"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. Then the angel said to me, "Write this, 'Blessed are those invited to the Lamb's wedding supper!' And he added, 'These are the God's true words.'" At this, I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Don't do that! I am your fellow servant with your brothers and sisters who hold to Jesus' testimony. Worship God! For it is the prophecy spirit who bears testimony to Jesus.'" (Revelation 19.7-10)✞
The fine linen worn by the bride stands for God's holy people's righteous acts. The final shout is the redeemed host's praise, "Let us rejoice and be glad." It is like "A vast concourse din, a cataract's roar or a thunder roll," says the Bible commentator H. B. Swete (1835-1917.) Once again, John of Patmos finds his inspiration in Scripture's words. He remembers Psalm 97.1, "The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad, let the distant shores rejoice." Then, he recalls Jesus' words in Matthew 5.12, "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you."✞
In only one place in the New Testament other than Revelation, do the two verbs "rejoice" and "be glad" come together. It is as if the redeemed multitude send up their praise shout because Christ's promise to his persecuted ones has become abundantly true. Next comes the Lamb's marriage supper for his bride. This supper stands for Jesus' final union with his church. The Irish biblical scholar R. H. Charles (1855-1931) explains that the marriage symbolism "denotes the intimate and indissoluble communion of Christ with the community which he has purchased with his blood." It is a communion that is "first reached in fullness by the martyrs' host."✞
The "Bride of Christ" concept and the relationship between Jesus and his church is a Christian marriage model going far back into the Old Testament. Again and again, the prophets think of Israel as the "chosen bride of God." Hosea hears God say in Hosea 2.19, "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, love and compassion." Isaiah 54.5 adds, "For your Maker is your husband — the Lord Almighty is his name — Israel's Holy One of is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth" Marriage symbolism runs all through the Gospels also. Jesus describes the marriage feast in Matthew 22.2, where "heaven's kingdom is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son." In Mark 2.19, Jesus also speaks of the "bridegroom's guests." The marriage is further described in a parable in Matthew 25.1, "At that time, the heaven's kingdom will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom." In 2 Corinthians 11.2, Saint Paul speaks of "betrothing the church" like a pure virgin to Christ. He writes, "I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him."✞
The Revelation bride of Christ, the set-apart church, is blessed to be invited to the Lamb's wedding supper. Marriage symbolism permeates this account. For Saint Paul, in Ephesians 5.21-33, Christ's relationship to his church is the ideal model of that between husband and wife. He writes, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. The husband is the wife's head, as Christ is the church's head, his body. As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loves the church and gives himself up for her. He makes her radiant, holy, and blameless, cleansing her with water through the word, and presenting her without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church, for we are members of his body."✞
"For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one flesh. It is a profound mystery. I am talking about Christ and the Church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Genesis 2.24 gives us this authority, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and united with his wife, and they become one flesh."✞
Jesus' marriage to the church as his bride is a prominent New Testament metaphor. The idea of the "marriage of the Lamb" may seem a strange analogy to use, but it contains certain great truths. In any real marriage, four things must be in the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Christian.
A loveless marriage is a contradiction in terms.
There is intimate communion, so close that a man and his wife become one flesh.
Jesus' union with us must be the closest relationship in all of our life.
There is nothing like the joy of loving and of being loved by Jesus.
If Christianity does not bring happiness, it does not bring anything. No marriage can last without faithfulness, and the Christian must be as faithful to Jesus as Jesus Christ is to them. This passage calls God by a particular name, the Almighty. The word used is "Pantokrator," translated literally as "the one who controls all things." The significant thing about this great word is that it occurs ten times in the New Testament. It is found once in an Old Testament quotation in 2 Corinthians 6.17-18, "Therefore, 'Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.' And, 'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." The other nine occurrences of "Almighty" are in Revelation. In other words, "Almighty" is the characteristic title for God in the Book of Revelation.✞
Jesus' bride is the church, and this revelation prophecy's significance comes to God's dedicated people in the "Lamb's wedding supper." Jews believe that when the Messiah comes, God will welcome his people into a magnificent banquet. But John of Patmos mistakenly falls at the angel announcer's feet. The angel responds, "Don't do that!" Here the church, Jesus' bride, clothed in pure and shining fine linen, is in startling contrast to the great harlot's scarlet and gold. The Jesus' bride's white linen represents the purity of God's dedicated people. It is the wedding dress of the pure bride. The "spirit of prophecy" reminds the reader that all Scriptural prophecy points to Jesus himself. There is never such a time in history when forces stand against the church. Christians are called upon to undergo great suffering and to accept the prospect of a cruel death for testifying to their faith. And yet, in such a time, John of Patmos calls God "pantokrator," meaning, "the Almighty!" Their trust and confidence in the Almighty are vindicated.✞