Perhaps you have heard or read about something the Bible calls “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb,” and wondered what it is talking about. For Christians, it is one of the most wonderful promises in Scripture because it is the consummation of our faith journey.
To really understand the concept of this supper, though, we need to understand Jewish wedding customs during the time of Christ. These customs had three major parts:
The Marriage Contract
The marriage process always began when the parents of the bride and the bridegroom agreed to a contract of marriage. In the process, they would negotiate the bride price, or dowry to be paid to the bride’s father.
Next, taking a cup of wine, the groom drank from it and offered it to the prospective bride, symbolically saying that he wanted to make a covenant with her. She sealed the engagement by drinking from the same glass. From that moment, she was referred to as “bought with a price,” and was considered an engaged woman.
This began the betrothal period (what we would call the engagement). During this time the groom returned to his father’s house and began adding new rooms to the family home. The bride prepared herself and her bridesmaids for the groom’s return, when the building was completed. Since she did not know when the groom would come for her, a wise bride began preparing for marriage immediately.
The Consummation of the Marriage
The second step in the process generally occurred about a year later. When the groom finally finished building, he would travel to his bride’s village and blow the ram’s horn (shofar) to notify the bride he had come for her. The bride would hear it and know that her wedding day had arrived.
Accompanied by his male friends, the groom went to the bride’s house at midnight, creating a wonderful torchlight parade through the streets. The bride and her girl friends would all join the parade, which ended at the bridegroom’s house.
The happy couple entered their new home and, while the “best man” stood at the door, they consummated the marriage. When the groom returned to the door, he announced they were officially married, and a week-long celebration began.
The Marriage Supper
The celebration of the marriage went on for days, with the entire town participating. Friends and family were treated to rich food and the best wine the family could afford. All rejoiced to see the union completed.
The Application to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Revelation pictures this third phase of the wedding celebration, implying that the first two phases have already taken place. The first phase of the marriage was completed when each believer placed his or her faith in Jesus as Savior. The bride price paid to the Bride’s father (God the Father) was the blood of Christ, shed on her behalf. Thus, the Church is now “betrothed” to Christ.
During what we call “the Last Supper,” Jesus took a cup of wine and offered it to his disciples. He stated, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20). His disciples probably recognized this as the imagery of a marriage proposal, which Jesus later commanded them to continually repeat so they remembered the depths of his love for them.
The groom then returned to his father’s house to add rooms for his future bride. John 14:2-3 confirm this: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
As his bride, believers should be eagerly watching for the Groom to return for her (this is known as the Second Coming). The marriage supper, the third and final step in the marriage, follows that return.
The bride is now in the time of preparing for the final feast.
She gathers her friends and invites them to be part of the celebration. She prepares her wedding dress, which the Bible tells us is “fine linen, bright and clean.” (In the Bible, fine linen stands for righteousness.) And she eagerly watches for her groom!
Who Will be Included in the Celebration?
As with any earthly celebration, friends and family of the happy couple will be attending the marriage supper. Who are these guests? John the Baptist indicated that he was a friend of the Bridegroom, (John 3:29) so he will surely be included.
The Old Testament saints, part of the Jewish nation, were the bride of Jehovah (God the Father). As such, they will be invited to celebrate the marriage of the Son. Other guests will probably be angels, who have served God and his people faithfully for ions.
Why it’s Important to Everyone
At that point the Church will finally be perfect and complete, with no one missing. There will be no spot or wrinkle remaining in her. The marriage supper will mark the moment when believers are finally in the closest and happiest union with Christ possible.
The Bible also indicates that this Marriage Supper will be the consummation, the very close, of this age. Revelation 19:11 indicates that Jesus returns to earth to set up his kingdom after the marriage celebration is over.
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