Everyone is familiar with wedding staples like tossing the bouquet and the first dance, but what about traditions from other countries and cultures?
The Blackening of the Bride: Scotland
The bride and groom are slathered from head to toe in every disgusting substance their friends can get their hands on. Curdled milk, rotten eggs, spoiled curry, fish sauces, mud, flour, sausages, every nasty thing you can imagine. As if that weren’t enough, the couple is then paraded about, with well-wishers making as much noise as possible.
Daur Chick Liver Tradition: Inner Mongolia, China
To select a wedding date, the young couple must take a knife and together slaughter a chick. The date is then divined by the appearance of the chick’s liver. If the liver has an unfortunate appearance, they must keep killing chicks until they find a good one.
Bathroom Moratorium: Tidong community, Indonesia/Malaysia
After the wedding, the bride and groom are not allowed to use the bathroom for three whole days. They cannot leave the house, clear their bowels or urinate. The couple is watched over and are allowed minimal amounts of food and drink. If the custom is not practiced, they believe it will bring bad luck to the couple, with consequences such as a broken marriage, infidelity or death of their children. After three days, the couple is allowed to return to normal life and begin their marriage.
Spitting on the Bride: Massai nation, Kenya
At a wedding ceremony held by the Massai people, the father of the bride blesses his daughter by spitting on her head and her body. She then leaves with her husband and does not look back for fear of turning into stone.
The Kissing Tradition: Sweden
If the groom leaves the room for any reason, all the other men at the wedding are allowed to kiss the bride. The same goes for the groom and female guests if the bride should leave the room.
Shooting the Bride: China
The Yugur people (an ethnic minority group in China) have a custom of the groom shooting three blunted arrows at his bride. He then breaks the arrows and the bow during the wedding ceremony, symbolizing that they will love and live with each other forever.
Guests arrive the night before the wedding, usually at the home of the bride, and break any porcelain object they can get their hands on. This act is thought to bring good luck to the couple. However, they cannot break glass, as it symbolizes happiness. After the porcelain has been broken, the couple cleans it up, which is supposed to teach them that married life will not be easy, but by working together, they can overcome any challenge.
Today we will be taking a look at Revelation chapter 19 and focusing on one particular passage. We will be looking at verses 6-9 which describe for us the “wedding supper of the Lamb.” There are not any specific wedding traditions mentioned in the passage, but the passage does give us a look at the second coming of Jesus Christ which is described as a wedding. We are also going to look at what various people and groups do while they wait for a wedding service.
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
We find in verse 6 that a chorus of voices begins to speak. There are so many voices shouting and speaking and cheering that the Apostle John describes it like rushing waters and thunder. If you have ever been to a crowded theater or a sports arena, you can imagine what John was hearing. The voices are all talking about God and talking to Him. As the passage about the “wedding supper of the Lamb” opens, our thoughts are immediately directed towards God the Father with the word “Hallelujah.” The phrase Hallelujah means “praise God” and we are directed to give honor and praise and worthiness to God because He “reigns.”
What does that mean exactly?
As Christians, we understand that God is sovereign and that He is ultimately and strongly in charge over all that exists. God is King of the Universe. God is the President/CEO/COO of everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. We also understand that God is eternal and He is very much the Foundation and Creator of our lives. We understand that God’s ways and His character are the standards for goodness, right, justice, evil, love, forgiveness, etc. and He is the final Judge and Authority about these things and about our lives.
Psalm 93:1-2 says, “The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.”
Psalm 97:1-2 says, “The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. 2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”
Psalm 99:1-5 says, “The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. 2 Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. 3 Let them praise your great and awesome name-- he is holy. 4 The King is mighty, he loves justice-- you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right. 5 Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.”
WHAT DO BRIDES DO WHILE WAITING? (Be the Bride)
I have never actually been a bride myself (“always the groom and never the bride”), but I can imagine what they do while they are waiting for their wedding to begin.
Before that fateful day arrives, most of the time it is the bride who gets guest lists together, sends out invitations, registers at stores, plans out cake tastings, and all of the practical aspects of planning a wedding. She picks out the thank you cards for all the gifts. Girls dream about weddings from the time they are little girls and so many brides know the what, when, were, how and just spend their time before the wedding day planning it out.
On the wedding day, the bride has one job and that to be the center of attention. That means the dress has to fit just right and lay correctly and look beautiful. That means hair must be styled special for the occasion. It means make-up and jewelry that were planned out for the day must all match and be applied perfectly.
The bride’s job while waiting for the wedding march to simply be the bride.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
There is also rejoicing in verse 7 because the time of the wedding of the Lamb has come and everything and everyone is prepared. In this passage in Revelation 19, we see that the bride of Jesus Christ (the Lamb) is the heavenly city which is also called the New Jerusalem which is the symbol of the Church. The Church is the community of people that are redeemed by Jesus’ blood.
This passage in Revelation is communicating to us that right now (today) believers are betrothed/ engaged to Jesus Christ. While we wait, we must be tempted, tested, and live out our lives with the aim of being faithful to God. One day the relationship will be cemented forever and the time away from God will be over. There will come a time when Jesus returns and believers are with God in Heaven forever.
This is not the only place where Heaven, life with God, the Christian faith, or the afterlife is described as a wedding or a wedding banquet. Ezekiel 16, Hosea 2, Matthew 22, Matthew 25, Luke 14, 2 Corinthians 11, and Ephesians 5 all use similar language.
2 Corinthians 11:2-3 shares with us, “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. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
WHAT DO GROOMS DO WHILE WAITING? (Be prepared)
I was once a groom. I seem to remember that I had one job and one job alone… just be ready and be prepared. I need to make sure I knew the schedule so I could be at the right places at the right times. I was supposed to be prepared with the rings. I was supposed to be prepared to stand in the right place, say the right things, shake the right hands, and generally be ready for whatever happened. I needed to have thank you gifts for the groomsmen ready.
The groom’s job while waiting for the wedding march to simply be prepared.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
As the “wedding supper of the Lamb” is further described in verse 8, we are given a mental picture of what the bride looks like and there is much symbolism. The bride of Jesus Christ is the Church. The Church are believers who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. We are the Bride of Christ!
The Church is seen as a bride in bright clean linen:
The word “bright” is used to remind us that in God’s sight we are radiant and not soiled by sin.
The word “clean” is used to reflect our purity, loyalty, and faithfulness to God our Father and to His Son Jesus Christ.
The word “linen” is used specifically because in this day linen was an expensive cloth used to make garments worn by priests and royalty.
Overall, in verse 8, believers are seen as those people who are marked as faithful by the blood of Jesus Christ and we are seen as radiant, pure, loyal, faithful, and worthy of being with God forever.
WHAT DOES THE WEDDING PARTY DO WHILE WAITING? (Be a servant)
It is the job of those in the wedding party to help and serve in many areas.
Before the wedding, the maid of honor's duties include coordinating the bridesmaids' activities, helping at the dress fitting and organizing the bridal shower and bachelorette party. She also helps the bride and groom with any preparatory errands or tasks, like addressing the invitations and keeping records of gifts. On the wedding day, the maid of honor helps the bride dress and accompanies her to the ceremony. She signs the marriage license as the bride's witness, arranges her veil and train during the processional and recessional, and holds her bouquet at the altar.
On the day of the wedding, the best man is most definitely a servant. He makes sure the groom gets to the ceremony site on time. He brings the bride's ring, traditionally holds the officiant's fee until after the ceremony, and signs the marriage license as the groom's witness. Afterward, he organizes the groomsmen for formal pictures, dances with the maid of honor, and orchestrates the toasts during the reception. Finally, he makes sure the getaway car is ready, with the couple's luggage inside.
The wedding party’s job while waiting for the wedding is to simply be a servant.
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.” I love how the HCSB translates this verse, “Then he said to me, “Write: Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are fortunate!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.”
We have a wonderful commentary here about that day when Jesus returns and the people of God are taken to Heaven to be with God. We all will be “Blessed!” We all will be “Fortunate!” It is a day unlike any other of celebration and praise for those who are in Christ. It is a day unlike any other of mourning and sorrow for those who are not in Christ.
Matthew 13:41-43 describes for us, “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 22:12-14 tells us, “'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. 13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."
I have got to tell you that Hell is most definitely real and it is full of weeping and suffering. Heaven on the other hand is full of the presence of God. We know this to be true because the end of Revelation 19:9 points out the fact that this vision and the description of reality after this life comes from the Almighty God. These are His Words!
WHAT DOES THE AUDIENCE DO WHILE WAITING? (Be persevering)
Perhaps the most torturous position to be in at a wedding is in the audience. I say it is torturous because the only thing for anyone to do while waiting for the wedding to begin is just sit and wait. There is not a job to do. There are no presents to sneak and look at. There is no food to sample. It isn’t even a day that you will celebrate moving forward… the day has absolutely nothing to do with you as someone watching.
You sit. You rise when the bride walks in. You sit. You endure the bride’s third best friend butcher some 1990s love song. You sit. You wait. You throw rice at people or maybe blow some bubbles. You wait. You wait. You wait. Then you sit and eat overpriced food somebody bought. Then you go home.
All you did all day was sit and sit and wait and wait… you must persevere.
Right now, all of us are in the same boat. We are all waiting for Jesus Christ to return. We are all waiting for the “wedding supper of the Lamb” to begin so our relationships with God can become fully what they were promised we could be.
What should we do while we wait?
How should we wait?
What should our lives look like while we wait to be united with Christ?
First, we must focus on “being the bride.” We need to look the part, act the part, sound the part, and change out insides to be worthy of Jesus Christ. That is called sanctification (which is a big church word). Sanctification is becoming the person God wants us to be each and every day. Sanctification is taking our faith seriously. As I combine those thoughts with Revelation 19, I think about focusing on purity, loyalty towards God, and faithfulness to Him. We must focus on being the bride.
Second, we must focus on “being prepared.” I imagine that being prepared means we know what we believe and why and we are able to share that with others. That means reading the Bible and living it out. That means praying and listening to God. That means making decisions that reflect our faith. It also means we tithe and keep money in perspective. As I combine these thoughts with Revelation 19, I want to live my life so that I am found faithful when I die and I am prepared.
Third, we must focus on “being a servant.” Jesus Christ makes an emphasis often in His interactions with the disciples and with others that we are to serve those around us. We are to seek out those in need and aid them. We are to give to the orphans and the widows and those in distress. It is a worthy focus for us while we wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ to serve those around us.
Fourth, we must focus on persevering through life and remaining faithful. Life is not always easy. Life is difficult. People can be difficult. Relationships can cause us stress. Medical issues can plague us and cause us to doubt. What we need to do is persevere in faith.
What should we do while we wait?
How should we wait?
What should our lives look like while we wait to be united with Christ?
Be the bride.
Be a servant.