Summary: In prophecies about the falls of and Jerusalem and (figuratively) Babylon, actually separated by centuries, the writers said that the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard any longer in each city. What did these prophecies mean?
Note: There is a companion sermon to this one, titled THE VOICE OF THE BRIDE. I preached them on two consecutive worship assemblies, with this sermon being first, and THE VOICE OF THE BRIDE, following shortly afterward. Both sermons are on Sermon Central.
THE VOICE OF THE BRIDEGROOM
Turn to Revelation, chapter 18.
A great deal of Revelation is about the work of salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ, and its far-reaching, even its eternal effects. Written in prophetic symbolism, some of its details are difficult if not impossible to chart against time, streams of events, or figures in world history. But viewed as a fusion of causes and effects, we can easily understand its essentials, just as its earliest readers could.
The forces for good (those on the Lord’s side):
• The one on the throne
• 24 elders
• 4 living creatures
• The Lamb
• Angelic beings
• The two witnesses
• The woman clothed with the sun, who was with child
• The heavenly Jerusalem
Arrayed against these are the forces of evil - Satan’s power structure:
• The great red dragon
• The beast from the sea
• The beast from the earth
• The image of the first beast
• Fallen angelic beings
• The harlot who sat on the beast, drunk with the blood of the martyrs, and on whose forehead was written her name--Babylon
These are symbols, on the one hand, the God of heaven and earth, his Son, the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s church, and all those who serve him, some to the extent of laying down their lives. On the other hand, there are symbols for Satan, anti-God governments, the apostate church or false religion in general, false prophecy, and the world’s enticements to licentious, decadent living.
Babylon was one of the earliest cities in the world. It lay in the plain of Shinar, in what is now Iraq. The city was built by Nimrod the hunter, Noah's great grandson through Ham. At the beginning of the city’s history, an attempt was made to build a mighty tower there; but the effort was thwarted by God, who confused the languages. Because of its deplorable, sinful history, Babylon is used as a symbol of vices, sensual pleasures, and defiance of God.
Such was the case when John, exiled on the isle of Patmos, saw Babylon's destruction. Literally, it had lain in ruins for centuries then, and has never been rebuilt. In John's vision, Babylon was a figure of wickedness and rebellion. In its destruction, John saw a horrible and desolate scene. Among other descriptions, John wrote:
Rev. 18:21-23 - …the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer.
The day Babylon fell, Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, saw a man's hand writing a message on the wall of the king's palace, telling him Babylonian kingdom would be seized by the Medes and Persians. It occurred that very day, and the king was slain. Some years later, but still 500 years before John recorded the Revelation, Babylon’s fortifications were destroyed by Persian king Xerxes I, husband of Esther, for whom the Old Testament book is named.
II. The voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride
A few decades before Babylon’s fall, Jerusalem had fallen to Babylon. Jeremiah pleaded for repentance of Judah in the final years before Jerusalem's fall signaled the end of the kingdom of Judah. Four times he warned "the voice of the bridegroom and the bride will not be heard any longer," referring to Jerusalem's fall, should the people remain impenitent. (Jer. 7:34, 16:9, 25:8-10, 33:10-11)
The voices of the bridegroom and bride are the sounds of love--vibrant, fresh, alive and in full bloom. The voices are associated with gladness and rejoicing, both of a couple newly married and friends who wish them happiness in their new and blessed relationship.
These voices both show the joy of those who speak, and impart joy to those who hear.
III. The voice of Jesus
Perhaps neither Jeremiah nor John intended for their use of the figure to be applied to another Biblical figure - that of Jesus as the Bridegroom and the church as his bride. But the happiness, rejoicing and optimism where such voices are heard, and the barrenness where they are absent, are a striking parallel to these figures.
Jesus is consistently portrayed in the New Testament as the Bridegroom.
• One of His parables serves to encourage readiness for the Bridegroom's coming (Matt. 25:1-13).
• The picture of Jesus as the Bridegroom is blended with another portrayal of Jesus (as a Lamb), when in Revelation 21:9-10, John was shown the bride of the Lamb - the heavenly Jerusalem.
• Eph. 5:22-30 makes plain that the church is the bride in this marriage.