The Upcoming Wedding
By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church
I grew up hearing many wonderful things from the pulpit. But few were as great as this:
And I heard, as if were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluiah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write; blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”
I heard about the marriage supper of the Lamb over and over again. You've no doubt heard the language or terminology referring to the church as the bride of Christ. (I invite you to try to tackle the book of Revelation either for the first time, or a second or third. Try using a book, or commentary as a guide. Or perhaps your Bible has some helpful pointers and comments. Keep in mind that as sincere as the various authors are, their interpretations are at best “guess-timates”.
From my own experience, chapters 1-4, and 20-22 are pretty straight forward, leaving the fifteen chapters in the middle somewhat mysterious.)
Its kind of interesting historical note that Christ Lutheran's first affiliation the Iowa Synod, held chapter 20 (the 1000 years or millenium) as an open question. Lutheran's have always debated whether the 1000 years spoken is a literal future time, or figurative. Today they definitely lean toward figurative.
The events of Revelation 19 are yet future and take place up in heaven in the familiar setting before the throne, and the twenty-four elders (see Revelation 4 and 5). Again, just a reminder, we will all participate in this, so pay attention.
So much of the end times discussion focuses on judgment, and it rightly should. But also there is the salvation and glory awaiting the Christian. The Devil wants to water that down as much as he can. As a result, we think, only in two dimensional terms, heaven and hell; and heaven is just an undefined eternity of harp playing. Hell is hardship, even suffering on this earth and possibly some punishment below somewhere. Hell is undesirable, but the Devil's characterization of Heaven is like the boredom of sitting in church for all eternity.
And death is the real culprit, at least in our current mindset, ending our life down here followed by decay and darkness. Life here is perceived as all there is. The Apostle Paul begs to differ in 2 Corinthians 5.
Whatever your influences, attitudes and opinions are regarding the hereafter, the Bible does have a lot of clear things to say about the future.
First of all the Bible speaks authoritatively about the future. That's the nature of the Bible. It seems obvious and like we don't need to say it, but we do. And if you think about it, we will not be dead, or indisposed, but will be active participants in all future events in Scripture.
To be able to accurately predict the future is the ability of God Almighty alone. The devil has not that ability, even though he is very clever.
Second, the Bible is clear about heaven and hell. Every New Testament author has written clearly about the afterlife. It is a clear apostolic consensus. And every one of the church fathers has concurred. This is why it is written in each of the Creeds of the Church.
Third, Hell is always described in serious terms with strong universal warnings. This is also a mighty motivation for the worldwide missionary effort. Rev. Maynard Force a pastor and professor at the Lutheran Bible Institute years ago writes in his paper entitled “Assurance” published by the Lutheran Evengelistic Movement in 1945,
“The unbeliever is given a serious classification in God's catalog of sinners. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."(Rev. 21:8). Notice that the unbeliever is put in the same class as "murderers and fornicators.'' They are together doomed to eternal damnation.
Quoting again from Dr. Walther, we read, "It would be awful if any of you would have to retire this evening with the thought in his heart: 'I do not know whether God is gracious to me, whether He has accepted me as His child, and whether my sins are forgiven. If God were to call me hence tonight, I would not be sure whether I should die saved.' God grant that no one of you will retire in that frame of mind; for he would lie down to rest with the wrath of God abiding on him."
Hence Jesus' most famous statement in John 3:16. Say it from memory. Hell is not suffering on this earth, or hardship. It is clearly the lake of fire the second death—not annihilation as some believe.
And this brings us to Revelation 19:9 “...write blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” Consider this your invitation. “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely.”
This is not aimless solitary harp playing sitting on a cloud. This is a serious existence in the presence of our Lord Jesus, at the marriage of the Lamb to the church His beautiful bride. We don't have to wait for death to serve Him, it begins now with the time left on this earth.
That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit