THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB
To fully understand the imagery of the marriage and marriage supper of the Lamb, it’s essential to consider the historical context of weddings in the culture at the time of Yeshua the Messiah.
Two things should be noted. First, the terms “marriage” and “marriage supper” in Revelation 19 are related to Jewish marriage customs in Bible times. Second, Jewish marriage customs in Bible times involved three major steps.
The first step was betrothal, the establishment of the marriage covenant that bound the man and woman together as husband and wife (Malachi 2:14; Matthew 1:18–19). This step involved the signing of the marriage contract, or Ketubah, which was executed by the parents of both the bride and the groom.
The groom’s family would pay a dowry to the bride’s family, sealing the betrothal. As such, the official engagement period would begin. The betrothal was bound by the terms of the marriage contract. During this period the couple did not live together or have sexual relations with each other.
The second step was the taking of the bride or wife by the groom from her house to his father’s house (Matthew 25:1–8). “The essence of the marriage ceremony or festivities was the taking of the bride from her father’s house and bringing her to the house of the bridegroom or his father.”
This taking of the bride was usually done at night approximately one year after the betrothal, a nuptial procession took place from the house of the bride to the bridegroom’s home (as seen in the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1–13).
For this celebration, the bride would make herself ready to receive her groom. It involved the consummation of the marriage through physical union of the bride and groom on the first night at the groom’s father’s house.
Since this second step was the essence of the marriage ceremony, it was regarded as the wedding or marriage (Matthew 22:2–13; 25:10). Thus, it is this second step that corresponds to the expression “marriage of the Lamb” in Revelation 19:7.
The third step was the marriage supper or feast to which guests had already been called and assembled. Once the marriage had been consummated by the bride and groom, the wedding guests would feast and make merry for seven days. thus, the marriage supper lasted for one week (Genesis 29:21–23, 27–28; Judges 14:1–2, 10–12, 17), and it corresponds to the expression “marriage supper of the Lamb” in Revelation 19:9.
It seems that people tend to make the mistake of viewing marriage from a human perspective rather than from God’s perspective. However, God the Father and Yeshua the Messiah are not going to copy the human marriage institution in their plans for Messiah’s marriage to His Bride.
This term — “the Lamb”— seems to be the special name of Messiah which John was accustomed to use. I suppose he heard it first from that other John, called the Baptist, when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
Isaiah had compared the Messiah to a lamb brought to the slaughter; but he had not really called him “the Lamb of God.” This beloved John, who know the Master better than anyone else did, seemed to love constantly to call him by this most expressive name.
The name “the Lamb” seemed suitable for Yeshua here, despised and rejected of men, led to the slaughter, dumb and patient beneath the hands of cruel men. The name “the Lamb” seemed suitable for Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha; but John calls the Saviour by this name very many times all through this Book of the Revelation.
He writes constantly about the Lamb, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, the Lamb leading his people to living fountains of water; and now the angel tells him to write about the marriage supper of the Lamb.
2.0 Bride of the Lamb
In John 3:29 we read, He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: thus my joy therefore is fulfilled.
That is the only place in the four Gospels that the bride is mentioned, but because a bridegroom must have a bride, all other mentions of the bridegroom imply the bride.
In Mark 2:19, when Yeshua is asked why his disciples do not fast, but the followers of John and the Pharisees do, And Yeshua said unto them, Can the friends of the bridegroom fast, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
In Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19 and Luke 5:34, the Apostles are referred to as the friends, guests, or children depending on the translation, of the bridegroom commonly accepted to be Yeshua the Messiah.
The bridegroom is also mentioned in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Matthew 25:1-13. “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”
The Book of Revelation repeatedly mentions the appearance of the Bride. In Revelation 21:2, 9-10 we read, And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. … And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
In the above passages, John speaks of seeing the bride revealed and refers to her as the New Jerusalem, first mentioned in Revelation 3:12. Moreover, in Revelation 22:17 we read, And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let him that heareth say, “Come.” And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
3.0 Marriage and Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Revelation 19:7–9 prompts two major questions: When and where will the marriage and marriage supper of the Lamb take place? The scriptures reveals that the marriage will occur in Heaven when the believers (also called Church) is raptured before the 70th week (The Great Tribulation period), and the marriage supper will take place in Heaven during the seven years of the 70th week.
The evidence and reasons of this view are given below:
- Normally the wedding or marriage (the second step) did not take place at the home of the bride
One must remember that the established custom was to hold the wedding in the house of the bridegroom or his parents. The bridegroom fetches the bride and brings her to his house, where the bridal table and chamber are ready. In harmony with this custom,
Messiah indicated that after preparing living accommodations for His bride in His Father’s house in Heaven, He would come from there again and receive His bride unto Himself so that His bride could be where He is (in His Father’s house in Heaven) (John 14:2–3).
Messiah did not say that He would come and join His bride so that He could be where she is (on the earth). This established marriage custom and Messiah’s teaching in harmony with it indicate that the Rapture of the believers (Church) and marriage of the Lamb will not take place at the Next Coming of Messiah, because at His Next Coming Messiah will not return to His Father’s house in Heaven. Instead, He will come to the earth.
Thus, the Rapture of the believers (Church) and marriage of the Lamb must take place sometime before the Second Coming of Messiah, and the Rapture of the believers (Church) and marriage of the Lamb must be separate events from the Second Coming.
- In Bible times the marriage was a joyous, festive occasion … characterized by mirth and gladness
The taking of the bride by the groom was characterized by mirth and gladness (Jeremiah 7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11). Yeshua indicated the same thing when He emphasized that it is impossible to mix the joy of a wedding with the mourning of a funeral (Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34).
It should be noted that the mood at the Second Coming will be just the opposite of the joyous, festive mood of the marriage.
The description of the Next Coming in Revelation 19 portrays Messiah, not as a happy groom coming with joyful companions to take His bride to His Father’s house, but as a terrifying warrior-king coming with armies from Heaven to administer judgment and death upon rebellious humanity.
The marriage customs of Bible times provided a festive marriage supper for wedding guests, but the Second Coming will provide a radically different kind of supper—a funeral supper of dead flesh for the fowl of the earth (Revelation 19:17–18, 21).
- It was customary for the marriage supper to be held at the home of the groom or his parents, not at the home of the bride
In psalm we read, “The bridegroom escorted the whole wedding party, now including the bride and her companions (Psalm 45:14), to his own or his father’s house for the ‘marriage supper’ (Revelation 19:9) … The wedding feast … was normally given by the father of the groom.”
Moreover, Matthew 22:1–4 indicates the same thing. In harmony with this custom, the marriage supper of the Lamb should take place at Messiah’s Father’s house in Heaven, not at His bride’s dwelling place on earth. This militates against an earthly marriage supper of the Lamb.
- The marriage supper began on the same night that the groom took his bride to his father’s house and consummated their marriage through physical union
After the marriage was consummated, the groom announced the consummation to his friend standing outside the bridal chamber (Psalm 19:5; John 3:29), and the announcement was then delivered to the wedding guests who had already assembled at the groom’s father’s house.
Upon receiving this news, the guests began to feast and make merry. Thus, the marriage supper began very shortly after the groom brought his bride to his father’s house. In harmony with this custom, the marriage supper of the Lamb must begin very shortly after Messiah takes His bride, the believers (Church), to His Father’s house in Heaven at the time of the Rapture.
Since, as noted earlier, the Rapture of the believers (Church) and the marriage of the Lamb will take place sometime before the Next Coming, and since the Millennium will begin after the Next Coming (Revelation 19–20), it appears that the Millennium will not begin very shortly after Messiah takes His bride, the believers (Church), to His Father’s house in Heaven at the time of the Rapture, and the marriage supper of the Lamb will not, therefore, take place during the Millennium.
- The Old Testament teaches that during the Millennium there will be another marriage supper, different from the marriage supper of the Lamb
This millennial marriage supper will be associated with the second marriage of God and the nation of Israel. At the beginning of Isaiah 25:6, a passage describing the blessings of the future Millennium, Isaiah declared, “And in this mountain shall the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees.”
The word for “feast” in verse 6 is the same as that used for the wedding feast in Judges 14:10, 12, 17. Isaiah’s statement indicates that the wedding guests at this millennial marriage supper for God and Israel will be all the other people living in the world at that time.
Isaiah was speaking of a future time when (after God’s worldwide judgment) His people in Israel and other nations will feast together in peace and prosperity. This is the 1,000-year reign of Messiah.
The background behind this millennial marriage feast is as follows: The Old Testament teaches that God betrothed Israel (bound the nation to Himself as His wife) through the Mosaic Covenant at Mount Sinai (Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16:8), but Israel repeatedly broke the covenant through spiritual adultery (Jeremiah 3:1–3, 6–9, 20; Ezekiel 16:32, 59; Hosea 1:2; 2:2, 5; 3:1; 4:12, 18; 5:3–4; 6:7, 10; 7:4; 8:1; 9:1).
God divorced Israel, but not permanently (Isaiah 50:1; 54:7–8; Jeremiah 3:12). He did not regard the divorce as a termination of His marriage with the nation (Jeremiah 3:14).
God has been judging the nation for its adultery (Ezekiel 16:38). Through this judgment He will stop Israel’s unfaithfulness, calm His fury, and lose His jealousy and anger (Ezekiel 16:41–42).
When Israel repents in the future at the Next Coming of Messiah (Hosea 3:5; 5:15–6:1; Zechariah 12:10–14), God will cleanse the nation (Zechariah 13:1), love it freely (Hosea 14:1–4), and betroth it to Himself forever (Hosea 2:19–20) through the establishment of an everlasting covenant (Isaiah 55:3; 61:8; Jeremiah 32:40; 50:4–5; Ezekiel 16:60–62; 37:21–28).
Israel will be adorned like a bride (Isaiah 61:10); God will delight in and rejoice over Jerusalem as a groom rejoices over his bride; and the land of Israel will be married to God (Isaiah 62:1–5).
Thus, at the Second Coming God and Israel will go through betrothal and marriage a second time, and then their marriage supper will take place during the Millennium after the Second Coming.
This future marriage of God and the marriage of the Lamb have two different brides. The marriage of God has the nation of Israel as its bride, whereas the marriage of the Lamb has the believers (Church) as its bride.
- It was customary for the wedding supper of Bible times to last for one week, or seven days
In relationship to the marriage supper of the Lamb, the seven years of the 70th week of Daniel 9 will correlate to that time period. According to this view, then, the Rapture of the believers (Church) and marriage of the Lamb will occur before the 70th week (Tribulation period), and the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place in Heaven during the 70th week.
4.0 Who are the Invited Guests in the Marriage and Marriage supper of the Lamb?
“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” — Revelation 19:9
One side issue should be noted. According to Revelation 19:9, wedding guests will be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and those who are called will be blessed.
Since wedding guests are not the bride, it must be concluded that the guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb will not be part of Messiah’s bride, some sects of the believers (Church).
But since the guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb will be blessed and will be in Heaven (since that is where the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place), they must be believers (Revelation 20:6).
The fact that the guests will be believers, but not part of the Church, forces one to conclude that not all believers of all ages of history belong to the Church. God has groups of believers distinct from the Church.
For example, out of seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation, the overcomers in the type of church of Philadelphia that qualify to be the bride of the Lamb.
Revelation 3:12 says, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
So this will be the special sect of believers (Church) who will become the bride of the Lamb. However, the overcomers of other types of believers (churches) will be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
In Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19 and Luke 5:34, the Apostles or disciples are referred to as the friends, guests, or children depending on the translation. In John 3:29, John the Baptist call himself as the friend of the bridegroom.
Moreover, the Old Testament saints will already be assembled in Heaven when the believers (Church) arrive there at the time of the Rapture and marriage of the Lamb. So these sects of believers, apostles / disciples or the Old Testament saints and prophets who are present in heaven will be the guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb.