The wedding supper of the Lamb

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Revelation 19:1-10

  1. A different perspective

Sometimes what we need is a different perspective on things. We need to see things differently. We are not seeing things as they really are because we are not seeing the complete picture.

1.1 The story of the blind men and the elephant

It is like the old story of the blind men and the elephant. The story goes that six blind men found themselves in the palace of the Rajah where they encountered an elephant for the first time. Each one put out his hand to touch the elephant and tried to describe what he felt. One man touched the elephant’s side and said that it was like a wall. One man grabbed the elephants ear and thought it was more like a fan and another took hold of the elephant’s trunk and thought it to be like a snake. They discuss what they have discovered and an argument breaks out among the men which in end gets resolved by the Rajah who told them that the elephant was a big animal and they all had just part of the whole truth.

The story often gets told to highlight the idea that all the religions of the world have just part of the truth and that it is only when they put them all together that you have all the truth. But I think the story illustrates exactly the opposite. If the story illustrates anything it illustrates the need for someone like the king who isn’t blind and who can see everything to tell us what we need to know and understand about reality. This is what Scripture claims to be, the revelation of God that tell us what we need to know[1].

In the case of the book of Revelation it is the revelation that Jesus Christ gave him to show us his servants what must soon take place (1:1). It is what the servants of Christ needed to know and understand to navigate the difficult times that we are living in while we wait for the coming of Jesus.

1.2 The story of Babylon the great

At the time of writing the churches in Asia-Minor were coming into direct conflict with the imperial might of Rome in all her glory, power and splendour.  The city of Rome demanded not just the loyalty of her citizens but their worship and this brought the believers throughout the empire into direct conflict with Rome. Last Sunday, in chapter 17 the Lord Jesus showed John what Rome really was and how the conflict with it would end.

Rome was just another version of Babylon the Great, the city or the home that humanity keeps building for itself to oppose God in this world. In chapter 17 the Lord revealed that Babylon was no goddess but just a great prostitute, the mother of all prostitutes who sits on the beast and leads all the inhabitants of the world astray. She either seeks to seduces the inhabitants with her riches and luxury or she wages war against you using the beast (the empire) that she rides upon. In chapter 18 we heard of her fall and we saw how the inhabitants of the earth mourned over her ruin. We saw the kings of the earth and the merchants and the sailors all weeping and mourning when they saw the smoke of her burning (1:9-10).

  1. Rejoicing in heaven

Today we see what heaven things of the fall of Babylon. While the inhabitants of the earth mourn her destruction, John hears a great multitude in heaven shouting “Hallelujah”. We are told that they sounded like the roar of a great multitude. If you have ever been to a game of football where tens of thousands of spectators are packed into a stadium you’ve probably had a little bit of a taste of what the roar of such a crowd can be like as voices join in unison as goal is scored or penalty is given or the game is won. In the case of these voices they are expressing their joy and praise of God. Four times John hears the cry ‘Hallelujah’.

Hallelujah is a word that meant “Praise Lord”. It is only found four times in the NT and all four of those occasions are here in these verses[2]. Here form the conclusion on this section focused on Babylon and its final downfall. Some refer to these verses as the ‘Hallelujah chorus of the NT’. Each ‘Hallelujah” spells out a little more of the significance of the fall of Babylon for us and our world. Today/tonight we are just going to look at each of these hallelujahs and see what it is that we are to rejoice in and how this should change the way we view what is going on right here and now in our world. The four Hallelujahs introduce four reasons to keep on rejoicing while we wait for Jesus to return.

2.1 Hallelujah #1 Salvation, and glory and power belong to our God

The first hallelujah makes it clear that salvation glory and power belongs to our God.

Revelation 1:1-2

Hallelujah!

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments.

He has condemned the great prostitute

who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.

He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”[3]

 

No matter what we might be experiencing here and now we can thank God that salvation and glory and power belong to our God. These things don’t Babylon the Great and neither do they belong to Rome and they aren’t found today in cities like Washington or Beijing or Moscow. All these cities won’t ultimate determine the destiny of the inhabitants of the earth. Salvation and glory and power belong to our God and because they do he will judge the great prostitute who has corrupted the world with her adulteries and shed the blood of the servants of God. He will judge her with justice and she will be condemned, and he will also deliver his people.

What we have here is the promise that justice will be done, and we are to rejoice even now because of this. There is nothing that will happen or go on in our world that God can’t deliver us from for his is the power and the glory and salvation. We are to remember this and rejoice even now and even in the face of suffering and hardship for we know that God will bring justice to our world and that salvation and glory are his alone. We might have to suffer now but if we suffer now we will share in his glory.

The world in which we live might behaves as though it is the key to salvation and glory and power, but it isn’t true. It’s a lie that is just trying lead many astray. What glory this world offers us is fleeting and insignificant compared to the glory of God. What power it has will run out and the salvation that it offers is like putting a band aid on a mortal wound. It doesn’t help.

We are to hold our nerve rejoicing in what the Lord will do. This is what the Lord was reminding John and all those who held to the testimony of Jesus who were facing Rome and were being asked to compromise their faith so that they could drink from her cup and enjoy her luxuries or else to avoid her displeasure.  It is also what we are reminded of when we are tempted to compromise our faith for the promise of glory and power and success here.

2.2 Hallelujah #2 The smoke from her goes up forever

The second ‘hallelujah” is shouted in verse 3 and this time it is finality of that judgment that is the cause for praise.

Revelation 19:3

And again they shouted:

“Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

 

Once it is over it will be over. Babylon will fall never to be raised up again. This is made clear by the angel in the last part of chapter 18 the city will be thrown down. It never will be found and the music of the harpist and musicians, flute players trumpeters will never be heard again in it. The light of the lamp will never shine again in her. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in her again (18:23).  In chapter 19 the fact that her destruction is forever is celebrated by the saints in heaven. The destruction of the wicked city is final. The world that has opposed God and his kingdom will never emerge again. The great city of humanity will never again raise her ugly head and cause pain and suffering again upon the earth. Babylon and all the cities that her spirit lives on it will come to an end.

2.3 Hallelujah #3 Amen, Hallelujah

With the third hallelujah the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures join in the singing. We are told that they fell down and worshipped God.

Revelation 19:4

The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: Amen, Hallelujah!”

The twenty-four elders don’t add much more to the worship except to put an “Amen” on it. “Amen” is a word that expresses agreement. When we say Amen at the end of a prayer we are expressing our agreement and saying, “let it be so” or “let it be” as just was prayed.

2.4 Hallelujah #4 the wedding of the Lamb has come.

The final hallelujah comes after a voice comes from the throne inviting all those who fear God, both small and great, all his servants, to praise our God.  This time the roar of the crowd was even louder for it is described like the roar of rushing waters and like loud claps of thunder. This is the crescendo – the point where the anthem of praise reaches it loudest. John tells us that it sounded like being next to a great waterfall or the middle of a huge thundering storm – it was that loud. It was that loud for now heaven and earth were shouting, “Hallelujah” for the wedding of the Lamb and his bride has come.

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready.

Fine linen, bright and clean,

was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

 

The Lord is praised for he is God Almighty, and he reigns. He is to be praised and everyone is to rejoice and give him glory for the wedding of the Lamb has arrived.

The wedding day is the day that everyone has been waiting for. Yesterday Prince Harry and Megan got married and just about the whole western world seemed to be waiting for it to happen. It is estimated that 1.9 billion people watched it. It has been one of the most anticipated weddings in a long time. For a long time, it is what everyone has been talking about. But such a wedding pales into insignificance compared to the wedding of the Lamb and his bride. This is wedding that has been slated since before the foundations of the earth and the fall of Babylon is the signal that the wedding is about to begin.

The people of God, the church, is pictured as a bride who has made herself ready for this day. But how has the church made herself ready? Well it is those who have held on to the testimony of Jesus and been forgiven and cleansed through his death that have made themselves ready. When John saw the vision of the great multitude in heaven standing before the throne and the Lamb he said that they were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands (Rev 7:9-10). When John was asked by one of the elders, ‘Who were these who were standing around before the throne in their white robes?’, John told the elder that the elder already knew who they were and indeed the elder did. The elder told him that they were those who have come out of the great tribulation and had “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

How does the bride make herself ready for this day? It’s through holding on to the testimony of Jesus and being forgiven and cleansed in his name. Having been forgiven and cleansed by the Lamb the bride is given fine linen, bright and clean to wear- she is made righteous forever. Having been cleansed and forgiven we will one day stand before Christ and be transformed completely – to be holy and righteous.

Babylon will never rise again for never again will God’s people rebel against him. This is what the people of God are looking forward to – it is the marriage of the Lamb and his bride. This is what we are to rejoice about even now, even when life is tough and Babylon is against us and threatens us. The people of God will be presented before God and the Lamb perfect and holy. We live in the New Jerusalem. We will have a new home. We will live with God forever. This is what we are to understand. What we must remember is that Babylon is passing away. It won’t last. Its glory is fleeting. Its power will be taken away. Its destruction is coming. We aren’t to put our hope in it but in the Lamb looking forward to the final arrival of the big day when the wedding feast of the Lamb will have arrived.

  1. The truly blessed

What John then is told to write down is “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding Supper of the Lamb”. And then the angel added “these are the true words of God”.

Friends, these are words that we all need to understand about our world. This is God’s perspective. This the big picture. This is where everything is headed. The blessed one are those who get an invited to the wedding Supper of the Lamb. This is one of those occasion where things morph a bit for the church is now pictured as the guests at the wedding rather than the bride and the focus is on the supper or the banquet that the invited guests get to share in.

  • Are those who get an invite to marriage feast of the Lamb

All week people were speculating who will be invited to the royal wedding and who won’t. There were 600 hundred or so invited to the service in the chapel and a smaller group of 200 to the reception afterwards. To be invited to the reception and sharing in the festivities was a matter of being someone who was significant, who was close to the couple. In the case of the marriage feast of Lamb sharing in the feast of the Lamb is to share in the great banquet that God has reserved for his people at the end of the age. The marriage feast is a symbol or sign of the intimacy and fellowship that God’s people have entered with the Lord. The supper isn’t just about food and filling your stomachs. It’s about eating and joining in with God and sharing in all that he has prepared for us in Christ Jesus.

  • Write these things down

John is told to write these things down and these are the true words of God. He is told this for this message isn’t just for him, it is for the believers in the churches of Asia Minor and for us. We really need to understand who are the really blessed in this world. It isn’t those who win the favour or the approval of the city or those around them. It isn’t necessarily those who seem successful here in this world and who get invited the invitation to the right places and who seem to know all the right people. In fact, the world might ignore you or even overlook you or might push you aside or even mistreat you but if you’re one of those who have been invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb then you are the truly blessed.

  • We need to see and remember this

This is what John and Jesus wants you and me to see. It might not look that way right now – being blessed. We might seem insignificant and overlooked by this world. Our culture might despise us and look down upon us for following Jesus and holding true to his world. But we don’t see the big picture. We don’t see the beginning from the end. We don’t see the complete picture as God does. We need to understand that Babylon isn’t all powerful and its glory will fade. It is coming to an end. It just won’t last and neither will those who belong to it.

One day all that will matter is whether you held on to the testimony of Jesus.  What will matter is not whether our name made it to the guest list of some royal wedding at Windsor Castle. It won’t matter whether our name makes it onto embossed business card or whether it finds its way to the door of some corner office with a view or on a work of art that gets hung up somewhere or on piece of music that gets played or down loaded millions of time. What will matter is whether our name is written down in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21:27). All that will matter is whether our name is down on the invitation list to the wedding supper of the Lamb. This will be something to praise the Lord for. This is something to rejoice about and sing praises to the Lord about even now.

[1] See the article “3 Ways ‘The Blind mean and the Elephant’ Story Backfires, August 25.2016 Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition.

[2] The word frequently is used by the psalmist as a call to praise and worship the Lord.

[3] Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture citations are taken from, The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition., Re 19:1–2). London: Hodder & Stoughton.