The Marriage of the Lamb
Issue No. 215
The marriage of the Lamb occurs after the fall of Babylon. This is clearly seen in the order of events in Revelation 17-19. In chapter 17 Babylon is portrayed as the great harlot, the counterfeit bride. In chapter 18 we see the fall of Babylon and the exposure of the counterfeit bride for who she really is. Then in Revelation 19 we are told of the marriage of the Lamb in verses 7-9,
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. 8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he said to me, Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true words of God.
To understand these things properly, we must break out of our Western Culture, where weddings take place before the marriage supper (“the reception”). In biblical times it was the other way around. The wedding feast, or marriage supper, was normally held for one week.
The Example of Jacob’s Marriage
When Jacob had completed his seven-year labor (as a substitute for the dowry), he then asked Laban to give him Rachel as his wife. Gen. 29:21 says,
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22 And Laban gathered all the men of the place, and made a feast.
How long was this feast? It lasted one week, as we read in verses 27 and 28. In The New Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, page 58, we read,
“The usual duration of a wedding feast was a week. Thus, ‘Finish this daughter’s bridal week’ in Genesis 29:27 meant to complete the week of festivities for the bride and groom.”
In this example, at the end of the week, Laban gave Jacob Leah, rather than Rachel. Since she was probably veiled, and the tent was dark, and Jacob was probably a bit dull from too much wine, he did not know the difference until the following morning. But when he discovered that his wife was “weak eyed,” or cross-eyed, then he knew it was Leah, not Rachel.
Jacob, of course, was angry and confronted Laban. Laban made the excuse that the older had to be married before the younger and suggested that Jacob work for him another seven years for Rachel.
27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years. 28 And Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife.
In other words, they had another week of feasting, and then Laban gave him Rachel as his wife as well. But this obligated Jacob to work for Laban for another seven years.
The Example of Samson’s Marriage
Another good example of a biblical wedding feast is found in the story of Samson.
In Judges 14 we read how Samson became engaged to marry a Philistine woman from the town of Timnah (14:2). His parents objected, of course, saying in verse 3,
3. . . “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” . . . 4 However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel.
God’s purpose was to judge the Philistines for their deceitful ways. So God set them up by exposing their injustice and deceit through Samson’s marriage plans. As the story goes, we read in verse 10,
10 Then his father went down to the woman; and Samson made a feast there, for the young men customarily did this.
Here we are given the added detail that “the young men customarily did this.” It was customary that before the man claimed his wife, he would get together with his friends and hold a wedding feast for a week. Though modern Hebrew weddings bring the bride to the wedding feast, this is probably due to the fact that today such feasts are seldom a week-long festivity. It is the bride’s wedding day, not the wedding week.
Yet even if the bride should attend the wedding feast, she was to do so veiled. In that way, she was actually kept separate from the groom until later. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, under “Marriage,” we read,
“A friend sometimes did the whole business of selecting the bride for the bridegroom; and in modern days the bridegroom seldom sees the face of his wife until the actual moment of marriage, or until after the ceremony.”
In Samson’s day it is plain that the guests feasted for an entire week without the bride being given to the groom. At the beginning of the week, Samson made a wager with his thirty friends (her relatives) that if they could solve a riddle, he would give them each a new robe. If they could not, then they would give him thirty robes.
At the end of the week, they were able to solve the riddle, but only by cheating. They threatened to burn the bride and her house with fire unless she told them the answer. To save her own life, she was then forced to deceive Samson into telling her the answer, so that she could tell the others. Thus, they gave him the correct answer “on the seventh day” (Judg. 14:18). Samson then went out and killed thirty Philistines, took their robes, and gave it to his “friends” to satisfy the wager.
20 But Samson’s wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.
Plainly, the marriage had not yet been consummated, even after seven days of feasting at the marriage supper. This suggests that the marriage supper in Revelation 19 does not follow the wedding, but precedes it.
The Location of the Marriage Feast
Normally, a wedding feast was held at the groom’s house, sponsored by his father. However, this was often reversed (as in the case of Samson) when there was some distance between the two houses. David says, “she is escorted to the bridegroom’s house, where the marriage-feast is held.”
According to A Dictionary of the Bible, by John D. Davis,
“A feast was served at the house of the groom or of his parents (Mat. xxii. 1-10; John ii. 1, 9); but if he lived at a great distance the feast was spread in the house of the bride’s parents (Mat. xxv. 1), either at their expense or the groom’s. . .”
What does this tell us about the marriage supper of the Lamb? There is a “great distance” between heaven and earth; therefore, the wedding feast is to be held at the bride’s house, but no doubt at the groom’s expense. In other words, the wedding feast is held on earth, not in heaven. Davis then says,
“Having received his bride, deeply veiled, from her parents with their blessing and the good wishes of friends (Gen. xxiv. 59; Ruth iv. 11; Tob. vii. 13) he conducted the whole party back to his own or his own father’s house with song, music, and dancing. . .”
So it is only AFTER THE WEDDING FEAST that the groom brings the bride to his or his father’s house.
The Garments of the Wedding Feast
The bride is given her white robe at the beginning of the wedding feast, which represents the immortal body. Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:1-4 that we long to be “clothed” with that tabernacle from above, “in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
Isaiah 61:10 makes reference to this as well:
10 I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.
While Revelation 19:8 speaks only of the robe of righteousness, Isaiah speaks of garlands and jewels. Davis tells us more:
“After putting on her finest garments, around her waist was wound a peculiar girdle (KISHURIM, the attire, Jer. ii. 32); and over her head was thrown the veil or long shawl (Gen. xxix. 25), covering the whole figure; while on her head was set a crown ornamented with jewels, or a chaplet of leaves and flowers (KALLAH, chaplet, also bride). A pair of ornamented slippers were a gift from the husband before marriage.”
The “peculiar girdle” is a symbol of the belt of truth in Eph. 6:14 and forms part of our spiritual armor. This tells us that truth is essential if one wants to be part of the bride.
The “veil or long shawl” is also part of the wedding garment, because it signifies the authoritative covering of the groom. The crown symbolized the walls of Jerusalem and also served as the “helmet of salvation” in the armor of God (Eph. 6:17). Isaiah 60:18 makes this connection:
18 Violence will not be heard again in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders; but you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.
Davis tells us that the crown was “ornamented with jewels.” This custom is mentioned also in Rev. 21:19 in the description of the walls of the New Jerusalem,
19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone.
These are the “foundation stones” of the wall, even as the jewels at the base of the crown formed the foundation of the crown.
Finally, Davis says that “a pair of ornamented slippers were a gift from the husband before marriage.” In his discussion of the spiritual armor, Paul tells us in Eph. 6:15,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
As we have shown in earlier writings, God rejected the old Jerusalem, because it had become “the bloody city” (Ez. 22:2; 24:6 and 9). Jerusalem literally means “the city of peace,” but it had become so corrupt that God forsook Jerusalem even as He had forsaken Shiloh a few centuries earlier (Jer. 7:14).
The New Jerusalem is the true city of peace. The New Jerusalem is composed of people who have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. For this reason, the book of Revelation speaks of the New Jerusalem as the true bride, while the old Jerusalem is the counterfeit bride. (See FFI #214.)
The Wedding Guests
In addition to these garments of the bride, it was also customary for the more wealthy parents of the groom to give special garments to the wedding guests. Davis says,
“The very wealthy prolong the feast several days, furnishing garments for each guest, to be worn only during the time.”
In the marriage supper of the Lamb, God gives each of the guests a new robe of righteousness. This is apparently the custom behind Samson’s wager in which he offered new garments to his friends. It is forms the background to Jesus’ parable in Matt. 22:2-14.
2 The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.
Wedding invitations were normally sent out more than once. The first invitations were sent out far in advance, so that the potential guests could begin to make plans. In this parable, Jesus was referring to the fact that God had sent prophets to Judah for many years, but the people had consistently refused the invitation.
4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.” 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business.
This was the second and final invitation given by John the Baptist, who, in John 3:29, called himself “the friend of the bridegroom. The duty of the bridegroom’s friend was to send out the invitations and prepare for the wedding. In fact, to quote Davis again,
“A friend sometimes did the whole business of selecting the bride for the bridegroom.”
This sheds more light on the role of John the Baptist. Those who received him and his baptism of repentance were the ones being prepared for the wedding of the Son. Therefore, when John was beheaded by King Herod, it signified the official rejection of John and his invitation. Though many of the individual people accepted John, and even Herod was reluctant to execute John, even so, the religious leaders of the people had rejected him (Luke 20:1-8). In rejecting him, they set the spiritual forces into motion that would make his execution inevitable.
Further, in rejecting John, they had rejected Jesus as well. Of course, individuals who accepted both John and Jesus were exempted from the liability of their rulers, but those who submitted to the authority of those rulers also took upon themselves their liability. That is a spiritual law.
6 And the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.
This speaks of the fact that all the prophets until John were rejected and persecuted and even killed. As I showed in FFI #214, Jesus attributed all liability for this to the city of Jerusalem (Matt. 23:29-37).
The consequences for this rejection were seen in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman armies. Jesus’ parable calls them the armies of the king, who is God Himself. In effect, God raised up the Romans to destroy the city and its temple, much like He raised up King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to do the same job in the days of Jeremiah. See Jer. 27:6 and 26:6.
8 Then he said to his slaves, The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast. 10 And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
This is equivalent to Jesus’ earlier statement in Matt. 21:43, saying,
43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.
What is most interesting is the fact that the wedding guests were “both evil and good.” In other words, there were both good and evil men who were to respond to the wedding invitation during the Christian era. This would be consistent with the Pentecostal Age, since Pentecost is a leavened feast (Lev. 23:17). So what will God do about it? The parable in Matt. 22 continues,
11 But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes? And he was speechless.
Why did this man not have a wedding garment? All of the guests (believers) were given wedding garments and were expected to wear them. How strange that someone would actually refuse to wear this wedding garment at the wedding! It was a deliberate refusal.
The garments of salvation represent the righteousness of the saints. More than that, these garments represent the glorified body that is given at the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. This garment, Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:1, is “in the heavens,” and we presently “groan, being burdened” in this current mortal body—that is, we are still clothed with old garments representing mortality. The wedding guest in the parable was given opportunity to dress properly, but refused to do so.
It is apparent that this man represents a Christian who refused to go beyond Pentecost into Tabernacles. As a believer, he responded to the invitation. He was justified by faith and maybe even filled with the Spirit through Pentecost. But he was unwilling to go beyond Pentecost into the Feast of Tabernacles.
Such people will go to the wedding, but will not be allowed to participate in the festival, for the wedding feast is the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles.
13 Then the king said to his servants, Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Only those who qualify for the Feast of Tabernacles will be at this wedding feast. This does not mean that other Christians “go to hell.” The “outer darkness” is not hell, as many teach. It is simply an exclusion from the feast. The picture being painted here is the well-lit hall where the wedding feast is prepared for the guests who are properly attired, while outside it is dark.
I wrote about the distinction between the believers and the overcomers in my book, The Purpose of Resurrection and how there are two resurrections in Revelation 20. The first resurrection is for those who are called to rule and reign with Christ during the Tabernacles Age. The second resurrection is for everyone else—including the rest of the believers. Jesus spoke of the second resurrection in John 5:28, 29, saying,
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice 29 and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
There will be believers in the general resurrection—the one that includes ALL who are in the tombs. This is the second resurrection discussed at the end of Revelation 20. It is not the first resurrection, which is limited to the few (Rev. 20:5). It is apparent that the man without the wedding garment is a believer who was disqualified from the first resurrection and the wedding feast (Tabernacles).