This sermon is from the series UNDERSTANDING REVELATION and was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church on Sunday, August 10, 2014 by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
Revelation 19:1-10One of the joys of being a pastor is the privilege to be with couples who want to get married and to unite them in holy matrimony. There have been hundreds of weddings that I have conducted over the years. But there are two that stand out as being very unusual. The first occurred at Seaford Baptist Church which was our second pastorate. One afternoon, the church secretary came to my office and said, “Pastor, there is a couple here who want to talk to you.” I said, “Show them in.” They told me that they were just passing through and liked the way our church looked and wanted to get married in the church. I invited them to have a seat to talk about it. After they told me their personal faith histories and where they were from, I outlined to them the procedure of premarital counseling. They said, “Pastor, you don’t understand. We want to get married right now.” I told them that I did not perform “drop in weddings.” But they pleaded time and again and insisted that it had to be “right now.” I gave in and the secretary and I went with them into the sanctuary and the ceremony was performed. When they started to leave the man said to me, “How much do I owe you?” I replied, “Whatever you think she is worth.” He pulled out his checkbook and in a grand gesture began to write. He folded the check and handed it to me. I told them “goodbye” and opened up the check. It was for $5.00…and it bounced! I never saw them again and wondered how long that marriage would last.
The wedding that we are talking about today is one that was very costly, and a marriage is assured to last through eternity. The event in Scripture is called “The Marriage Supper of The Lamb.”
I. THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE MARRIAGE. (v.7)
“Let us rejoice and be glad, and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come…”
The imagery of Christ being the groom and the church being the bride is used here. The announcement of the marriage is made with great joy. John says, “I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.” (v.1) The announcement is made in heaven with a chorus of “Hallelujahs.” In our culture it is usually the parents who make the announcement of the weddings of their children. The announcement of the marriage of the Son comes from the corridors of heaven and the voices are giving praise to God.
It is interesting that the word “Hallelujah” is only used four times in the New Testament and those are in verses 1-6 of the passage we have just read. In the Old Testament it is interpreted as “Praise to Yahweh” or in English, “Praise the Lord.” “Yahweh” is the proper name for God among the Hebrews. It was so sacred that for centuries they would not even pronounce it for fear of taking God’s name in vain. Think of the contrast today in how God’s name is used in cursing without any thought of reverence.
Why is there such rejoicing? Through the long courtship of wooing those who are the redeemed the victory has been won. Two things are mentioned: “He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond servants on her.” (v.2) This means that the great system of world dominance by the unholy trinity – Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet – is toppled from power so that the Kingdom of Christ can rule. He can come now to his bride –the church which is made up of the redeemed of all of the ages. The announcement of a wedding is a happy experience for a family and it is also for the family of God.
II. THE INVITATIONS ARE SENT. (v.9)
“Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”
Who were those you invited to your wedding? They were your friends and the friends of your family. They were those who knew you personally and had your best interest at heart. They were the people you want around you for this happy occasion. The same is true at the wedding of Christ and His church. The invitations are sent to the ones who heard the gospel and believed and who served in the Kingdom during their lifetime. This includes the redeemed of all the ages who are saved by grace through faith including the faithful in the Old Testament times.
The second wedding that I mentioned to you that was memorable occurred at First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia. We had a Chinese congregation in Norfolk and the pastor, Sidney Quong, and I were friends. He asked me if I would perform the ceremony of a young man in his congregation and his bride in our Sanctuary. The bride was the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Hong Kong. The plans as they developed were these: The father of the bride had chartered a large airplane to bring their friends over from Hong Kong. He also brought with them the chefs to prepare the multicourse meal for the wedding banquet. They wanted the wedding dress made by the one that made the dress for the daughter of President Nixon. The maker of the dress was to accompany it to the wedding and dress the bride. They wanted the church prepared according to their specifications. Our doors to the church were painted blue and that would not do for them for blue is the color that represents heaven in their beliefs. We had to cover the doors with white satin. They wanted our choir to sing and our bell choir to play. When they discovered that we did not have robes for the bell choir they bought robes for each one. I used the traditional wedding ceremony and married them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The reception was at the ballroom of the convention center hotel and they seated about a thousand guests for the marriage supper. For the wedding present, the pride and groom were given a round the world tour. That was the only multi-million dollar wedding I ever had. And I know what you want to know – how much did they pay the preacher? Nothing – but they did make a contribution to the church.
III. THE BRIDE IS MADE READY. (v.7)
“…and His bride made herself ready.”
The women will understand this better than the men for you know all that goes in to preparing for a wedding.
“It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (v.8)
The Bible speaks of the relationship of God and His people as a marriage and the church as a bride. The Old Testament concepts are these: Hosea 2:19,20 “I will betroth you to me forever…I will betroth you to me in righteousness.” Isaiah 54:5 “Your maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is his name.” And in the Gospels, Matthew 22:2 we read of the marriage feast and in Matthew 22:10 of the wedding hall and the wedding guests. In Matthew 25:1, the bridegroom is mentioned and in John 3:29, the friends of the bridegroom.
The righteous acts that we who are the congregation of Cornerstone do for the Lord are considered to be our wedding garments.
The Biblical background for all of this imagery is the Jewish wedding. It would happen like this: The bridal party would gather at the bride’s home and wait for the groom and his groomsmen. The father of the bride would give the bride away and then they would proceed through the town and arrive at the home of the groom. The wedding ceremony would then take place in the late afternoon. The wedding supper would generally be served after dark. On some occasions the celebration would go on for days.
All of this imagery of the wedding motif is to describe the Second Coming of Christ which we will address next week.
Last Sunday, we observed the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said something very significant when He established the memorial covenant. He 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.” (Matthew 25:29) It seems that he was connecting it with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
IV. THE WORSHIP THAT THIS HOPE BRINGS. (vv.9,10)
“And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The angel that gave this message to John said that he too would bow before the throne and worship because these are the true words of the Lord. The emotion that these great realities produce in us is the same as they produced in the heavenly hosts as they exclaimed to Him who sat on heaven’s throne: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God…And a second time they said, “Hallelujah!” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!…Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.”
That really is the song of the redeemed. It is the wedding song that we shall sing when we gather at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
When Queen Victoria had just ascended her throne she went to hear Handel’s “Messiah.” She had been instructed as to the protocol of her conduct and told that she must not rise when the others stood at the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus. When that magnificent chorus was being sung and the singers were shouting “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,” she sat with great difficulty.
It seemed that she could not remain seated and would rise in spite of the custom for kings and queens, but finally when they came to the part where they proclaim Jesus to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords – suddenly, the young queen rose and stood with bowed head, as if she would take her own crown and place it at His feet.
But the question that we must ask of ourselves, our families, and of our friends and acquaintances is, “Will you be invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?”
Col. Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame had to get an answer to that question. In his autobiography, he says that he had always been a God-fearing man. In every financial venture he gave God a tenth of the profits. Yet he knew that if he died, he would not get an invitation.
Worried, he traveled to Australia to a church convention seeking an answer but he didn’t find it. One day, he was walking down a street in Louisville, Kentucky and he met Pastor Waymon Rodgers of the Evangel Tabernacle who invited him to their services. Several days later, he went. At age 79, he claimed the promises of Romans 10:9-13; “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed…for whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
When Col. Sanders walked out of the church that night, he said, “I knew that I was a different man. All my tithing and good deeds had never given me the sense of God’s presence that I knew then.”
He will now get an invitation to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. And so will you – if you know Christ.
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!