The Marriage of the Lamb – Revelation 19

The Book of Revelation, also known as The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John or the Book of the Apocalypse, is basically a letter which discloses important information for John the Apostle to communicate to our Lord’s servants in various churches in the old Roman empire of Asia. It prophesies what must take place in the future — at the end of this current age.1

This is the longest letter in the Bible. Its message was received by John from an angel while he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, some sixty years after Jesus’ crucifixion. It explains that God will bring this current Age of Grace to its climax through a series of catastrophic events, after which there will be the birth of a new creation, when Satan is finally defeated.2 This triumph of God, and the beginning of the coming new Millennial Age, will be celebrated when Jesus marries his bride — the church — in a celebration called the Marriage of the Lamb.3

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John’s cave on Patmos Island, Greece

I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals [crash of thunder], crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God,” (Revelation 19:6-9, NRSV).4

 

Why is Jesus called a Lamb?

There was an ancient Passover custom performed by presenting a lamb (or sheep or goat) as a sin offering. And in keeping with traditional Old Testament sacrificial practice (Leviticus 4:27-31), it was John the Baptist that actually first introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

Before slaughtering the lamb, the sinner would lay a hand on the animal while confessing their sins, as a symbolic gesture of transferring their guilt to the offering. The animal was then slaughtered, because the law required the shedding of its blood for the sinner to obtain forgiveness (see Hebrews 9:22).5

In the New Testament, the idea is that as Jesus died on the cross, he freed humankind from repeatedly having to offer animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10:17). Jesus, therefore, became the ultimate one-time sacrificial lamb; his blood washes away all the sins of everyone (Matthew 26:28).

 

Why use a metaphor of marriage to explain things?

There is established, in the Bible, a common theme of using a metaphor of the woman for God’s people who are either faithful and pure, or unfaithful and rebellious. Biblical history indicates that God always remained faithful, but his people rarely did. Because of that, our Lord often compared their unfaithfulness to adultery and prostitution.6

For example, in the Old Testament there are images of a woman to represent either faithful groups (Isaiah 62:5, Jeremiah 2:1-2) or unfaithful groups (Isaiah 47:1-3, Jeremiah 2:32, Ezekiel 16, Nahum 3:4-5). In the New Testament there are two women, Jezebel the unfaithful and rebellious harlot as a symbol of Babylon (Revelation 2:20, 17:1 – 18:24), in contrast to a pure woman as a symbol of God’s faithful people, the bride of the Lamb (Revelation 12:1-17, 19:7, 21:9).

So, likewise, this Marriage of the Lamb mentioned in Revelation is symbolic, not literal. But the metaphor of its use follows the marriage customs of biblical times. Jesus’ life as a human and his second coming, play out similarly to ancient Jewish wedding customs. The whole process paints a supernatural scene of the coming wedding between the Lord and his bride. It is important to understand ancient Jewish wedding practices in order to understand the New Testament concept of the Church’s marriage relationship to Jesus.7

There are five very old wedding customs that comprise the traditional Jewish wedding process: (1) arrangement of the marriage, (2) betrothal or engagement ceremony, (3) preparation or waiting period, (4) the actual wedding ceremony, (5) the wedding feast or supper.8 The engagement and preparation period normally lasted about a year or so,9 and the actual marriage festivities — ceremony and supper — often lasted for a week, sometimes with the entire village becoming involved.10

Our Lord’s first coming was similar to traditional marriage customs. Those believers who accepted him became baptized, which signifies being ceremonially engaged as his bride. The preparation period is the time waiting for his return from preparing a new home and other obligations. The wedding ceremony occurs upon his return when he gathers his people — the church (both men and women). Then begins the wedding supper or feast of the groom and his bride and guests.11 There is joy in starting a new married life with someone in our modern time, but there will be much more when united with our Savior for eternity.

 

Jesus’ first marriage proposal was rejected.

But, while Jesus was on earth, he was rejected by most. John wrote, “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him,” (John 1:11). The term “his own” means his property, land, city, temple, people, and possessions — everything.12 He was not trespassing upon earth and its population, but living on a planet, and among people, which he himself had created.13

So in a special sense, the Jewish nation was his chosen earthly people, but when he presented himself first to the Jews as their Messiah, they rejected him.14 Since his own people rejected him, he dissolved God’s previous agreement with the Jewish people. This was done by termination using the same legal grounds mentioned in Jeremiah 3:8. And because they would not receive him, Jesus then offered himself to all of humankind, to any who would accept him (Jew, gentile, anyone). To those who did accept him — the Christian Church — he gave the authority to become part of his body (Colossians 1:18).

While not necessarily being people of physical Israel, anyone that repents and becomes baptized and follows Jesus’ teachings can be called out for inclusion in the Church, because they are members of a spiritual Israel. Since the head of the Church is Jesus, he is symbolically considered the groom in this relationship. And since the Church is in subjection to Jesus, its members are considered the bride. This symbolic joining will officially occur when Christ returns; then there will be the marriage ceremony and the marriage supper.15 Therefore, metaphorically, Jesus will be the groom marrying his bride, the members of spiritual Israel.16

There are various other references using this symbol of a woman (the church) being married to Jesus in several places such as, John 3:29 and 14:1-3, Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:35, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:27, and the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.17

 

Conclusion

The time is very near for this Age of Grace to end. We are now entering the last days just before Christ’s return. My hope — and prayer — is that all Christians will get serious about adjusting their lives and serving the Lord to secure their place in the new Millennium Age. Just because we show up for a church service once a week, isn’t enough to reserve a place in the Kingdom.

The Book of Revelation also addresses seven comments to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Each appraisal, as proclaimed by Jesus and recorded by John the Apostle, declares the triumphs and failings of the recipient churches and warns each congregation to repent. The advice in these reports is prophetic, forewarning present-day Christian communities of the snares that can lure us away from our faith.18

How does your church measure up to those mentioned by Jesus? The instruction given to those seven congregations is valuable to all Christian organizations today. Read about those churches and their stated deficiencies in the first few chapters of this last book of the Bible.19

And as individuals, in one way or another we all suffer in this current earthly life. If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior and live by New Testament principles, our suffering is not vain and our Lord will have a place for us; our victory is sure. However, if we keep on sinning, we may receive permanent death instead. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23).

If you are a bit deficient in what Jesus demands and fearful of the evil of this current world, get on the fast track to bring your life in line with his character traits. If you do, you needn’t worry about evil and pain, for there is still a little time left to secure your position in the New World to come.

For the selection of a song related to the ideas in this article, please view the lyric video presentation “I Will Fear No Evil” performed by Christian singer Joyce Martin Sanders. Selected lyrics are below and the music video is listed in References & Notes.20

I know in whom I have belief,
He’s never failed me yet;
He prepares a table,
In the midst of enemies.
When I feast with Jesus,

It knocks demons to their knees.
I will fear no evil,
I will dread no pain;
Through the blood of Jesus,
My suffering is not in vain.


Copyright © 2024, Dr. Ray Hermann
OutlawBibleStudent.org

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References & Notes

  1. Walvoord, John F. and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), vol. 2, p. 928.
  2. Knowles, Andrew, The Bible Guide: An all-in-one Introduction to the Book of Books, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2001), p. 693.
  3. Ibid., p. 707.
  4. All scripture quoted is from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989). Used with permission.
  5. Codilla III, Felix N., “Why Is Jesus Called the Lamb of God?” (The Christian Post, 30 March 2017), https://www.christianpost.com/news/why-is-jesus-called-the-lamb-of-god.html
  6. Miller, Jeffrey E., “Bride of Christ”, in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, (Ed.) J. D. Barry et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
  7. Ibid.
  8. Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G., “The Jewish Wedding System and the Bride of Christ”, (Barr Family Radio Broadcast Manuscript, retrieved 2021), http://www.barr-family.com/godsword/wedding.htm
  9. Miller, Jeffrey E., “Bride of Christ”, in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, (see above).
  10. Blum, Edwin, et al., (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes, (Nashville TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), p. 1309.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Jamieson, Robert, et al., Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), vol 2, p. 128.
  13. MacDonald, William, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, (Ed.) Arthur Farstad, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), p. 1467.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Hermann, Ray, “Who is the Bride of Christ?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, 5 October 2021), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/who-is-the-bride-of-christ/
  16. Hermann, Ray, “The Reason Jesus Turned Water Into Wine”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 20 May 2022), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/the-reason-jesus-turned-water-into-wine/
  17. “When is the marriage of the Lamb? (Revelation 19:9)”, (Biblical Hermeneutics, 13 February 2021), https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/55586/when-is-the-marriage-of-the-lamb-revelation-199
  18. Smyth, Dolores, “What Do the 7 Churches in Revelation Represent?” (Christianity, 20 May 2024), https://www.christianity.com/wiki/end-times/what-do-the-7-churches-in-revelation-represent-summaries-and-explanations.html
  19. Ibid.
  20. “I Will Fear No Evil”; Artist: Joyce Martin Sanders, (video by Gaither Music TV, © 2024 Gaither Music Group). Used under ‘fair use copyright’ for teaching under Section 107 of United States Copyright Act of 1976 – MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/dbmoc5d-IUc
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