The Marriage of the Lamb
March 3rd, 1963 @ 10:50 AM
THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-03-63 10:50 a.m.
On the radio, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the 11:00 o’clock morning message entitled The Marriage of the Lamb. In our preaching through the Bible, after these many, many years we have come to the Apocalypse, and in our preaching through the Revelation, we have come after these several years to the nineteenth chapter of the last book of the Bible.
If you would like to open your Bible to that passage, you can easily follow the exposition of the first nine verses included in the text of this morning. Revelation 19:1-9: "And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah!’" In your English King James Version, it’s spelled there "Alleluia." That’s because it has been translated out of the Greek; the Greek language could not translate well, could not spell out in the Greek alphabet a pronunciation [of] the Hebrew "Hallelujah." But the English can. We can do it exactly, just like it is in Hebrew, and in Hebrew it’s "Hallelujah," "Praise the Lord."
I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and honor and power unto the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Hallelujah! And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four cherubim fell down and worshiped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah! And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye His servants and ye that fear Him, both small and great! And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him – (did you hear that in the anthem, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him"?) – for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.
What a passage! What a consummation! What an anticipation! The passage begins with four Hallelujah choruses. Two of them are retrospective, two of them are prospective. The first Hallelujah is over the destruction of the great whore, Mystery Babylon, the scarlet woman with the golden cup in her hand. When she is destroyed, all heaven says, "Hallelujah!"
The second Hallelujah is over the destruction of the city, Babylon. "And her smoke rose up for ever and ever." The weight of Babylon lies heavy on the hearts of God’s holy universe, and when she is destroyed, when the final apostasy of evil and wicked and depraved and Christ-rejecting men come to pass, when that final apostasy is destroyed, all heaven feels the triumph of the glory and grace of God: "And they said, Hallelujah! And her smoke rose up for ever and ever."
Then the next Hallelujah: "And the four and twenty elders and the four cherubim fell down and worshiped God that sat on the throne saying, Amen! Hallelujah!" You first come to that word "Amen" in the fifth chapter of Numbers and in the twenty-second verse. "Amen." It is the word of divine ratification of sacred sanctification. It is the word of avowal, of commitment to truth, of seal, of affirmation. It is the highest word of praise that human speech can utter.
In the seventy-second Psalm, for example, "He" – talking about our Lord –
He shall have dominion from sea to sea,
And from the river unto the ends of the earth.
His name shall endure forever.
Blessed be His glorious name,
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory: Amen, and Amen.
The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.
That’s the highest word of sealing affirmation. And those who were near it and most intimate to the throne, they said, "Amen! Hallelujah!"
Then the fourth Hallelujah: "A voice out of the throne said, Praise God" – that’s hallelujah – "Praise God, all ye servants, small and great!" Then there was a mighty voice of a vast, innumerable multitude, and it sounded like the roar and the thunder of the falling many waters. And in answer to that voice from the throne, these thunderings and these many voices cried, "Hallelujah! For the Lord God pantokrator reigneth." Then it continued with the sublime and exalted announcement, "’Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. And the fine linen is the dikaiomata" – the righteousnesses, plural – "of the saints."
Well, what a day! What a prospect! What a consummation! What a victory! What a triumph! "For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife, His bride, hath made herself ready. And for her was granted that she be arrayed in fine linen," lustrous, iridescent, white like the light of the glory of God; "And that fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints."
So at the marriage supper of the Lamb and at the marriage of the Lamb, we have first the Bridegroom. The Bridegroom is Christ, referred to as the Lamb, speaking of His blood-bought redemptive relationship with us who have been saved by His grace. The Bridegroom is Christ, the Lamb of God, our Savior. How many times will you read from His own blessed lips the reference to Himself as the Bridegroom?
For example, in the ninth chapter of the first gospel, when the Pharisees and others were finding fault with His disciples that they didn’t fast, our Lord replied, "Well, how could the disciples fast when the Bridegroom is with them? But the day will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away. Then shall my disciples fast" [Matthew 9:14-15]. He is the Bridegroom.
In the twenty-second chapter of the first Gospel, He tells the story of the marriage of the king’s son and of the wedding garment, and He is the son of the king who is being married. He is the Bridegroom [Matthew 22:1-3]. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the first Gospel, our Lord tells the parable of the ten maidens, of the ten virgins, and their going out to meet the Bridegroom when He cometh, and the Bridegroom is the Savior, the Lamb of God.
John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Bridegroom. In John’s Gospel, the third chapter and the twenty-ninth verse, John says, "He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom. He must increase, but I must decrease" [John 3:30]. He is the Bridegroom. And the apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of 2 Corinthians, verse 2, and the apostle Paul in the passage that you just read, in the fifth chapter of the Book of Ephesians, refers to Jesus as the Bridegroom, the husband of the wife God is preparing for Him.
Now, who is the bride? The bride is the church of our Christ. The bride is not the Old Testament Israel. Old Testament Israel in Isaiah, in Ezekiel, and in Hosea is described as the wife of Jehovah. And she is now a put-away wife. She is a divorced wife. She is a repudiated wife because of her idolatry and her adultery and because of her rejection of her great Maker to whom God married her.
But when she is restored and when she comes back, no restored wife is ever referred to as a virgin, but this bride is a virgin. For example, in the second Corinthians letter, eleventh chapter, verse 2, Paul says, "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin unto Christ," and in the fifth chapter of the Book of Ephesians that you read, "For we are members of His body, of His bones, and of His flesh. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is the great musterion, but I speak concerning Christ and his church" [Ephesians 5:30-32].
The bride married to our Lord is the household of faith. Out of all of the languages, and tribes, and families, and peoples of the earth, among the Jews, from the Gentiles, in the barbarians, the Scythians, the provincials over this earth, God is now calling out a people for His name, that He might present them unto the Lord at the great marriage day of the Lamb, and that bride is His church. And God is preparing her now for that incomparable, meaningful, significant, celestial presentation. "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. And that linen is the righteousnesses of the saints." So the Lord preparing the bride of our Christ against that beautiful wedding day – ah, what a holiness, what a gladness, what triumph, what prospect, what victory for the Lord’s own people!
"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen which is the righteousnesses of the saints." You see, there are two robes that the bride of Christ, that a Christian shall wear, like a Roman, like our Lord Himself. Our Lord wore an inner garment that a Roman would call a tunic. Our Lord also wore at times, I would suppose, an outer garment, a loose-fitting outer garment that the Romans called a toga. And both of those garments, the inner garment that Christ gives us, and the outer garment, the weaving of our own works, we shall wear in that beautiful, great consummating day of our Lord.
There is a garment, an inner garment of justification by faith, which is the gift of God. There is also an outer garment of our obediences to the mandates and commandments of our Lord. There is an inner garment of imputation, the righteousness that comes to a child of God by faith. There is also an outer garment, the deeds by which we have sought to adorn the doctrine and to glorify the name of our Savior. There is positional righteousness that a Christian has that is given him by our Lord.
There is also a practical righteousness that we have in doing good deeds for our Lord. So the inner garment is something that Christ bestows upon us when He washes our sins away, when we wash our robes, our souls, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. But there is also an outer garment that we shall wear, which is woven of our own hands and is made up of all of those things we have sought to do and did pray to do for our blessed Jesus. "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; and the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints."
Well, it says here, "His wife hath made herself ready." She has her garments beautiful and white and ready to go into the marriage of her Lord. Well, when did she make herself ready? When were all of those rewards given to her? How was that beautiful robe so arrayed and adorned? We’re told very plainly that. Paul says in the second Corinthians letter and the fifth chapter, "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." That’s not the great white throne judgment, when God assigns to perdition and damnation all of those who rejected Him. This is the judgment seat, the bema of our Lord, before which all of His people shall stand, that we shall receive the things done in the body, whether they be good or bad. That is the great reward judgment.
We shall stand before our Christ when we are taken up into heaven, and there shall our works be tried as if by fire. And if our works are wood and hay and stubble, they are burned. They are destroyed. If our works are gold and silver and precious stones, they adorn that beautiful wedding garment when we go in to be presented to the Lamb, "for His wife hath made herself ready."
Some of our people shall have beautiful garments: all of the good things they have done and the work by which they have dedicated a beautiful life to our Lord. Their garments shall sparkle with the jewels of heaven, the rewards at the precious hands of Jesus. Some of us are going to be practically naked, "saved as if by fire," all of their works burned up, all of them. Man, if I had about an hour and half around here, I’d like to describe some of the things our people do, going to be burned up by fire. They’re going to be saved as if by fire, as if they ran out of the house naked. Oh, what a day, what a day!
"His wife hath made herself ready." O Lord, that in that glorious hour when God shall give us of the fruit of our hand, of the deeds of our lives, that they shall be many. "Therefore, my beloved brethren" – how often does Paul plead with us? – "therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your work is not in vain in the Lord" [1 Corinthians 15:58]. It shall belong to you forever and forever, God’s eternal reward: the beautiful robe, in the typology here, the beautiful robe of our weaving, "when the wife hath made herself ready."
Now the marriage itself; isn’t that a strange thing, the things God’s Book omits? Nothing is said about it; nothing. No word is used in describing it. The Greek word here says, "For the marriage of the Lamb elthen" – aorist; that’s all, just the fact of it. Apparently it has passed. By the time this thing comes to pass, it’s over with. John just hears the Hallelujah chorus announcing it; then he has a word to say about the wife, the bride of Christ who’s made herself ready; then he describes the robe of our righteousnesses that shall be ours at the bema of Christ; then he never refers to the actual wedding itself. It just happened, and all heaven burst into "Hallelujah!" concerning it, but there’s no word about the ceremony itself.
Well, let me speculate. What kind of a ceremony do you suppose it will be when the bride is presented to our Lord? What will happen? Now, this is an imaginative speculation. This is just something your pastor thinks in his head. There’s nothing in the Bible about it, but this is just a possibility.
"And there came unto me one of the seven angels who had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and he talked with me, saying, ‘Come hither; I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife" – and I have a little bit to say about that in a minute if time will permit – "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" [Revelation 21:9-10].
Now, this is what I think; this is a speculation. This is what I think. Do you remember when the tabernacle was completed and all things were ready? And do you remember the beautiful ceremony, how God came down and how the people worshiped and how their hearts were filled with wonder and amazement and glory? Remember that? Do you also remember when the Solomonic temple was completed? Why, they couldn’t even enter in because of the presence of the glory of God. And do you remember those ceremonies and those feasts and all of those marvelous things that attended the dedication of Solomon’s temple, as the dedication of the tabernacle? Remember those things in the Bible? They’re so long and extended and glorious.
Now, this is just my thought. When God brings His bride, when God brings His people and He sets us in that holy and beautiful city, that is going to be the ceremony of our marriage to the Lamb. I don’t know what it would be. You can just think a whole lot of things that could happen, and a whole lot of things God could do, and a world of beautiful, marvelous, meaningful ceremonies when God takes His resurrected people and places them in that holy city, the New Jerusalem, our heavenly and eternal home. Well, it’s just speculation, but it’s a pretty good one. That’s right. That’s right. It’s a beautiful thing. That’s going to be the marriage of the Lamb, when the Lord takes His people and He places them in the beautiful city of God.
Now, we’ve got to hurry. That’s what’s the matter with your preacher: he gets to speculating and pretty soon the time is all gone. Now, I want to speak of the marriage supper. "And he saith unto me" – now this is after the marriage – "and he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. These are the true sayings of God." The wedding is one thing, the marriage is one thing; the supper, the feast, the refreshments, the banqueting is something altogether different. The bride is wed, the guests sup, and the angels are the spectators. Had they been the same thing, had all of the saints of all times been the bride, then the angel would have commanded John to write, saying, "Blessed are they who are the wife, who are the bride of the Lamb," but he didn’t do any such thing. After he announces the wedding of the Lamb, elthen, after it’s over, and after he describes the preparations, the beautiful garments of the bride, then he says something else: "Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb," something altogether different.
And you’ll find that difference expressly said in the Word of God. For example, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, there are these ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. There are those ten virgins who are going out to meet the Bridegroom. Where’s the bride? She’s in the house. She’s in the father’s house, and these friends of the Bridegroom and of the bride, they are there to meet them and to rejoice with them and to enter into the festivities, the gladnesses of the nuptials. They are there to share in the feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb. It would have been no thought of those ten virgins that they were going in to be the bride. They are the friends, they are the guests, and they’re waiting until the couple comes out and they can enter in with them to the feast, to the supper, to those bridal refreshments.
Let’s take another one. In this passage that I read in the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation: "Come hither, and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away and he showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending from God, adorned as a bride for her husband." Now, in that city, I think you’ll find all of God’s children. But there is a bride there, and then there are her attendants and her companions and her friends, and the whole thing is called the bride because they do honor and glory to her. And there is the bride in the city and all of the friends and companions and attendants; that’s their home, the bride and the guests. This blessedness is a great, broader blessing than is the bride. "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb."
Now let’s take one of them for example, one of those guests, one of those honored guests: John the Baptist. John the Baptist died before the cross. He was never a part of the church of Jesus Christ. He belonged and he died in an "old dispensation," and that’s why John will say in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, "He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom, but the friend of the Bridegroom, who standeth and heareth his voice, rejoiceth greatly. This therefore, my joy, is full." John is not a part of the bride. John is not a part of the church. John is a guest. John is a friend who stands and rejoices in the favor of God upon the couple who are married.
That’s why, I think, in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Matthew and the eleventh verse, speaking of John the Baptist, our Lord says, "Verily I say unto you, that of men born of woman there’s not a greater than John the Baptist. But he that is least in the kingdom of heaven" – in the dispensation and age of our Lord’s church – "he that is least is greater than John." Why? Because the least of us who’ve been saved, the humblest, we will belong to the bride of our Lord. We belong to His church. But these are the guests who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb; but they don’t belong to that body God is calling out especially for Jesus.
And now, lest somebody might think that they were less honored and less blessed – these guests of the old dispensation – the commandment was given to John, "John, you write down a special blessing for them. Blessed are they, the guests, who were called to the marriage supper of the Lamb," a special blessing for the saints of the Old Covenant. Why, bless your heart. I can just see that, at the marriage supper of the Lamb and these honored guests come in. I suppose John the Baptist will be the most honored of all. And he comes in and is seated at the great banquet of our Lord. And maybe Abraham is next, who saw the day of our Lord and rejoiced in seeing it. Then think of those who come: all of the prophets, all of God’s children who lived in the old age and under the old covenant. And they sit down and break bread in that feast of our blessed Lord.
Now, in the little moment that remains – and then I have to quit – I want to speak of that feast of our Lord, the marriage supper of the Lamb. That’s one of the most mentioned of all of the things that you will find in the Bible. For example, in the twenty-fifth chapter of Isaiah:
And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto His people a feast of fat things. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil which is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe away tears off all faces, and the rebuke of the people shall He take away from off the earth. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us (that is our Lord): we have waited for Him, and we’ll be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest,
Then in the next chapter is a song: "And in that day shall this song be sung." That’s that marvelous wedding feast of the Lamb.
Do you remember the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Luke, as the Lord sat down with His disciples at the Passover? "With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you For I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" [Luke 22:15-16]. And do you remember again at the feast when He executed the Lord’s Supper: "I say unto you, I will not henceforth drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom," looking forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb; "until I drink it new with you" – a new kind [Matthew 26:29].
You know, people are sometimes so disturbed about Jesus changing water into wine, and they suppose – this is all supposition – they suppose that when Jesus turned that water into wine that He did something by which He could make people drunk. Well, did you ever read the story? Read it, it says this: when they brought that wine, that fruit of the vine that our Lord had made out of water, when the man tasted it, he said, "I never tasted fruit of the vine, grape juice, wine, I never tasted it like this. It’s a new kind." It’s the kind we shall drink at the marriage supper of the Lamb. A beautiful, heavenly, celestial wine prepared by the hand of God.
And did you know, when Melchizedek brought those celestial elements and spread them out before Abraham, bread he broke and the fruit of the vine he drank? And when we gather around the table of the Lord and bread we break and the fruit of the vine we drink, it is a prophecy and it is a foretaste of that beautiful and heavenly banquet when we sit down with our Lord at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Now, I want to read this to you. This is a quaint old hymn, and it describes that day: "There be," in presence at that marriage supper,
There be prudent prophets all,
The apostles six and six,
The glorious martyrs in a row,
And confessors in betwixt,
And though the glory of each one
Doth differ in degree,
Yet is the joy of all alike
And common certainly.
There David stands with harp in hand,
As master of the choir.
– Now, he’ll let you take over a little later, but to begin with –
There David stands with harp in hand,
As master of the choir.
A thousand times that man were blest
That may his music hear.
There Mary sings "Magnificat"
With tune surpassing sweet,
And all the maidens bear their part,
Singing at her feet.
"Te Deum" doth saintly Ambrose sing,
And Augustine the same.
Old Simeon and Zacharias
Anew their songs inflame.
Mary Magdalene hath left her tears
And cheerfully doth sing
With all those saints whose harmony
Through every street doth ring.
And in that holy company
May you and I find place,
Through worth of Him that died for us.
And through His glorious grace,
With cherubim and seraphim
And hosts of ransomed men,
To sing our praises to the Lamb,
And add our glad "Amen."
"And He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen. The prayers of David are ended." What a glory, what a blessedness, what a heavenly prospect God hath given to us!
Now, while we sing our song, somebody you, giving his heart and trust to the Lord Jesus, or a family you, coming into the fellowship of our church, or one somebody you, as God shall say the word and as the Spirit shall lead in the way, while we sing this hymn of appeal, make it this morning. Coming on a confession of faith, "Preacher, here I am; I take the Lord as my Savior." Or coming to put your life with us in the church by letter or by statement, as God shall open the doors and say the word, come and stand by me, while all of us sing our hymn together, prayerfully, earnestly standing for this appeal.
THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The four hallelujah choruses – two retrospective, two prospective
A. Over the destruction of the great whore, Mystery Babylon(Revelation 19:1-2)
B. Over the destruction of the city, Babylon(Revelation 19:3)
C. Expression of the highest word of sealing affirmation from those most intimately connected with the throne(Revelation 19:4, Numbers 5:22, Psalm 72:8, 17-20)
D. An answer to a call from the throne itself(Revelation 19:5-6)
II. The Bridegroom is Christ
A. The Lamb, our blessed atoning Savior, our Redeemer
B. Christ refers to Himself as the Bridegroom (Matthew 9:14-15, 22:1-3, 25:1-10)
C. John the Baptist referred to Christ as the Bridegroom(John 3:29-30)
D. Paul refers to Christ as the Bridegroom (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:23-32)
III. The Bride is His church
A. Not Israel
1. In the Old Testament Israel is the wife of Jehovah – now a divorced wife, repudiated wife because of her idolatry and adultery
a. She is restored, forgiven, comes back a virgin(2 Corinthians 11:2)
B. The bride married to our Lord is the household of faith
1. Nearest and dearest to Him (Ephesians 5:25-27, 30-32)
2. Gathered out of all tribes, families, peoples of the earth
C. Her preparation, readiness, garments(Revelation 19:7-8)
1. Inner garment of justification by faith, the gift of God
2. Outer garment of our obediences to commandments of our Lord
3. Positional righteousness given by our Lord
4. Practical righteousness in doing good deeds for the Lord
D. Made herself ready(2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:11-16, 15:58)
IV. The marriage
A. John did not see it, nor was it explained to him – only heard the heavenly rejoicing over it(Revelation 19:7)
B. May be a ceremony when we enter the New Jerusalem, a place Christ has gone to prepare for us(John 14:2)
2. The temple solemnities by Solomon
V. The wedding supper
A. The marriage is one thing, the feast is another
B. The bride and the guests are clearly distinguished
1. Blessedness of the marriage supper reaches wider than that of being the bride(Matthew 25:1-13, Revelation 21:9-10)
2. John the Baptist calls himself a friend of the Bridegroom(John 3:39)
a. He is not a part of the church; he is a guest(Matthew 11:11)
3. Special blessing for the guests, the saints of the old covenant
C. The Scriptures have much to say about the marriage feast(Isaiah 25:6-10, 26:1-4, 19, Luke 22:15-16, Matthew 26:29)
1. Hymn, "There be prudent prophets allâ€¦"