Are we getting READY for the ‘MARRIAGE of the LAMB’?
December 31 Bible Reading: Revelation Chapters 19-22
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev. 19:6-8)
As the book of Revelation comes to a close, Apostle John speaks about a wonderful event that is going to happen in heaven, which is the marriage of Jesus Christ (“the Lamb”) to His Church (“the bride”). Apostle Paul had earlier spoken about the relationship of Christ to His Church with that of a husband to his wife as being a great mystery: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:32)
In order to get a better understanding of this event, we should look into the steps involved in a Jewish marriage. It all begins with the betrothal of the bride to the groom, which is as binding as marriage itself (Exo. 22:16). Due to this fact, the betrothed couple is normally referred to as husband (2 Cor. 11:2) and wife (Luke 2:5). During the period of betrothal, the groom prepares to pay the dowry to the father of the bride and also prepares room in his father’s house for his bride, while the bride prepares herself for the upcoming wedding. It is the father of the groom who decides when the interval of betrothal should end. With his father’s consent the groom along with his friends goes to the bride’s home, from which he brings her back to the home that he had prepared for his bride. There the wedding supper is held and the marriage is finally consummated through the union between the groom and the bride.
The above particulars of the Jewish marriage can be applied to the marriage of Jesus Christ and His Church, which has been announced many times in the Old Testament through God’s messengers, the prophets. While Israel is called God’s wife in the Old Testament (see Isa. 54:5–8; Hos. 2:19, 20), the Church has become the bride of Christ in the New Testament (see Eph. 5:23-27). When Jesus took on flesh and blood and came down to this sinful world, He became the sacrificial lamb for humanity and became betrothed to His followers (the Church) who accept Him in their hearts as their Lord and Savior. He paid the ultimate price (the dowry) by shedding His last drop of His blood on the cross at Calvary. Thereafter, He has left for His heavenly abode to prepare a place for us (His bride, the Church), and He has exhorted us not to be troubled about this matter (John 14:1-2).
One day, in the near future, Jesus will return for His bride, for so He has stated: “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). In fact, in the last chapter (22) of Revelation, Jesus has emphasized three times that He will return quickly with these words: “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20) He will take us with Him to heaven to participate in the “marriage of the Lamb” (v. 7). This wedding imagery expresses the intimacy, love, and joy between Christ and His bride, the Church (Matt. 22:2–14; John 3:29). For the Jews, this wedding imagery stresses the intimate relationship that will exist between God and His people in the earthly messianic kingdom.
The “marriage of the Lamb” (v. 7) is thus the eternal union of the bride (Church) with Jesus Christ following the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17). The basic clothing of the bride is the garment of salvation, which she received at her acceptance of the Lamb’s gracious offer of marriage (Isa 61:10). Her white garment signifies faithful obedience to God (Matt. 22:11, 12). The fine linen in the garment represents the righteous acts of the saints justified by faith in Jesus Christ, which has now been judged and purified at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:12–15; 2 Cor. 5:10).
As the bride of Christ, the Church has to make herself ready for the judgment seat of Christ, and take away her “spots and wrinkles” in order to receive rewards for faithful service. As we close out this year and complete our journey through God’s Word, a good question to ask ourselves today is: Are we getting ready for the marriage of the Lamb? Let us be truthful in our answer.