Series: “The Be Happy Blessings of Revelation”
Funny Opening Illustrations: Oops altar call!
A minister was planning a wedding at the close of the Sunday morning service. After the benediction he had planned to call the couple down to be married for a brief ceremony before the congregation.
For the life of him, he couldn’t think of the names of those who were to be married. "Will those wanting to get married please come to the front?" he requested.
Immediately, nine single ladies, three widows, four widowers, and six single men stepped to the front.
A marriage story: A Heavenly Marriage
An elderly Italian man lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite Italian sprinkle cookies wafting up the stairs.
Gathering his remaining strength, he lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort, gripping the railing with both hands he crawled downstairs. With labored breath, he leaned against the doorframe, gazing into the kitchen. Where it not for death’s agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven, for there, spread out upon waxed paper on the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favorite sprinkled cookies.
Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted Italian wife of sixty years, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?
Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself towards the table, landing on his knees in a crumpled posture. His parched lips parted, the wondrous taste of the cookie was already in his mouth, seemingly bringing him back to life.
The aged and withered hand trembled on its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when it was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife..... ’Back off!’ she said, ’they’re for the funeral.’
Sermon 5: The blessing of being invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).
"Then 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.’"
Thesis: The bride needs to be ready and awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom so she can participate in the Wedding, in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!
Quest Study Bible states: In the OT Israel is the bride and wife of the Lord Isa. 54:5:
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.
In the NT that imagery is applied to the church (Eph. 5:22-32). Christ’s deep love for the bride (the church) and His commitment to it are symbolized by the marriage covenant. Just as husband and wife become one, Christ and the Church are also united as one.
22Wives, submit to your husband’s as to the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—
30for we are members of his body.
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.”
32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
In the New Testament the church of Jesus Christ is described by 7 different symbols.
1. Jesus is the Great Shepherd and we are his sheep (Jn. 10:1-18)
2. He is the True vine and we are the branches (Jn. 15:1)
3. Jesus is the cornerstone and we are the living stones of the house of God (I Peter 2:4-7).
4. The Lord is described as a merchant who finds a single pearl of great price and buys it sacrificially (Mt. 13:45).
5. Jesus is the Great High Priest over the household of faith and we are his servant priests (Heb. 4:14-16).
6. Jesus is the head of the body of Christ we are the parts of the body (I Cor. 12:12-14).
7. Jesus is the Bridegroom and the church is His Bride (Rev. 21:9)
Mike Bickle in his book “The Pleasures of Loving God” wrote this about our analogy of the church being the Bride today:
My father was a professional boxer for eighteen years. As an amateur boxer, he went to the Olympics and became a world Champion. I grew up in the gym around cigar smoke, sweaty lockers, cheap bets and bloody fighters. Later, my dad became entangled in the violent, criminal underworld that surrounds the sport of boxing. Dad trained me to box at the age of ten, and I loved leaving the hot gym and going along with him to the neighborhood bars where we were surrounded by street toughs and gangsters. You can imagine my initial dismay when God called me, according to the Song of Solomon 8:6, to proclaim the message of Jesus the heavenly Bridegroom and the passion of the bride to the Body of Christ…I happened to be reading Song of Solomon 8:6-7. As I read the passage, the Spirit of God moved upon me, wooing me to God’s love in a very unusual way…Suddenly, I was startled as my phone rang…(It was a close friend)…First he said, that God told him that the Holy Spirit would emphasize the Song of Solomon, releasing its truth throughout the entire church…he told me that the message of the Song of Solomon would become the focus of my life and ministry for the rest of my life…This initial experience left me stunned. Time went by quickly, and I thought, ‘Wow!’ What is this? I have to confess that my first emotional reaction was one of dismay. The Song of Solomon seemed to me to be about roses and beauty and fragrance and flowers. I thought to myself, this is horrible! It was a love song, and I was actually a little bit discouraged about being called to proclaim this message for the rest of my life. I even prayed , ‘Lord, I’m a boxer’s son. I’m a tough guy’s son! And now I’m called to be a bride of Christ guy?’ I was increasingly disturbed by the implications of this call as I pondered on it during the following days…I wanted God to give me something that was manly! I figured that it would be better for God to give the Song of Solomon to a woman’s ministry. But in time, God changed my mind about this. I have learned that being the bride of Christ transcends gender. Indeed, men are the bride of Christ just as women are the sons of God. The bride describes a privilege and of nearness to the heart of God. It is an invitation to experience deep intimacy with God” (The Pleasures of Loving God, Bickle pages 27-29).
Song of Solomon 8:6-7:
6Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.7Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.
Bickle notes, “In this passage, Jesus is speaking. He invites the bride to set Him as a seal upon her heart and a seal upon her arm…This passage reveals that God will impart His own love and jealousy within us that is strong as death, and nothing can escape if we yield our hearts to it…Discovering God’s heart is both fascinating and absolutely exhilarating!... Both the Father and the Bridegroom desire us…even in our weakness and brokenness we feel wanted, longed for…Our lives and personalities are completely changed by the realization that God not only likes us and enjoys us in heaven, but He actually enjoys us and takes pleasure in us while we are here on the earth…”(Page 27-39)
This love relationship with the Bridegroom causes us to want to stay pure for Him – it’s this love relationship which changes our values, and purpose in life. It is the love which is poured into us that enables us to no longer want the things which hurt the one we love. We desire to please the one we love and it’s this empowerment which strengthens us to persevere to the Coming of the Bridegroom.
Song of Solomon 3:2 - “I will seek the one I love.” These words describe the actions of a true Bride and Bridegroom that are in love with each other! They seek each other!
Revelation chapter s 17, 18, 19: These chapters paint the pictures of two different women - one is a prostitute and will be rejected, and destroyed by the Father and the Bridegroom. Why because she is impure, unholy, blemished and blackened with all kinds of evil. The other woman is holy, pure and lovely and she will marry the Bridegroom of Heaven – Jesus in a Great Wedding with glamorous Wedding feast afterwards.
T.S. -- Today we are going to explore the symbol of Christ being the Bridegroom and we being His Bride. To help us understand this analogy we need to understand the phases of a Jewish Marriage. There is the symbol of Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride throughout their whole ceremony.
Phase 1 - The Beginning
1. The groom’s father usually made and approved the choice of the bride for his son.
A. Today most people in America would be appalled of this system of marriage. But it’s true in those days and in some parts of the world today people did not fall in love with each other before the wedding. Marriages were set up and pre-arranged according to a plan (Just ask Pastor Thomas and Molly).
1). When a young man saw a girl he liked he would consult with his father about the idea of marrying her. Sometimes it was approved but other times it was not and consultations would direct the young man to the right woman.
2). When the bridegroom’s father approved the choice of the young man or made his choice for him then the young man would go to the bride’s house and speak with her father.
3). Upon permission by the father and a agreed upon dowry then the bride’s father would permit the marriage.
2. Christology - Application: When we decided to repent of our sin and make our confession of faith in Jesus Christ we then became acceptable to Father God as a Bride of Christ. He would then give His approval to Jesus to promise to marry us in a grand celebration in Heaven (The Wedding or Marriage Supper of the Lamb).
A. The key was to be pure, holy as spelled out in Revelation 19:7-8 “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.)
B. The Bride is to be pure a virgin not a prostitute – see Power point of the picture of the Bride and the image of The Great Prostitute in Rev. 17, 18.
Phase 2 - The groom’s promise (The Betrothal)
1. The groom upon receiving permission would then make a covenant promise which included 4 steps.
A. The groom would first make a covenant or contract promise to marry the bride. Something like "I Michael McCartney son of Robert McCartney promise to marry Kathy Converse daughter of Rudy Converse in sight of God and these witnesses."
B. I then would then drink a cup of wine with the bride’s father, her and witnesses signifying the sealing before God and all of this upcoming marriage.
C. Then after the drink or toast I would pay Rudy Converse father of the bride the agreed upon price. I paid Kathy’s dad 1 million dollars for Kathy. I got her for a great price. She’s been worth every dime.
1). I asked the girls a while back if they wanted me to pick out their husbands. Their immediately response was "NO WAY!!"
* Can you imagine that!
2). Thought: I kind of like the idea of getting paid to let my daughters get married. I think a million a piece is a great bargain!
*What do you think?
3). The reason the father was entitled to money was that in Jewish custom It was believed that since the bride did not work the fields like a son then the father should be compensated for the expenses he incurred raising her for the groom.
4). The ceremony and price paid by the groom showed how serious he was about marrying her.
D. The groom after paying the price would then make a speech that would say "I go to prepare a place for you."
2. Christology Application: Jesus would then promise to marry us in a grand ceremony in the future.
A. The two important steps to a Jewish Marriage: The betrothal (the promised agreement to marry) and the actual wedding ceremony. These two events were often separated by an extended period of time during which the couple remained faithful to one another even though the wedding ceremony was not yet finalized (Quest Study Bible page 1730).
Phase 3 - Groom prepares a place for the bride
1. Groom works hard and diligently prepares for his Bride and waits for his father’s approval that everything is ready.
A. During the wait:
1). The contract, cup, and money were the bride’s assurance that the groom was coming back. Upon completion of this the groom would leave for a while to prepare the place. The groom would have to build a chamber or house for his new bride. It took quite an amount of work on the groom’s part to build a first class bridal chamber and home for her.
2). If anyone asked the bridegroom, during the building process when he would be getting married he would say, "I don’t know, only my father knows." You see the groom could not go back and claim his bride until the chamber or building was approved by his father as ready and suitable.
3). The chamber and home was where the marriage would be consummated and they would live happily ever after.
2. Christology Application: Jesus told us that he was going to prepare a place for us in Heaven.
A. John 14:1-3: “1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
1). Alcorn states, “He (Jesus) wanted to give his disciples (and us) something tangible to look forward to-an actual place where they (and we) would go to be with him (Heaven, page xviii).
B. 1 Corinthians 2:9: “9However, 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) The Apostle Paul reminds us that this place being prepared for us is like nothing we have ever seen or can even dream of. It’s beyond our own imaginations!
2) I cannot wait to see this marvelous place designed for me by Jesus!
Phase 4 - The Bride waits
1. She the Bride is always anticipating the groom’s arrival.
A. This is a time for patience and faithfulness: Trusting in his promise to return!
1). During this time of patience the bride waits guarding her dignity and purity. She would wear her veil whenever she went out, in order that some young man would not try to initiate a contract with her. Now she was called set apart, consecrated bought with a price. In effect she was no longer her own person, but an individual contracted to her bridegroom.
2). She conducted herself with respect using her time to prepare for married life, learning the needed skills of a bride.
3). She waited patiently for the big moment – she would be home every night waiting eagerly. She did not want to be caught away from home when the bridegroom came. The tradition was that he would come at night unexpectedly like a thief to get his bride. It really was unexpected to a degree.
2. The Bridesmaids – The unmarried friends would attend the Bride during this time and also provide light for the groom who would come at night to sweep her away like a knight in shining armor.
A. She would be waiting with friends and with her sisters and they would have oil in their Lamps –ready- just in case the groom did choose to come at and unexpected time in the middle of the night.
3. Christology Application: We need to patiently endure – we need to wait and be ready for the coming of our Bridegroom Jesus! We do this by observing the 3 messages we have studied over that last few weeks and by following the teachings of God’s Word:
A. Revelation 1:3: "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."
1). Summary: This is the first of the seven “Be Happy” blessings of Revelation. This one promises a blessing from heaven for everyone who reads, hears, and lives according to the book’s message. The key point in this verse is that "WE must take to heart" to heed, to watch over, to observe attentively, to implant in our hearts the message of this BOOK. Bumper Sticker: “Smile in the midst of trial!”
B. Rev. 14:13 "Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."
1) Summary: When we decide to die for Christ we receive the promise of eternal rest and peace from all the persecution that the world has inflicted on us. We get the blessing of having our righteous deeds follow us to Heaven. Bumper Sticker: “Smile you will be wowed!”
C. Revelation 16:15: "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."
1). Summary: This scripture text reminds us of how blessed the Christian is who is always ready for Jesus return. This text reveals one of the core teachings of the Bible. The point behind Revelation and the New Testament is that we as Christians must stay awake and be ready to go with Christ at any moment. "Bumper Sticker: “Get ready - Be ready - He is almost here!”
a). Bottom line : We need to keep our clothes on! Not be shamefully exposed committing adultery with the world and it’s evil ways.
D. Mike Bickle states, “For two thousand years of church history the church has nearly neglected the revelation of Jesus as a Bridegroom. The subject of His burning desire for human beings has not been at center stage. Nevertheless, the Word of God contains prophecies clearly stating that the Messiah will be understood as a Bridegroom before He returns-not just afterward. Right now, the Holy Spirit is unlocking this understanding to the church throughout the world…God is even now raising up forerunners who will preach the Bridegroom King as the Judge of all the living” (pages 206, 210).
1). I see this today happening around the USA and through the impact of IHOP around the world.
Phase 5 – The Bride Groom Comes
1. The groom’s men would run ahead and shout that he was coming. As soon as the bride heard the shout she knew she was as good as married.
A. While the father and brothers turn their heads the bride and her friends would be swept off into the night with the Bridegroom.
B. The whole wedding party went back to the groom’s house to meet the guests for the ceremony and for the great celebration.
2. Christology Application: The Lord has sent many men ahead of Him proclaiming His coming and telling us to get ready! He is coming – it’s not a Joke its God’s Word!
A. The Key is to be doing what we are suppose to be doing as a preparing bride, the key is being ready- to be fulfilling the divine purpose for our life!
B. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10: 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
C. Revelation 6:12-17: 12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.15Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
D. Matthew 25:6: 6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”
* Are you ready to meet Him?
Phase 6 - The Wedding Ceremony
1. This is where the two make their covenant relationship with each other before the priest of God and the deal is sealed forever.
a. The bride now is literally a part of the bridegroom’s family!
2. Christology Application:
a. This is where the covenant relationship is sealed before God the Father. It’s the final moment in time when we are no longer alone but married to Jesus the Bridegroom for the rest of our eternal lives.
i. This ceremony is the covenant seal of the commitment between us to Jesus and Jesus to us for eternity.
ii. It’s the point in time when we become sealed into the family of God.
b. Ephesians 5:30-32: For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
i. Bickle notes, “In other words, this verse refers to marriage union between Jesus Christ and the church. Jesus Christ is joined to us, His adoring bride, in the most powerful expression of divine intimacy possible. To be naked and unashamed means that all secrets have been unveiled and there is no shame. God trusts us with the secrets of His heart, secrets He will not even give to the angels” (page 121).
Phase 7 – The Wedding Supper and Celebration
1. This is the time to rejoice and celebrate the long awaited ceremony for the bride and groom! It’s a time to rejoice over their covenant union and begin their family unit.
2. Christology Application: This celebration will be the time to celebrate that the Queen of Heaven has come home forever – the celebration will rejoice at the homecoming -at the completion of the promises of the past. It will be a day to celebrate!
a. It’s when we get to party with patriarchs, the apostles, the angels, the trinity. It’s party time – It ties in with what is promoted throughout the Bible the joy of the Lord – God is my delight my joy because I am know in a relationship with God the Father – I am His daughter – his son - I belong to the family of God. I inherit the blessings of Heaven and I rule with Him forever!
i. Sounds like a wonderful day to me!
Phase 8 - The Bridal Chamber
1. The Bride and groom enter the chamber were the marriage is consummated.
A. The wedding party waited outside the chamber - there would be a large crowd of wedding guests- friends of the groom’s father awaiting the news. Then the bridegroom would tell a trusted friend through the door that the marriage was consummated. Then the celebration would start.
1). This would last seven days the celebration and the couple would not be seen for seven days.
2). The next time the crowd would see the bride, she would have her veil off and would be a wife, not a bride.
2. Christology Application: The Holy Spirit uses the analogy of the bridal chamber to tells us that we can have an intimate relationship with Jesus. It’s communicating to us that it is a divine romance with the one who loved us so much he died for us. It is intimacy without shame anymore- our sins are wiped away – we are pure and holy in His sight and pleasing to Him. It’s the idea of producing life together – to replenish the Heavens with God’s love and Godly beauty.
A. Bickle notes, “Eph 5:30-32 - In other words, this verse refers to marriage union between Jesus Christ and the church. Jesus Christ is joined to us, His adoring bride, in the most powerful expression of divine intimacy possible. To be naked and unashamed means that all secrets have been unveiled and there is no shame. God trusts us with the secrets of His heart, secrets He will not even give to the angels” (page 121).
Final Phase: Married Life Begins
1. At the end of seven days of celebration the bride and groom would come out now husband and wife.
A. Then there would be a grand supper to celebrate their new life together forever.
1). Everyone would congratulate the couple and there would be wonderful joy.
2). Then the couple would leave to take up residence in the husband’s house.
3). They would reside in the kingdom he had prepared for them and their family.
2. Christology Application: This phase of our married life will be us reigning with Christ beside Him over the New Earth, the New Jerusalem. It’s a position of honor to be able to rule with Christ with the authority of an heir of the King of Kings.
These phases were adapted from Gregory Meade’s chart.
On the two thoughts found in Rev.19:9
Blessed is everyone invited to the celebration - All (THE BRIDES) are Christians before the rapture. All the guests are those saved after the rapture.
Our betrothal to Christ takes place at the point of salvation. Have you taken this step?
But the wedding ceremony occurs when Christ, the bridegroom, comes to take his bride. From Revelation 19: 7 the church is finally ready to enter into the long awaited union with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Question: Do you want to be a part of the celebration?
Bumper Sticker: Are you ready for the Heavenly party?
Thought from Mike Bickle:
One of the greatest problems with the church in America is the lack of wholeheartedness. Counseling ministries attempt to bring people to emotional wholeness, but if believers aren’t called to wholeheartedness, they will never enjoy emotional health. Loving and serving with a whole heart pleases the Lord, but there is more to it than that. Many believers attempt to live in the grace of God without abandonment to God. They look for a way to understand grace that reinforces their carnal lifestyles. We need to experience grace that leads us to the joy of wholehearted living and loving. A wholehearted God designed me to need and to long to be wholehearted!... The Bride should be fascinated and filled with wonder, to be awestruck and to marvel…I believe in the academic approach to the Word. I lead a full-time Bible school in our church, but I tell our students that study is not enough. Our knowledge of the Word must be applied with devotion toward the Lord. In our study, our hearts must be in quest of new discoveries of the beauty and the knowledge of God. To live before God with even a beginning measure of awe completely changes the way we look at sin “(pages 112-114).
Beth Sings about the Bridegroom fast:
Explanation of the song: This song reminds us that we should be mourning the loss of the Bridegroom who is gone at the moment. Jesus told the disciples of John this in Matthew 9: 14-15: “14Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
Mike Bickle highlights for us the message of Jesus: “Christ knew that once He was gone, the disciples’ desire longing and lovesickness for Him would cause them to mourn to be close to Him as in the days that He walked with them. That hunger to recover that same sense of closeness to Him would prove to be a key to their intimacy, power, anointing, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The disciples mourned for more of Him after His death and resurrection. This new mourning for Him would motivate and empower their fasting. I call this fasting by the power of lovesickness. Only Jesus could have thought of the unique paradigm to respond to spiritual lovesickness. Jesus combined the two seemingly divergent ideas into one. No other religion in the world has ever linked fasting to lovesickness” (Page 134).
Example of my uncle and others going through divorce.
Mike Bickle reminds us today why we should be fasting, longing aching for His return: “The Bridegroom fast is an invitation into greater realms of intimacy with the Bridegroom through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Bridegroom fast will be used by the Holy Spirit to unlock deep places of our hearts in spiritual intimacy. Fasting enables us to see spiritual things that we normally could not see. The increase will not happen overnight . In fact, it may not even happen much in the first months, but our level of intimacy with the Lord will grow over the years and seasons” (Page 141).
Come to the altar today and express your lovesickness to the Lord!