Friday 12 September 2014

Bible Book:

“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’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (vv. 7-8)

Revelation 19:6-10 Friday 12 September 2014


The practice of 'ritual marriage' to a god, usually involvingsome kind of 'temple prostitution', was found in most ancientreligions of the ancient near east, including Egypt, Canaan andBabylon. So the Jews of the Old Testament would have encounteredit, and their prophets (such as Hosea) used it as a powerfulmetaphor, warning Israel not to be 'unfaithful' to her God. Theexperience of exile in Babylon, around 600BC, had left particularlypainful and raw memories of the dangers of turning away from Godand worshipping 'foreign gods'. And it is this powerful image thatthe writer of Revelation uses as a vivid metaphor for Rome, warningthe Church against "the great whore who corrupted the earth withher fornication" (Revelation 19:2). "Babylon", he says, willfall, and will be held to account for "the blood of prophets and ofsaints, and of all who have been slaughtered on earth" (Revelation 18:24).

With the impending destruction of Rome, those who persevere inthe face of persecution can look forward to blessing, which thewriter, extending this vivid metaphor, describes in terms of "themarriage supper of the Lamb" (v. 9). His 'bride', those who havekept themselves "pure" and have "held the testimony of Jesus", willbe "clothed with fine linen". And it is significant that this'ritual marriage' is with "the Lamb", and not "the Lord our God",because it is not always clear whether Jesus is explicitly regardedas God in Revelation: the command of the angel (as with the OldTestament prophets) is "worship God" (verse 10), not "worship theLamb".

"The testimony of Jesus" (verse 10) could also be translated"the witness about Jesus", which probably means to confess Jesus(and not the Emperor) as "Lord" - which is the true word of the'prophets' who have died for their faith.

To Ponder

  • Some Christians claim to take the Bible literally - how mightthey explain the idea that the Church will one day marry a youngmale sheep? If the Church is the 'bride of Christ', in what waysmight it understanditself as feminine?
  • Is this image of 'ritual marriage' still helpful today? Whatother image might you use instead? To what extent is Christianthinking still shaped by 1st-century metaphors?
  • To confess Jesus as "Lord" meant a challenge to imperialauthority. What 'empires' might Christians challenge today?


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