The Juxtaposition of the Marriage and Armageddon

A Series on Divine Judgment: Part 16

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Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative | Inclination: promise | Seminary: none

Before the marriage of the Lamb can be examined (Rev 19:7-9), it is important to recognize how God portrayed Himself with the nation of Israel.

When God made the Mosaic Covenant, it was akin to a solemn commitment of a marriage vow after which He perceived Himself as a loyal husband (Isa 54:5; Ezek 16:8-14).

"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. (Jer 31:31-32)

However, the nation of Israel was unfaithful to their covenant vow and in the context of the marriage metaphor played the harlot (Jer 3:1; Ezek 16:15-43; Hos 2:1-13).

With the last of God's wrath discharged, the apostle John learns that the time of the marriage of the Lamb has come (Rev 19:7-9).

"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. 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." Then he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Rev 19:7-9)

When Jesus is teaching His disciples, He portrays Himself as the bridegroom (Matt 25:1; Mark 2:19).

When John the Baptist speaks of Jesus, he portrays Him as the bridegroom (John 3:29).

When the apostle Paul describes the relationship of Jesus to the church, he uses the metaphor of the bridegroom and the bride (Eph 5:22-32; 2 Cor 11:2).

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Eph 5:28-32)

Because of the above, the marriage of the Lamb is best understood through the metaphor of an ancient Jewish wedding custom.

At the start of the process, an arrangement is made between the fathers of the bridegroom and the bride, and the father of the groom pays a "ransom" for mankind's sin. The payment is either to the bride herself (Gen 24:22, 47, 53) or to the father of the bride (Gen 29:18-20, 26-29; Ex 22:16).

Consistent with this metaphor, God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the ransom price for the bride:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Following this agreement between the two parties, the betrothal ceremony takes place where a commitment between the groom and bride is made to make the marriage legal. However, the groom and bride do not live together and consummate their marriage; instead, each returns to their respective fathers' home.

During this betrothal period, which lasts at least a year, both groom and bride prepare for the marriage. The groom prepares his home typically by adding a room to his father's home. Meanwhile the bride sets herself apart to prove that she is a virgin, and by examining and changing any personal behaviors that might lead her astray from her covenant of marriage.

In like fashion, Jesus returned home to make similar preparations:

In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev 21:2)

Similarly, the church was sanctified in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:25-27)

Determined by the groom's father, the day of the wedding was unknown to both the groom and bride. When the day is approved, the groom would leave with his wedding party to fetch his bride. Expectant of the wedding but uncertain of the day, the bride would be waiting for her groom's arrival.

Jesus teaches His disciples of being ready for His return in parables (Matt 25:1-13) and metaphor:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. (Matt 24:36-37)

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Matt 24:42-44)

Jesus' return would be visible and triumphant:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thess 4:16)

The festive wedding ceremony presented the beautiful bride in all her adornments:

At the end of human history, the marriage of the Lamb occurs in heaven:

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." 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. (Rev 19:7-8)

Thus, when Jesus makes His Second Coming in the clouds to gather the saints (Matt 24:29-31; 1 Thess 4:13), the metaphor of marriage between Jesus Christ and the church describes the agape relationship between the two and when all saints of all time come into the physical presence of God with their white robes of righteousness. However, note that no resurrection has occurred yet (Rev 20:4-6).

This event concludes the metaphor of reaping by Jesus (Rev 14:14-16).

After the marriage of the Lamb, the apostle John presents the opening of heaven and another separate appearance of Jesus Christ who, this time, is upon a white horse.

Jesus arrives with several majestic superlatives:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True,… (Rev 19:11)

… He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. (Rev 19:12)

… and His name is called The Word of God. (Rev 19:13)

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19:16)

Jesus is described with a fearful physical appearance which emphasized His divine purpose of carrying out His Father's judgment:

His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems;… (Rev 19:12)

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood,… (Rev 19:13)

From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. (Rev 19:15)

Assisting Jesus Christ, in carrying out God's judgment, are the unfallen angels in heaven (Matt 13:41-42):

And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. (Rev 19:14)

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great." (Rev 19:17-18)

Against the background that God's people do not possess their promised land (Dan 2:33, 40-43; 7:7-8, 11, 19-26), Satan, with the intent of denying Jesus Christ Jerusalem, the city of God (Dan 9:19), arrays a huge army at Armageddon (Rev 17:7-13; 19:19).

Because there is no description of the battle of Armageddon, the apostle implies that the battle is quick and complete. So decisive was the military victory that the Antichrist and False Prophet were seized without having any time to escape and were justly destroyed.

And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Rev 19:20-21)

In view of God's wrath being final (Rev 15:1) and the angel standing in the sun calling upon the birds to feed upon "the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great" (Rev 19:21), it appears that all of humanity left on earth is destroyed.

Satan himself does not escape, and is sealed and imprisoned in the abyss for one thousand years:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (Rev 20:1-3)

This event brings to conclusion several events:

This concludes the metaphor of reaping by the angel (Rev 14:17-20).

This concludes the third cause of sympathy (third woe) expressed by the eagle (Rev 8:13) and presumably by an angel (Rev 11:14).

This concludes, completes and fulfills Daniel's prophecy of 70 weeks.

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. (Dan 9:24)

"At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in."

C. S. Lewis

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