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The Marriage of the Lamb

The Marriage of the Lamb

In the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, we read these words. “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. 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. 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’” (Rev. 19:7-9). We must ask the question – who is the bride?

The apostle Paul makes it clear that the bride is the Church. “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2).

“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4).

Paul also writes: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom. 8:16-17). He said to Timothy: “If we endure, We shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12a).

In the Old Testament, Israel is portrayed as the apostate wife of Jehovah who is yet to be restored. The entire book of Hosea paints a beautiful picture as Hosea draws a parallel between his relationship with his wife, Gomer, and God’s relationship with Israel. Christ is never portrayed as the wife of Israel. However, in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom.

In the Gospel of John, we read these words as spoken by John the Baptist. “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled” (John 3:29). John the Baptist did not claim to be the bride, but the friend of the bridegroom. He was the groomsman and friend who presented the bridegroom to the bride. He was never part of the Church, but he was an Israelite. He came to present the Son of God as the Messiah.

Both, the Old Testament marriage of Israel to God, the Father, and the New Testament marriage of the Church to Christ, the Son, are depicted in the ancient Jewish Wedding. There were two parts to the wedding – the kiddushin (the betrothal stage) and the huppah (the consummation stage). These two stages were separated by a period of time during which the two parties were considered legally married. We will recall that this was the situation with Mary and Joseph when Mary conceived the baby, Jesus.

The book of Exodus provides the details of God the Father’s marriage to Israel. There were several steps in the Jewish wedding process. It began with God calling Israel out of Egypt, the offering of the law, which they accepted, and concluded with the consummation stage when they were covered with the huppah, symbolized by the covering of the cloud.

As we looked at the marriage of Christ to the Church, we start with the steps of the betrothal, which began when Jesus was on earth. The first step is the selection of the bride. We are chosen. Paul says we were chosen before the foundations of the world (Eph 1:4). Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (John 15:16b).

In the second stage of the marriage process, the father paid the purchase price. God sent his Son to die for us, and Christ purchased us with His blood, which was shed for our redemption. This is followed by a marriage contract that is offered to the bride. The contract offered by Christ is the New Testament. The potential bride can agree to the contract or reject it. The Apostle John says it this way. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Our repentance and confession brings us into a covenant relationship with Christ.

The next step is very interesting. Both the groom and the bride sealed the engagement by drinking from the same silver cup. During the Last Supper, in the Upper Room, Jesus passed the cup to His disciples and told them to drink. Paul later instructed the Church. “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:25-26). It was the custom for the bride and groom not to drink together again until the marriage ceremony. In the Upper Room, Jesus added these words: “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). Jesus will not drink of the cup again until the marriage feast in Heaven.

The giving of several gifts to the bride, probably including an engagement ring, sealed the contract. Christ also gave the Church gifts to seal the covenant. Paul writes, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit also brought us spiritual gifts, which we are to be use in His service.

The groom would then leave to go to his father’s house, and to prepare a place for the bride. Jesus said to the disciples. “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). The groom did not return for his bride until his father gave him permission. Likewise, Jesus said that He did not know the date, and time of His return, but that we should wait, and expect Him at any time.

The last step of the betrothal was the washing, consecration, and veiling of the bride. When we become the bride of Christ, we are also washed and sanctified. Paul writes: “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11b). We are told in Scripture that we have been cleansed by the blood, and the word that we might be presented to Christ as a pure virgin.

The last steps of the Jewish wedding began with the hoopah or consummation stage. As the bride waits, the groom suddenly and unexpectedly comes late at night. The bride is taken to meet him. This stage in the marriage process is portrayed with the rapture of the church. At this time, we will meet Jesus in the air with our new bodies. With great celebration, we will be ushered into the bridal chamber of heaven where our marriage to Christ will be finalized. Christ will place us under the covering of the hoopah, and protect us from events that will be taking place on earth.

In the book of Isaiah, we read these words of comfort. “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain” (Isa. 26:20-21). Many interpret this word “indignation” as the time of the great tribulation.

The bride and groom stayed under the hoopah for seven days where the ceremony and actual wedding consummation took place. Many believe that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the period under the hoopah, will last for seven years while the earth is going through the tribulation. Unlike today, the wedding feast did not take place until after the seven-day consummation period. This entire process leads to the words written in Revelation: “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’” (Rev. 19:9).

For a short period of time after the wedding, the bride and groom did not enter into public places without an escort. We will now look at the cortege as the armies of heaven escort Christ, and His bride back to earth.

John saw heaven open, and someone riding upon a white horse, who was just in judgment and just in war. “His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS”‘ (Rev. 19:12-16).