June 19: Revelation 19:6-10
We’re back in the throne room, this time on the other side of much of the book of Revelation. Last week we saw Jesus standing before the throne, worthy to open the scroll, which unleashed judgment on the world. Here, fourteen chapters later, we’re yet again on the cusp of judgment day, which will be depicted for the final time in the rest of chapter 19 and 20 (check out the Resources section Revelation’s Repetition to see why the book revisits judgment day so many times).
But before we get to judgment, John sees a beautiful vision of the age to come. The multitude of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (7:9-10) announces with a thunderous, unified voice that the marriage of the Lamb is here, and Jesus’ Bride is ready. This is the culmination of a gigantic theme throughout scripture, so let’s map it out just a bit.
The backdrop to this pronouncement is God’s covenantal dealings with mankind (a covenant is a solemn, binding promise with grave consequences). Mankind rebelled against God in the Garden back in Genesis 3, but as early as Genesis 3:15 we see that God intends to rescue his people from their sin. Later God came to Abraham and made a covenant with him, that God would make Abraham’s family into a great nation and that all peoples on the earth would be blessed through him (7:9-10 is the fulfillment of that promise). Still later, God came to Abraham’s descendants, the nation Israel, and made a covenant through Moses, that Israel would walk as his special people on earth.
But this, you likely know, they did not do. They rebelled against their God, and God sent many prophets to them to turn their hearts back to them. Starting with the prophet Hosea, God calls himself a husband to his people, such as, “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband.’”(Hos.2:16) We tend to think of the covenants God has made with mankind as primarily binding on people, placing expectations on them that they must fulfill. But even in the midst of their rebellion, God reminds his people that the covenant is two-directional, that he has bound himself to them, and he will complete his promises.
After Hosea, Jeremiah 31:31-33 paints it well: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” In the face of rejection, God promises not to leave his people, but to do all that it takes to wed them to himself, even giving them new hearts so that they may stay faithful to him.
Finally, Paul swings the door wide open on all this in Ephesians 5:25-32: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (go read the whole passage, it even references pure clothes like here in Rev. 19).
John calling the church Jesus’ Bride isn’t some new thought he had; it goes all the way back to the Garden and runs through all of God’s dealings with his people! In fact, as Paul explains in Ephesians 5, this is the reason God gave mankind marriage in the first place, so we would have this picture all around us, some of us living that picture in daily life, so that we would better understand the relationship God intends between himself and his people. To be sure, it’s not a perfect 1:1 correlation; Jesus’s church has millions of people and Jesus isn’t a gigantic polygamist, nor will the relationship between Jesus and his church be exactly like physical marriage, if you catch my drift.
However, what we see here is that Jesus intends to make good on God’s covenantal promises to his people. Jesus took on himself the full requirements of the covenant, keeping both God’s side and our side for our benefit, and he did so to save his people and cleanse them of their sin, granting them white robes to wear in his presence that were washed in his own blood (7:14).
For our mini-series on worship, this passage shows how our entire focus at the End of Time will be fully on Jesus. But this is also the moment when all of God’s promises will be fulfilled. This passage looks ahead to the future hope we have in Christ, that because of his faithfulness we will live for eternity just as God intended for us, with God as our God and us as his people. We will be free of sin and the effects of sin like death, disease, and suffering (Rev. 21:4). But this passage also reminds us of the sureness of God’s promises, that nothing can stop God from doing what he says he will. And as citizens of his kingdom, those rock-solid promises help us endure with patient hope in the here and now.
• This Sunday we celebrated Juneteenth—for those who were at service, what was it like for you?
• Could someone read Revelation 19:6-10 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• How can this passage add to our understanding of worship?
• In verse 7 Jesus’ church is called his Bride. Why do you think God describes the church like that?
• How can this metaphor of the Bride help you understand Jesus’ love for you?
•How does this passage depict the future hope of followers of Christ?
•How can this passage give us hope right now through hardship and suffering?