Sermon on Revelation 19:1-9
Text: After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
3 And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!”
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!”
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Weddings are meant to be happy occasions. During this time, the husband and wife pledge their love to each other for the rest of their lives. Family and friends gather together to help the couple celebrate their special day. Weddings serve as a reminder that God gave marriage to mankind on the sixth day of creation. It was a blessing that God wanted to give people. This was to be the closest human relationship. For that reason, it should come as no surprise that God would use the picture of a husband and wife to describe the relationship that he has with his believers. As the apostle John had his vision, he was privileged to see the WEDDING SUPPER OF THE LAMB. As we take in the details that John records, let us 1. Listen To The Beautiful Music, 2. Behold The Radiant Bride, and 3. Rejoice In The Gracious Invitation.
Music is a part of most wedding ceremonies. There is the music that plays as the bride walks down the aisle. There may be a soloist. There is the music that is played as the couple walk down the aisle as man and wife. As we read the vision that John had, there is a great deal of music. One word that is heard throughout the pieces of music is “Hallelujah.” “Hallelujah” is a Hebrew word that means “Praise the Lord.” It is interesting to note that, although this word is used many times in the Hebrew Old Testament, these are the only occurrences of the word “Hallelujah” in the New Testament. As we read through the words of these wedding hymns, you can see why the term “Hallelujah” is so very fitting.
We read in verses 1-3, “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” The reason that is given for praise to the Lord is that the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her adulteries has been condemned and destroyed. Who is the great prostitute? As you read through chapter 17 of the book of Revelation, you see that the great prostitute is the false church, who by its false teachings has seduced the faithful, so that they abandoned the truth. There was even persecution by the false church to try and make the faithful blaspheme. Earlier in Revelation, we hear the voices of those, who were martyred for their faith, cry out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10) It seemed as though the wicked prosper, live long, and become mighty in power, while the faithful pursued, persecuted and slain. Now, the complete destruction of the great prostitute, Babylon is announced in chapter 18. Those who sing this song of praise on verses 1-3 see their prayers answered. They sing “Hallelujah,” “Praise the Lord,” because God has judged the great prostitute and avenged the blood of his servants. This hymn of praise is echoed in verse 4, “The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: ‘Amen, Hallelujah!’” The twenty-four elders stands for the believers of all time and the four living creatures stand for all of God’s creation. All join together in the song “Hallelujah!”
The song reaches a crescendo in verse 6, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!’” Though, to the human eye, it may look as though evil prevails, ultimately our Lord God Almighty reigns. What comfort this gave to the people of John’s day, who were undergoing persecution for their faith! We, also, look forward to that time when we will be freed from all challenges and attacks on our faith.
All join in singing this “Hallelujah” because, “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) (Verses 7&8) Now our attention is directed to the radiant bride. Quite often, as the bride walks down the aisle, you can’t help but notice the beautiful gown that she is wearing. The same is true of this bride in John’s vision. It speaks of the fact that she is wearing “fine linen, bright and clean.” It is the ultimate white wedding dress. Where did she get this dress? As the apostle Paul describes the love that earthly husbands are to have for their wives, he writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) The fact that Paul notes a “cleansing” and a “washing” would indicate that there was dirt, that there was filth that had to be removed before the wedding could take place. The filth was sin. This dirt covers every single person on this earth.
Sin affects every part of our lives. Our first breath is drawn in sin. We see sin in our lives as we look at our actions, thoughts, and words. We know that we have not always been faithful to our Savior. Instead, we have gone running after the things of this world, holding them to be more important to us that our relationship with him. By nature and on account of the sins that we commit every day, we are dressed in filthy, torn rags, which have no business being seen by our God. Instead of being invited into the Wedding Banquet, we deserve to be shut out into the darkness of hell.
However, our heavenly Bridegroom came to seek his wayward bride. That is the reason he left his throne of glory. He came to seek his bride by living the life that she could not live. He was perfect in every one of his thoughts, words, and actions. This was a labor of love, so that he could be with his beloved. He showed just how much he loved his wayward bride by going to the cross. On that cross, he suffered and died for the sins of the world. The blood that he shed has washed us clean from all of our sins. By his resurrection, he announced that the payment for sins was complete. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, his bride, the believers, are “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:27) This is the “fine linen, bright and clean,” that John saw the bride of Christ wearing. John says in verse 8, “Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.” Lest we misunderstand these words to say that it was our righteous acts that made us acceptable to our heavenly Bridegroom, remember that it said in verse 7 that this fine linen was given to the bride to wear. She didn’t come wearing this beautiful dress. The righteousness was given to her to make her so beautifully dressed. A better translation of this verse would be as the Evangelical Heritage Version renders this verse, “In fact, the fine linen is the ‘not guilty’ verdicts pronounced on the saints.” Because of our heavenly Bridegroom, we can behold his radiant bride.
Normally, when we receive an invitation to a wedding, we are excited to attend. We look forward to that special day. God directed that an invitation be extended to this special wedding feast, “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” (Verse 9) This invitation is extended to all people through the proclamation of the gospel. Every time that someone hears that Jesus has paid for their sins, the invitation is given. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, this invitation is accepted. By God’s grace, this invitation has been extended to you. He has gotten the Banquet Hall ready and invites you to come and live in the eternal joy of this wedding supper of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, and his bride, the Church.
Most of us are familiar with the “Hallelujah Chorus” from musical piece “The Messiah” by George Frideric Handel. It is based on the words of our text. Often, you will hear it at Easter, and it is very fitting for that piece to be sung at that time. However, in “The Messiah” the Hallelujah Chorus is at the end of the piece. It was written to celebrate Christ’s glorification in heaven, as all of his people are safe at home with him. Today is “All Saints Sunday.” Today, we are reminded that, although life on this earth can be very difficult, tiresome, and full of tears, we know that there will come a day when we will be with the Lord forever. Through earthly disappointment, faith focuses on the future joys of heaven. We will forever feast at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Amen.
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