The book of Revelation is a book of many contrasts. We read of two women—one standing on the moon clothed with the sun, while the other one is decked with gold and jewelry. Two great cities are mentioned—the Holy Jerusalem and one that sits on seven hills. There are also two suppers contrasted, and everyone who has ever lived will sit at the banquet table of either one or the other. However, it is the second supper at which you will want to be a guest.
John, in Revelation 19:11, says, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.” This is Jesus when He comes with all the “armies of heaven” (verse 14) in power and great glory. “I saw an angel standing in the sun … saying to all the fowls … Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God.” Verse 17. Those who are part of this supper actually become the meal of carrion for the birds.
“Ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men. … I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse. … And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire … . And the remnant were slain … and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” Verses 18–21. This supper is the beast and the false prophet and those who worship the image—not a feast you want to be part of!
Jesus warned that false christs would arise showing great signs and wonders to deceive but not to go there and not to believe it, for wherever the carcass is so will the eagles be gathered together (Matthew 24:24–28). Birds are going to feast on all who are in opposition to God and rebel against Him. This is earth’s final battle, the second coming of Jesus, which is often called the battle of Armageddon.
There are many people who do not believe that there is going to be a last day on this earth. It is hard to imagine, when every day we go about our usual routine of getting up, having breakfast, getting our car filled with gas before going to work, then coming home again and having supper. But that will all be over when Jesus comes and welcomes His guests into the marriage supper of the Lamb. The only way to get beyond that last day and that final battle is to be part of the wedding supper. If you are ever discouraged, thinking you may not be at that banquet, there is much hope in God’s word. It may be impossible with man, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
John contrasts these two suppers when in vision he sees birds eating the flesh of the rebellious people, and then he sees another supper happening.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. … These are the true sayings of God.” Verses 7–9.
These suppers are going to come to pass whether we like it or not, and it is not hard to think which supper we would like to attend. To be served at the marriage supper of the Lamb is the better choice over being food for birds. You cannot be part of the marriage supper unless you have been invited to the marriage. No one goes to the reception of a wedding unless they know the bride or groom and have been invited. Weddings are exciting events, as is this wedding that we are told to rejoice and give honor to Him.
John draws an illustration of the Eastern marriage to understand the wedding of the Lamb. A marriage of the East had four parts to it:
- a betrothal—This was much more solemn than the western engagement and was more like a covenant. When the couple became betrothed, marriage was a certainty. It was a commitment, a covenant between two people.
- payment—A dowry was paid.
- the marriage—This included the consummation.
- the marriage supper.
Speaking through Hosea the prophet, God made a covenant, a commitment to His people, and said, “I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.” Hosea 2:19, 20.
Let me ask you something: If God is going to make a covenant with us, a betrothal, what has to happen on our part? We have to agree! When I proposed to my wife, she had to agree. If she said yes, she was agreeing that I was going to marry her. If God betroths me forever, then I must agree to the marriage.
God is willing to do anything it takes to get me to agree with Him. He says, “I will betroth thee in righteousness, judgment, loving kindness, mercy and faithfulness.” He shows all of these things to promise His faithfulness. There is nothing He would not do to get us to agree to this engagement, this betrothal, this covenant.
Why then do we hesitate, and why so easily be swayed by sin and the devil? God wants us to get to a point where we will say, “Yes Lord, I want to fall in love with You.” He shows us His kindness, His judgment, His mercy, His righteousness so we can see that we want to fall in love with Him. If love is taken out of a marriage, the joy has gone. I may have the paper to say that I am married, but my marriage will be miserable. God shows His faithfulness so it will attract us to Him.
It was a very expensive experiment to get human beings to agree to this covenant. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” II Corinthians 5:19. What has separated us from God? Sin! So, in order to get us back together into a betrothal or agreement, Jesus had to come and reconcile us. Our “sins have hid His face” (Isaiah 59:2) from us. Jesus’ whole purpose for coming to this earth was to reconcile us, to get us back together into a relationship with His Father.
God went to great lengths to link heaven and earth again. This whole world has been quarantined, cut off from heaven and from the rest of the unfallen worlds. Through Christ, a link has now been provided to connect heaven and earth. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” John 12:32. This text explained the way Christ was going to die; He would be lifted up on a cross and by that, the world would be drawn to Him. Imagine what Christ had to go through to get us interested in Him. Just so we could have an agreement together and say, “Yes, I love you Lord,” Jesus had to be lifted up; He had to die on the cruel cross so that we could be betrothed in righteousness, in loving kindness, in faithfulness.
Jesus demonstrated His love for mankind. The Bible says that none of us love God first; none of us would even seek after Him, but we would just all go our own way (Romans 3:11). To get us to notice Him and to draw our attention, He had to be lifted up and die on the cross, all of this to show how much He loves us. In turn, this would start the process of a betrothal, and we would start being drawn to Christ with a desire to be with Him, connected to Him, linked with Him and reconciled to Him.
“For ye are bought with a price.” I Corinthians 6:20. Whether we like it or not, we could be a total atheist, but we have been bought.
“God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord’s property. All are called to do service for Him, and for the manner in which they have met this claim, all will be required to render an account at the great judgment day.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 326. What have you done with the property that Christ has bought? What a dowry this is!
Genesis 24 and 25 describes the marriage of Isaac. When Abraham sent his trusted servant Eliezer to his father’s home, he knew that the Lord would guide him to just the right woman for his master’s son, Isaac. A specific prayer was made, and minutes later Rebecca came and watered all of the camels. He did not tell her why he was there, but she took him to her father’s house to meet the family. The family wanted to sit down and eat, but Eliezer refused to eat until he revealed his business. The very first thing that he told Nahor was that God had greatly blessed Abraham with gold and silver and manservants and maidservants, donkeys and camels among other things.
Why would this be the first thing that he mentioned to Nahor? In a marriage, if a man does not know how to care for a woman, he should not get married. Eliezer wanted to establish the fact right off that Isaac was able to take care of Rebecca financially. Before he left Abraham, he had loaded up the camels with all kinds of gold and silver and costly arraignment, and he gave these to the family as the dowry. God also has something spiritual for the dowry that secures His marriage and gives us as a guarantee that we will be ready for the marriage.
The apostle Paul said, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth (Christ), the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [the down payment] of our inheritance [God has paid the dowry. In other Bible versions it is called a deposit or guarantee] until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14.
The Holy Spirit that He puts in our hearts is a guarantee, a deposit, a dowry that Jesus gives to secure that the marriage happens. But there is a condition. A warning is given to “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. The Spirit is given as a guarantee that we will be sealed as long as we do not grieve away the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit convinces of sin, of righteousness and judgment. How can we grieve the spirit of God? First of all, the Spirit convinces us of Christ. “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13. If we obey the Spirit of God, it is a guarantee that we will be ready for the marriage. If we have fellowship with the Spirit and are convinced that some sin in our lives needs to go, and we continue to procrastinate and fight against it because we want our own way, we are in danger of grieving the Spirit. Remember what God has bought—our wills, our souls, our minds, our affections. If we fight against what God has purchased, we will render an account on the Day of Judgment. If we stay in the truth we will not grieve the Spirit of God away.
This is perhaps the most important part, for this is the big day. The engagement is exciting, but the marriage is even more exciting. To illustrate this, let us look at the story of Ruth and Boaz. In Ruth 3, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, instructs her how to get married. It was the time of harvest, and Boaz, to protect his harvest from theft, slept with the grain. Ruth was told to wait until after Boaz had eaten and fallen asleep and then to go in to him, lie at his feet and uncover them. Boaz woke up in the middle of the night and saw someone at his feet. Ruth identified herself and said something like, I want to be your handmaid. Boaz told her that she had been very kind to him, and more kind than she had been at the first. Then he took his cloak and put it over her signaling that he wanted to marry her.
In Ezekiel 16:8, God says, “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; [notice what He does] and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.” Just like Boaz, He put that covering over her and said, You are now Mine. The marriage has to do with a covering, with what you and I are clothed.
Jesus, speaking a parable, told the story of a marriage. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son.” Matthew 22:2. The king here spoken of is God and the Son is Jesus. The steps of betrothal and then a dowry would have to be made and then comes the marriage, which is referred to in verse 9.
The verses in between tell of the people who were not ready and did not want to come to the marriage. “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment.” Verses 9–11.
This was an uninvited guest. Everybody who came to this marriage was provided clothing to wear so that they would all know who was a part of the marriage and who was not. There was no excuse; the clothing was provided by the king. He asked the intruder how he could be in there without the wedding garment, but the man was speechless (verses 11, 12). “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Verse 13.
Do you think it is important that we are part of the marriage? It is a life and death issue. The only sure way to be part of the wedding is to wear the proper attire, the wedding garment that is provided by the king. No one clothed in common citizen dress will be allowed into the feast.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed [or clothed] in fine linen, clean and white.” Revelation 19:7, 8. What is that clean linen that is pure and white? The righteousness of saints. But we have no righteousness of our own, so where do the saints get a spotless, pure, bright robe? It is a gift from Jesus; it is His righteousness. “Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet to appear in God’s presence.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 311. How many coverings are there? Only one!
Adam and Eve tried to clothe themselves with fig leaves sewn together, works of their own hands (Genesis 3:7), but it wasn’t enough. We cannot be clothed in our own righteousness. “This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul.” Ibid. One must ask himself or herself, Have I repented from every known sin and am I searching my own heart and allowing God to search my heart to see if there is anything else in me that I need to repent? If that is the case and you believe in Christ, you are going to receive that covering. He is going to spread His skirt over you and say, “You are Mine.”
This robe woven in the loom of heaven has in it not one thread of human devising. Too often we try to weave in our own devisings, but there is only one way to be saved. Peter said it; Jesus said it; all the Bible writers said it in different ways, but there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6.
It is that simple. If you try to devise some way yourself and weave it into the robe, it will ruin the character, that symbolic robe that Christ wants to cover us with, His own righteousness.
Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character and this character He offers to impart to us. “By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.
Christ is not going to cover any one of us unless we render perfect obedience to Him. Pictures have been portrayed of people in filthy garments with another covering of Christ’s righteousness over that filthy garment. No way! Zechariah 3:4 says that the filthy garments have to be taken away before being clothed with the new garment. Any human devising weaved into the character will ruin it and will not stand the inspection.
Remember, the king came into the feast to inspect those who were part of the marriage ceremony and to see if they had on the wedding garment that he had provided. Those who did not were bound hand and foot and cast out into darkness. That inspection of the guests is called the investigative judgment, when the characters of the guests are examined to see who is wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness. The inspecting eye of Jehovah will not miss one thing. He is the unerring judge.
Omnipotence is a word that is given only to God, and it is a word that means all powerful. There is no limit to what God can do in our lives. What is impossible with men is possible with God.
The Marriage Supper
“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when He will return from the wedding.” Luke 12:35, 36. The marriage is taking place now, and that inspection is taking place in heaven right now.
How do you think you will hold up in the inspection? The only thing you can do is to surrender your will completely and wholly to the Lord. That’s it! We have to do what God asks us to do. When you surrender your will, you must put it into action, do what God asks you to do, give up what He asks you to give up. Then, “when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he [Christ] shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat [eat], and will come forth and serve them.” Verses 36, 37.
What a day that will be! All of our trials will be over when we sit down at that table. This is exactly what Jesus did at that Thursday evening meeting in the upper room when He washed the disciple’s feet and they partook of bread and grape juice. This is what He is waiting for. He said, in Mark 14:25, “I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God”—the marriage supper of the Lamb.
We will all join around a table that will be miles in length, and seated at that table will be the saints from every generation. I hope you are reserving a seat today. You have got to be a part of that celebration, and you will have the privilege of Jesus serving you. You must be clothed with His righteousness and pass the inspecting eye of Jehovah in the investigative judgment.
Many of us may be at different points in our Christian walk; we may be at different stages. Some may still be at the betrothal stage where Jesus will draw them into a relationship with Him. There may be some who have gone beyond that, recognizing the purchased possession on our behalf through the death of Jesus, and surrendered all to Him, but all of us, for sure, are in the third stage of the investigative judgment and are being inspected. Life and death issues are at stake. I want to be ready for the marriage supper so I am not served up as part of the feast for the birds. How about you?
Pastor Mike Bauler serves as pastor of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.