The Ultimate Meaning of Marriage

This Sunday our Revelation class will enter chapter 19, a glorious passage that announces the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The first time Jesus was here, He was confronted with mockery. No more. This time He will return in majesty. You will not find Him on a tree, but on the throne.  I long for that day when “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,” (Zech 14:4). When my Lord will rule “with a rod of iron” (Psa 2:9).

However, that is not all we should long for. In Rev 19:7-8 we read of a major event connected to the Lord’s return—His marriage to His bride.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Today’s culture has repeatedly assaulted the integrity of marriage. Worse yet, there are even those who identify themselves as Christians denying the truth status of holy Scripture. Our response should be biblically bold, gospel gracious, and clearly committed to the consistent teachings in the text.

Often we will turn to the pages of Genesis in defense of marriage between a man and a woman, and wisely so (see Gen 2:18-25). It is the foundation of society as God has defined and determine it to be; a divine pattern. But there are many more passages (Old and New Testament) along the way.

At the other end of the Bible, the book of Revelation also addresses the ultimate meaning of marriage—which is that of Christ and His church. Dr. Walvoord in his commentary explains the final aspect of the marriage relationship known as the wedding feast (or “marriage supper”), found in 19:7-8:1

Though marriage customs varied in the ancient world, usually there were three major aspects: (1) The marriage contract was often consummated by the parents when the future spouses were still children. The payment of a suitable dowry was often a feature of the contract. When consummated, the contract meant that the couple was legally married. (2)  When a couple had reached a suitable age, the second step in the wedding took place. This was a ceremony in which the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, would go to the bride’s house to escort her to his home. This is the background of the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. (3) Then the bridegroom would bring his bride to his home, and the marriage supper, to which guests were invited, would take place. It was such a wedding feast that Christ attended at Cana (John 2:1-11).

51+kCOxCuJL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_The marriage symbolism is beautifully fulfilled in the relationship of Christ to His church. The wedding contract is consummated at the time the church is redeemed. Every true Christian is joined to Christ in a legal marriage. When Christ comes for His church at the rapture, the second phase of the wedding is fulfilled: the Bridegroom goes to receive His bride. The third phase then follows, the wedding feast. Here it is significant to note that the bride is already the wife of the Lamb, for the Bridegroom has already come for His bride prior to the second coming described in 19:11-16. Therefore, the wedding feast and not the wedding union is being announced here. The third phase of the wedding is about to take place, the feast, which presumes the earlier rapture of the bride.

When the world attempts to redefine marriage they fail to recognize that it has been defined already, and at a much higher pay-grade. In their efforts to create a new normal, a new moral standard—they disavow, disclaim, dishonor, discard, distort, and disturb all that it divinely represents.

1 Walvoord, John F. The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries: Revelation (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011). 284