“Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Rev. 19:9
On occasion, I will receive an invitation in the mail to come to a banquet meal at a pricey restaurant here in Knoxville. The invitation is motivated by an attempt to sell you something or promote involvement in a cause. I usually don’t go. It’s not the food that keeps me away. It’s the fact that I don’t really want to sit through what they’re selling or promoting. My time is more valuable than the experience.
There is one invitation, however, that I want to make sure I receive and an event that I absolutely do not want to miss. It’s talked about in our reading today in Revelation 19 – “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”
vs. 1-4: Following the vision of Babylon/Rome’s swift destruction in chapters 17-18, there is now a “whole lotta shoutin’ goin’ on” because God has condemned and avenged the violence visited upon those faithful saints who did not follow the socio-political, religious, and economic principles of this world superpower. The prayers requests of 6:9-11 are answered and celebrated here. In fact, John sees and hears the response mandated by God in 18:6-7 to loudly celebrate Babylon’s destruction (“pay her back”). The ‘payback’ is in the form of a series of Hallelujah’s indicating that God has indeed brought down the arrogant. As a point of application, we should remember that whatever ill treatment comes to God’s people because we remain faithful to his principles never goes unnoticed under God’s watchful eye. However, we dare not take matters into our own hands when looking for justice. God is clear that these things are for him to deal with and him alone. ‘Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ (Genesis 18:25). What may appear as people ‘out of control’ is under the absolute control of a sovereign God. Nothing gets by him, and no one ultimately gets away with anything.
vs. 5-10: John now hears a voice from the throne, which shouts out the wedding announcement of the Lamb and his bride. The Lamb is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ who was slain from the foundation of the earth. The identity of the bride is the people of God. Christ is the One who has prepared her for just this moment by clothing her with his own righteousness (see also 21.2). We might recall the contrasting clothing of the whore Babylon/Rome in 18.12,16. Equally notable is that the bride has “made herself ready”, indicating that though Christ provides us heavenly garments to wear, we must put them on ourselves.
The angel specifically directs John to note (“write this”) the absolute privilege of getting an invitation to this meal – the wedding supper of the Lamb. John is so overwhelmed with the privilege, he mistakenly bows down to worship the heavenly messenger but is quickly and bluntly corrected. The angel is himself a servant just as John. The angel thus redirects John’s worship toward God alone, and then adds a somewhat cryptic reason as to why: “For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” It is the Spirit of God who has inspired this prophecy which John is to communicate. The Spirit has one goal and that is to bear witness to Jesus. For us, too, our response in worship should always and ever be about what Jesus has done for us.
Oddly enough, the people of God are both the bride and the guests at this supper. The invitation offered is given because of a faithful witness and testimony regarding the Lamb. The relationship with the Lamb is really proven via that witness in spite of fiery persecution.
vs. 11-21: The chapter concludes with a beginning description of the last battle between God and his enemies. John’s vision reveals the angel who invites the birds of the air to “finish off” the multitude of those who had opposed Christ during their time on earth. The metaphor of the birds of the air is typically used in scripture to picture God’s judgment. More importantly, these verses show that God does ultimately defeat and punish every enemy who stands opposed to him. The divine warrior on the white horse (Christ) will come and complete his conquest and end all evil. This includes the beast and the false prophet, the ones who had been given a time of freedom to influence the world toward that evil, but now whose end is the lake of fire – a place of eternal punishment and judgment.
One day, there WILL be a celebration for all of those who are found faithful and hold true to their testimony regarding the Lamb. The question now is not, “are you invited to the wedding supper”, but “will you come?”