The following is totally true, even if it seems entirely unbelievable. In 1977, Diana and I got married on a budget of $1,000. We paid for everything related to the wedding and reception, as well as went on a 17-day honeymoon to Florida. It’s true!
The wedding was a simple affair (expense-wise), though there was significant spiritual investment in the content of the service. The reception was an ice cream social in the church fellowship hall, as Diana’s uncle owned a soft-serve ice cream business. And we camped about 10 of the evenings we were on our trip.
I’ve always had a bit of a critical spirit about wedding receptions that are somewhat massive and expensive affairs; but I have more recently come to reconsider my opinion. Celebrations I have seen of brides and grooms have oft been joyous outpourings of love and gratitude for the work of God in two lives — with the couple simply wanting to share it lavishly with their friends and families.
As we wrote yesterday about the common experiences of the Jewish people having God-ordained feasts, observances and celebrations, these were established to express gratitude and joy for the remembrance of God’s powerful works on behalf of the nation. One of these is this feast of Purim that we read about yesterday.
For all of us, our story as God’s pinnacle of creation is one that begins in a garden from which we were expelled because of sin, but ends with perfect reconciliation in heaven at a feast called “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” We read about it in Revelation 19 … so let’s look at it and then add some comments following the passage …
19:4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!”
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!”
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 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.”
To be able to fully understand the significance of this, we need to recall the Jewish wedding context that undergirds this picture. Think of it as having three phases …
First is the betrothal period. Marriages were arranged by parents, and a dowry price was paid by the groom (or his parents).
Secondly, a year later the bridegroom would come for the bride accompanied by his friends. This was not a surprise — the bride would know he was coming and would be ready for him with her attendants. They would all then go to the groom’s house.
Finally, a marriage feast would follow which was a HUGE celebration that could go on and on, perhaps for days!
To interpret this, the arrangement for the marriage is the covenant love of the Father set upon us by His grace, along with our response in faith. The payment of the groom is, of course, the death of Christ. The coming of the bridegroom for the bride is the return of Christ to take away his bride, the church. And the event written in Revelation 19 is the feast in the groom’s home, in heaven … a big, big affair that is a blessing for those invited to attend.
What a beautiful picture! Purim was great. Celebrations are fun. But this is the ultimate feast, and in Christ you have your invitation to be a part of it.