The morning bible study started out with a discussion about the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Revelation 19:7-8 NASB "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) 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.
The general opinion is that this wedding supper is a feast, much like what Isaiah describes, and that the church will be the guests at the supper.
Where do we get these crazy ideas?
What if I told you that I have never had clarity on this subject. Seeing as the leaders took us to Revelation 19 to attempt to sell their point, it was easy to grasp what the marriage supper of the lamb consisted of out of Revelation 19 and the perceived context. Considering that, in effect, we have two leaders (one seems to be the watchdog over the other) anything can happen, and it did.
One of the men, a man deemed knowledgeable, adamantly declared, “we have to eat, and Jesus had to eat; the fact that he ate fish on the beach with the disciples proves it.” Because he said this many seemed to groan in response, that must be true then.
Dig hard and you will not find anything in scripture that backs up the need for an eternal man to eat. Eating, it seems, is purely a pleasure at this point. As I thought about this, I was reminded of Adam and Eve in the garden. Edible things were pleasant to the eyes and “good” for food, but this does not prove my point either. Perhaps looking at this from the standpoint that man was first made a spiritual being. However, he did not remain a spiritual being only as God put flesh on him. Now thinking about Jesus, He voluntarily put on flesh, became a man and maintains that humanness still today, and, therefore, may have to eat. The problem I have then is not that we might have a need to eat, but the presumption that this is really some sort of fancy dinner when it is a bloody and horrific battle.
With eyes wide open let us continue.
Revelation 19:9 ESV 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."
Thinking as a Jew might what would be the association I could make? Isaiah 25:6 ESV “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” At least, we have the imagery of a dinner. However, we quickly find ourselves turning our heads away.
Look up the word supper and you get the Greek word deipnon/dipe'-non. It is from the same as G1160; dinner, that is, the chief meal (usually in the evening): - feast, supper. If I pursue the reference to the Strong's number G1160 I get this: dapane/dap-an'-ay. From dapto (to devour); expense (as consuming): - cost.
This idea of supper now carries the connotation of the bride acting savagely, for the word devour by definition means to ruin or destroy. While that may not at first make sense, it will when I consider who else is called to this supper given by the lamb.
Here is what Isaiah describes:
Isaiah 25:6 ESV On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
It is all about context.
It is not a lavish dinner where you get to sit and fulfill your selfish, glutenous desires, and the context of Revelation 19 reveals that.
Revelation 19:17 KJV And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
So, even though Isaiah 25:6 describes a lavish feast, that is not what the context suggests here. In human comprehension this is disgusting:
Revelation 19:18 KJV That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
What is clear is that this is the result of a horrendous battle.
Revelation 19:19 KJV "And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army."
So, who is invited to this feast?
Revelation 19:9 KJV And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
“Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”
Since we already comprehend that the bride has made herself ready, you would assume the bride is one of the called. Revelation 19:7 tells us, “his Bride has made herself ready.”
Some of the guests include:
- Flesh eating birds.
Revelation 19:17 ESV Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, "Come, gather for the great supper of God,
- Jesus himself, of course.
Revelation 19:11 ESV Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
- The armies of heaven.
Since we have this declaration from Paul's second letter to the church in Thessalonica, we know that this army includes followers of Christ who are already in heaven with him.
1 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV (13) so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
- The nations.
I try to tell people, as much as possible, that there are only three people groups in scripture: The Jews/Israel; the nations; and, the church/the body of Christ. What does that make the nations in this instance? All those not belonging to either of the other two.
Revelation 19:15 ESV From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
What is on the menu?
“The flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”
(17)Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, (18) to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." (19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. Revelation 19:17-19 ESV
This “feast” is nowhere close to what Isaiah described and must then be taken to be symbolic.
The church is not the bride.
I challenged one of the men with this idea and he immediately went back to Revelation 19:7 to try and make his point.
Revelation 19:7 ESV “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;”
As a stand alone sentence, this does not define who the bride is. As a matter of fact, nowhere in the New Testament will you find the church referred to as the bride. All references to the bride come out of the Revelation with one exception and that is in John's gospel where John the Baptist is speaking.
John 3:29 NASB "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.
Because John the baptist speaks in the present tense, he reveals that the coming for the bride has happened with the appearance of the Messiah. There is a problem here because the bride rejected the groom, the Messiah, and still does. (By the way - Jesus had already been baptized by John and was already actively ministering when John said this.)
All other references to the bride are found in the Revelation, and two of the most revealing are found in chapter 21.
Revelation 21:2 ESV And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
That in itself does not convince me but leads my mind to rethink this concept of a bride. What does convince me is this.
Revelation 21:9-11 ESV Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." (10) And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, (11) having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
Here, in Revelation 21:9-11, is the bride and without question it is the holy city Jerusalem.
Certainly Isaiah speaks of a time, at the end of wrath, when God will establish peace once again. And, though we can apply almost everything to the church as well, it is rather specific in dealing with the restoration of Israel, his people. We know this because of two declarations made within the paragraph - "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
Isaiah 25:7-9 ESV And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. (8) He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (9) It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
The bride is Israel, who still to this day awaits the Messiah.