Wedding Feast and Warfare

Christ Covenant Church
Jon Marq Toombs
Text: Revelation 19
14 May 2017
Fifth Sunday of Easter

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Revelation 12-20 in six words: Kill the dragon. Get the girl.

[ Sketch notes ]

+ WEDDING FEAST

Four Wedding Songs

One – After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
    for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
    who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Two – Once more they cried out,

“Hallelujah!

The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”

Three – And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
you who fear him,
    small and great.”

Four – 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.
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.

The wedding feast is the Table spread by the Shepherd for us in the presence of our enemies.

The wedding feast of the Lamb is warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil.  These four songs prepare us for such warfare.

The marriage of the Lamb and his bride is a sign of new creation just as marriage between Adam and Eve was a sign of creation.

The vision assumes that marriage is a covenant union between one man and one woman; not a union between a man and a man; or a woman and a woman.

The wedding feast of the Lamb is a celebration of (heterosexual) marriage.

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.” 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.

Fine White Linen = imitatio Christi (see Rev. 1; 6; 7; 14; 15)

Echoes of Isaiah

Isaiah 61:10

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 62:4-5

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
    and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
    and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
    so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
    so shall your God rejoice over you.

Isaiah 62:4-5 is fulfiled in Revelation 19.

Compare / Contrast the Whore (ch 17) and the Bride (ch 19)

The adultress whore was cast down to earth in shame (“fallen, fallen”), but the virgin bride was called up to heaven in honor.

unfaithfulness — faithfulness

hideous, tricky, seductive — beautiful, faithful, and true

scarlet and purple — white linen

In Revelation 12 the woman escaped the dragon into the wilderness; in Revelation 19 she is delivered from exile.

The wedding feast is warfare against fornication, divorce for any reason, gay marriage, and other sexual chaos and confusion. Not only in the vision, but also in our life, culture, and marriage.

Our marriages reflect the marriage of the Lamb and his bride.

Bridge

The vision of Revelation 19 echoes 2 Chronicles 20:18-25.

There, confronted by fierce enemies, the king of God’s people led his people in prayer and worship before the Lord. The worship musicians (who were dressed as priests in holy attire / fine linen) rose up to praise the Lord and went out to the battlefield before the army. The Lord set an ambush and routed the enemies before his people arrived. The battle was over before it even started because the battle belongs to the Lord.

Worship doesn’t just precede warfare. Worship is warfare.   

WARFARE

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. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 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. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 

[The Hallal! Singers sing a song based on this text — Rider on the White Horse]

glorious and majestic vision of Christus Victor, not just weak, slain lamb.

sword = the Word of God, not cold steel

the warfare of the Lamb = must not be politicized by warmongers or pacifists.

dipped in blood = Gk. bapto — the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world wears a robe dipped his own blood; the blood by which he overcame the world, the flesh, and the devil. (see Gorman’s quote below)

This image is similar yet distinct to the what Isaiah saw:

Isaiah 63:1-3

Who is this who comes from Edom,
    in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
    marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
    mighty to save.”

Why is your apparel red,
    and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?

“I have trodden the winepress alone,
    and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
    and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood (lit. juice) spattered on my garments,
    and stained all my apparel.”

armies of heaven = the Bride of the Lamb is not a damsel in distress but a warrior princess.

Jesus is neither a pacifist nor a warmonger. He strikes down his enemies with the Word of God, and he shepherds the nations with a rod of iron. See Psalm 2

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, 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.” 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. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

The battle was over before it even started because the battle belongs to the Lord.

Tolkienesque description of war – understated, spare gruesome details, focus on outcomes.

This vision focuses on the glory and majesty of the Lamb, Christ the conquering.

The Lamb conquers the beasts of land and sea; and those who bear the mark of the beast — and casts them down to be devoured and destroyed.

2 Chronicles 20:13-25 is echoed in Revelation 19.

In boths stories, God’s people were threatened by a great horde, a vast army of enemies. The Spirit of God sent a priest to charge everyone from least to greatest to trust God and confront their enemies. The king led the people to pray and worship, and the worship musicians led the army out to battle with songs of praise. In response to this worship and praise, God went forth and scattered the enemies of his people and their bodies were strewn all over the field of battle. The battle was over before it even started because the battle belongs to the Lord. Worship in spirit and truth is true spiritual warfare.

Wedding Feast and Warfare

Summary — Eat or Be Eaten.

Eat with the Lamb at the wedding feast OR Be eaten with the Beasts after the warfare of the Lamb.

Eugene Peterson – “The contrast between a wedding feast and warfare could hardly be more extreme, but it is complementarity, not contradiction, that we experience as we submit to the images. Salvation is the intimacies and the festivities of marriage; salvation is aggresive battle and the defeat of evil. Salvation is neither of these things by itself. It is the two energies, the embrace of love and the assault on evil, in polar tension, each defined by the other, each feeding into the other.” (Reversed Thunder, 159)

Pastoral Prayer – Psalm 45



Note: The Rider on the white horse is the slain Lamb who will Shepherd the nations.
 
“This truth that the language of judgment in Revelation symbolizes God’s effectively speaking evil into non-existence is perhaps most sharply represented by the vision of Jesus’ victorious appearance as the Word of God on the white horse, with a sword in his mouth (19:11-16, 21). This signifies the effective word of God’s judgment — the wrath of God and the Lamb — that needs no literal sword, and which a literal sword could never accomplish. Moreover, this Jesus comes dressed in a robe dipped in blood (19:13) — his own blood — because the battle has already been fought and won in his death. The judgment he executes is his word so that the effects of his saving death may be fully realized in God’s work of renewal.” (Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly, 153)

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