At last the seven years of tribulation is over and a new era is beginning on planet earth. Even while the Antichrists empire is crumbling below, a great gathering occurs in heaven. To begin with John hears an enormous multitude worshipping and tells us their voices are so loud they sound like ocean waves crashing on a beach or mighty peals of thunder. Then as we read what these people are declaring we discover they are rejoicing because the moment has arrived for which every believer waits: at last they will be with Jesus forever. Of course, by the presence of the Holy Spirit Jesus had never left them, but this moment is different. This is like a wedding in which a bride and groom are married. No longer must they wait for a future day to be together face to face. The waiting is over and that joyful moment has come.
Remember, when this event takes place you and I will be there standing somewhere in that multitude saying these very words we read today. This moment is the goal of everything we do: unbroken fellowship, free from all obstacles that divide us, face to face with Jesus in the undiminished presence of our Heavenly Father. This is the greatest reward and goal of the Christian life. So its no wonder we and billions of others sound like thunder as we shout, Hallelujah, for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!
Today well discover why this moment is characterized as a wedding and finally well notice two items that are sure to be on the menu.
A. The marriage has come
Why is this moment called a marriage?
1. Its a relationship of love between two people (you and Jesus)
Our focus is to be higher than escaping hell or even going to heaven
Genesis 1:26, 27 let us make man in our image. We are able to know God person-to-person
2. Its not an arranged marriage: its based on love and vows freely given (Jn 3:16)
3. Its preceded by a long engagement (Ro 8:18-25; 1Co 13:12; Mt 25:1-13)
4. We are joined to someone we already know and love, not a stranger. We walk with Him now daily though we cant see Him. He wants to be our dearest friend.
Do you know His voice? Do you talk to Him? Do you love to worship with an open heart?
Are you looking forward to meeting Jesus, or are you looking forward to seeing Jesus?
B. The bride has made herself ready
1. Matthew 25:1-13 (lamps lit)
2. People with hearts that have and keep repenting... people who step into heaven with hearts full of faith
3. Philippians 3:9 ...found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith...
4. How do we tend our lamps?
Prayer: talking with God, inviting Him into each day, acknowledging we need Him in all our ways.
Worship: beholding God, ongoing repentance and submission, refreshed by the Spirit
Word: transforming the mind (who is God, who am I, who are you?), obedience to commands, learning from the examples of people in the Bible
Spirit: moment by moment dependence (grieving, empowering, encouraging, guiding...)
Service: selfless discipleship, giving time, energy and money to bring Gods Kingdom to other people
C. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen
In His kindness God celebrates the righteous acts we have done as Christs disciples. Our sins have been forgotten but our righteous deeds will be remembered and acknowledged before all of heaven (1Co 3:13, 14).
1. God is a God of love. Everything He does is an expression of His love, so as we are conformed to Christ (Ro 8:29) we too become loving and do loving deeds.
1 John 2:4, 5, 9, 10 (light: spiritual revelation); 4:7-21
Mathew 21:43; 22:1-13
2. Real repentance produces real love, and real love combined with real faith produces real deeds.
D. The marriage supper
Undoubtedly it will be a remarkable meal, but Jesus has already told us a portion of what will be on the menu.
1. Luke 22:14-18 a passover meal
2. Isaiah 25:1-9 ...the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet
1. If theres anyone in your group who can recite some or all of the words of the song I can only imagine, do so, and then each person share how you think youll react the moment you see Jesus face to face.
2. Mention an area where Jesus has taught you how to live.