By David Groendyk
The previous two chapters have described for us the destruction of Babylon and the declaration from God himself that she will no longer vex the church. Today’s chapter gives us heaven’s reaction to God’s victory. In succession, John hears a multitude (vv. 1–3), the twenty-four elders and four living creatures (v. 4), a single angel (v. 5), and the multitude again (vv. 6–8). All of them react the same way to Babylon’s defeat. They all proclaim “that the Lord, God, the Almighty has now revealed Himself in the full majesty of His royal glory and power” (Hendriksen). This destruction has revealed that God is the all-glorious King who alone deserves worship.
But there’s another reason for the singing too. The marriage feast of the Lamb has finally come! Scripture repeatedly describes the relationship between God and his people, Christ and his church, as a marriage (for example, Hosea 3:1–5 and Ephesians 5:22–33). For now, we’re “betrothed” to Christ, or, in more modern language, we’re engaged to him. But, unlike today’s engagement relationships, it’s an unbreakable engagement. For now, we remain separated from Christ while everything is being prepared. For now, the bride (that is, the church) must make herself ready by adorning herself with righteous deeds and a sanctified character. However, we must always keep in mind, it’s not our own righteousness that causes us to be betrothed to Christ; no, Christ comes to us first in our sinfulness, and our continual growth in sanctification is a result of that betrothal. Moreover, even our continual growth is not all of our own doing; God himself must grant to us to grow in holiness (see v. 8). But here we see the business of the Christian: keep growing in Christlikeness! This is how we ought to prepare ourselves for heaven.
Then, when we get to heaven, it’ll be an all-out party! Why? Because Christ has done such a wonderful work to save us, and because we finally get to be reunited with him. Pastor Mark wrote yesterday about Revelation 18 that God shuts down the corrupt and toxic party of Babylon who revels in her uncleanness. Well, in heaven, God’s party is just starting, and it is far more magnificent, enjoyable, enticing, satisfying, impressive, and happy than any party the earth can throw. Probably almost all of us have been to a wedding reception—good food and drink, cake, best friends, beloved family, dancing, singing, laughing. This marriage feast of the Lamb is the grand celebration of our relationship with Christ. “This feast is the climax of that entire process by means of which the Bridegroom, Christ, comes to His bride, the Church. It is the goal and purpose of that ever-increasing intimacy, union, fellowship, and communion between the Redeemer and the redeemed” (Hendriksen). What a party that will be with the most glorious One for all eternity!
But there’s more to Christ, and there’s more to this chapter. In verses 11–21, Christ is also a soldier riding on a horse slaying all those who oppose him merely by his word. It’s an incredible picture to meditate on. Christ is Faithful, Christ is True, Christ is the Word of God, Christ is King of kings, Christ is Lord of lords, Christ judges, Christ makes war. The Lord is a warrior. Your God is not too weak to help you. No, he fights, and he is the fiercest and most dominant warrior who could help you. Notice he is clothed in a blood-stained robe. It’s his death and resurrection that has won the victory. Notice also that the beast and the false prophet from Revelation 13 along with all the armies they can muster are absolutely wiped out in this war. There are two parts to Christ’s victory and our victory. First, at the cross, Christ defeated the power of sin, hell, and death. Even now, we as Christians revel in this victory. We are no longer enslaved to sin’s power, burdened under the weight of sin’s guilt, or living in fear of death. This is a spiritual victory and reality for the Christian now. But, second, Christ will finish off this victory at the end of time. Sin, evil, and death won’t just not have power; they will no longer exist. Christ is a warrior who destroys your enemies, if not in this life, then certainly in the next. Always remember that.
Revelation 19 is another chapter in this book that impresses upon us both the glorious joy that awaits believers in heaven and the urgent call to repent and turn to Christ. Matt Papa, co-writer of the hymn “His Mercy Is More” that we’ll sing this Sunday, also wrote a song called “The Lord Is a Warrior” based on Revelation 19. Part of the song has the lyrics: “Today is the day that he’s welcoming the foreigners; repent and believe that he hung upon the cross for you; otherwise you’ll meet him as a holy righteous slaughterer.” Choose today: either you’ll meet Christ as your beloved bridegroom whom you’ll celebrate, or you’ll meet him as a righteous warrior.