We continue looking at Chapter 19 of Revelation, the victory chapter. We begin with the image of the marriage of the lamb. The bible says that the Church is the bride of Christ. How should we prepare to be wedded to Christ? By living faithfully and not fearing death. We should share the gospel with our neighbors through the way we live our lives. We are to be faithful servants and prepare for the wedding day that the image of Revelation fervently points us to.
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come—We’ve got a marriage coming! On the heels of all this judgment is coming a marriage, which is interesting. The marriage of the Lamb has come. Jesus is going to get married. —and His wife has made herself ready.
Now this is very interesting. The word here translated wife is just the word that means woman, like the woman Jezebel or just any woman. It’s translated wife here because a marriage is talked about. So you marry a woman. The groom marries a woman.
So he’s got his woman. And his woman has made herself ready. So we’ll see who the woman is here before long.
The bride is clothed in the righteous acts of the saints
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.
Here we have a very interesting situation where there’s a marriage that’s about to take place, and the wedding gown is a garment that is the righteous acts of the saints.
I suppose you remember A Christmas Carol, and Marley shows up, and what is his garment? His chains that he forged over these many years, link by link, with every malicious deed and every charitable act that he could have done, gone undone, weaving his chains. And now he carries them out as his garment all through the town, seeing all the good deeds he could have done and mourning over them.
Well, it’s sort of the same idea. Here it’s the righteous acts.
I suppose all of you have been involved in a wedding somehow. Isn’t it crazy the amount of attention that goes into a dress that’s going to be worn for 15 minutes? I mean, it’s one of the most expensive dresses you ever buy. And for 15 minutes! Why so much attention? And then you have to store it so it can never be worn again!
My wife’s dress actually did get worn again. The girls got it out when they were teenagers and started playing with it. But they did not wear it when they got married themselves.
But here we have a dress. So for you ladies, there will be a dress. But it’s made of the righteous acts of the saints.
The woman Israel
Now who’s this wife? Who’s this woman? If we go back to Revelation 12:1, we see a woman that is a woman that we care about. So we go to 12:1. Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
And we saw this historical overview was about, actually, Jesus coming to earth as a man and displacing Satan. So, here we have a woman that’s Israel. Israel is birthing the Messiah.
That’s a woman that’s in Revelation that’s not a harlot or a Jezebel. Those are also women.
The woman Babylon
In 17:18, “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” And that’s Mystery Babylon, the harlot; and that’s a woman. Same Greek word. That’s not a woman we want to marry. But the woman is this commercial center, this city.
So we have a woman who represents Israel. We have a woman that represents a city. That’s kind of similar, isn’t it? It’s a significant group of people.
And then in 19:7 we have a woman who’s the bride.
And in 21:9, perhaps the most interesting one to me, Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.
We’ve got Mystery Babylon, a woman that’s a city, this huge commercial enterprise that envelopes the whole earth that is the queen with the king, which is the revived Roman empire, in terms of its power. And we have a woman that’s Israel, a whole nation. And now we have the bride. And the bride is this city, the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven. It’s all pretty similar. It’s great groups of interactive people.
And we all know from Ephesians 5 that the church is also called the bride of Christ.
An interactive group to mutual benefit
How do all these things fit together?
I submit to you that they’re basically all the same thing. When groups of people interact with one another to mutual benefit, they are creating an organism, a body. There’s oneness associated with that.
Even today when you go to a store, and you walk in Walmart, there’ll be somebody there saying how wonderful you are, right at the door! “Thank you so much for coming! You’re such a wonderful person! We love you so much!” “Why thank you! That’s the only reason I came! I’m just going to go out the exit and come back in again so you can say that to me again!”
Everybody in that store has been trained to welcome you and treat you with respect. It’s an interactive group to mutual benefit.
And we had this harlot where the mutual benefit is mutual death. And now we have this group that does the righteous acts of the saints. And what are we called to do? What does being a faithful witness and not fearing death look like? Love your neighbor. Be kind. Turn the other cheek. Tell the truth even when there’s a cost associated with it.
When we do that with one another, we’re by faith creating the bride on earth.
But there’s going to come a time when deception’s gone, and the flesh is gone; and this is going to be the bride of Christ wearing the righteous acts of the saints. That will be an exciting wedding.
And that particular dress, I don’t think, is going to go in the closet and have to be stored. I think that’s going to be something that gets worn from then on.
19:9. 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.”
The marriage supper of the Lamb—let me come back to that if I have time.
The voice from the throne is a regular person
The next part, And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
I puzzled long and hard about who is speaking now. Who is the he who said to me? And I think it’s this guy, this voice from the throne that I said, “Remember that guy,” the voice on the throne in verse 5. That’s who I’m going to propose it is.
And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
What are the true sayings of God? There’s going to be a marriage. There’s going to be fine linen of the righteous acts of the saints. The Lord has cleaned up the town, and now he’s going to inaugurate his new kingdom. That is exciting.
As a matter of fact, look what happens to John: Verse 10, And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!”
This is fascinating because this is just a regular person! Think about where this person was, if my interpretation’s right, and this pronoun refers to this guy coming from this throne, who’s not named—I think for a good reason. Because who can that be? Who can share the throne with Jesus? What did we learn in chapter 3?
Look, it’s so important, let’s just go there. It’s so important. 3:21, “To him who overcome—nikao, to him who conquers, to him who prevails, to him who wins—I will grant to sit—this is Jesus speaking—I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame—
This is a reward. This is not a birth. Birth has nothing to do with overcoming. It just has to do with showing up. You just happened to be born. Someone gave it to you.
The birth into the new family of God is a complete grace-oriented thing that’s given to us.
But what we do with our life matters with what choices we make, whether we fear death, whether we’re faithful or unfaithful witnesses.
And Jesus overcame. He overcame temptation. He was tempted in every way as we are tempted. And he overcame temptation. And as a result, he was elevated to the throne of the earth. He was already the king of the universe. But now he has the throne of the earth as a man.
And he says, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
So who could this be that’s speaking from the throne that’s a regular man? Who could it be? Anybody! Everyone in this room! It might be somebody that’s here! This may happen in the future where you get to speak to John at some point in time.
Now obviously this has already happened, but we could be on the throne, and this could be us as well. Something like this.
He falls down and worships this guy.
Now John’s already seen these mighty angels and the angels that pour the bowls on the earth and the illuminated angels, and he didn’t fall down for those guys. And this guy is so overwhelming with this word of God that he has that it just blows John away, and he falls down and worships him. Now that’s exciting.
Remember the part that says that today we’re a little lower than the angels, but we shall rule angels? Well, that’s what sharing the throne of God’s about. It’s about being a part of his administration.
Sharing the mission; a functional organization
I have a political friend that I’ve worked with, and I mentor him in some biblical stuff; and we were talking about this. And he said, “I just can’t get this part. Why would I want to be a part of a ruling government with Jesus? Why not just let Jesus do it all?”
We’ve gone through this many times, and I think I finally had a breakthrough with him because he was talking to me about his organization the same day. And he said, “Man! Our organization is so functional now. You know, people are working together! They all get it! They all share the mission.” And he was telling me all about this meeting they had where everybody was on the same page, and there was no friction, and how excited he was.
And I said to my friend, “Well, that’s it! That’s it! You’re reigning in a way that’s bringing harmony and life to a group. That’s it!”
And one of the questions he asked was, why does God need me? He doesn’t need us. God doesn’t need. He wants.
Did you need to have children, any of you? They’re a pain in the neck, aren’t they? Is there anything more troubling than children? You didn’t need children! You wanted them! Why? Because you can share life with them. It’s so exciting to see them grow up, each little step along the way. When they cross some threshold, it’s so exciting. They can crawl! And then that’s not exciting anymore. And then they can stand up! And now they can walk! And now they can talk! It’s exciting, because you are now sharing life with them.
Then someday they’ll be helping you crawl. That’s just kind of the way things go.
But Jesus wants us to participate with him. And he wants a functional organization.
And here’s the only people who get to reign in his kingdom: the people who figured out how to serve.
If you don’t figure out how to serve, you don’t get to participate. That’s the reward. That’s how it works. Doesn’t it make sense? I’m not going to turn over the earth to a bunch of yahoos again! I tried that once. It didn’t work! Actually, I tried it twice. I tried it once; I had to wipe out the earth with a flood. And then I tried it again, and now I have to wipe it out with these judgment bowls and start over again. Next time, I’m only giving this authority to people who’ve proven that they can serve.
And that’s going to be the best reward of all. It’s awesome!
Well, he says, “See that you do not do that. I’m your fellow servant. I who am blowing you over and you’re down—don’t do that! Worship God.”
The testimony of Jesus
And then he says, “I am of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus.” Again, the call of Revelation is to be a faithful witness. And if we’re a faithful witness, what do we have? The testimony of Jesus. Because Jesus said go into all the world, and do what? Make disciples. And how do you make disciples? He goes on to say, “Teach them.” To do what? Teach them to observe my commands. That’s the great commission.
And when we do that, what kind of organization—if everybody says the mission is more important than me, I will seek your best interest, and I will take my gifts and apply them wherever they fit best—what kind of organization’s that going to create? It’s going to be unstoppable!
And that’s what Jesus asks us to do. And he says, “I’m of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus.” And he says something curious, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
I puzzled over that. Why did he say that? “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Here’s what I think he’s saying: Remember what bowled him over in the first place is he says, “The marriage is ready. The bride’s made ready. The bride has the righteous acts of the saints. Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”
These words, these prophetic words bowled over John. And he said, you know what? The spirit of those words that bowled you over—that’s the same thing as the testimony of Jesus.
When we live as God has called us to live, in whatever little area he’s given us to do, whatever it is, whoever’s in front of us. Whoever we’re serving, whether it’s a child or a friend or a ministry or a job or a neighborhood or a calling—everything God’s put in front of us, when we serve that faithfully, whatever it is, it’s the spirit of prophecy. It has the same power as these amazing words.
And it sort of makes sense, doesn’t it? Because that’s the righteous acts of the saints. And that is how you get invited to the marriage supper. And that’s creating the bride of Christ by faith. We’re actually experiencing right here on earth.
Now, is that not cool? This is a regular person, and that’s what this guy’s learned to do! See what overcoming turns into?
It’s hard to do this stuff, right? It’s a lot easier just to be all about myself. Isn’t that a lot easier? Doesn’t that take the path of the least resistance? Let’s just make life about me after all.
But that doesn’t get us here. And that’s what this message is.
So, remember in one of the bowls, the armies of the earth are gathered at Armageddon. And they’re all pointed toward Jerusalem. And there’s massive catastrophe taking place. And it looks like all is lost. That’s the appearance we get.
It looks like Jerusalem is going down again. They’re totally outmanned. The nations of the earth have gathered.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. In righteousness he judges and makes war! His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.
Remember this beast had seven crowns that were of the seven kings and then ten crowns that were like these ten allies. Well, this is apparently so many crowns you can’t count them. Which makes sense, right? King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. We have all this stuff about names, and this is a name that is just so high above everybody that you can’t even share it. Maybe we can’t even understand it. Because he’s the exalted one.
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—maybe that’s their righteous acts that they’re wearing. This is a versatile garment! Wear it a war; wear it to the wedding.
—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. He’s the sheriff cleaning up the town!
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet—this is the two earthly parts of the trinity—the unholy trinity—you’ve got the dragon, the dragon-man, and the false prophet. So this is the Holy Spirit and the false-Christ couple—who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire—They just go straight into the lake of fire alive.—These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Jesus the conqueror
This is the Jesus the disciples thought they were signing up for! Remember they were all zealots or zealot sympathizers. Peter carried his knife around with him, and he was ready to slit somebody’s throat. He missed and got an ear, remember? When it was time to fight.
What did he say the night before? I don’t mind dying! Did he mean it? He absolutely meant it! As long as there was a fight. But then Jesus giving up and going to be crucified, he didn’t understand that because he’s a warrior. And what do warriors do? They fight!
That’s why Jesus picked them. He just had to get them reoriented. We’re fighting a different war right now. We’re fighting a spiritual war. I do want you to die. He told them that. I do want you to die for me. But you’re going to die fighting a different way. You’re going to be a faithful witness and not fear death. We’ll do that war thing later.
I’ll bet you right behind Jesus is Peter saying, “Finally! Finally I get to whack somebody! After all these years!”
As a matter of fact, he might get to cast one of those guys into the lake of fire, who knows?
Now, we only have a few minutes, but I just have to reiterate to you Daniel 7. Let’s go back to Daniel 7. Remember Daniel 7, Daniel 9 are completely interactive with all this stuff we’ve been seeing. And in Daniel 7 we saw the 70-weeks prophecy. And Daniel 7:11, I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
In this context here, they’re in the throne room. Look at 10.
A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him. From before God on the throne
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.
Here they are in the throne room, all this fire around, and this beast comes up and the fire just goes and blasts him.
I kind of get the image here that standing in the presence of Jesus is not going to be all that cool for a lot of people. And for others, it’s going to be awesome. And it’s going to have everything to do with who you are and how you prepare. Are you born into the kingdom? Have you become a faithful witness who’s overcome? What is your experience going to be?
The reason he wrote this book is to say, “I want you to have the best experience!” That’s why he says—and we’ll get there soon in 22:12, “And behold I am coming quickly.” It’s one of the last things in the Bible. —and my reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
So be a faithful witness. Don’t fear rejection from the world. Don’t fear loss of material goods from the world. Don’t look to the world system to provide your financial security or your happiness or your prosperity. Be in the world. Use those things. But don’t be of it! Be above it! And take those things just as items to steward and make disciples. “Teach others to obey my commandments.”
What’s the best way to teach? To stand up here and talk? It’s okay. I’m for that, obviously. But the best way to do it is to live it every day. That’s what we’re called to do.
You know the New Testament epistles only call us to share our faith one time, and it’s in 1 Peter when it says when somebody asks you, “Hey, how come you’re happy? You’ve got such a miserable time. Why are you happy?” Tell them the hope that’s within you when that happens.
But on every page of the New Testament epistles, “Live your faith! Live your faith! Live your faith!”
It doesn’t say not to share your faith. I’m not saying that. The emphasis is on live in such a way that people want to know because that’s being a faithful witness and not fearing death. And in doing so, we’re preparing the bride. We’re preparing for this time where we win. And we want to be cheering in the stands when that happens.
Actually, I want to be on one of these horses. I’m doing a little horseback riding, just in case.