THE ULTIMATE WEDDING
THE ULTIMATE WEDDING Based on Rev. 19:1-9
By Pastor Glenn Pease
Romance is the greatest power in the universe. It is the motivating power that will produce the new heaven and the new earth, and it is the power behind much of what has been created in this earth. The spectacular Hilton Hotel chain that goes around the world. It was not just the love of money and power that moved Conrad Hilton to build this vast empire. In his autobiography, Be My Guest, he tells of a turning point of his life while in Dallas. It happened in church.
"All I saw of her at first was a jaunty red hat and a few curls
several pews in front of me at church. The hat was dark red
and the curls were very black and there was something about
the way she wore the hat, the way she carried her head, she
was very attractive. When I saw her face, pretty, vivacious,
alert, with laughing eyes, in my excitement I did something
worthy of a college freshman. I followed the red hat out of
church to try to find out where she lived. For once I wished
I hadn't so many friends to greet. I'm afraid I was abrupt.
But as it was, the red hat got such a long start on me that,
after seeing it bop up and down in the crowd for a couple of
blocks, I lost it. For a month of Sundays I amazed that
congregation with my piety. I attended every mass from six
till noon. But I didn't see her again."
One afternoon as he left his theater where business was going bad, he walked right into that same girl. She had on a different hat, but it was her, and she was with a Mrs. Evans whom he knew. Mrs. Evans introduced him to Mary Barron. They entered at once into a whirlwind courtship. She had to leave Dallas, but he insisted that when he finished building a hotel she come back and marry him. He also insisted she give him her red hat. He writes:
"There was the incurable romantic coming out again. It was
now my firm intention to sprinkle stars in Mary's lap, and I would
go back into the fight, climb my mountain, as her champion. In the
days when Arthur was king, I would have worn her colors on my sleeve.
In Dallas, Texas, in 1924, I had to content myself with flying the
red hat from my bedpost. Then I went back to my mountain with renewed vigor."
He was soon back on top and very successful, and he married Mary and took her into the world of the rich and famous. It is a beautiful love story, but it has one major flaw. They did not live happily ever after. Eight years later their marriage ended in a bitter divorce.
Falling in love is the easy part. The living happily ever after is the hard part. But the fact is, the greatest love story of all time and eternity does end this way which means it never ends at all, for Christ and His bride live happily ever after.Heaven is an eternal honeymoon where the bride and groom enjoy endless bliss with no fear of conflict. The goal of God is achieved when He gets His Son, the most famous single in all of human history, married. When Jesus gets married at the great wedding of the Lamb, then singleness will cease to exist, and all will be as it was in the garden of Eden: One couple-a husband and wife-and Adam and Eve. In eternity it will be the one groom-the second Adam-Jesus. His bride is the church the second Eve. The new heaven and the new earth will be their wedding gift from God. This is the beginning of the most romantic adventure conceivable as this happy couple, perfect in themselves, enjoy together a perfect universe forever.
There will be no singles in heaven, for all who are there are part of the bride. There have been many great singles all through history. John the Baptist, The greatest of the Old Testament saints, was single. Paul, the greatest of the New Testament saints, was also single. Volumes could be filled with the stories of the famous singles who have served the kingdom of God with great success. But all this will be over in heaven, for there will only be married people in heaven. Some ask, will marriage last forever? The answer is yes. People will not be marrying each other, but they will be wedded to the Lamb, and be His bride forever. Christian husband and wives will together be part of the Bride. Their love for each other will not be diminished, but rather enhanced. Their primary loyalty, however, will be to the Lamb.
The wedding is called the Wedding of the Lamb, and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, because it is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that made it possible for the bride to be there redeemed and made clean and whole, and fit to be the bride of the Son of God. In chapter 18 fallen man in his folly and wickedness is called a harlot. In this chapter the redeemed and forgiven are called the bride. The Bible gives the female equal time in its symbolism. On the cross we see two men, one of whom represents the rejecters of Christ, and the other represents the receptors of Christ. From that cross setting one of them goes to hell and the other to heaven. Now in Revelation 18 and 19 we see all mankind represented by two females. The one is a harlot who is destroyed, and the other a pure bride who is exalted. All mankind ends up either a harlot in hell, or a bride in heaven.
This means the whole Christian life is preparation for a wedding-a wedding that will begin eternity, and be the final wedding that will not only end all singleness forever, but also all divorce forever. Paul in II Cor. 11:2 writes, "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him." Paul saw his task in life as preparing the bride for the Wedding of the Lamb. We call it a lot of things: Church planting, evangelism, discipleship, sanctification, etc., but they all point to the ultimate wedding.
The problems Paul had were due to the bride becoming infatuated with an impostor. The church was letting this rival to Christ win their affections. The battle of history has been to keep the bride of Christ loyal to the Lamb. So all of history is a matter of romantic conflict. Satan's goal is to seduce the bride and make her a part of his harlot. The Savior's goal is to make her holy, and as Paul says in Eph. 5:27, "To present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
So all of life is wedding preparation, and it is a hassle because Satan is trying to postpone the wedding and get the bride to break the engagement. The task of the church is to overcome and press on to the wedding and be ready to marry into wealth and power beyond imagination. The bride who marries the King of Kings-the ruler of the entire new universe-will be the Queen of Heaven, and the most powerful and wealthy Queen that has ever existed. This is the destiny of the Bride of the Lamb.
What would it be like to marry the richest man in town, or the country, or the world? It is an interesting fantasy, but the promise of God is that all who love Christ as Savior in this life will be married to Him in the life to come. They will be the wife of the richest man in the universe. You talk about marrying up! The rag girl in the slums marrying the prince pales with comparison to this true romance of the former slave girl, in bondage to Satan, rescued, redeemed, and restored to purity, becoming the Bride of the Lamb. No wonder the whole first part of this chapter is a Hallelujah Chorus. The greatest love story of all is about to be concluded in the grandest of all weddings.
Long, long deferred, now come at last,
The Lamb's glad wedding-day.
The guests are gathering to the feast,
The seats in heavenly order placed,
The royal throne above the rest-
How bright the new array!
Sorrow and sighing are no more,
The weeping hours are past.
To-night the waiting will be done,
To-night the wedding robe put on,
The glory and the joy begun-
The crown has come at last.
What is heaven like? There are many answers, but one of the best is, it will be like a royal wedding with feasting, rejoicing, and all the pleasures that accompany such a gala occasion, and all Christians will be the Bride at that wedding. Here at last the bride is complete and ready for the wedding. Jesus did not marry in time, for He chose to wait for a bride fit for Him-a bride made perfect by His own sacrifice. A greater than Solomon is here, for in Christ we see a King of greater wisdom, and with far greater riches and power, and even a bridal suite more vast than Solomon's. For though he had 700 wives and 300 concubines from many lands, the bride of Christ will be composed of the redeemed out of every tribe, tongue, and nation, and there will be millions upon millions.
This wedding of the Lamb will make the best wedding of Solomon look like a five minute justice of the peace service. A lot of Christians could never afford a big wedding, but they will be in the biggest wedding ever as the Bride, and God Himself
will foot all the bills.
In Judaism the groom would come to the home of the bride and take her to his home. The second coming of Christ will be His coming for his bride to take her to His home in heaven where the wedding feast will take place. At last a supper that the bride herself does not have to prepare. I can't swear to it that pot lucks will be gone in heaven, but you can count on it that the bride will not have to bring a hot dish, salad, or dessert to this wedding feast. Some feel God must be part Baptist, for He begins eternity with a supper. Eating is one of the favorite things Christians do all through time, and so why not value that in eternity and celebrate it with feasting?
God has not revealed many details about this biggest wedding banquet ever. We don't know if angels will be the caterers, nor do we know the menu. There are some who feel it is silly to think we will eat in heaven, but it is even more silly to try and imagine the greatest feast ever, but with no food. Jesus ate food in His resurrected body, and there is no reason whatever to doubt that we will enjoy this basic pleasure in our resurrected bodies. It is not very exciting to read of the tree of life in Revelation 22 that bares a new fruit every month if that fruit is never enjoyed. It produces a new fruit every month, and is, therefore, a symbol of abundance, but what good is abundance if we must gather it up each month and dispose of it without ever enjoying the taste of it? The whole point of the revelation is that we will have no limitations like Adam and Eve did in the first paradise. They could eat of all the trees but one. We will eat of all plus one-the tree of life that gives life and joy and pleasure forever. The Bride of the Lamb will not have less the bride of the first Adam, but infinitely more.
The imagery here of a wedding is to convey the message of the marvelous joy of the uniting of God and man in this ultimate and intimate way. God and man actually get married and become a couple. You could very well get locked up for saying it, but the fact is, a single Christian could say, "I'm not married now, but someday I'm going to be married to God and be Queen of the universe." It sounds like delusions of grandeur, but what it is is the promise of God. It is what heaven is all about. It is about a marriage that finally fulfills a universal dream of being married and living happily ever after.
This Wedding of the Lamb is a great day, not just for the Bride, but for the Lamb and for the Father. God has had a lot of marriage problems, and this marks the end of all those problems with a happy marriage forever. God has not exactly been what we call lucky in love. In the first place he picked a lemon for a bride. He chose Israel to be His bride and she turned out to be a harlot going to bed with every sweet talker who came down the pike. God finally had to get a divorce. Jeremiah describes it in Jer. 3:6-8. "Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under spreading tree and has committed adultery there. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not..........I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries." If you are unforgiving to the divorced then you are one who refuses to forgive God, and that is not a very comfortable position to be in.
God is not faithless to His bride, however, and He goes on courting her, and in 3:14 He says to her, "Return, faithless people, declares the Lord, for I am your husband." God pursued His bride like Hosea pursued his faithless wife, and in Hosea 2:19-20 he declares, "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord." Isa. 62:5 records the same optimism: "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." The marital battle of God continues with the new Israel, the church, but at last the battle is won, and all rivalry is defeated and God finally reigns supreme. Now at last He can enjoy a faithful wife who loves no other but Him. The marriage of others is minimized in heaven because the focus is on God finally having a loyal loving bride. There is marriage in heaven. In fact, there is nothing else but marriage. It is in hell where there will be no marriage, and all will be an existence of isolated aloneness with no relationships whatever.
All of history is God's battle to woo and win His bride, and all of eternity is the honeymoon. History begins with a marriage of Adam and Eve, and eternity begins with a marriage of God and man. The creation of a wife for Adam was a snap. A little nap and a little surgery, and Adam had his wife. Getting a wife for the second Adam was a much more radical process. Jesus, the second Adam, did not just go to sleep, but had to die and have his side split open by a spear. His wife was far more costly. He had to give His life to purchase her, and then give many hundreds of years of guidance, forgiveness, and intercession to get His bride prepared. Marriage is not secondary theme. It is the theme of life for time and eternity. It is the alpha and omega of relationships. It is the foundation for history and heaven. Everything we do either helps or hinders our temporal or eternal marriage. Even singles are perpetually involved in that which enriches their relationship to Christ, or poisons it. Nobody can escape the need for marriage enrichment, for that is what life is all about.
The Lamb is our fiancee, and we are perpetually pleasing Him in our preparation for the wedding, or we are displeasing Him, and causing a delay, for there will be no wedding until the Bride is completely ready. This is an interesting phrase to pursue. Verse 7 says the Bride has made herself ready. Why do we go to church? Why do we read the Bible? Why do we pray and witness and do all that we do as Christians? We do so in preparation for the wedding. You might feel a little sheepish telling someone you are going to marry a Lamb, but that is what the Christian life is all about. It is getting ready for the wedding of the Lamb, and becoming worthy of the honor of being the Bride of the Son of God.
God wants nothing but the best for His Son, and we should desire to be all He desires; to be clean and beautiful. Why do we not do what is wrong and displeasing to God? Because it makes us not fit to be the Bride of the Lamb. He gave His life for us. He expects us to be sacrificial in preparing for the wedding. Weddings are costly, but for this one, the biggest cost for us is in preparation. Being willing to be what He wants His bride to be is our goal.
I wondered as I studied this imagery of the Bride if this is one of the reasons it is easier for a female to become a Christian than it is for a male. It seems so natural for a female to prepare to become a bride, but this is not that appealing for the male. Males do not grow up with the fantasy of being a beautiful bride dressed in an awesome wedding gown. This is a bit of an adjustment for the male mind that in eternity all Christians will be a part of the Bride. In looking for poetry describing this greatest of all weddings, I discovered that the female mind seems to be more interested in writing poetry about this event than the male mind. E. H.. Bickersteth and Christina Rossetti wrote:
The Bridegroom met the Bride alone. Himself,
In glorified humanity supreme,
Incarnate Light: And she like Him in glory,
No spot nor wrinkle on her holy brow,
No film upon her robes of dazzling white,
Most beautiful, most glorious: every saint
Perfect in individual perfectness;
And each to each so fitly interlinked,
Joined and compact, there countless millions seemed
One body by one spirit inspired and moved,-
The various members knit in faultless grace,
The feeblest as the strongest necessary,
No schism, nor discord, nor excess, nor lack.
Glory touched glory on each bended head,
Hands locked dear hands never to sunder more:
These were the new-begotten from the dead
Whom the great Birthday bore.
Heart answered heart, soul answered soul at rest,
Double against each other, filled, sufficed;
All loving, loved of all; but loving best
And best beloved of Christ.
Caroline Noel wrote,
Bride, adoring, thinks upon that hour
Ere her Lord gave Himself to Deaths dark power,
When at the Passover He lifted up
His eyes to heaven, and having given the cup,
He said: "O Father, I Thy work have done;
Into Thy glory now call Thy Son:
I will that she I ransom, as My Bride
Be with Me in My glory at Thy side."
And the strong might of that prevailing prayer
Has brought her to His throne and glory there.
Uplift the trumpets! Wake the harp-strings now,
And let the voice of many waters flow!
All Christians are the Bride, but all agree that there will not be a loss of our individuality. Men need not fear they will become feminine forever and lose their masculine personality. I do not know if L. M. Wooster is a male or female, but he or she has summed up this conviction held by all in a concise paragraph.
Even at that wonderful banquet, where the guests
are the angels and archangels, thrones, principalities,
and powers, and the inhabitants of the universe;
when the Lord shall drink with His Bride and His
guests of the "new wine" of perfect love and bliss;
when every heart will beat as one in perfect sympathy,
even there each one of us will stand out clear and
unmistakable in his or her own individual character,
attainments, and spirit.
Nevertheless, we cannot escape the fact that all of the imagery of heaven revolves around the Bride and her beautiful dress and jewelry. It is a very feminine picture, and the reason for this, I am sure, is because the objective is to portray heaven as the most beautiful place possible, and the feminine imagery is the key to portraying beauty. I've heard people say to the groom, "Nice tux," but you don't hear oh's and ah's, and conversation about it like the wedding gown of the bride. It is her beauty and the beauty of her accessories that gets the attention. In chapter 21 verse 2 we read, "I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a Bride beautifully dressed for her husband." Later in the chapter she is described with all her brilliant jewels.
God loves His bride beautifully dressed and adorned with jewels. If we go back to Ezek. 16 we read this description of God preparing Israel to be His bride. "I clothed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry; I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head." It has always puzzled me why some Christians have a problem with jewelry. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament God tells us His taste in beauty, and He likes a woman who is adorned with beautiful clothes and jewelry. As the Bride of Lamb we will all be so adorned in eternity. Everything that is not beautiful is gone forever, and everything we can conceive of that enhances beauty will be there in abundance.
Psa. 45 is a wedding song. Listen to its description of an earthly wedding of a king of Israel, and just imagine how much more glorious will be the wedding of God's Son and His Bride.
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father's house;
11 and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him;
12 the people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts, the richest of the people
13 with all kinds of wealth. The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
14 in many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.
Even if you have seen the wedding of royalty, you haven't seen anything yet, for the wedding of the Lamb is the ultimate wedding. God will spare no expense or creative excellence, for this is the wedding of His only begotten Son who laid down His life for his Bride. There is no point in speculation, but it goes without saying, the richest men of all history combined could not afford what we will see at this wedding. The whole world could go into bankruptcy and not be able to put together a wedding so glorious for so many hundreds of millions of people.
Revelation 21 describes the city where the wedding will take place and it is 1500 miles long and wide. We are talking of a city that covers from Maine to Florida, and half way across the United States from East to West. This vast city is made of gold, and the walls are decorated with every kind of precious stone. Imagine, if you take all of the jewelry in the country you could decorate only a small fraction of a wall like that. I doubt if all the jewelry in the world could get the job done for more than a couple of miles. We are talking splendor beyond earthly imagination. All the gold in Fort Knox, which is mind boggling, would only pave a few miles of this golden city.
The point is, man has never seen a wedding like the Wedding of the Lamb. To be there will make up for all the glorious events you may have missed in life because you could not afford it, or lack the status to be involved. In Christ the best is yet to be, and people who could not afford a fancy wedding will be a part of the fanciest wedding ever. As God brought beautiful Eve to Adam to begin human history, so He will bring the beautiful church to Christ to wrap up history, and begin eternity with a marriage that will last forever. The goal of history is achieved in the happy marriage of God and man. This is the ultimate wedding.