For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
What Is His Name?
With disarming candour our brother and fellow sufferer, John, tells us how he became so overwhelmed by the greatness of his visions on the isle of Patmos that he did his best to worship a heavenly being, and was only prevented by a stern reproof from the angel in question (Revelation 19:10).
It was enough to bewilder the strongest mind, this succession of singing multitudes and trumpets and beasts and fearsome outpourings of judgment. Nevertheless it was none of these which swept John away: he boldly faced and faithfully recorded them all. The prospect which sent him crashing to the angel's feet was the truth which should completely overwhelm us, which is the revelation of the Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom. John the Baptist had referred to this aspect of Christ's glory, but without identifying the bride (John 3:29). Again, the Lord Himself had told parables about His wedding (Matthew 22:1 and 25:6), but had not indicated who would compose the bride. Paul had yearned over wayward Corinthian Christians (2 Corinthians 11:2) and sought to inspire the saints of Ephesus in the light of this great 'mystery' (Ephesians 5:32). Now, however, John saw the vague prospect changed into thrilling reality. Amid the chorus of heaven's Alleluias he heard that the marriage of the Lamb had come, and was confronted with the stupendous fact that justified sinners are to provide the Bridegroom with His beloved wife.
John collapsed, as well he might. Great indeed is this mystery of the eternal intimacy of Christ and His Church. At first John could not believe his eyes and ears. The angel had to stress that "these are the true sayings of God" (Revelation 19:9). Was not every word of this revelation true? Did John ever have cause to doubt the angelic utterances which had been coming to him during those days of heavenly vision? Why, then, this special insistence that these words about the marriage supper of the Lamb were authentically from God? Surely because the truth is so stupendous that it seems incredible and takes one's breath away. If only the false claimants to be the special 'bride of Christ' and the theological disputants about her identity, and the rest of us who glibly take prophetic truths in our stride, could truly realise what this marriage means – what it means to us – we would fall as prostrate as John did.
Yet the important point is not what it means to us, but rather what it means to our Lord. This is to be His Day. He planned for it. He suffered and died for it. He patiently and persistently pursues His sanctifying work in the Church for this – for His own wedding day. We should feel like John the Baptist; what does it matter what our part is, let us find our supreme joy in His felicity. Blessed indeed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb, so that they can witness what Isaiah meant when he affirmed: "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:12).
A thousand years after the wedding day, Christ's consort is still called: "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Revelation 21:9). All the initial wonder of this closest of all relationships will only give place to ever fresh and deepening wonder, as the saints live and reign with their most beloved Bridegroom. Incredible as it may seem, John again committed the blunder of trying to worship an angel, apparently as the effect of this full vision of the city which is the Lamb's bride (Revelation 22:8). The herald angel refused John's worship, but rather claimed to be a fellow-servant with him and with the rest of us who serve God here on earth. From this it would seem that this supreme climax of man's history with God, the marriage of His Son, is also the objective of heavenly service as well as earthly. All God's servants are to concentrate on bringing about the Father's determination that His Son should find full satisfaction in His bride.
It is important for us to note that it was given to her to be dressed in righteousnesses (Revelation 19:8). Why the plural? Perhaps this is a reminder that the imputed righteousness so freely given to believers is to be accompanied by the appropriation and expression of imparted righteousness. Our preparation consists in learning to live righteously and godly in this present world. This is our first priority. If we claim Christ as Bridegroom we must be careful to make ourselves spiritually ready for the day of His supreme happiness.
Toward The Mark: Vol. 2, No. 5, Sep. - Oct. 1973.