Revelation 19A: A Mysterious Marriage

"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." Revelation 19:7

Opening prayer: Father, we get so busy with our daily cares and chores that we forget to look to You. Help us to see beyond this painful world into Your vision for our lives -- living forever with You!

This is a continuation of our series on the Revelation of Jesus the Messiah. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to study our previous lessons in this series:
Rev. 1: The Revelation of Jesus
Rev. 2-3: I Know You!
Rev. 4-5: Preview of Heaven
Rev. Study: Prophecies of Daniel
Rev. Study: Raptures and Resurrections
Rev. 6: Overview of the Tribulation
Rev. 7: Some Special People
Rev. 8-9: Danger! Rough Road Ahead!
Rev. 10-11: Seven Thunders; Two Witnesses
Rev. 12: The Woman and The Dragon
Rev. 13: The Last-Days Dictator
Rev. 14: The Last Train for Glory
Rev. 15-16: The Last Plagues
Rev. 17-18: Who IS That Woman?
Rev. Study: Ezekiel's War
Rev. Study: The Day of the Lord

A Tale of Two Women

God is a firm believer in Absolute Truth. He is not amused or deceived by the religious word games most people play.

That's why the Book of Revelation has such strong contrasts. There is black and white, good and evil, right and wrong, joy and weeping. We do NOT see shades of gray.

The 19th chapter of Revelation begins by contrasting two VERY different women. As we discussed in Who IS That Woman?, the primary symbolic meaning of a woman in Scripture is that of a faithful wife -- or a virgin bride preparing herself to become a faithful wife. By contrast, the other symbolic meaning of a woman is that of a harlot. Chapter 19 begins with one of each.

Let's start with the harlot, verses 1-4:

After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! 2 "For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her." 3 Again they said, "Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!" 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, "Amen! Alleluia!"

These first few verses are a continuation of Chapters 17-18, which described the harlot woman. This woman represents religion -- ALL religion, including apostate variants of Judaism and Christianity. Don't be fooled by present-day propaganda for the so-called "Gospel of Tolerance." Religious people are NOT nice people. All religions are evil, since they lead people astray from worship of the living and true God.

Back to the harlot woman: the Bible describes her as "mystery Babylon." She represents the heritage of 4500 years of apostasy, dating back to the rebellion of Nimrod and the tower of Babel. The religion makers of Babylon concocted vile doctrines which are still followed by 90% of the world's population.

Hold it, teacher! There isn't any one religion today that 90% of the world follows!

True enough, on the surface. But the key concepts live on in thousands of variant formats -- Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, shamanism, Gaia (earth-mother) worship, Unitarianism, Bahai, Sufism, "New Age" and more. All these religions teach that salvation can be achieved by religious discipline and "enlightenment." These are the "shades of gray" that try to darken the pure light of Scripture.

The harlot woman represents all these groups in general. In addition, she also represents a specific organization that will gather many apostate denominations into one hideous group in the last days.

This woman and her headquarters city (or cities) will be reduced to radioactive cinders near the end of the Great Tribulation period. The rebuilt city of Babylon, in Iraq, will certainly be destroyed. The city of Rome might also be incinerated, IF the last-days (non-raptured) leaders of the Catholic church support the last-days dictator (also called the beast or the antichrist) with the same fervor that they supported Hitler and Mussolini in our parents' generation. If you are a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I urge you to fervently pray for your church's leadership; some of those in office today will be confronted by a choice between Jesus Christ and the charming, false messiah that will soon arise and offer to exchange "favors" -- support for support. Your prayers might affect the outcome.

Now let's see the OTHER woman, in verses 5-9:

Then a voice came from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!" 6 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! 7 "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." 8 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. 9 Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' " And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."

Notice who is speaking, in verses 5 and 6. First, a voice from the throne says, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!" Then all of heaven joins in: the voice of a great multitude (you and me and all the other resurrected saints), making such a ruckus that it sounds like crashing waves and thunderclaps.

Why is everybody so excited?

I can't tell you yet. It's a secret -- a mystery -- with clues hidden like buried treasure throughout Scripture. By the end of this lesson you will know the answer. But for now, let's see what we learn from these verses:

Whoa! You must be mistaken, teacher. I'm no virgin bride. I'm a guy, and I'm already married!

I told you this was a mystery. But it is extremely important.

To solve this mystery, let's take a ride through Scripture. Along the way, we will point out key concepts that help solve the mystery.

Let's begin with a familiar passage, Acts chapter 9 verses 1-5:

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."

Mysterious? What's so mysterious about this story? I've heard it dozens of times, ever since grade school. Everybody knows this story.

Not exactly true. Everybody has heard this story, but very few people ever realize what's weird about it.

First of all, God almost never interrupts people like this. Most of us rarely hear more than a whisper from the Lord, even when we want to.

Second, God chose to speak to a man who was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord." In retrospect, we know that Saul was sincere in his zeal to follow God as well as he knew how. But until this event, nobody but God had a clue how Saul could be turned around.

Third, note the subject matter of God's message. Jesus didn't just appear to Saul and tell him "Follow Me" or "Get your theology straight!" Instead, Jesus first declares that Saul was attacking Him. Imagine what Saul must have felt.

Fourth, Jesus words were especially shocking to a devout Jew like Saul, acquainted with the prophecies of Isaiah (which we'll read in a moment). Saul was accustomed to hearing God refer to the Jewish people as "My people." Suddenly he discovers that Jesus doesn't merely call His followers "My people." Jesus says, "Why are you persecuting Me?" This is something totally new. This is a mystery. Why does God identify Himself more intimately with the disciples of Jesus than with the very nation of Israel?

By the end of the lesson, you will understand. But for now, just remember that Jesus had told His disciples, "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" (Matthew 25:40) Furthermore, it's important to realize that "My brethren" refers to both Christian and Jewish people. Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, first and foremost, and we Gentiles are just fortunate to participate in this mystery.

This event radically changed Saul's life. Later, as the Holy Spirit gave him insight, Paul wrote about this mystery in his letters to the churches.

In Romans 12:5, Paul tells us that we have a very unusual relationship to the Lord Jesus:

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Now the mystery widens. Not only do you and I have some invisible identification with the Lord Jesus, we also are joined somehow to other believers, as "one body in Christ." This definitely is a mystery, since Christians are a very diverse group, and many of us don't have much in common.

Paul gave more insight into this mystery in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 4-13:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

This passage, familiar to most of you, explains part of the mystery. Just as our body has many diverse members, the body of Christ has many diverse members. The Holy Spirit is our DNA, impressing into us the spiritual genetic blueprint that ties us together. But if we're part of the same body and have the same spiritual DNA, how come we're so different from each other?

Paul explained that aspect, too, in verses 14-26:

For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

This passage explains a lot. It helps us understand that we all have different roles to play within the body of Christ. And it gives us the humorous insight that the body has "unpresentable parts" that we, ummm, can't immediately relate to. Yet they belong to the Lord's body too -- in ways that only God can understand.

Paul gives additional insight in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2 verses 19-22:

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Note some of the details in this short passage:

Then Paul continues with more profound insight in chapter 3, verses 3-6:

By revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel..."

From the day the Lord appeared to him, Paul/Saul was amazed that the Lord would allow Gentiles to become fellow heirs of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact, the Lord had to teach this to Paul by direct revelation, since the Scriptures are emphatic in stating God's special love of Israel.

In Isaiah 54, verses 4-5, we see an even more amazing aspect of our relationship to Jesus:

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed. Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame, for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. 5 For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The Bible says, "...your Maker is your Husband." The obvious meaning is that "the God of the whole earth" loves us with the fervor and protectiveness of a newlywed husband. This means that "the God of the whole earth" seeks our intimate fellowship, and will meet our every need. Please don't try to brush this off as spiritual symbolism. God's love -- for YOU -- is real. Have you ever been in love? Can you remember the feeling?

This promise is primarily to Israel, as we know from the context. However, we Gentiles can participate in this, through faith in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.

But teacher: if God really loves me, why is my life so difficult and painful?

You already know the answer to that. The short answer is that we have a very brief time down here to suffer the consequences of sin and to gain the rewards of acting in faith. Jesus told His disciples that in the world they would suffer tribulation, but " of good courage, for I have overcome the world." The eternal rewards are more than worth it, and He gives us comfort and courage (like a loving Husband) day by day.

Verses 6-10 of Isaiah 54 also speak about the difficulty of life:

For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused," says your God. 7 "For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. 8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you," says the Lord, your Redeemer. 9 "For this is like the waters of Noah to Me. For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. 10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

In a passage quoted by Jesus, Isaiah tells us what this means in a last-days context -- chapter 61 verses 1-3:

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Of course, you sharp-eyed readers immediately noticed that Jesus did not quote this entire passage. In fact, we all know that He stopped in verse 2 after saying "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." The second part of verse 2 ("...the day of vengeance of our God...") is still future as of this writing.

But notice something else. The "day of vengeance" pops up briefly, then God immediately starts talking about comfort, consolation and joy. This is God's perspective on the Great Tribulation period. God sees 2000 years of the Gospel going forth, bringing healing, liberty and salvation. Then, after a brief day of vengeance, God brings eternal comfort, consolation and joy. This is also the pattern of the final chapters of the Book of Revelation. We see joy in heaven (first part of chapter 19), a very brief description of the Battle of Armageddon (second part of chapter 19), a description of the 1000-year Milennium period (chapter 20), and then two chapters about the new heaven and new earth.

Isaiah returns to the theme of marriage in verses 10-11 of chapter 61:

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Then, in the very next passage, Isaiah tells us that these promises to Israel have special significance for the city of Jerusalem:

For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns. 2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the Lord will name. 3 You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the Lord, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God. 4 You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah (My delight is in her), and your land Beulah (married); For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you. 6 I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, 7 And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Now one last quote from Isaiah 54, verses 11-13:

O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, And lay your foundations with sapphires. 12 I will make your pinnacles of rubies, Your gates of crystal, And all your walls of precious stones. 13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children.

Before you brush this off as colorful symbolism, let's look at selected verses from Revelation 21:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."...
9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal...
18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Are you starting to get the overall picture now?

But what does all this mean to me, today?

First of all, THIS is the reason you were born. Your JOB is not your reason for existence. God created you to be part of the body of Christ, to minister for a few brief, painful years down here in exchange for a glorious, eternal future.

Second, this is our eternal destiny. Forget all those cartoons about people on clouds playing harps. The God of the whole earth is passionately in love with you, and can't wait to be united with you as His bride.

Third, if we really believe this, it gives us hope. Sometimes we feel lonely and alone, but look at Jesus -- He has been waiting for YOU for 2000 years. He knows everything about you, and has pictures of you on His desk at work. He delights to hear your voice, and loves to have you spend time with Him in prayer. By comparison to His 2000-year wait, our few decades of frustration sound puny.

Fourth, if you really believe this, it will change EVERYTHING about your family relationships. Everything about a Christ-centered marriage goes against our fleshly nature. We can't do it. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts, and when we submit to His law of love, our hearts melt and become conformed to the image of Christ.

Paul gives us the picture of this "impossible" marriage in Ephesians 5 verses 22-33:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Let's pause here. Do you see how impossible this is without the indwelling Holy Spirit of God? The husband is commanded to love his wife "as Christ also loved the church." That takes my breath away. My best efforts, in the flesh, are doomed. There's no way to intellectually figure this out. There's no religious doctrine that lets us off the hook. Only if the man submits to the Headship of Jesus Christ can he qualify to be a Christian husband. Nothing else qualifies a man to be the head of the woman in this relationship.

Men, get a clue.

Women, don't you DARE marry that handsome rascal until you KNOW that he has submitted his life totally to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If the Lord hasn't broken that man (like a cowboy saddle-training a horse), that man won't follow the Lord. So why should you volunteer to follow him?

If you are already unequally yoked in a marriage, it's prayer time. Spend quality time with the Lord, and He will give you peace (and wisdom).

Let's continue:

28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Note verse 31, which quotes Genesis 2:24. From the very beginning of time, God has been painting pictures about Christ and the church. And He's been talking about YOU.

Now we see the purpose and significance of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We are already members of His body, but we're not very good at it. Jesus wants to take us as His bride -- so that "the two shall become one flesh." When His body is complete, at the end of the Great Tribulation, He will give us white robes and marry us. We will be completely identified with Him, ruling with Him during the Milennium and appearing as the New Jerusalem (the city of peace) on the new earth.

Are you ready?

If you aren't sure of your relationship with Jesus, please click the "mail-to" link below to send us an e-mail. Explain your concerns and we'll respond as quickly as we can (assuming the first rapture event hasn't already happened).

Closing Prayer: Lord, I'm overwhelmed to realize Your love for me. And I'm ashamed of how little time I've spent seeking Your face. Fill me with Your Spirit and transform me into Your image I pray, Amen.

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