Everybody loves a wedding. Some weddings are very simple and some are extravagant, but everyone loves a wedding. Some weddings are held in ornately decorated cathedrals and some people exchange their vows on the beach or in a friend’s backyard. Weddings are as varied as wildflowers, but everyone loves a wedding. Every bride is Cinderella in her beautiful gown and million dollar smile. Every groom looks like he stepped off the cover of GQ Magazine. Flowers smell sweeter at a wedding. The music is more melodious at weddings. Colors are more vivid and concerns are set aside so that everyone’s attention can be focused on the bride and groom.
I remember my wedding. Connie bought a used wedding gown for $35.00 from a friend who had divorced and was about to burn the dress. We went on an exotic honeymoon to Altus, Oklahoma where we stopped by the local McDonald’s for our first meal together on our way to the luxurious five star, “Quartz Mountain Lodge.” There were no paparazzi there, but it was a page out of a romance novel for us.
I guess you would probably place our wedding in the category of “economy class.” I certainly would after reading about some other weddings this past week, but I told you earlier, all weddings have some things in common.
I read that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes spent $3.5 million on their wedding. Connie and I have some things in common with Tom and Katie, even though money is not one of our commonalities. Tom proposed to Katie on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I proposed to Connie in the dorm at Cameron University. Tom and Katie paid Giorgio Armani $1.9 million dollars to oversee the arrangements and make Tom’s suit and Katie’s dress. Connie and I saved $1.9 million by planniig and organizing our own wedding. Tom and Katie gave their 1,300 guests a wedding gift, a bathroom towel with their initials embroidered on it which costs $6,500.00 each. The men got towels that matched Tom’s suit and the ladies got towels that matched Katie’s dress. The guests at the Hays wedding got a handful of rice. Tom and Katie were married in the Odescalchi Castle outside of Rome. We were married at First Baptist Church in Lawton. The Cruises spent two weeks in Maldives. The Hays’ spent a long weekend in Altus.
Can you imagine? Can you imagine spending $3.5 million on a wedding? If you think that is absurd then your jaw is really going to drop when you hear how much the London steel tycoon, Lakshmi Mittal, spent on his only daughters wedding in 2004. How about $60 million dollars! Can you imagine what you could do with $60 million if you were planning a wedding?
For as long as there are people there will always be something bigger, something better, something more extravagant, but there will never be any wedding that will even come close to matching the wedding of the Lamb! Let’s read our Scripture for this morning found in Revelation 19:6-10.
6Then 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. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9Then 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.” 10At 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.” (Revelation 19:6-10 NIV)
As we move into our next section of Revelation 19 the attention shifts. In Revelation 19:1-5 we heard the three voices shouting, “Hallelujah!” about God’s righteous and just judgments against the great prostitute. Now we hear the crowd once again, but this time they are not shouting, “Hallelujah!” about the destruction of Babylon, or the Roman Empire, but about the wedding of the Lamb. They weren’t shouting about the Hays’ wedding, or the Cruise’ wedding, or even the Mittal wedding, but they are shouting about the wedding of the Lamb. Take a look at verse 6 with me.
6Then 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. (Revelation 19:6 NIV)
What word appears more than any other in this verse? It is the word, “like.” We’ve talked about this word before and how it is so prevalent in apocalyptic literature. It is a word that is used by those who don’t have words to describe what they are seeing, what they are experiencing. It is the attempt of finite people to describe the infinite. What John hears and sees is beyond anything that he has ever seen or heard before. He tries to describe it, but he just doesn’t have words to do the scene justice.
Emerson Eggerich, in his Love and Respect Seminar, describes what he imagines Heaven is going to be like. He says that it will be “like,” did you catch that? Like imagining when you and I were children and Christmas was approaching. Think of the most prized thing you ever wanted, but knew that your parents couldn’t afford. You hoped you would get it for Christmas, but deep in your heart you knew that it could never be. Then, on Christmas morning, you raced into the living room and there it was. Not exactly what you envisioned, but much, much more. More than you ever dreamed or imagined! When you saw it, it took your breath away. That’s what it will be like in Heaven. God will show us everything that He has stored up for us and it will take our breath away. The difference is that the feeling will never go away. Eggerich calls it “the eternal first moment” that lasts forever. Paul describes it this way.
9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—(1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)
I want you to notice the last phrase of verse 6 where the massive crowd shouts, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” We examined the word, “Hallelujah” last week and we learned that it means, “Praise God you people!” Why are we to praise God? “For our Lord God Almighty reigns!” Notice that this is present tense. It is not that He will reign, He reigns! The crowd doesn’t say that He will reign when our problems are solved, He reigns! The masses don’t want to mislead us—our God reigns. He was reigning when Domitian was doing his devilish deeds, He is reigning in the midst of your trials right now, but the day is coming, and it will come, when His reign will be evident like never before. What a glorious day that will be.
I want you to notice Revelation 19:7-8 with me. Let’s read this beautiful Scripture together.
7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7-8 NIV)
We could spend an entire week studying the words, “rejoice” and “be glad.” Both words are in the present tense in the Greek New Testament. The only other place in the New Testament where the same combination of words is found is in Matthew 5:11-12 where Jesus says,
11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV)
We are not to be surprised at our struggles, we aren’t to be caught off guard by the fact that we will suffer heart-breaking trials in this life, but we are to rejoice in the midst of the trials knowing that our God reigns. Peter wrote,
12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV)
You and I are to look forward to the wedding of the Lamb more than anything in life. We may be going through it now. You may say, “Today is not my day,” but your day is coming my friend! We must make ourselves ready for the wedding of the Lamb. That is what the great crowd says in verse 7, “His bride made herself ready.” What does this mean? We believe that salvation comes by grace alone. The Bible doesn’t teach us that we can do anything to earn our salvation. Paul wrote,
18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:18-19 NIV)
I hear many people say that they “hope” to go to heaven one day. What they normally mean by this is that they “hope” they will live a good enough life to go to heaven one day. That is not what Revelation 19:7-8 teaches. Take a look at verse 8 with me once again.
8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:8 NIV)
The beautiful wedding garment “was given to her.” What is the “fine linen” that is so bright and clean? That’s a great question. Keep reading and you will find out. It is the righteous acts of the saints. The righteous acts of the saints were given to them by God. God is the Equipper, Motivator, and Mover for every good and godly act that comes from you and me. Look at Philippians 2:12-13 with me.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed– not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence– continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV)
Paul makes it very clear in Ephesians 2:8-10 that we are saved by God’s glorious grace. He also makes it clear that we are to be people whose lives overflow with good works. These good works are given to us by God and are a testimony to the world of God’s goodness and glory. Read along with me.
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)
You and I have been created in Christ Jesus to be a blessing. We are to honor God by blessing people. What a privilege this is for you and me. We are His ambassadors sent to do the Lord’s work among the people He has placed in our lives. Can you imagine that God would choose you and me to represent Him in this broken world? Take a look at verse 9 with me.
9Then 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.” (Revelation 19:9 NIV)
We read in verses 7-8 that we are the bride of Christ, but here in verse 9 we read that we are the invited guests. Let’s take a moment to look at these two descriptions. First of all, let’s look at the imagery of being the bride of Christ. In the Old Testament we see time and time again where God refers to Himself as Israel’s husband. Israel is the beloved bride of God. Look at Hosea 2:14-21 with me.
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. 16 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ 17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. 18 In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. 19 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. 20I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD. 21“In that day I will respond,” declares the LORD– “I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; (Hosea 2:14-21 NIV)
Again, in Isaiah 54:5-8 we see this same tender relationship spoken about. We also see an example of how Israel was unfaithful to her Husband. Read along with me.
5For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. 6 The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit– a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. 7“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:5-8 NIV)
The prophets spoke out about the unfaithfulness of God’s bride, Israel, and they announced the faithfulness of God. In the New Testament, in Ephesians 5, we read about the relationship of husbands and wives. In Ephesians 5:31-32, Paul writes,
31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery– but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32 NIV)
Isn’t that amazing! Paul is giving instructions to husbands and wives and how they are to love each other and relate to one another and he ties it all in to Jesus and His bride, the Church. The Church, the corporate body of believers is the bride of our Lord and Savior.
In Revelation 19:9 we see that we are also the invited guests. Don’t let this confuse you. Don’t try and figure out if these are two distinct groups. Remember that we are studying apocalyptic literature. We see the same kind of mixed imagery used in Revelation 5:5-6 where John writes,
5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:5-6 NIV)
Jesus is the both the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, and the Lamb. In Revelation 19 we are both the bride of Christ and the invited guests. John tells us that we who have been invited to the wedding of the Lamb are “blessed.” He says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” This is the fourth of seven beatitudes found in the book of Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). The word, “Beatitude” describes those who are blessed. In Revelation 1:3 we read where those who read Revelation and hear it will be blessed. In each of the beatitudes of Revelation that you read you will find those who are “blessed.” Here in Revelation 19:9 we read that those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb are blessed. That yearning in your soul for happiness and contentment will never be filled with the things of this world my friends. Your soul longs for something much more than a nice home, a new car, or the perfect mate. Your soul is longing for a seat at the table at the wedding of the Lamb! Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote,
Oh, what joy! I feel as if I could not preach to you—I want to get away to think it over and chew the cud of meditation for myself. You must just sit where you are and muse. Here we have the essence of heavenly music in a few plain words. “The marriage of the Lamb is come.” Oh, may I be there! May I be a part of the perfected body of the Church of God! Oh, that I might be but part of the soles of her feet, or the least hair of her head! If I may but see the King in His beauty, in the fullness of His joy—when He shall take by the right hand her for whom He shed His precious blood and shall know the joy which was set before Him, for which He endured the Cross, despising the shame—I shall be blest indeed! (Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Marriage Of The Lamb,” July 21, 1889)
Do you hear the passion in pastor Spurgeon’s words? The longing, the expectation, the excitement that flowed from his pen grabs my heart and makes me yearn for heaven even more. I know this is the quiet, but pervasive yearning of every human heart, and yet we are so quick to bow before lesser things. We see this in verse 10. Read along with me.
10At 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.” (Revelation 19:10 NIV)
John hears the angel, he sees him, and in John’s ecstasy he falls at his feet to worship the angel, not God. Why are we so quick to settle for such trivial things that we think can satisfy? We chase the golden rung on the ladder looking for success, but once we have it in our grasp we realize that it’s fool’s gold. We give ourselves to pleasure thinking that it can quiet the storm in our soul, but once we explore the outer limits of what pleasure has to offer we realize that it has just made us empty. We look for love, but in all the wrong places, so we end up with an endless string of broken relationships following us through life. I’m so glad the angel stopped John and set him straight—“Worship God!” This reminds me of what happened when Peter entered Cornelius’ house. Read along with me from Acts 10:25-26.
25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 but Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” (Acts 10:25-26 NIV)
My friend, nothing this world has to offer can truly satisfy the longing of your soul. I know you’ve heard me and many others say that before, but please listen and stop your pursuit of that which will never satisfy so that you can pour your heart and soul into worshipping God.
Throughout history there has been an expectation of a life lived “happily ever after.” We make movies, write books, and tell our children bedtime stories to reinforce the longing. If you were to try and trace this expectation back to where it all began you would find that the idea comes from the heart of God. Let me share with you an example from Isaiah 25:6-9.
6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine– the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. 9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6-9 NIV)
The prophet Isaiah spoke harsh words of judgment against God’s people. They had turned their back on their faithful Husband, but He had not turned His back on them. Isaiah held out the hope for God’s people that a day was coming, a glorious day was coming, when they would attend a feast, a party like they had never witnessed in their lives.
The hope of Israel is our hope. You and I are invited to the great wedding feast of the Lamb of God. Our deepest longings in life are met in the glorious wedding feast of the Lamb.
We began our lesson by talking about weddings. Let’s end on the same note. I told you that there are similarities between all of our weddings. What I didn’t tell you was that the most common similarity of all is hope. We plan our weddings with such hope. This is it! This is what I’ve been waiting for all of my life. This is the missing piece that will finally make me feel whole. When we get married we have hope that we have found someone who will make us happy. Men, we believe that we have found our Cinderella. Ladies, you get married believing that your Prince Charming has come at last. It doesn’t take long to realize that the person we married is just as needy and messed up as we are. Our hopes are dashed. This need not be the case. Our excitement and enthusiasm about our wedding is well founded. It’s not imaginary. It’s not an illusion. It’s just misdirected. The wedding we are looking for to make us happy is not our marriage to our mate, but the marriage of our hearts to the Lamb of God.
This morning I am praying that you will recognize that the emptiness of your soul can be filled, the storm raging in your heart can be quieted, and the relationship you’ve always longed for can be experienced this very morning if you will but accept your invitation to the great and glorious wedding of the Lamb.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
February 25, 2007