Pastor Scott Andrews | April 16, 2023
In 1978, I graduated from high school and decided to follow my father into the Air Force. So, I headed to a military academy in Colorado Springs. After basic training during the summer, my parents came for a visit – Labor Day Weekend. Of course, we looked up in the yellow pages a church to attend – a little independent Baptist church. We enjoyed the service, and since I was a freshman and didn’t have a car, dad asked if someone wouldn’t mind picking me up for church on Sundays.
Rod Rogers, the man leading worship, said he would be happy to. And I soon found out – he was the prefect guy to give me a ride, because he had this daughter – a senior in high school – with whom I was immediately smitten. Of course, she was dating someone else, but not to worry, I patiently waited. The family would often invite me over for Sunday lunch – fine by me.
Several months later, in March, she finally broke up with that deadbeat. She told me so on a Sunday – the conversation went like this, “I broke up with my boyfriend.” I said, “That’s too bad, want to go out?” She said yes. We had our first date the following Saturday, March 17, 1979 – I was a strapping 18 – okay, I was 6’1” and weighed 145 lbs. She was a stunning 17. Four days later, she turned 18, and I sent her a dozen long stem red roses – and I was off to the races.
Well, I only attended the academy that first year, sensing God leading me to pastoral ministry. So I left Colorado for home – Greenville, SC – to work through the summer. I told that young lady I’d be back to get her. I’m not sure anyone believed it – her brother once said when I left for the airport, he thought, that’s the last we’ll see of that guy. But, we stayed in close contact. Now, this was before the time of internet and cell phones – so it was long distance phone calls and letters – like almost daily.
So anyway, I left for Bible college in Missouri the following August – all the while pursuing the love of my life. I asked her to marry me around Christmas. At first, she said she wasn’t quite ready for that – so again I patiently waited – for two weeks. She called back and said yes. I married that beautiful girl almost 43 years ago – and I’d do it again tomorrow.
Now remember, I was in college in Missouri preparing to do weddings – she was in Colorado Springs preparing for the wedding. She literally sent me an already printed invitation in the mail. The wedding was on Friday, June 6, 1980. Yes, historians, I know, it was D-Day. Anyway, I showed up in time for the rehearsal on Thursday, we got married on Friday, loaded our ’70 VW bug with all her belongings on Saturday and headed back to our one-room efficiency apartment in Springfield, Missouri.
Why do I share that, besides bragging? Well, when I asked her to marry me – I wasn’t there. I promised I would be. Counted the days until she would be my wife. For those of you who are married, can you remember the anticipation and the unparalleled joy of the wedding day? We patiently, eagerly and expectantly waited. The day finally came, and when the pastor asked her, do you take this man, she actually said, I do. She said yes.
And so, I like weddings. As a pastor, I’ve probably done about 150 of them or so. I’ve married some of you – and I have three scheduled for this summer. Can’t wait. You see, the reasons I like weddings are many:
First, you understand, God is the one who designed marriage – it was His idea from the very beginning. He designed it early on, in the Garden of Eden. First two on the planet – Adam and Eve. God created marriage before any other human institution – before nations and people groups and races and political parties and even the church.
It’s intended to be a life-lasting commitment to bring great joy and completion and companionship. It’s not supposed to bring the struggle we see in many relationships today. Oh, and let me just say His design for marriage was to be between one man and one woman, again, for life. Lots of confusion about that today, in this cultural, sexual moment, but in order for marriage to follow God’s plan and design, and therefore bring fulfillment and flourishing, it is between a man and a woman. And again, lots of confusion about what a man is and what a woman is – but contrary to popular culture, gender is tied to biology.
Which leads to the second thing; I often tell the engaged couple, when you say yes to each other at the wedding ceremony, it’s the second most important yes you will ever say. Most important, of course, is the yes to Jesus. Yes, I want You to be my Savior, and I submit to Your Lordship. But saying yes to a fiancé to become a wife or husband is the second most important yes you will ever say. More important than choice of college, career, where you’ll live, children – all of it. So, say yes very carefully and prayerfully.
A third reason I love weddings is that marriage intentionally reflects – is a picture of – the relationship between Christ and His bride, called the church. I said a moment ago, God created marriage before the church – but He had the church in mind. Now, let me be clear about that – you are not individually the bride of Christ – you are not married to Jesus – we are collectively as the church, the bride of Christ. The most well-known passage regarding this is Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. [remember all those words]
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
30 because we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Do you see? The relationship between Christ and His bride the church is to be reflected in our marriages – wives loving and submitting to their husbands; husbands loving and sacrificing for their wives. Paul also said to the church of Corinth (II Corinthians 11:2),
2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. [meaning faithful, committed and pure]
That’s an interesting verse – notice the words betrothed to one husband and so that to Christ I might present you. You may be familiar with the word betrothed. It’s like our word engaged, only significantly stronger. In that culture, when you were betrothed, you were virtually considered husband and wife, but not fully. There was a period of time between the official betrothal when you were committed to one another, and the actual wedding ceremony, when you were fully married.
You remember when Joseph was betrothed to Mary, she was found to be pregnant, so if Joseph was to end the betrothal, they would be divorced. You see, betrothed is stronger than engaged. You are considered husband and wife, even though you have not consummated the relationship – you are not yet living together. There will come a day when the groom will in celebratory parade make his way to the home of the bride and take her back to his home – a marriage supper will follow, and the two will now become fully husband and wife.
Great joy. You count the days until you can be together. You look forward to it patiently, eagerly, with great anticipation and expectation. The groom is not here yet, but when he comes to get his bride, the marriage supper will be enjoyed, and they will be together, forever. Great joy. Can I tell you that right now, we, the church, are in the betrothal period. We belong to Christ and are awaiting His return to claim His bride. And we want to be found faithful, committed, expectant and ready. Which brings us to our text today – Revelation 19:6-10.
Isn’t it great to read a glorious text and see what awaits. You see, Revelation has been a challenging book. We loved the first few chapters – the description of Christ, the letters to the seven churches, he that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches, through the throne room in heaven in chapters 4 and 5. But then we got to chapters 6-18, and it’s been a slog – difficult. Seven seals, followed by seven trumpets, followed by seven bowls – all divine judgments against a sinful and rebellious people.
We found when we got to chapter 12 that rebellion was led by the dragon, Satan himself, assisted by the Antichrist and the False Prophet – the unholy trinity. The people followed Babylon the Great – symbolic of every culture and people and nation and empire which has arrayed itself against God. But of course, we found there is the ultimate fulfillment to come – a future empire, if you will – Babylon the Great – empowered as she rides on the seven-headed, ten-horned beast. But, at the end of time, all turn against her and she is defeated, fallen – she will be burned with fire. Finally, the judgments are over and the end has arrived. We started that three weeks ago when we got to Revelation 19.
But even that was a bit challenging. You remember, 18:20 said, “Rejoice over her [that is, the destruction of Babylon], O heaven, and you saints and apostles, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” Believers – we – are supposed to rejoice at the fall of Babylon. That assumes, of course, that we are not Babylon, and that we have not been lured by her sinful enticements.
And then we got to the first few wonderful verses of chapter 19, where we saw the Hallelujah Chorus as some have called it. Four times the word hallelujah appears in the first six verses. We saw that word is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words, Hallel Yah, which means praise the Lord. We also noted, surprisingly, this is the only place in the NT where this word hallelujah appears. So see it, feel it for what we are supposed to see and feel – the highest and most exuberant praise for what God has done and will do.
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality. We are supposed to rejoice when we see the destruction of all that stands against our God.
Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever. Her judgment is final and eternal, never more to entice the earth with her idolatry and immorality. And the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped God, saying, Amen, Hallelujah! The first three hallelujahs are in regard to the final judgment of rebellious Babylon and all she represents.
And a voice comes from heaven, “Give praise to God, all you His bondservants, you who fear Him, the small and great.” And then we reach the crescendo of praise as John hears something like the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters, like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.”
Now, it is not that God has not been reigning – He has and will for all eternity. But now, all those who have opposed His reign have been or will be immediately vanquished. Bringing us to our text and its outline:
- The Marriage of the Lamb (6-8)
- The Blessing of the Marriage Supper (9)
- The Proper Worship of God (10)
Look at verses 7 and 8 – and rejoice. The enemy is about to be defeated – not finally, that will come later – but his end is sure. And so, Hallelujah, let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to God, for the marriage of the Lamb has come. It doesn’t really happen until chapter 21, but by chapter 19, on the verge of His return, it is here. The expectant, patient, eager waiting is over. Christ is about to come to claim His bride, and the marriage of the Lamb is upon us. We will see that coming next week.
As I said earlier, at the end of the betrothal period, the groom would make his way to the home of the bride. There he would claim his bride and take her back to his home where there would be a marriage supper – a huge celebration joined by all family and friends in the community. (Isaiah 54, 61, Matthew 22, 25…messianic banquet/feast to come – here it is.)
Here, Jesus is the groom, and He will come to claim His bride, the church. And we read a description of the church – don’t miss it – because it’s talking about our preparation and our readiness for His return. Notice the end of verse 7, “and His bride has made herself ready.”
That’s what brides do, you see. I’ve been to lots of weddings, and trust me, the bride makes herself ready. I usually have the best seat in the house, standing right next to the groom as his bride appears – having made herself ready – dressed in white, makeup meticulously applied, every hair in place, bouquet in front. She always looks stunning and radiant, and as she appears, I can hear the groom catch his breath. Many times, tears will flow. She is perfect, she is ready, and she is his.
Now, this may seem strange that in this context, the church has made herself ready. You say, wait, I thought Jesus, the groom, through His work on the cross, has made her ready. True. Look at the beginning of verse 8, “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen…” Who gave her the clothing of fine linen? Revelation 6:11, “And there was given to each of them a white robe…” Revelation 7:9ff,
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?”
14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. [wedding language]
16 “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;
17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
And so, clearly, the Lamb has given to her so that she can make herself ready. It’s called justification. She has been declared righteous through the work of Christ. Her sins are atoned – removed. She is radiant and beautiful. Remember Ephesians 5? “27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
Who did that? Jesus has made us holy and blameless. But, having been justified, there now remains sanctification, whereby, through the Holy Spirit, we seek to make our practice match our position. We are currently justified, declared righteous, but now we want our lives to match our declared righteousness. We make ourselves ready. Look at verse 8 again, “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.” Do you see – we are saved by grace, but grace that saves is never alone. Our actions now are consistent with our character. We don’t belong to Babylon, we’ve not been enticed by her allurements. We have sought to be holy, through the work of the Spirit, and these become the fine linens of the marriage supper – the righteous acts of the saints.
It is good to be different. We don’t fit into this culture. Don’t try to fit in. Clothe yourself with the righteous acts of the saints – the truth of God and His holiness and His character.
Which brings us quickly to the second point, the Blessing of the Marriage Supper in verse 9. John’s heavenly escort says to him, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” Now, throughout the NT, sometimes the church is the bride, sometimes we are the invited guests. It’s not an issue – apocalyptic literature can switch metaphors quickly. The point is, we are present at the marriage supper – as either bride of the Lamb, or the guests. We belong there is the idea.
By the way, this is the fourth of seven blessings in the book of Revelation. Look at them:
1:3 – “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things that are written in it; for the time is near.” We are the ones who are reading and hearing the words of this prophecy, and trying to heed what it says.
14:13 – “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!” We are the ones, as followers of Jesus, who will die in the Lord.
16:15 – “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes…” We are seeking to be the ones who, having been justified, are clothing ourselves with righteous acts.
19:9 – “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Having heard the words of the prophecy, having one day died in the Lord or having been ready at His return, we will be blessed to be invited to the marriage supper.
20:6 – “Blessed and holy is the one who has part in the first resurrection…” We will learn in chapter 20 there are two resurrections – first, the resurrection of the just – the holy; and second, the resurrection of the rest of the dead, after the thousand years. These will face the great white throne judgment, and it will not go well for them.
22:7 – Jesus says it this time, “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds [so as to obey and be ready for My return] the words of the prophecy of this book.”
22:14 – “Blessed are those who wash their robes [how? By the blood of the Lamb], so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter the gates into the city.”
The blessings of this book, reserved for believers, are almost beyond comprehension. It is no wonder we can rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him. The angel concludes, “These are true words of God.” You can count on it.
Which brings us to our last point – the proper worship of God in verse 10. John is so overcome by what he has seen and heard – after all, as much as we have been overwhelmed by the judgments we’ve read – John saw them; and the Hallelujahs of heaven that John witnessed and heard, again, we’ve just read – so overwhelmed was he that he fell at the feet of the angel to worship him. And rightly, the angel said to him, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God.”
That’s interesting to me. This is what Satan wanted, right? He appeared to Jesus right after His baptism and during His temptation in the wilderness. Turn these stones to bread. Cast Yourself down from the pinnacle of the Temple. Fall down and worship me. That’s what Satan wanted – the worship due only to God. Jesus rightly answered, Go Satan, for it is written, you shall worship God and serve Him only.”
And this angel also got it right. Don’t worship me – I’m a fellow servant of yours and all those who believe in Jesus. Worship God alone. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Lots of discussion about this, but I’ll spare you. The idea is likely, all this prophecy – not only in this book, but throughout Scripture, is the Holy Spirit inspired truth about Jesus, the Son of God. So worship Him. God alone deserves our worship and our praise.
Are you ready? Are you waiting patiently, eagerly, expectantly? Are you longing for the return of Christ and the marriage supper of the Lamb, of which you will be a part? Meaning, are you part of the bride of Christ? If so, prepare yourself. And don’t be distracted by the things of this earth. Don’t try to fit in. We don’t belong here. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.