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"Christ’s Precious Bride Revealed" Revelation 19:1-10

Hallelujah! The Harlot Judged (vv. 1-6)

Salvation and Glory to God! Hallelujah!

Every pilgrim’s heart receives encouragement to continue by hearing this heavenly Hallelujah chorus. Four times we hear “praise to Yahweh!” Heaven rejoices that “salvation and glory, and honor, and power” belong to him. He judged the great city and harlot, Jerusalem, in A.D. 70, for killing prophets and apostles, for crucifying the Lord of glory, and for not repenting when given so many opportunities. God’s judgments, past and present, bring turmoil and pain to those living in them, but praise him! We are dust and must not become obsessed with our own affairs and complain when God’s holy ways interfere with our earthly hopes and plans. We are created and redeemed to exalt him, to ascribe to him glory, which is his exalted greatness, and honor, for he is worthy, and salvation, for he alone delivers us from evil. His power is such that no one can resist him or legitimately question his ways. “Of him, through him, and to him are all things; to him will be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36).

His purposes will be realized, and they are always wise and good. We come to know and trust him as our Father when we sincerely believe that his ways are true and righteous. He never makes a mistake. He is never too soft or too hard. Even when his judgments press hard upon us, as the judgment of Jerusalem did, it was deserved. None can ever complain of unfair treatment from him. All must praise him for his leniency and longsuffering. Angels and the triumphant church rejoiced over God’s justice. He kept his covenant word; he avenged his saints. We can always trust the Judge of the earth to do right (Gen. 18:25). He now rules over all by his exalted Son, our Lord Jesus, who loves us and gave himself for us on the cross. We are eternally safe in his love and power. Let us sing and give glory to God, live praising him, take our eyes off ourselves for a moment and magnify his name.

The Smoke of Jerusalem Rises to Heaven: Hallelujah!

It is my belief that the smoking city before us is Israel and Jerusalem specifically as the center of spiritual harlotry against the Lord. She broke covenant with her Husband-Lord for centuries. He sent his servants the prophets to call her to repentance. Our Lord warned her specifically, and many of his words from the Gospels are repeated in Revelation. The connection is painfully and historically clear. But if someone takes a different view, it is also important to learn our legitimate response to God’s historical judgments, and by implication, his chastening of his children. Not dread, but praise – the Lord will preserve his truth and his covenant. The Lord Jesus will correct his precious wife when she strays. He will correct us, and it is because he loves us that he rebukes us (Rev. 3:19). If his church does not repent when he rebukes her, he may remove her lampstand (Rev. 2:5). His true wife will hear his warning and learn from his past judgments. She will “think on her ways and turn her feet unto his testimonies.” These judgments were recorded so that “we would not lust after evil things as they lusted” (1 Cor. 10:6).

As the smoke rose up from Jerusalem, all of creation and the cherubim before God’s throne rejoiced. Hallelujah! This was not vindictive praise but awe at the Lord’s mighty works. A voice from the throne, presumably the Lord’s, called for more worship! It is a privilege for us to be invited by the Lord himself to worship him. He is our Maker and Redeemer. He is the living God who made and owns the entire universe. The Lord Jesus is our great song-leader, and we must follow his singing and learn to sing more sincerely, even more beautifully. The Lord is so gracious to give his word to us, as he did to Israel, to send prophets to warn them, his Son to save them, and his apostles to shepherd them. When they rejected his grace and continued to commit adultery with Rome and the kings of the earth, he burned Jerusalem to the ground. We must fear him. We must not dread men at all, but we must fear the Lord. man’s breath is in his nostrils; he is to be counted as nothing (Isa. 2:22). The Lord is in heaven, and he does what he pleases. We must adore and fear him; we must praise him.

The Lord God Omnipotent Reigns: Hallelujah!

All the hosts of heaven – like rushing, mighty waters and mighty thunderings – proclaim in unison: “The Lord God omnipotent reigns!” His covenant, divine name, Lord, his powerful name, his sovereign name – this is a declaration of his total sovereignty, his absolute power, and his loving faithfulness. Here in this name is rest for every fearful heart, every persecuted soul, every weeping saint, every weary pilgrim – the Lord, my God, my Maker and Redeemer, rules over all that is happening in the world, in our lives, in my life and in your life. Nothing is happening outside his purposes, his watchcare, and his righteousness. That we cannot see this clearly is no discredit to him but only reveals our feebleness. It also encourages us to draw near to this sovereign God, for he is our Father. He loves us and sent his Son to save us. He dwells with us by his Spirit. None of his purposes in our lives of grace and love, mercy and peace, can fail to come to pass. Armed with this praise on our lips, we can look Satan and the flesh in the eye and hold up in faith the standard of God’s sovereignty and power. We can meet any challenge that the Lord brings into our corporate and individual lives, without fear or complaining, but with praise and hope. The more we see and praise God for his majesty and sovereignty, the smaller men will be to us, the more pitiful their schemes, and the more doomed their rebellion. See God in his majestic greatness, and you can laugh, as he does, at man the worm, man the grasshopper, man the rebel who dares insult God’s majesty.

Christ’s Precious Bride Revealed (vv. 7-10)

The Church of Jesus Christ

There is another reason for heaven’s rejoicing – the Lamb’s precious bride is now revealed. As long as the harlot woman remained without exposure and divorce, the Lamb’s wife was hidden. The Lord exposed and divorced Israel. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is now seen as the true Bride that she is – blood-purchased, pure, holy, beloved. The Lamb has come, as John announced: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” His wife is now ready. Unlike the harlot’s immoral and purple clothing, the Lamb’s wife is clothed with fine linen, clean and white. She is not dirty with the world, dirty from street living, dirty from fornication. She is washed. It is not that she is pure of herself. She has been made pure. And as the Lamb’s wife, she is righteous. She is declared righteous by her husband’s obedience, imputed to her. She is righteous in life by the Spirit working in her the fruits of righteousness. This is the way the Lamb’s wife is marked out – in heaven and in history, in your life and in mine, by the power of our husband delivering us from sin, washing our defilements away in his precious blood, and renewing our lives in holiness by his word and Spirit.

The Blessing of Union with Christ

If we look at each other, it might not seem we are giving heaven reason to rejoice. Our sins are clearer than our glory. Some periods of church history are so cringe-worthy that we are embarrassed, and rightly so, by how far beneath our true dignity we have lived. The gospel has endured immeasurably more damage, neglect, and ridicule from the lives, actions, and doctrines by those within the church than from the world. But the Lord has always seen his true church, hidden from the world, perhaps hidden from her eyes too. Our hearts are deceitful and fall quickly into pride, so it is best for us to feel our weakness so that we keep seeking the Lord. And this is exactly what marks out the true church from the false. When Christ’s Bride hears the gospel invitation to come to the wedding, she puts on the appropriate wedding garments, as our Lord told in his parable. She is not confident in her works but in her Lord’s. She hungers for righteousness, not power and recognition. She loves her Husband, not the praise of men. She wants union and communion with Jesus Christ and is willing to give up everything on earth to have more of him (Phil. 3:7-14). She wants the wedding because she wants her husband. She esteems nothing more valuable and satisfying than to be loved by her Savior. Considered from the perspective of the wedding invitation and who responds, it is a little easier to distinguish the church from the world, the true church from the false. The true Bride is willing to suffer for the Gospel, cares nothing for the pomp of popes, prelates, and priests, loves no ceremonies or traditions. She cares for her Lord. She is happy to sit at his feet, to learn from his mouth and wash his feet like Mary, and to serve him. She loves the Gospel, and she is willing to endure the Cross. She is the Queen of heaven, even if sitting in a prison on earth and waiting for her Lord to return for her.

True Prophets Testify to Jesus Christ

Hearing heaven praise and seeing the Lamb’s Bride, John fell at the feet of the angel. Perhaps he thought it was the Lord Jesus showing him these glories, but the angel quickly corrected him. “No, I am only a messenger, like you. We are testifying to the same Christ. I am of your brothers, a different nature, but united as creatures and in praise to our Head, Jesus Christ. Worship God. All God’s true prophets bore witness to Jesus Christ. We share in his one Spirit. Angel and apostle are united in common witness to Jesus Christ. Neither sinless angel nor fallen man finds his goodness in himself, but in another, the Lord Jesus. You may not think there is any place for you in such a scene. Sinners are tempted to slink away into despair. Do not. John was not seeing these things because he was good, but because he was beloved. Jesus loved him. Even the angel found the meaning of his existence not admiring his own beauty and power but in bearing witness to Jesus Christ. Come, let us do the same. Let us not stay away because of our impurities but let us bury our impurities in the saving wounds of the Lord Jesus. Let us not stay away from the church because we see her on earth so bumbling and frail. We are but seeing ourselves. Let us draw near and boast in the grace that turns sinners into saints, in our Lord’s obedience that makes us righteous. For every look we take at our own sins, our many failings, and the failings of others, let us look in faith a thousand times upon our Husband’s loveliness. And worship!

The Lamb’s Bride in Living Color

True the Grace of Our Husband: Righteous (Acts 15:11; Rom. 6:15-23)

The world is dirty with sin, but we are clothed in white linen. We have our Savior’s perfect obedience as our own. We are saved by his grace – not our works or our feelings or our good intentions. We are saved by the death of the humbled Son of God in our flesh. And we are saved from sin’s dominion to be slaves of righteousness. Our Husband delivers us from the curse and condemnation of sin, and he delivers us from its power so that we can yield ourselves to God. This, too, is his grace. All salvation comes to us through Jesus Christ. The Father has willed that we honor his Son in this way – that we look to him as the Author and Finisher of our faith. He begins the work of grace in us, continues it, and will complete it. He will not lose us. Praise! Praise! It is shocking how little we are praising our Husband for the forgiveness of sins, for the grace that brings us near to God and this throne of grace. It is shocking to hear how much fretting and complaining spew from us, when we are redeemed to praise!  If we know God’s grace in Christ, let us praise and exalt. Make your home a center of praise, and it will be a center of holiness and of power.

Trust the Lord’s Sovereign Power (Matt. 28:18; 2 Cor. 12:10)

Remember who are in Christ – protected by his power. He has all power in heaven and earth. Do we trust this? He did not do many mighty works in his hometown because of their unbelief (Matt. 13:58). I fear this is true of many long ages of the church – that trusted man’s sword instead of the sword of the Spirit; that trusted man’s organizations and pomp rather than the preaching of the lowly cross. Our Lord will work for us, but it must be in dependence upon his grace from a position of honest recognition of our weakness (2 Cor. 12:10). He seeks no strong and brash servants, but broken and humbled ones. He will not much use soldiers that do not look like him – meek and lowly in heart.

Consider our pressing need to be better witnesses for Jesus Christ. Do not wait until you feel like you know everything and can answer every possible objection. Go everywhere speaking the word (Acts 8:4). What word? The word of Jesus’ compassion for you (Mark 5:19). To bear witness to our Lord’s compassion for us completely exalts him and diminishes us – like John before the Bridegroom – he must increase, but I must decrease. Ours is not a message of pride, smarts, and feelings but of the crucified Savior, his love for sinners, and his grace to the undeserving. His wife is beautiful because he took her out of the gutter and cleansed her. He had pity upon me – PITY. I was nothing. I deserved damnation. In myself, I still deserve it. Only in Jesus Christ am I righteous and holy and headed for heaven. Know yourself better, and then you will understand better the glory of Christ’s grace and compassion. Nothing humbles the believer’s heart like the pity of Jesus Christ for a wretched sinner. This makes the best and truest witness to the glory of Jesus Christ, Broken and humbled, we joyfully exalt him.

 

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