The Wedding Supper
Vol: 23 Issue: 30 Thursday, June 30, 2016
Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, instituted by God for the twin purposes of partnership and procreation. That it is a sacred union is something disputed only by the obtuse.
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:7-9)
Jesus Christ said that marriage is instituted by God and that the union of two people in marriage creates a third entity — they are “no more two, but one flesh” in both the eyes of God and, until recently, the eyes of man. However, with the new social rules concerning marriage, that no longer applies.
Two guys can’t be ‘one flesh’ — and neither can two girls. They cannot ‘join’ the way a traditional couple can, they cannot procreate together, they cannot produce from their union new life. In the Biblical sense, they cannot become ‘one flesh’.
For that reason, God intended marriage, from the beginning, to be an unbreakable contract between two people:
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)
This is why adultery is such a serious sin. According to the dictionary;
“Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and one who is not his or her spouse.”
Dr. Henry Morris defined ‘fornication’ as follows:
“The Greek word for ‘fornication’ (porneia) could include any sexual sin committed after the betrothal contract. …In Biblical usage, ‘fornication’ can mean any sexual congress outside monogamous marriage. It thus includes not only premarital sex, but also adultery, homosexual acts, incest, remarriage after un-Biblical divorce, and sexual acts with animals, all of which are explicitly forbidden in the law as given through Moses (Leviticus 20:10-21). Christ expanded the prohibition against adultery to include even sexual lusting (Matthew 5:28).”
There are few cultures on earth that don’t recognize some form of marriage. And there has never been a culture in history that survived reinventing marriage or expanding it beyond its original mandate of one man and one woman.
Every culture that tried — from Sodom and Gomorrah to the ancient Greek and Roman Empires collapsed soon after. Man cannot successfully reinvent marriage. It isn’t his to reinvent.
Marriage was instituted by God. It belongs to God. God defined it. It is the model against which all other relationships are defined.
Marriage is also used to symbolize God’s eternal spiritual union with His people throughout the Scriptures. The word ‘fornication’ is sometimes used symbolically in the Old Testament to describe forsaking God to follow after idols.
In the Old Testament, the unrepentant Israel was pictured as an adulterous wife. (Hosea 2:1-8) In the New Testament, the Church is depicted as the Bride of Christ.
In ancient Israel, marriage was a three-phased operation. The first phase was the betrothal, or engagement. The second was the coming of the bridegroom to claim his bride. The third phase was the marriage supper, held at the home of the bridegroom.
Our spiritual relationship with Christ follows this model. Our spiritual ‘betrothal’ takes place at the moment of salvation. The coming of the Bridegroom to claim His bride is a prefiguration of the Rapture.
John’s vision in Revelation 19 completes the picture with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb which takes place in Heaven.
“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.”
Let’s take a sneak peek at what is in store for us at our wedding dinner and see what we can learn from it.
This passage in Chapter 19 is the first corporate appearance made by the Church since Revelation 4:1 when John heard a voice from Heaven saying “Come up hither!” From Revelation 4:2 until this point in Revelation, John’s narrative has focused on the judgments being meted out to those that “dwell upon the earth” and the corresponding events in Heaven.
There are four views of when the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place. About the only thing that is universally agreed-upon is that it takes place after the Rapture and the Believer’s judgment at the Bema Seat.
The post-Tribulation view is that it takes place in the air while the Church is being raptured. In this view, the Church rises into the air, is judged at the Bema Seat, participates in the celebration, then immediately returns to earth with Jesus to participate in the Battle of Armageddon.
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 1:13-14)
The Pre-Tribulation view is that the Bema Seat Believer’s judgment and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place while the judgments of the Tribulation are being meted out to those that dwell upon the earth.
There are two other views, “Mid-Trib” and “Pre-Wrath” that place the Rapture and Marriage Supper somewhere around the middle of the seven year Tribulation. The Pre-Wrath view differs from Mid-Trib in that Mid-Tribbers agree that Daniel’s 70th Week is divided in half into two periods of 42 months each. Revelation 13:5 says that the second half of the Tribulation lasts 42 months. Daniel 9:27 says the antichrist breaks the covenant with the years halfway through the seven years.
Also, Daniel 7:25 where the “time, times, and half a time” (time=1 year; times=2 years; half a time=1/2 year; total of 3 1/2 years) also refers to “great tribulation.”
Pre-wrath argues that the Tribulation isn’t seven years long, but is an undefined period of time during the last 3 1/2 years of Daniel’s 70th Week.
So the length of the Tribulation Period is probably one of the most CLEARLY defined in Scripture.
“And He saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And He saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:9)
Who are those “called” or “invited” to the marriage supper of the Lamb? Is that the Church? Many opponents of pretribulationism say so. Does it make sense? Were you ‘invited’ to your own wedding? Without them, there would be no supper. The hosts are not ‘called’ to their wedding. They call others. The Bride and the Bridegroom host the wedding from their place of honor. They are not guests.
The guests are the Tribulation martyrs, the saints of the Old Testament and the hosts of heaven.
The Bride is pictured as arrayed in fine linen.
“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.” (Revelation 19:8)
The opponents of pretribulationism argue that suggests the Church must suffer through tribulation to cleanse and purify her in preparation for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Church is purified by tribulation. The Church is purified and sanctified by the shed Blood of Christ which imputes righteousness, or the Church is not sanctified or purified at all — and never can be.
It is BECAUSE the Church is clothed in fine linen that the Bema judgment has already taken place. That is where the rewards are given out. Note the description of the armies that return with Christ:
“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 19:14)
The phrase, “Fine linen, white and clean” is mentioned twice. Once at the Marriage supper, (v. 9) and once here.
John’s description of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb confirms the following order of events, or it all collapses.
First, the Rapture. Then the Bema Judgment. Then comes the marriage supper. Finally, the return to earth with the Lord at Armageddon. The length of the Tribulation Period is the full seventieth Week of Daniel, or its purpose is meaningless and Daniel must be ripped from our Bibles.
Daniel 9:26-27 says it is determined for the Jewish people. Jeremiah 30:7 says it is the time of “Jacob’s Trouble”. Revelation says one purpose is to judge a Christ rejecting world (Revelation 9:21) and Zechariah 12:10 says its other purpose is to bring about the national redemption of Israel.
No matter how hard one tries to make the Church fit with the purpose of the Tribulation, to make it so, one has to diminish the Lord and elevate mankind. The sacrifice is sufficient for a person to be saved individually, but it isn’t enough to save one generation all at once.
The average guy has to go through average tribulation throughout his life, but if he trusts Jesus, he is saved from judgment. The ONLY purpose for the Tribulation Period IS judgment. Every generation of believers in New Testament history was judged at the Cross and found blameless if they covered by the Blood of Christ.
Except this one.
What happened to C.S. Lewis when he died? Did he have to go through the Tribulation to go to heaven? What about H. A. Ironside? D. L. Moody? Or pick your famous (and now dead) Christian from history. When they died, were they subjected to judgment for sin? Or was their sin covered?
If they didn’t have to go through the Tribulation Period, then why should the last generation?
Are we worse than previous generations that did not? Or is Jesus growing weaker as time passes?
The bedrock doctrine of Christianity is salvation by grace through faith. Nothing more is necessary than God’s grace and our faith. Thus has it been since the Romans threw the Christians to the lions in the 1st century. They weren’t saved by being eaten by lions. They were saved by trusting in Christ.
The Tribulation Period is not the 1st century. Jesus is not building His Church — He is judging those who persecuted it. To judge the Church at the same time is to render the purpose for judgment meaningless.
It adds a special judgment to this generation not meted out to believers of previous generations. It diminishes Christ by demanding additional payment for sins from those whose sins were already paid for.
If salvation is a gift of grace and not of works, lest any man should boast, then what is salvation to the last generation? Bait and switch? You’re saved until the Tribulation and then you have to start over?
If you pass (by being decapitated), you get to go to heaven. If you fail (by taking the Mark), you are forever ineligible and your salvation is of none effect. But those rules didn’t apply to the generation before this one. Or the one before that. Or the one before that, going all the way back to Christ.
But this generation has to re-write 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18 to read:
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with Him in the clouds. . . . if we survive the Tribulation.”
Wherefore comfort one another with these words?