Last week we began chapter 19 looking at v1-5 where three hallelujahs flow forth from the vast multitude as they gladly give praise to God because God poured out His judgment on the wicked. It not only sobered us but comforted us. Why? Because this world often dupes into thinking it is always making great progress to brighter ends and a more glorious future. But is it? No, not at all. The world is progressing, yes, it’s progressing toward destruction, and all those who buy into worldly thinking and live according to worldly ways will go to destruction with it.[1] The passage in a true sense displayed the funeral of the wicked.

Tonight, as we continue on in chapter 19, looking to v6-10 this week, we come to the fourth and final hallelujah in the text. Where the funeral of the wicked ends and the marriage supper of the Lamb begins.

Pray with me…

The Fourth Hallelujah (v6)

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”

John now hears the same vast multitude he heard back in v1 once again. It was loud then as they cried out the first three hallelujahs but now with their fourth hallelujah it seems even louder because it says it was like the roar of many waters and like thunder pealing out in might.[2] This should bring us back to Rev. 1:15 where John heard the voice of Jesus and said it was like the roar of many waters. Back then we said John’s vision of Christ, His fiery gaze, His firm stance, and His thunderous voice would have brought terror to those who’ve rejected Him, and a fearful sweetness to those who’ve embraced Him in the gospel. I think something of the same is happening to him again now 19 chapters later as he hears this fourth and final hallelujah resound.

Why do they raise this fourth hallelujah? Because “…the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.” This is a proclamation that God is not only strong and mighty, but that in His might He reigns supreme over and against all things. How has He shown that? It was just displayed for this multitude as they watched God judge the wicked, and so now they respond with praise fit for One who truly does reign over all things and has put all His enemies underneath His feet. Now, in one sense God has always been reigning on the throne and was never not supreme over all things. Psalm 29 displays God like this for us. But in another sense all of history is moving toward an ending point where God will reign over all things. Psalm 110 displays God like this for us. How? By showing us that while God reigns as God over all, there will come a day when He shows His might by putting all His enemies under His feet. Many people have a kind of sentimental idea of Jesus, picturing Him as small innocent baby or picturing Him with a kind of pity as He dies on the cross. While these images of Him are accurate images, think about it, where is Jesus now? He’s no longer in the manger and He’s no longer hanging on a cross, no. He’s ruling and reigning at the place of honor until all His enemies are brought to a place of dishonor under His feet. This is the nature of the extending and ever widening rule of Christ the King in Psalm 110. Let all sentimental images of Him go, for He is the Lord of all! If any of you are offended at the tone or substance of this, remember that this is gospel imagery. On the cross the Father carried out a holy war against the Son as He bore our sins in our place on the cross. But as He rose from death He led forth a host of captives from the grave and is now by His Spirit through His gospel not only creating but wielding a willing people as His holy army, sent out to spread His message. Toward this army, toward His own who embrace Him by faith, this great Shepherd of the sheep is gentle and kind and gracious. But to the wolves and thieves, toward all who pridefully live life on their own terms rejecting His gospel, He will be terrible in wrath, fierce and formidable in might. Hebrews 2:8 says we do not now see all things put under His feet. So, Jesus was waiting for a time, and those in Christ waited as well. But here in Rev. 19, the Almighty bares His arm, shows His strength, and takes up His place over all things.

What’s the response of this host? Hallelujah!

The Wedding (v7-9)

The host is not done with their praise, not in the least. They keep on in v7-8, why? A wedding is about to begin. If you recall, Jesus’ ministry began with His first miracle at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). Now do not miss that His whole ministry was preparation for another wedding, one that would be at the end of all things where He and His Bride, the Church, would forever be united face to face.[3] That’s the moment we’ve now come to.

Hear this host in v7-8, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: 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.’”

Notice how it begins in v7. The words used to describe are simply wondrous: they rejoice, they exult, and they give God glory, because the long-awaited period of engagement is over and the marriage of the Lamb has come. This is as good a time as any to make it clear that marriages in John’s day were different than they are in our day. We might think the perfect marriage is between one man and one woman who notice each other, begin talking, grow in love, become captivated with one another, and get married. That’s a very modern Western view of how marriage works. In other parts of the world marriage might be arranged. The parents decide when marriage happens and to whom their children marry. The engaged couple not only didn’t get a say in it and they may not have even met before the day they’re married.[4] And while we like short engagements today, back in John’s day there was a long period of betrothal where they would technically be married but were waiting to unite until a dowry was paid or for a certain amount of time before the official wedding day. This is by the way why Matthew 1:18-20 can say Joseph was Mary’s husband before they ever got married. At the end of the period of betrothal the husband would come to get his wife, and the weeklong wedding festivities would begin.[5]

This background is crucial to understanding this wedding in our text. You see, Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding. His death on the cross was the dowry payment for all His Bride, where He bought her with His own blood. So now all believers have been bought by Christ, are now engaged or betrothed to Christ, and are now waiting for Him to return and lead us home. Samuel Stone’s popular hymn speaks of this well as it says, “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord; she is His new creation by water and the Word. From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.”[6] Now, when He returns for us, the wedding festivities will begin, where we will enter into true fellowship with Him forever.

See the Groom in v7a. You might wonder, where is the Groom? There in v7a it shows Him in the title of this event, “…for the marriage of the Lamb has come…” Of course lambs don’t marry. But this is symbolic. This Lamb is the Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We know this. Ephesians 5 explains it clearly, “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Or we could say it like this: never has there been a worthier groom. Never has a man gone to greater lengths, humbled himself more, endured more, or accomplished more in the great task of winning his bride. Never has a wealthier Father planned a bigger feast. Never has a more powerful pledge been given than the pledge of the Holy Spirit given to this bride. Never has a more glorious residence been prepared as a dwelling place once the groom finally takes his bride. And never has there been such rejoicing and exultation as there will be on the day of this wedding![7]

Do you know Christ to be such a Groom? Or is He a stranger to you? Since this is a wedding maybe I should say it like this. “Will you have Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to be your Savior, to love, honor, and obey from this day forth and forever more? Will you have the Lamb of God to be your Husband – the Sin Bearer to be your Bridegroom?”[8] Happy are those who embrace Him, both in this life and in the life to come!

Next see the Bride in v7b-8. Here we see the beauty of the Church of Christ. She has made herself ready, how? By clothing herself in fine linen, bright and pure. And we see that these clothes are her righteous deeds. But notice in v8 “…it was granted her to clothe herself…” So question, are these clothes the Church’s reward for righteous living, or are these clothes a gift of righteousness from Christ? Well, with many I say both. That these clothes are both gift and reward.[9] In this sense the clothes present both our justification and our sanctification.[10] In justification God, because of Jesus and by His grace, declares us to be what we’re not, righteous. But in sanctification God, because of Jesus and by His grace, slowly and surely makes us into what He’s already declared us to be, righteous. So yes, the righteous clothes of the Church here is a gift from Jesus. But by being so clothed in such holy attire we’re called to live holy and righteous lives. We’re to live in line with how Christ has dressed us. Joel Beeke says it like this, “You and I ought to be totally involved in the business of sanctification; yet at the same time, sanctification is entirely a matter of grace.”[11] Richard Phillips says it like this, “Our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ involved His righteous work for us to justify us from sin, and His sanctifying work in us in which we participate to present ourselves beautifully to Him.”[12] What a contrast these clothes are the prostitute of chapter 17-18, who dressed in fine linen but allures all she can into a life of sin and wickedness.

All in all Church, Colossians 3 calls us to put off the old man and put on the new. And 1 John 3 says everyone who truly hopes in Jesus purifies himself as He is pure. Just as anyone can look at my two boys and know that I’m their Father (no doubt about it) there is to be a family resemblance between the holy God and His holy Church. Or to use the language of our text, as a bride meticulously prepares for the day of the wedding to be ready and beautiful for her husband, so too the Church is to make herself ready to meet Christ at the altar!

See lastly the guests in v9. An angel once again tells John to write, and that what he will write is the true words of God. But notice this is put in the language of a beatitude?[13] This is actually the fourth time beatitude language has appeared in Revelation. 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, and here 19:9 we see a blessing pronounced on those invited to the wedding. But wait, who are these guests? It seems like it’s the Church but I thought the Church was the Bride? Which is it? Again, we can say both. The Church is both beautiful Bride and privileged guests who’ll enjoy all the delights of an eternal banquet. But I also want to say while everyone is, in a sense, invited to this wedding remember, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Only those who are born again will be in attendance.

Conclusion:

v10, Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

John seems so overcome by this that he begins bowing before the angel but the angel rightly and quickly corrects him. God alone is worthy of worship. That last phrase is curious in v10 isn’t it? I think it means that testifying to the work of Jesus is a prophetic work that the Church does as a whole, at least when you take the whole of this book into account.[14]

What are we to say as wrap up this text? Allow me to share an story with you. In his book Heaven Help Us, Steve Lawson tells about a young aristocrat named William Montague who was Stricken with blindness at the age of 10. The boy was very intelligent and went on to University despite his handicap. While he was in graduate school he met the beautiful daughter of a British Admiral. The courtship soon flamed into romance. Though he had never seen this woman, William fell in love with the beauty of her soul. The two became engaged. Shortly before the wedding, at the insistence of the bride’s father, William agreed to have eye surgery that might or might not restore his sight. The doctors operated on William and bandaged his eyes. He was then confined to bed with his eyes covered…until the wedding. William requested that the bandages be removed from his eyes during the ceremony, just when the bride made her way down the center aisle. As the organ signaled for the bride to enter, every heart waited to see what would happen. As she approached, William’s father began to unwrap the gauze over his son’s eyes. When the last bandage was removed, light flooded into William’s eyes. Slowly, William focused on the radiant face of his precious bride. Overcome with emotion, William whispered, “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined.”[15]

Church, we’ll experience something like this on this day. All who place their faith in Jesus Christ now see dimly, on this day we shall see clearly, face to face, and our response will be “Hallelujah!” Until that day, may you by the grace of God make yourself ready.


[1] Joel Beeke, Revelation: The Lectio Continua: Expository Commentary on the New Testament (Reformation Heritage Books, 2017), 472–73.

[2] G. K. Beale and David Campbell, Revelation: A Shorter Commentary (Eerdmans, 2015), 401.

[3] Richard D. Phillips, Revelation (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2017), 534.

[4] Beeke, Revelation, 478.

[5] Beeke, 475.

[6] Samuel Stone, “The Church’s One Foundation” (1866).

[7] James M. Hamilton Jr., Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2012), 351.

[8] Beeke, Revelation, 481.

[9] Beale and Campbell, Revelation, 408.

[10] Phillips, Revelation, 536.

[11] Beeke, Revelation, 484.

[12] Phillips, Revelation, 537.

[13] Phillips, 538.

[14] Beale and Campbell, Revelation, 407.

[15] Steve Lawson, quoted in Beeke, Revelation, 488.

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