The Marriage Feast

by Leland M. Haines
Next John saw a great marriage feast. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation 19:7). The wife, His bride, is the church. She is clothed "in fine linen, clean and white" (v. 8). This dress is defined as "the righteousness of saints." It is not Christ's imputed righteousness since John wrote it was "the righteousness of saints." The New American Standard translates it as "the righteous acts of the saints" (cf. RSV). Saints can have righteousness, as Paul wrote, "Yield yourselves unto God . . . your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13); that men servants, "to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (v. 16); "became the servants of righteousness. . . . yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness" (vv. 18, 19).

The marriage of the Lamb fulfills the promise Jesus made: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). The "righteous acts" glorify the Father, as Jesus stated, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples" (15:8). Paul too, as mentioned above, associated righteousness with the believers.

Jesus expects the church to be ready for His coming and clothed in "the righteousness of saints." This is why He gave His life. Paul, when he wrote of the husband-wife relationship, stated that "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27).

John was next told, "Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9). Who are these blessed? They are not the church since the church is the bride. These guests may be the Old Testament saints. John the Baptist called himself "the friend of the bridegroom" (John 3:29). John was a "friend" since he served before Jesus brought in the church age. Since John called himself a "friend," the term is taken to apply to other Old Testament saints.

Those holding to a pretribulation rapture could identify these "friends" as those who were told to be "glad and rejoice" earlier in the chapter (Revelation 19:7). These are seen as those who suffered earlier during the tribulation period(those who wore "white robes" (6:11; 7:13-17) and whom John heard: "The voice of harpers harping with their harps [who] . . . sung as it were a new song before the throne . . . redeemed from the earth" (14:2-4). According to the pretribulation view, these are not a part of the church but persons who were converted and suffered death during the tribulation period-tribulation saints.

The events surrounding the marriage feast are also mentioned elsewhere. Jesus in His Olivet Discourse said,

    Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29-31

The trumpet will sound, and His elect will be gathered from all over the earth. "The four winds" describe the four directions: north, south, east, and west. "From one end of heaven to the other" emphasizes the same point, the gathering of the elect from all the earth to be together with Jesus. Since this gathering of the elect occurs after the Tribulation, it must relate to the marriage feast. The final judgment occurs later. Those who do not share in this gathering will mourn when they see His sign and the gathering together of the elect. They will mourn out of fear of what will happen to them. They will realize who Jesus is, and that they rejected Him. It will then be too late for the Gentiles to take up their crosses and follow Him. The time of the Gentiles will be over. It will not be too late for many Jews. They will finally see that Jesus is the Christ, their long-awaited Messiah.

Let us now turn to other passages relating to the Rapture. This may or may not be the proper place for this consideration, depending on one's view of when the Rapture occurs. Those holding to a pretribulation rapture would place these events before the Scriptures describing the beginning of the Tribulation. Those holding to the posttribulation view believe this to be the natural place for these Scriptures since they believe the Rapture and the marriage feast occur at the same time.

Thessalonian Christians were concerned about the Rapture since they feared their dead brethren or sisters in Christ had missed His coming. Paul wrote,

    But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:13-17
At the sound of the trumpet, the dead in Christ will arise and go with the living in Christ to meet the Lord and to be with Him forever.

Paul had more to say about the order of these events when he wrote to the Corinthian Christians concerning the resurrection.

    So in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. I Corinthians 15:22-24

A little later Paul explained further the miraculous raising of the dead:

    How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. I Corinthians 15:35-44

A new spiritual body is needed to enter heaven since our natural bodies are corrupted. Paul continues:

    Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. I Corinthians 15:50-53

Earlier it was mentioned that many will mourn when they see the sign of the Son of man. The time of the Gentiles will be past, but many Jews will finally see that Jesus is the Messiah. This mourning and conversion of the Jews was prophesied by Zechariah in the Old Testament. He said that God would

    pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem. . . . In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. 12:10-11;13:

This mourning will begin when the Jews see their Christ returning to the earth with His saints. This mourning will turn into a blessing when they accept Him as their Messiah, and they repent and are cleansed from their sins and uncleanness. When this happens, their idols and false prophets will be removed from the land. Zechariah speaks of the coming reaction of the people toward the false prophets. The prophets themselves will be ashamed of what they have done in misleading the people and will try to hide the fact that they were prophets (Zechariah 13:2-6).

This is from Chapter 7 of the book, Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1997 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.

We highly recommend you read this book. It may be ordered from Biblical Viewpoints publication (see below) or visit Books.


You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and source.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send them to the Webmaster.

This page is presented by:

Biblical Viewpoints Publications
63100 County Road 111
Goshen, IN 46526
Phone: 574-875-8007

Back to the Articles page.

Return to Home Page

May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.

January 7, 2001