Summary: John observes the most elegant and exciting wedding banquet he’s ever seen... and then he bows down to the angel who’s guiding him. Why would he do that?
OPEN: Weddings are times of excitement and great celebration, and different cultures have different ways of celebrating their marriages.
• In Bulgaria – the bride tosses a dish filled with wheat, coins and a raw egg over her head. If the dish breaks it signifies good luck to come.
• African weddings often involve wine, wheat, pepper, salt, honey, bitter herbs, water, a pot and spoon, a broom, a spear, a shield, and a copy of the Bible. Each one represents a different aspect of the love and strength which unites two families.
• In the Caribbean it’s customary for the mother of the bride to make and then pass on the recipe for the wedding cake called the "Black Cake." The basic ingredients include a dozen fresh eggs, a pound of flour, a pound of brown sugar, a pound of butter, and a pound of glazed cherries, raisins, prunes, currants.
Each of those customs represents the value and importance that that culture sees in marriage.
Marriage is seen as one of the greatest events in their lives
And that’s the very imagery God wants to place in our minds here in Revelation 19.
When Jesus comes again, there’s going to be a great wedding feast.
It’s going to be one of the greatest events in our lives.
1000s upon 1000s of people and angels will gathered in a great celebration.
Folks will be all dressed up in the finest of clothing.
There’s going to be a lot of shouting and singing and rejoicing.
And the excitement will seemingly never end.
(pause) God loves marriage.
God created marriage for us.
God performed the first marriage in the garden with Adam and Eve.
And God uses the idea of marriage to explain His relationship with us in the church.
In Ephesians 5 Paul explains how Christian husbands and wives should treat each other.
Then he writes "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Eph 5:31-32
Even when Paul (guided by the Spirit of God) even when he’s talking about physical marriage he can’t avoid explaining the more powerful application of this ceremony.
Jesus is the groom and the church is His bride
When Jesus comes again, He’s going to bring us as His bride into His father’s house.
And then we’re going to live with Him there forever.
It’s the ultimate Cinderella story. And all of the old fairy tales about Prince Charming and his bride couldn’t even begin to compare with what we’re going to experience at 2nd coming.
And so in Revelation 19, God is trying to get us to see that when Jesus comes again, and this great wedding feast takes place, it’s going to be one of the greatest events in our lives. NOTHING we’ve ever known will even begin to compare with what we’ll experience on that day.
(pause) But then – here in Revelation 19 – we see the oddest thing.
John is so overwhelmed by what he sees that he starts to bow down at the feet of the angel.
In Revelation 19:10 John tells us
“At this I fell at his feet to worship him (the angel)
But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!...”
What had happened?
Why had John done this?
Why – in the middle of observing this great wedding feast - why would John bow down and begin to worship this angel.
Well… John got distracted.
He saw all the festivities, the crowds, the excitement, the celestial celebration, and he just figured the angel was part of the deal. And since he couldn’t bow down to God at that moment John decided to settle for the next best thing.
The next best thing (pause)
You know it’s not that unusual for people to do that. There are lots of folks who are willing to settle for the next best thing. They make decisions all the time where they settle for something less than the best. They even do it with marriage.
ILLUS: According to my research – in the United States of America – the marriage rate has declined almost 20% from 1995 thru 2005. The same study found that the number of couples “living together” went up 10 fold from 500,000 in 1970 to 5 million today. (The National Marriage Project reported by The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing 6/13/08)
Another study (done on-line by AOL and Zogby) found that nearly half of their respondents (44%) between the ages of 20 and 69 said they didn’t need marriage to validate their relationships. And a majority of those in their 30s (73%) said they would prefer to live together before marriage. (an online survey by AOL Personals and Zogby International taken in November 2007)