no sinful blemishes and no signs of decay or age. Today we see her imperfections as she grows in grace, but one day she will be sinless, completely righteous in Christ. This is the assurance of the Church, that one day she will be complete (Philippians 1:6). Which banquet are you a part of? Have you come to the Banquet of Christ? Do you feast from His riches? Or will you be part of the Supper of God, the supper which ends in terrible judgment?