A CHURCH WEDDING IN HEAVEN
I read about one fellow who said that he used to hate to go to weddings because people were always coming up to him and saying, “That will be you some day!” He said they stopped do it when he started doing the same thing to them at funerals.
I want to talk to you about a wedding that I am glad I can say, “That will be me someday!”
In recent days you have no doubt heard about Jennifer Wilbanks. We have come to know her as the runaway bride from Duluth, Ga. Wilbanks was scheduled to get married this past Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Duluth. Instead of showing up for her wedding, she ended up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, having concocted the story that she had been kidnapped by a Hispanic man and a white woman. According to Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz, she was “scared and concerned about her impending marriage and decided she needed some time alone.”
I got a kick out of a photograph I saw that featured a billboard in Duluth. The billboard was erected after she admitted running away. It had a picture of Wilbanks and information about her and then the words across it: “Case Solved: Cold Feet.”
As we continue our study of Revelation we come to a wedding in which you can be certain the bride will not get cold feet. The bride will be there as scheduled and it will be a glorious Church wedding. I call it a Church wedding because it is the wedding of the bride of Christ which is everyone who is a member of THE Church.
Please note carefully that I did not say that the bride were those who are members of A Church. You can be a member of a Church and not be a member of the Church. The Church is made up of all who have been saved and will be saved during the time between Pentecost and the rapture. You and I are apart of the Church. One day there will be a Church wedding in heaven and you and I will be a part of that wedding.
As we move into Revelation 19 we have some of the most exciting scenes in the entire Bible. As we came to the end of Revelation 18 we came to the end of the seven-year Tribulation Period. The Tribulation ends with the Lord Jesus returning to the earth to take back that which is rightfully His. For 1,000 glorious years the Lord Jesus will rule and reign upon this earth and the whole earth will acknowledge His Lordship and confess Him to be Lord of lords and King of kings.
Just before Jesus returns, there will be a Church wedding. Let’s look at this Church wedding as described in verses 1-10. First, notice:
1. THE WEDDING CELEBRATION
I recently came across the following comments on the “Wedding March” by musicologist Maurice Zam. He said that the “Wedding March” has been so distorted that its composer, Richard Wagner, would have difficulty recognizing it. The “March” comes from Wagner’s Lehengrin and the tempo as indicated by Wagner was “andante con moto,” which means “faster than a walk.” The “Wedding March” should to be a joyful rhythmic swing toward the altar. Zam said today it is played so slowly that only an acrobat could keep his balance in the promenade up the aisle and that it is better keyed for a murderer in his walk of the last mile toward legal extinction, and has become the most agonizing march in the history of civilized man. According to Zam, andante con moto means, “Let’s speed this thing up and get on to the main business, which is a happy honeymoon.”
When it comes to the opening verses in Revelation 19, there is nothing slow or dragging about the scene. This is an hour that has been longed for, prayed for, and greatly anticipated. There is nothing here that resembles a condemned criminal walking toward his execution. There is nothing agonizing about this scene. It is a scene of great expressions of praise. It is a scene of celebration!
As we look at the scene we see:
A) Delightful Expressions of Praise
In verse one we read, “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God.”
As you look at these expressions of praise you find the word “Alleluia” is used throughout (Vs. 1,3,4,6). The word is an abbreviation of the word “hallelujah.” The word comes from two Hebrew words—halal meaning “praise” and Yahweh meaning “Jehovah.” It simply means, “praise the Lord.”
This expression first appears in Psalm 104:35: “Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked by no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.” The words “Praise ye the Lord” are the word “hallelujah.”
It is interesting that the word “hallelujah” is the same in any language. Regardless of one’s nationality or language, we all have one common word for praise and that is Hallelujah! At this wedding hallelujah’s will fill the air as “much people” praise the Lord.
There are not only delightful expressions of praise, but also:
B) Distinct Expressions of Praise
As you look closer you find distinct groups praising the Lord. In verse 1 John heard “a great voice of much people.” There are some who believe that this is all the angels of heaven praising the Lord. In a united voice, the innumerable millions of angels of heaven lift up their voice in song and praise to God.
In verse 4 we see “the four and twenty elders and the four beasts” participating in this celebration. We have met these two groups earlier and seen them throughout our study of Revelation. We saw the twenty-four elders as representatives of the Church. The four beasts, or living creatures, we saw are four cherubim’s, four high ranking angels.
In their expressions of praise they use another word that is universal and that is the word “amen.” The word “amen” means “so let it be.” It is another way of saying, “I agree. That’s true.” I like for people to say “amen.” First, it is a practice of heaven. Secondly, it is your way of saying that you agree with what is being said.
In verse 5 John not only hears “much people” and the “four and twenty elders and the four beasts” but he also hears “a voice” that comes “out of heaven.” The identity of this single voice is not given but it is most likely another angel.
This single voice calls on another group to join in the celebration. We read in verse 6, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude.” The praise of this “great multitude” is described as “the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings.” Their praise rises to a deafening crescendo. This “great multitude” is identified as “servants” that indicates these are all the redeemed saints in heaven.
All of these distinct groups and personalities join their voices together in praise. All of heaven worships! Heaven rings with the praise of God’s people—thunderous expressions of praise.
You also see in their praise:
C) Descriptive Expressions of Praise
Each expression of praise is aimed at some particular attribute and characteristic of God. In verses 1-2 we find the angels, or the “much people” saying, “Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord out God: For true and righteous are His judgments; for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand.”
In verse 6 we find all of heaven saying, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” God is praised for who He is and what He had done. His greatness, grace, and glory is praised. His mercy and majesty is exalted. His person and power are celebrated. With each expression of praise there is a description of the God they worship and praise.
Again, there is nothing that resembles a condemned man walking to his execution in this scene. It is a scene of celebration.
Secondly, notice not only the wedding celebration, but also:
2. THE WEDDING CEREMONY
I have been in all kinds of weddings. I heard about one wedding where the preacher was doing his first wedding. He was as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He did fine until he got to the very end. It came time for him to tell the groom to kiss the bride. He meant to say, “It is customary for the groom to kiss the bride.” But he was so nervous he said, “It is kisstomary for the groom to cuss the bride.”
Anymore, it is not unusual for the bride and groom to sing to each other, or for one to have recorded a song to be played in their wedding. I think it is nice (if either one can carry a tune). I remember years ago doing a wedding. At the time, I had never done a wedding or seen one in which either the bride or groom sung to the other. In this particular wedding, it was the groom that sang to the bride. The only problem about this one is that the groom hadn’t told me, the wedding party, or the bride that he was going to sing. And it was a case where he thought he could sing, but was limited (very limited) in this field. Everything was going as planned and rehearsed. The bride came down the aisle and walked to the front and stopped. At this time I normally say, “Would you please remain standing for a word of prayer.” But before I could say anything, the groom sang out (excuse me, screeched out) as loud as he could, “I love you baby” I jumped. The bride jumped. The wedding party jumped. The whole Church jumped. In fact it so caught people off guard that when everyone’s heart settled down, everyone started laughing, even the bride. Ah, but groom kept on singing as if he were auditioning for a recording contract.
As we look at this Church wedding in heaven we see a beautiful wedding. It is performed with shouts of praise and adoration filling the air. I am sure there will be some jumping, but it is not because of being frightened. It is such a glorious moment and ceremony, those present can’t be still or quiet.
As we look at the wedding we see:
A) The Guests That Are Present
Notice in verse 9 a reference that is made to certain guests that are present: “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
The word “called” simply means “invited.” These called ones are distinct from the bride or “wife” that is referred to in verse 7. Obviously, a bride would not be sent an invitation to her own wedding. Who are these guests?
I said earlier that the bride is all those who have been saved since Pentecost and the rapture. This period of time is sometime referred to as the age of grace or the Church age. It is a time when God is calling out a Gentile bride for His Son, the Lord Jesus. The guests at this wedding are no doubt all those who were saved, but not saved during this the age of grace. Therefore, all the Old Testament saints and tribulation saints are the guests at this wedding.
Imagine the guest list at this wedding. There is Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, David, Solomon, just a name a few. All the tribulation martyrs we have learned about over the past few months will be there.
I remember a few weeks ago when Prince Charles and Camilla Parker were married. One of the things that was talked about a lot was who was going to be there (and who was not going to be there). It was not a big guest list, mostly family and a few friends. I think there was somewhere around 30 on the list.
You talk about a guest list, the guest list at this Church wedding in heaven is an impressive list. Not only do you see the guests that are present, but also:
B) The Bride That Is Prepared
We read in verse 7 that the “wife hath made herself ready.” I don’t think I have ever seen an ugly bride. I have seen one or two that came close, but for the most part, all brides are beautiful. The Church has never been anymore beautiful than she is at this hour.
We read in verse 8, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.”
As according to marriage customs in Bible days, the bride would be bathed, and her hair braided with as many precious stones as her family could buy or borrow. She would be dressed in a beautiful wedding gown and jewelry.
The Bible tells us that the bride of Christ (the Church) will be dressed in “fine linen.” This is a very expensive and beautiful cloth. It is also described as “clean and white” that speaks of the purity of the bride. The bride’s wedding garment is called “the righteousness of the saints.” On the Church’s wedding day she will be dressed in the glorious righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Paul gives us this description in Ephesians 5:27, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
The Church will have gone through the fires of the Judgment Seat, rewarded for all she has done, and at her wedding, she will be presented without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. We don’t always look like the chaste virgin of Christ now, but one day, we will be a beautiful bride.
C) The Bridegroom That Is Praised
Notice carefully the words in verse 7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor unto Him.” In our day and time, all attention is giving to the bride. Nobody pays any attention to the groom. When he comes in, no one stands. You never see a write up in the paper about what he was wearing at the wedding. It is always about the bride. I think a groom could be barefooted and smoking a pipe and no one would pay any attention.
But that was not the custom in Bible days. The Groom was always the center of attention. Whenever the Groom entered, people would point and say, “There he is, there he is.” At the Church wedding in heaven, they won’t be playing, “Here comes the bride.” The will be playing, “Here comes the bridegroom.” Every eye will be on Jesus! No one will be talking about how pretty the bride is. All they will be talking about is Jesus!
You will note in verse 7 that this wedding is called “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” When you read wedding announcements in the paper there is usually the last names of both the bride and groom. Not this wedding. The only person who is recognized is Jesus!
Every “alleluia” will be directed at Jesus!
Every “amen” will be said about Jesus!
Every expression of praise will be for Jesus!
It has never been about us. It has always been about Him and the marriage supper of the Lamb will be no different. He and He alone is worthy of our praise.
Lastly, let me say a word about:
3. THE WEDDING CERTAINTY
The wedding scene closes with the angel who has given John a tour of future saying in verse 9, “These are the true sayings of God.” It is a glorious scene John has seen and the angel assures him of the certainty of it happening.
In his words we see:
A) The Truth of All Prophecy
You can mark it down! You can believe everything you read in Revelation. It is the “true sayings of God.” It will happen. Each event we have seen will happen just like John described and God predicted.
John MacArthur writes: “To the beleaguered and aged apostle, in exile on the harsh, barren island of Patmos, it must have seemed amazing, almost impossible that God's kingdom would eventually triumph. In John's day, the church was being persecuted from without and attacked by heresies from within, and it was crumbling. The revelation that God's redemptive plan cannot and will not be thwarted brought great relief, comfort, and joy to the apostle.”
I might add, it brings joy and comfort to believers of every age, to our hearts, that God’s promises and prophecies are true.
Secondly, we see:
B) The Theme of All Prophecy
We read in verse 10, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
John is so moved and stirred he falls down and starts the worship the angel that has allowed him to see what he has seen. The angel stops him and tells him that he is no more than what he is—a servant of God. He reminds him that God and God alone is worthy of worship.
In so doing he makes the statement that Jesus is “the spirit of prophecy.” The angel reminds John that every prophecy in the Bible has been about Jesus. All the prophecies in both the Old Testament and New Testament are about Jesus.
Do you remember how the Book of Revelation opens? So often the title to the book in Bible reads, “The Revelation of St. John.” That’s not the correct title. Revelation 1:1 reads, “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” The book of Revelation, as well as all prophecies is about Jesus!
We see Jesus in every book of the Bible and on every page. I tell you something even better. One day we will see Him face to face.
I can assure you that I am not like Jennifer Wilbanks. I am counting the days down to my wedding. How about you?
© 2006 by the Living Word