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.”
Revelations 19:9 (NIV)
I mentioned yesterday that Wendy and I were at a wedding this past weekend. The dinner was amazing. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that Wendy and I love a great meal, especially when it’s the trifecta of a great meal with great people enjoying great conversation.
At one point between savory bites, Wendy looked at me, her eyes as wide as saucers. “This is not only the best wedding meal I’ve ever had, but it’s right up there with maybe being the best meal I’ve had, ever.”
High praise, for sure. A great meal is always special amidst the love, laughter, joy, and celebration of two lives being united as one.
The metaphors of a wedding, of a bride and bridegroom, are used repeatedly by Jesus. At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the metaphor was even understood and shared between Jesus and His cousin, John the Baptist:
[John’s disciples] came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”
Sometime later, the same disciples of John asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t religiously fast the way John made them fast:
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.“
Toward the end of His ministry, Jesus was still using this metaphor. He told a parable of ten bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom to arrive so they could accompany him and his bride with their oil lamps to the wedding feast at the house of the bridegroom and his family. Some of the bridesmaids got tired of waiting and they didn’t have their oil lamps filled, trimmed, and ready when the bridegroom arrived.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that the ancients often used weddings and funerals as metaphorical contrasts. John uses this ancient device in yesterday’s chapter (a funeral dirge for the demise of “Babylon the Great”) and today’s chapter in which Jesus, the Bridegroom, having tarried like the bridegroom in His parable for 2000+ earth years (as of today), finally celebrates a heavenly wedding feast and is united with His metaphorical bride, all of His followers whose names are written in the Book of Life.
But the contrasts aren’t over! There’s a feast to come that is a stark contrast to the wedding feast of the Lamb. An angel in heaven cries out to all the vultures and carrion fowl on earth to prepare for their own morbid picnic.
Jesus and a heavenly army then descend to meet the unholy trinity and all of the kings and kingdoms of the earth, those who had steadfastly refused to repent during the great tribulation, gathered against Him. The only weapon brought to the battle is the metaphorical sword of Jesus’ words. The anti-christ and his false prophet are captured and thrown into a lake of fire. Their followers become the entree du jour for the vultures.
In the quiet this morning, I’m struck by the simple roots of these contrasting metaphors. A funeral and a wedding. A death dirge and a wedding feast. The eerie silence of a battlefield when the battle is over and the carrion fowl pick at the corpses, and the raucous cheers of a wedding party, blessedly satiated and maybe a wee bit intoxicated, unabashedly dancing to “YMCA.”
I can’t help but be reminded of what God said to His people at the outset of this Great Story:
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses…I have set before you life and death…”
I made my choice. I sent in the RSVP.
I’m simply waiting for the bridegroom to arrive.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.