27 August 2013Revelation 19:1-8
“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; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure.” (vv. 7-8a)
We begin with the destruction of a prostitute (Revelation 17-18) and end with the marriage of a bride clothed in purity. Quite a contrast! So what is going on here?
It must be remembered that all this imagery is related to the Jewish ideas of what the final reign of God would signify. All the evil enemies will be defeated and destroyed and the good will triumph. In this particular case it is the Roman nation that is represented by the prostitute and the bride is clothed by the deeds of the holy people of God.
In the time of Paul and the Apostles, Rome had been considered to be an authority that was fair-minded in judging the Christians. But by the time that the book of Revelation was written things had changed. Now Christians were considered to be traitors because they would not acknowledge Caesar as a god. So Rome was now the enemy, the prostitute, the one that was ripe for destruction.
In contrast, in this new reign of God, saintly people were considered fit to be present when the Lamb received his bride. People who are unfamiliar with this imagery can find it puzzling, or amusing, to think of a lamb being married with great ceremony. But this is the familiar - to Christians - image of Christ as the sacrificial Lamb taking his rightful place in this new heavenly kingdom, along with his bride. The bride is the Church and the Church is dressed with holy people. An idealised picture, if ever there was one.
Around all this ceremony the sound of loud voices like rushing water, or peals of thunder, are heard shouting in verse 6, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns!" What a noisy lot they are in heaven! But if we could be sure that evil was finally defeated and good would triumph for ever, I suppose we might want to shout it on the rooftops too. Until that day we read of the imagery, but live with the reality of the struggle of daily living in a world that is good, but only in parts.
- Attitudes towards destroying the enemy have changed. How do you feel about the issue of retribution?
- Christ the Lamb and the Church as the bride of Christ are familiar images to Christians, but may well be puzzling to other people. How would you explain, or change them, in order to make them more accessible?
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