This shout of praise is again from the host of the redeemed. John did not see the multitude but he could hear the sound of it and he goes out of his way to heap up similes to describe it. He compares it to the sound of many waters and the sound of mighty thunderclaps.
The multitude sends up this praise for two reasons. One, it anticipates the return of Christ and his reign in heaven and on earth forever. It is an announcement of what will soon take place that focuses on God’s omnipotence and sovereignty. Now is the time for “his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The multitude calls all of God’s people to “rejoice and be glad” in anticipation of the reign of God.
The second reason for this joy is because the wedding of the Lamb has come. The thought of the relationship between God and his people as a marriage goes far back into the OT. The prophets thought of Israel as the chosen bride of Christ. Isaiah 54:5 says this, “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.” The marriage symbolism also runs through the gospels. Jesus talks about the marriage feast in Matthew 22:2, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” And John the Baptist calls himself a friend of the bridegroom in John 3:29. To Paul the relationship of Christ to his Church is the great model of the relationship of husband and wife. Ephesians 5:31-32 says, 31 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. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
Of course, our wedding dress is not of own making; like the white robes given to the martyrs, it is given to us. Verse 8 says that our wedding dress is fine linen, bright and clean and was given to us to wear. Our dress signifies the sanctity of God’s people which only comes from Jesus’s death and resurrection. Salvation is a free gift given by God to those who believe in Jesus and we prepare ourselves for the wedding day by living the Christ-like life that is described above. The righteous acts of the saints are the deeds that follow salvation as necessary proof that regeneration has occurred.
The next step of the wedding was the wedding procession where the groom dressed in his best clothes and accompanied by his best friends, leaves home to go get his bride. He goes to the bride’s house and escorts her back to the home he has prepared for her. Although the bride knew to expect her groom after about a year, she did not know the exact day or hour. He could come earlier. It was the father of the groom who gave final approval for him to return to collect his bride. This will happen for us when Jesus returns for us and takes us to the place he has prepared for us.
Now some commentators see a distinction between the bride in verse 7 and the invited guests in verse 9, but Caird sees no problem with the Church being the Bride and also the guests of the wedding feast. He states it is like John calling Jesus the Lamb and the Shepherd. Osborne states that “such mixing of metaphors was common in the ancient world to add richness to the imagery. I tend to agree with this view.
Mention of the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride, is a signal that the climax of the drama is very close. Satan is about to be overthrown and his dominion is nearing the end. The angel concludes that “these are the true words of God.” This would be equal to the “Amen” in the Gospels. It was to anchor a particularly important truth and Osborne says it is referring to this section dealing with the messianic banquet. Again, I believe John as he has done all throughout Revelation, is giving his readers hope. Hope that as they have been wooed by God and their wedding day is approaching and have been invited to the wedding supper it will be the happiest day of their lives even though they still must persevere and be faithful in the midst of persecution. John wants them to remember God’s words are true and as they await their wedding day they need to continue to be steadfast and dress themselves in pearls and not pigeon poop.
The final verse of this section, according to commentators is not easy to interpret. We see John in verse 10 do something very strange. Follow along as I read verse 10. 10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” When the angel says, “These are the true words of God”, it says John falls at the feet of the angel to worship him. Why? Again, commentators don’t agree but here are a few suggestions:
Maybe, it is in response to the magnificent worship scene we have seen in chapter 19 so far. The “hallelujah” hymns have established such a tone of worship that John has to fall on his knees. Courson says that John is so blown away by seeing the bride that he falls at the feet of the angelic messenger. Osbourne says John’s natural response to the incredible truths he has been told is to fall on his knees.
It may be John was confronting something in the early church which was the tendency of worshipping angels. In certain circles of Judaism the angels had a very high place. Judaism stressed the transcendence of God or the distance between God and man. God was both too distant and too holy to be approached by man so they needed an intermediary, such as the angels. When Jews converted to Christianity they brought this belief with them forgetting that with Jesus there was no need for an intermediary.
Since he was talking to an angelic herald, not to God or Christ, falling down in worship was inappropriate. It would be tantamount to idolatry even though that was not John’s intention. So maybe John was warning his readers about idolatry which has been a huge theme in Revelation. Idolatry can infiltrate our lives in many ways such as deception, seduction and coercion. We can also idolize our religious experiences and revelations. We need to be careful not to mistake the cause we champion for the one true God.
The angel rebukes John and gives him three reasons why he should not worship the angel. One, because I am a fellow servant who holds to the faithful witness given by Christ. Two, God is the only one who is worthy of worship and three, the true spirit of prophecy always points to Jesus. John wants his readers to know that angels are no more than the servants of God and must not be worshipped. God alone is to be worshipped.
The last part of verse 10 is also a difficult phrase according to commentators. It says “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Osbourne says that it means when the saints maintain the testimony about Jesus, the Holy Spirit is inspiring them in the same way as the prophets. Everything in the Bible, the OT and the NT points to Jesus Christ. Much of modern day teaching about prophecy focuses on what they think the future will be like, but any teaching about prophecy that does not keep Jesus in the spotlight is false teaching.
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a woman who lived in the forest. She was not far from a town, where she would occasionally go to buy staples for her kitchen and other items not available to her in the wild. For the most part though, she stayed to herself, choosing to live her own life, meet her own needs and enjoy her uninterrupted solitude.
In her younger years she had been hurt both physically and emotionally by other people, and as a result she had put up walls of stone and doors of solid oak that only opened from the inside, to protect herself.
The woman, like all of us, would occasionally grow lonely, and her solace during these times was found in the movie theater in town. She would go there and sit in the back row, watching the male actors on screen, then go home and for days after, dream of romantic interludes with these stars. Of course, they weren’t real; they were movie idols. But they were all she had. One day the woman was near her woodland cabin, attempting to repair the bucket that brought water from a well she had dug for herself. It was a very deep and dark well. To fall into that well would mean certain death.
The bucket had been attached to the well rope by a chain which had only ten links, but since the rope was worn she could see that she would have to replace it, and that is what she was endeavoring to do when she slipped. As she fell forward, a cry of despair escaping her lips, she clung to the short chain and her fall stopped.
At first she tried to climb to safety by the short chain, but as she struggled she looked up and with horror, noticed that a frayed section of the rope holding the chain was unraveling under her weight. She knew it was only a matter of time, and she would be set free to tumble into the abyss below her.
Suddenly a shadow was cast over the mouth of the well above her. She heard a voice say, “Stop struggling, you will only make it worse. Trust me and I will lift you out.” A strong hand reached toward her, and she noticed that her savior had deliberately wrapped the chain around his wrist several times first. After the hand had firmly gripped her forearm the voice told her to let go of the chain and trust him only. When she did so and her weight dropped, the chain wrapped so tightly around the man’s wrist that it cut deeply into his flesh.
Nevertheless, he brought her up out of the pit with his own blood flowing down her arms and dripping into the well. Once she was standing on the solid rock that surrounded the well she could see that the man was not really tall, and not especially handsome, but he smiled at her with kind eyes and with a love that came from deep within him, and as she smiled back she felt something she had not felt for a long time, and never this strongly. It was gratitude and affection and a desire for fellowship.
The man and woman were married shortly thereafter, in a small chapel in the town. The townspeople were there to witness her newly found happiness. After they returned home however, the woman quickly forgot the fear of the dark well and she forgot the pain this man had suffered to rescue her. She spent her days going about planting her own garden and repairing her own fences and very much living life the way she had before he came along.
The man spent his days not far away, building a beautiful mansion for her, having promised that when he was done he would take her there where they would live happily ever after. In the evenings though, when work was done and there was ample time for sweet fellowship, she would read a book or mend a garment or sit in the twilight hours and stare proudly at her garden, paying little or no attention to the man. Every once in a while she would hear him say something to her, but over time she ignored him so often, that much of what he said would go entirely unnoticed, as though he hadn’t spoken at all.
Occasionally during the day he would come along and offer to help her with something she was doing, but although she did not outwardly reject his offer, she would turn away or continue doing it her own way, seemingly oblivious to his presence. When her precious garden failed to produce vegetables and when her flowers wilted from lack of nourishment in the soil, she was angry and discouraged. Only then did she turn to him, but not for help as much as to ask why these things happened. The man did not answer these questions, for he felt that since she did not listen when he offered help, she would most certainly not listen while he explained why she failed.