In our study of Revelation chapter nineteen, we look at the marriage between Jesus Christ and His church. We will also look at the roots of many of the wedding customs of today.
"After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: '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.' And again they shouted: 'Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.'" NIV translation
In chapter 18, we saw God's judgment on the economic system that had corrupted His people. The city at its center was destroyed and now the scene shifts to heaven and the celebration there. The word "Hallelujah" means "praise the Lord" and it is used two times during this passage. We remember that the number two is the number of legal witnesses and what we are witnessing here is real worship of God. We were told in, in Romans 12:19, not to avenge ourselves and it was promised that God would handle those who persecuted us as believers. That has now taken place and God's people are now celebrating.
"The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: 'Amen, Hallelujah!' Then a voice came from the throne, saying: 'Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!'" NIV translation
The third "Hallelujah" is spoken and we remember that the number three is a representation of God's will. We see, in this, that it is and always has been the will of God that all of creation praise His name. It seems that, today, if you praise God in your daily walk, many will look at you as if you are crazy but that is over and all of heaven is in perfect agreement about the need to praise Him. Those that praised themselves, earthly wealth, and all other things are not a part of this celebration.
Revelation 19:6 & 7
"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.'" NIV translation
God's people are praising Him together and it is a beautiful sound. The fourth "Hallelujah" is for the end of the trials and tribulations as there is complete unity centered around God. Those trials are over and the wedding day (unity) has come! The believers (bride) have made themselves ready by taking off the old things of the flesh and putting on the things of Christ just as the apostle Paul described in Colossians 3.
"'Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.' (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)" NIV translation
Have you ever wondered where the modern tradition of the bride wearing a white gown came from? In a traditional Jewish wedding, the day is like a personal Yom Kippur (day of atonement) in which all mistakes are forgiven as the couple merges into a new complete soul. When the sins are forgiven they become white as snow (see Isaiah 1:18).
"Then the angel said to me, 'Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb!' And he added, 'These are the true words of God.'" NIV translation
The word "blessed" means happy or blissful and we see, now, that those who have trusted in Jesus Christ are invited to the wedding supper. In our culture today this has been shortened to a dinner and dance celebration for an evening but, in Jewish tradition, this supper lasted seven days. We remember that the number seven is associated with completion and this is a complete celebration of the start of our new life with the groom (Jesus). According to Jewish tradition, it was not until after this supper that the groom was allowed to take the bride to live with him. This new life would be started in the home that was made by the groom. Our new home is with Jesus on the new earth as we shall see.
"At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'" NIV translation
As mere men, it is easy to get caught up in the moment and that is what happened to John as he fell down to worship the messenger. The angel stopped him and reminded him that it is all about Jesus and that God is the only one to be worshiped. He also reminds John that all of what he has seen has been about Jesus. We all have to be reminded that its all about Jesus and not the messengers. This struggle with the flesh has been going on since the earliest days of the church (see 1 Corinthians 3) and is even greater today.
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war." NIV translation
Now, John begins to describe the groom and we see a white horse but, unlike the white horse in chapter six, its rider is Jesus Christ. Jesus promised that He was coming back for His people (which has already happened at this point in Revelation) and He also promised that He was coming back to judge which is what is happening in this verse.
"His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself." NIV translation
This groom (Jesus) has authority over all and His eyes see the things of our hearts. He knows all about us but we will continue to learn about Him for eternity.
"He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God." NIV translation
The shedding of blood (life) was the payment for sin from the earliest of Old Testament sacrifices to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We see, here, that the groom is dressed in a robe that has been dipped into blood and one might ask the question: Why would Jesus need a robe dipped in blood? The simple fact of the matter is that He took all sin upon Himself and paid for it by His very own blood. He did this so that we might be presented to the Father as spotless and pure. That is a picture of what men of today are called to do for their wives (see Ephesians 5). We also see that another name for Jesus is the "Word of God" as the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
"The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean." NIV translation
Most people do not think of heaven having an army or preparing for any battle but, as we see here, there is. They are now coming back with Jesus to establish His kingdom. The white horses and garments are a symbol of purity. The time of engagement in a Jewish marriage is a time in which the groom prepares a place for the bride to live with him. As we shall see, that is what Jesus is doing here.
"Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty." NIV translation
To prepare a place for His bride (here on earth), the governments of the earth must be dealt with and here we see how Jesus is going to do so. The sword coming out of His mouth is the very Word of God and earthly standards and laws will be struck down and replaced by God's standards.
"On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." NIV translation
Jesus is coming back, here, as the conqueror and ruler of all the earth. For most of man's time here on earth, there has been a struggle to find out who is in charge and all of the wars that have been fought have been caused by that. That is ending with His return as all that are in the earth and the heavens will know that Jesus is in charge!
Revelation 19:17 & 18
"And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, 'Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.'" NIV translation
Although this passage may turn our stomachs when we think about it, God is calling in the cleanup crew even before the battle has begun. It reminds us that the result is not in doubt and the only question is when these events are going to happen.
"Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army." NIV translation
John is now introduced to the opposing forces in the battle that is to come. We see that the beast is leading them and the kings of the earth are with him. That reminds us that we are not to put our faith in earthly leaders but in Jesus Christ. There are many who say that we have to respect and follow the leaders that are over us because God has placed them there. God may have placed them there but it could be that He placed them in control to fulfill His purpose of getting to the point described in this passage.
"But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur." NIV translation
The beast (the political head of the unholy trinity) and the false prophet (the religious head) are seized and cast into hell. There are those who want to spiritualize this and say that hell doesn't really exist.
There are others who want to take this "lake of fire" literally and say that is it. But, the fact of the matter is that the lake of fire (hell) has fire and the smell of burning sulfur but it is much worse than that. These two are removed because they are not invited to the wedding.
"The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh." NIV translation
Those who followed the beast cannot stand against the Word of God. They will be slain by that Word and the birds will clean up the mess. In Matthew 22, Jesus told the parable of the wedding banquet and we see what He meant here. These people showed up to the wedding without the proper clothes (the robe of righteousness) that was bought for them by His blood.