We have made it past the natural prophetic pause as described by Daniel. We have noted the mourning of the nations over the coming of Christ and the destruction of Babylon. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days” (Dan. 12:11, 12). The 45 day prophetic pause is over and now the time of rejoicing over the coming of Christ is to begin. We pass over the mere fact of the judgment to the rejoicing. “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” After the mournful pause is complete a great voice is heard. It is a great voice of much people. This is the multitude that no man can number of the seventh chapter. It is the people who have been redeemed from every nation and tongue of the fifth chapter. They have been safe in the presence of Christ while the great tribulation has tried the nations of this world, and Israel in particular, and now they burst forth in rejoicing. I find no reason not to believe that you and I that are saved through Christ will not be present to lend our voices here. This great voice would no doubt include the voice of the martyrs that cried from under the altar in the sixth chapter and their brethren who have since joined them. They know that the time that the will of God in heaven is about to become the will of God upon earth. Christ has sat down upon the throne of the Father in heaven and now He is ready to sit on the throne of David on the earth. This great event is preceded by four distinct Halleluiah’s. It is those that we will look at shortly before we see Christ riding to this earth in triumph.
The first Halleluiah is the voice of salvation. “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” The word Alleluia is a term of worship and adoration that means “praise ye Jehovah.” It is a phrase that is often used in the Psalms as “Praise ye the Lord” and there are several psalms that one can study that begin and end with those Halleluiah’s. The Greek form of the word is Alleluia which is found in the New Testament only in our text. The Hebrew phrase, haleluw Yah, is found repeatedly in the Old Testament. The name of God used in the phrase, as we have in our English Bible, is the abbreviated Hebrew word for Jehovah, JAH (Ps. 68:4). The word or transliterated phrase directs its user to the ultimate source of their blessings and joys and attributes all to Him. Handel enshrined his great work Messiah with the Halleluiah Chorus which was no doubt inspired by this very text. Each of the four Halleluiah’s of our text carry a specific connotation. This first Halleluiah is the voice of worship that praises God for salvation. John Gill stated this: “The Jews say (n), that the book of Psalms consists of ten sorts of songs, but Hallelujah is the greatest of them, because it comprehends the name (Jehovah) and praise in one word: and it is observable that this word, which is often used in the Psalms, is first used when the Psalmist desires the utter consumption and destruction of sinners and wicked men on earth, and is here taken up by the saints at the destruction of the man of sin and son of perdition….” “Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 104:35).
The term salvation here used is used in the context of the judgment of Babylon. By judging Babylon God brought salvation to His people. The most immediate picture that is brought to mind here is the picture of Egypt. The people of God suffered and served with rigor under the heavy hand of Egypt. When God judged Egypt He brought salvation to Israel. When Egypt was drowned in the depth of the sea, it was seen by suffering Israel as the sight of the salvation of the Lord (Ex. 14:13). Praise the Lord for salvation for salvation is of the Lord. The song of Moses after Pharaoh and his army were drowned in the sea was this: “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him…” (Ex. 15:2). The chief joy of God’s people is to rejoice in the salvation of God (Ps. 9:14). Isaiah prophesied of Christ that “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isa. 52:10). The doxological praise follows the Halleluiah over the salvation of God. “Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God….” All of these things are attributable to God and are laid at His feet. The model pray that was taught to us by Christ taught us to attribute the same to the Father: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13). This is the same model for heavenly worship. At a time when the kingdoms of this earth are becoming the kingdoms of our God we attribute all these to our God. Prior to Christ coming in power and great glory the saints first attribute the same thereto (Matt. 24:30). It is in fact these attributes that the people of God get to enjoy and the people without Christ will be denied (II Thess. 1:9). The attribution of glory and honor and power is of relational essence. They attribute it to Him that they call the Lord our God. From the moment they have entered into His presence they have sung of these attributes in their worship (Rev. 4:11, 5:13). They have, because of the salvation that He has brought, sung of these things with palms of celebration in their hands (Rev. 7:12).
These are the attributes that brought His judgment and therefore their salvation from their enemies. This is explained in the second verse: “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” God is known by His judgments. His salvation is finally manifest in His conquest over the enemies of His children; which includes the enemies of sin and death. Here is the enemy of the Lord, the world system, in which the salvation of God is focused; Babylon. We have read about His judgment in the last couple of chapters. The nature of these judgments, as highlighted by the Halleluiah Chorus of the saints, is that it is true and righteous. It is true because it balances the equation of the law which is the reflection of the holiness of God. Babylon had given itself over to the transgression of the law. Just as no person can break the natural laws such as gravity and such so it is with moral law. The truth of the matter is that one cannot step in front of a train and expect to be able to occupy the same space at the same time. Natural law does not permit such a thing. We do not break natural laws of physics; they break us. If we jump off a building, without appealing to higher laws of aerodynamics, the law of gravity breaks us. So it is with the moral law which is given of God. Here we have Babylon. She has played the part of the great whore. She has departed from her God in her great apostasy and has sought out other means of salvation from other lovers. She is like Israel of old, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). This Babylon went forward to corrupt the entire earth with her unfaithfulness and filthiness and lewdness. She did not just try to break the moral law but led other as well. And then she added to her sin the shedding of the blood of the saints, the servants of God that He had sent to her. Like the blood of the prophets of old that were sent one by one to Israel to be stoned and killed. The guilt of all that blood was on her hands. Thus she has been avenged. We have spoken at length on all these things. God is true. Babylon could not sin and get away with sin. No one can get away with sin. Like gravity, the law breaks them. God in salvation shows Himself to be a God of truth. The inevitable equation is balanced; two and two make four. The soul that sins dies. Moses sang of this fact: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4). He is true. He has declared that there will be judgment for sin and all who will continue in sin shall know of His judgment. He is righteous. That is essential to His nature. Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished (Prov. 11:21). God is justice in His very nature. Thus are we saved from our sins, not by blind forgiveness, but by justice being meted out upon Christ in our stead. Thus we sing of salvation here and the judgment of God. We sing Halleluiah that God has saved from the presence of sin forever; from those who do it, teach it, and persecute us for the sake of Christ.
The celebration in heaven continues with the second Halleluiah of our text and this is the voice of judgment: “And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.” Again we see the eternality of God’s judgment. Christ said that the worm will not die and the fire will not be quenched (Mark 9:43-48). It is everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46). Those who will not obey the gospel of Christ must thus embrace this fate of everlasting destruction (II Thess. 1:8, 9). The smoke of her burning will be perpetual; forever and forever. Keep this in mind those of you who want to continue in sin and thumb your nose at the Savior. This truth has already been discussed in our study: “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name… (Rev. 14:11). And it will be executed with shouts of Halleluiah for it will show us a God that is worthy of worship; a God that is true, righteous, just, and holy.
That brings us to the third Halleluiah of our text and that is the voice of worship. “And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.” We have the first mention of the 24 elders in this text since the 14th chapter when they joined the singing of the new song, the song of redemption, that no one could learn but those that were redeemed. We have studied them at length, especially in the fourth and fifth chapters and we know that they represent the whole of the redeemed company in heaven. These joined the four beasts, which we have seen representing the angelic realm and have been studied at length already, in worshipping God; the God that sits on the throne. It is important to note that there was no apathy or indifference in their worship. They did not sit to worship. They did not stand to worship. They fell on their faces. They in the face of the glory of God and the glory that was ready to be revealed, sought the lowest place in order for God to be that much more exalted by them.
They worship the Lord with two words: Amen; Alleluia. These two words sum up the totality of worship. We are entering the sacred ground of worship in our text and we must take off our shoes for we are standing on holy ground. The word Amen first appears in the scriptures in the book of Numbers regarding the curses of God (Num. 5:22). It was most often used as a reply of the people of God to the certainty of the curses of God under the law (Deut. 27). But, It could just as easily be used to described the sure blessings of the law (I Chr. 16:36, Neh. 8:6). In the Psalms it is often used as a declaration of the people that the Lord is blessed (i.e. the source and end or goal of all blessings) forever more (Ps. 41:13, 72:19, 89:52, 106:48 – see also Rom. 1:25, 9:5, 11:36, 15:33). Jesus Christ Himself taught us to use the word to end our prayers (Matt. 6:13). All four of the gospels end with the word Amen. In fact, with few exceptions, almost every book in the New Testament ends with the word Amen. Paul summed up the connotation of the word when speaking of the surety of the promises of Christ: “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (II Cor. 1:20). When said by the believer we are declaring that God’s word is truth and that it is fully sure because it comes from Him. It is speaks of the submission of the believer to those words: so be it or let it so be. It rests fully in God when it is declared. We have studied that word at length already in our study of this book. We have seen that that surety finds its fullness in the person of Christ whom we can definitely call “the Amen” (Rev. 3:14). That is why the word looms so large in the worship of true believers. It is the expression of the fullness of one’s faith. And when connected with word Halleluiah it naturally progresses from faith to glory. The word of God is sure and true, praise ye the Lord. The two words (Amen and Halleluiah) appear together only one other time in the Scripture: “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 106:48). This is the solid ground of worship.
The worship here is connected with an invitation for all to join. “And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.” The voice came out of the throne. It did not come from before the throne or around about the throne to indicate that this is the voice of angelic beings or glorified saints. This can be none other than the voice of God Himself. I think it would not be beyond the pale to say that it is the voice of the Holy Spirit of God that speaks in unity with the Father and Son to draw men with cords of love to worship. The term that leaps out, though, is the term ‘our God’ which seems to indicate a human or angelic (i.e. non-divine) voice speaking. There can be no doubt that the voice is deity since it comes from the throne but yet there also must be a dimension of the voice that is not divine since it calls the one on the throne, our God. There is only one that is 100% God and 100% man. He cried, in His humanity “My God, My God” and taught us to pray “Our Father.” Christ dwells in light of that no man can approach. It is in Him alone that humanity is exalted and brought up to the very throne of God. This is the voice that invites men to worship.
It mirrors the beginning of two great Halleluiah psalms (Ps. 113 & 135). “Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord” (Ps. 113:1). “Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the name of the Lord; praise him, O ye servants of the Lord. Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant” (Ps. 135:1-3). Both of those Halleluiah psalms speak to us about the greatness of our God above all. True worship occurs when God alone is praised and exalted. Regardless of what earthly station one may hold, small or great, God is to be praised. We see Him as the object of our service. We see Him as the object of our fear. It may seem odd to this world for the servant to praise his Lord. It may seem odd that fear is coupled with praise. It may seem odd for the people in great stations to see God as their all or the people of small stations to praise Him for His provision. True fear of God leads to worship. True service to God leads to praise. The Holy Spirit speaks to the those of us that are saved, those that serve and fear God, and invites them to join the praise and the shouts of Halleluiah. There needs be none that are left out. Another Halleluiah psalm rightly leads us to this: “Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 148:11-14).
That brings us to the last Halleluiah which is the voice of eternal rejoicing. “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia….” This is the voice of a great multitude. No doubt it is meant to mean the multitude that no man could number in the seventh chapter. They have received the glory of being received into the eternal abodes of Christ where they are forever with Him. And now they praise Him in His moment of triumph. It is the voice of many waters for it is the voice of many nations and peoples and tongues (7:9). It is the voice of mighty thunderings because it proceeded also from the power and presence of God (Ex. 20:18, Rev. 4:5, 8:5, 11:19). The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit (Rom. 8:16). In joint concert with the Spirit of God, the glorified body of believers from all nations and kindred sing the praises of God. The reasons for their Halleluiah Chorus touches on one of the glorious of subjects: Christ and His bride.
First, they praise the Lord because He reigns: “for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” It has always been the song of the redeemed to sing that the Lord God reigns (Ex. 15:18). The voice of worship often sings of the fact that God in His very nature reigns over all things; thus it is an essence of His glory: “The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself…” (Ps. 93:1). It is to be proclaimed by all who know God: “Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth…” (Ps. 96:10). The mere fact itself is a source of rejoicing to those who belong to God and a source of trembling to those who are rebellious against Him (Ps. 97:1, 99:1). Not only is it a truth of His nature but it is an expectation of His creation: “The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord” (Ps. 146:10, see also Isa. 24:23 and Mic. 4:7). When the seventh trumpet finally sounded it was declared that God who reigns in the heavens will now reign forever in the kingdoms of men (Rev. 11:15, 17). The word omnipotent finds its only source in the scripture in this text. It is the awe inspiring attribute of the one who created all things. Handel in His Messiah sang in his chorus this very truth. The God who has all power over all things reigns and shall reign forever. This is well worth singing about. He is the one true God. He is the Almighty. Man makes war with the Lamb but He shall overcome them (Rev. 17:14). It is in the light of such glory that we come to know such grace that follows.
They then praise God because the time of His marriage is come: “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.” The call for rejoicing and gladness is fitting for a marriage (Song 1:4). It is also fitting for the day of the coming of the Lord (Ps. 118:24). It is fitting also for those who are to receive a reward (Matt. 5:12). There is an event coming, a great feast day, which will call all believers to a place or rejoicing and to give honor to God. The marriage of the Lamb is come. We have been espoused to one husband; the Lamb of God that takes away our sins. This is an exciting subject. Let us begin with the mere fact of it. There is going to be a wedding day in which all believers will be eternally joined to Christ. That marriage is anticipated by many instances of Scripture. It will include the redeemed of Israel: “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee” (Isa. 62:4, 5). It will include the New Testament church: “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (II Cor. 11:2). It is connected, as our text above in Isaiah insinuates, regarding the return of Christ to the Promised Land. Jesus Christ spoke two distinct parables about this marriage. The first to speak of is a call for people to be wise and be ready for the coming of Christ by having the oil of the Holy Spirt in the parable of the ten virgins. Christ will come again and we are to wait and look for Him (Matt. 25:1-10). The other parable is worth reading at length. “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (Matt. 22:1-10). The wedding day is coming. Song of Solomon is without a doubt the most beautiful picture of the rejoicing of that day: “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies” (Song 2:9-16). This is the great day that has come. The Son is coming with His bride to marriage feast. And we are all invited to be there.
Their joy becomes even more glorious when we start to consider the bride, for they praised the Lord because His bride was now ready to go forward with Him: “his wife hath made herself ready.” This is important prophetically speaking because it is connected with the anticipation of the marriage supper as sited above. The history of humanity began with a marriage. The public ministry of Christ began with a marriage. The Scriptures end with a marriage. The marriage event in which our God and Savior takes His bride is essential to eschatology. There are a few questions that are worth asking here: who is the bride, how has she made herself ready, and for what has she been readied?
First, who is the bride? A bride is someone who is fully engaged or espoused to a potential husband and is as such presented to that husband to be received as the wife of that husband. I would like to note that the term wife is used in our text and not the term bride. Whoever, this personification is meant to reveal to us, it is therefore someone who has already been received into the unity of marriage. There is a unity that is implied by the word wife. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). It is two entities (one man and one woman) becoming one in purpose and identity. So any answer to who the bride is would include questions on when they were brought into the marriage and became the wife. When did they become one? Further, such a relationship is of divine origin and not of human agency. Christ when expounding on the text from Genesis stated this: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). The consummation must have already occurred and was described in the fourth and fifth and seventh chapters. They are now no more twain but one; and so shall we ever be with Him.
Marriage is a divine institution whereby God melds two persons together and no longer recognizes them as two, but one. The identity of the groom is inherent to the text. The groom is the Lamb of God. It is also inherent to the text that the marriage is the event of the second coming: “the marriage of the Lamb is come….” This is the point in which the bride ceases to be the “espoused wife” and becomes the “wife.” Paul said of the church that they are espoused to one husband. Paul said elsewhere: “Husbands, love your wives, even as 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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:25-32). The wife, then, is the church, the assembly of believers, who will in that day be with Christ at His return. It will include all who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, those for whom Christ gave Himself. When glorified they will be presented to Him as holy and without blemish and He will forever be one with them.
This is not taken in the Old Testament understanding of the nation of Israel who was said to be married to God (Jer. 3:14, 31:32) but departed from her husband through iniquity. Israel is indeed being reconciled to God (Rom. 11, Hos. 2:19, 20). The church when glorified will be made up of both Jew and Gentile who are in Christ (Gal. 3:28). Speaking in terms of dispensational truth, there is a clear distinction between the Jew, the Gentile, and the church of God (I Cor. 10:32). Each have their own destiny. The times of the Gentiles will come to an end. The reconciling of Israel to their God will come and so will the fulfillment of all promises to them that God gave to Abraham. The church, were there is no distinction between persons and every man stands equally redeemed, will be glorified with Christ in heaven and be with Him forever. The metaphor of marriage is powerful to describe the relationship between the body of believers and their Lord. We are one with Him the moment we are saved. We are espoused to Him with the earnest promise that He will return and take us unto Himself. And one day He will return to receive us unto Himself that we may be where He is (John 14:1-3). At that point we will be one with Him, just as a man and wife are one flesh, not only in spirit as we are now but in body.
Secondly, how has the wife made herself ready? The idea with making something ready is ensuring that everything is in place and presentable. The disciples for instance made ready the feast for Passover. In the context of the bride or the wife it is connected with the idea of adorning or making one’s self attractive or beautiful. One of the great lessons we as believers learn from reading Song of Solomon is the desire to make ourselves appear beautiful to God. Beauty is kin to holiness; moral perfection (Ps. 96:9). Such an adorning, which would include the Gentiles as well as the Jews, was foretold by Isaiah as he peered forward into the second coming of Christ: “And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations” (Isa. 61:9-11). The body of believers make themselves ready through the work of sanctification. Consider the adorning of the high priest as a model of sanctification. First, they were brought to the tabernacle (a picture of Christ – John 1:14) where there were washed with water (Ex. 29:4). It says of the bride of Christ that “Husbands, love your wives, even as 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…” (Eph. 5:25, 26). The psalmist also echoed the same sentiment: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Ps. 119:9). The bride makes herself ready by attending to the Word of God; reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it, applying it to our lives, and proclaiming it. Secondly, after being washed with water they put on their priestly garments (Ex. 29:5, 6). Time will not permit us to speak of the things that that believer is to put on. They are to put on above all things the Lord Jesus Christ which is synonymous with the armor of light (Rom. 13:12-14, Gal. 3:27, Eph. 6:11). We are to put off our sinful past and put on the righteousness of Christ: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24, see Col. 3:9-14). Thirdly, the priest was anointed with oil (Ex. 29:7). This speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit. It is enjoying the comfort and security of the Spirit: “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Cor. 1:21, 22). It is learning of Him and relying fully on Him: “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (I John 2:27).
All of those things were done to the priest prior to them entering into the tabernacle. So it is necessary for us to be so adorned, to make ourselves ready here and now for that time in which we will enter into the heavenly realities of which the earthly tabernacle was but a pattern. Entrance into the wedding feast always required the proper adorning: “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:11-14). Our text looks to that time when we will enter the heavenly realities. We have made ourselves ready with all but our outward garments and there is coming a day in which we will enter a tabernacle not made with hands: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” The word “and” indicating additional information; she was ready and then she was arrayed. Paul explained, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:53). He stated elsewhere, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (II Cor. 5:1-4). That was the final touch for the readied wife. She was made free from sin forever. She put on the linen white and clean. She bore the perfect righteousness of the saints that was provided for her once and for all by Christ. Now she is fit to reign forever and ever with Him. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:8-11). Goosebumps still run up our necks when we hear that old song: “This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise and seize the everlasting prize….” It is all of God’s grace as term granted indicates. He granted it to her and arrayed her by His grace. Thus the wife is made ready.
Now, for what is she made ready? She is made ready for the marriage supper: “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” The person speaking is not the voice heard out of throne a few verses prior but the angel that has been guiding John since the first verse of the 17th chapter. We know that it is not the voice of God speaking because of the 10th verse: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God….” John ignorantly fell to worship at the foot of this angel only to be rebuffed for his ignorance. We learned that the angel is simply as servant, a fellow servant, with the believer who has the testimony of Christ. We learn a few lessons from that exchange how easy it is to turn aside to falsehood for John was easily drawn away. Lord, help us not to turn to the right hand or to the left. We also learn that angels are not to be sought after or bowed down to. They are not divine and are not to be worshipped (Col. 2:18). Many cults begin with the worship of angelic beings. God alone is to be worshipped. So agreed Christ (Matt. 4:10 – Jesus therefore must be God – Matt. 15:25, Luke 24:52 – Therefore Christ is God). The angel however carried the fullness of God’s messages. He spoke the true sayings of God. The truth he carried was the blessing of the marriage supper. The Lamb was coming again, this time as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. His wedding to the bride was to be marked with a wedding feast on earth. The supper is yet to be described at the end of this chapter. The fowls of the air were to supper on the flesh of the enemies of God and the wife will be forever blessed to rule and reign from that point forward with Him. This is a blessing indeed.
The four Halleluiah’s have now rang out from the saints in heaven who are now ready to come to the earth with their Lord and Savior to forever reign with Him. Before we see that, let us consider one more thing. The last words of the angel were this: “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” While correcting the apostle, and as a way of introducing the great vision of the second coming of Christ, the angel sets the context for both the celebration in the first nine verses of this chapter and the coming of Christ that follows: “worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The admonition of the angel to John directed worship toward God and then further directed John’s attention to Christ who is God manifest in the flesh. There is no escaping the fact that the God that the angel calls John to worship is Christ and the focus that he wanted to correct is off of himself and on the one that was coming upon the white horse to this earth. The angel goes on to indicate that the chief end of saints and angels is to bear testimony to Jesus Christ: “I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” That is the great commission to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world. And in proclaiming Christ we are worshipping God. The design of all prophecy, both that which foretells and that which forth-tells, is to proclaim Christ. The making known of the divine will, which is what the prophets and apostles did when they wrote the Bible and what we do when we proclaim the same, is what is meant by the word of prophecy. Preaching and witnessing is a dead lifeless body if it is not filled with Christ. He is the life giving spirit to all that we say and do (I Cor. 15:45). The volume of the book is written of Him (Ps. 40:7). Christ, when proclaiming Himself to be the bread of life, said of the body of law absent of Him that it was of no profit: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Many so-called churches today spend their time preaching social gospels and are not proclaiming Christ and His cross as the answer for sinners. Those are dead churches. If you and I do not proclaim Christ, it does not matter how moral and how charitable we are in every other area of our life, we are dead and lifeless. As we approach the event of the second coming we see Christ ready to be exalted and we can look back at every word that was given to us in the Bible and we realize that every jot and tittle of it has led to and rejoices over His exaltation. Paul stated that “all things were created by [Christ], and for [Christ]” (Col. 1:16). Proclaim Christ and you will only then find yourself to be a true worshipper of God.