The Wedding That Brings Worldwide Rejoicing
A WEDDING is a happy event. In most cases it is something that has been looked forward to for some time in happy anticipation, and the preparations are made for it joyfully. Family and friends all attend and congratulate the newly married couple. What wedding, though, causes real, heartfelt rejoicing on a worldwide scale? or even a national scale? Some weddings may receive wide publicity and even approval but really no great jubilation.
There is, however, a wedding that, not only for the joy the knowledge of it brings, but for the happy benefits it brings to millions of persons, actually does provide a cause for happiness world wide. Extensive preparation has been made for this wedding. This in itself is a special cause for rejoicing. Let us develop the subject of this important marriage and we will see how the foregoing statements are true.
The marriage is dealt with in Revelation chapter 19 and the description of it comes immediately after the account of the destruction of Babylon the Great. What connection does this have with the wedding? Well, let us look also for this as we read the happy account. A wide view of the things that would happen in both the heaven and earth at the time of the marriage was given to the apostle John. Describing what he saw after Babylon the Great came to her end, he says:
THE HEAVENS INVOLVED
“After these things I heard what was as a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven. They said: ‘Hallelujah [Praise Jah, you people]! The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous. For he has executed judgment upon the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.’ And right away for the second time they said: ‘Hallelujah!’ And the smoke from her goes on ascending forever and ever.”—Rev. 19:1-3, NW, with marginal reading of the 1950 edition.
Jehovah is here deservedly praised for bringing vengeance against Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, for all the blood shed upon the earth. According to his law she must pay with her own life, for the only way bloodguilt can be removed from the earth is by the shedding of the blood of the murderer. (Num. 35:33) So Jehovah cannot be assailed as being unjust because of executing this judgment, for it is true and righteous and in full harmony with his principles. Neither can glory for the destruction of this bloodguilty enemy of God and man be given to international communists and radicals of the “kings” who have part in destroying her, for since the days of Nimrod she has had her hold on the nations and they have not been able to throw off the yoke. Only in Jehovah’s due time does he himself bring it about.—Rev. 17:16; 18:8.
To symbolize that her fiery destruction is for all time and that she will never be revived is the fact that the smoke from the burning of her “goes on ascending forever and ever.” Then true Christianity will prevail forever!
A CALL TO SONG
In response to this call, “Hallelujah!” (Praise Jehovah!), comes a mighty combined Amen! (meaning “Truly; verily; so let it be”). The shouts of praise from the heavenly and earthly crowd are backed up in the highest heaven. It is from no less exalted a source than those assigned to sit on thrones in the heavens of God’s presence, as pictured by the “twenty-four older persons,” and all those around God’s central throne who continually call attention to his holiness, as pictured by the “four living creatures.” These are the ones who voice this strong Amen! And then from a still higher authority, from the throne itself, comes the voice: “Be praising our God, all you his slaves, who fear him, the small ones and the great.” Whose voice is this? It is undoubtedly the same voice that spoke centuries previously when He inspired the Psalms, such as Psalms 22:23; 134:1; 135:1; 115:3, from which he quotes the words.—Rev. 19:5.
Jehovah God is the One seated on the throne, and here he doubtless speaks from his throne by means of his beloved Son, namely, Jesus Christ, who is called The Word of God, Jehovah’s glorified mouthpiece. (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13) In heaven the Son was called Michael, meaning “Who Is Like God?” a name that designates him as God’s vindicator, the one who settles such a question forever by showing that none can compare to God. He recognized Jehovah as his own God, speaking of him repeatedly as “my God.” (Rev. 3:12) He died in order to bring praise to his Father. It is logical that the command from God’s throne comes through him to all the dedicated slaves of God on earth at the time of Great Babylon’s destruction. Why at this point praise Jehovah God? By reason of his demonstration of judgment and power and executing Babylon the Great. We should now fear him all the more. Whether old or young, prominent or not, in God’s visible organization, fear God rather than the kings of the earth who mourn over Babylon’s destruction, or even the powerful symbolic ten horns of the scarlet-colored wild beast that God used as convenient instruments to slay Babylon the Great.
Babylon the Great’s destruction is certainly a fine move for complete rejoicing in the marriage of the Lamb, for she has always been the bitterest enemy on earth of those who have been selected to be engaged to marry the Lamb, that is, to be prospective members of the Bride, the body of his 144,000 spiritual joint heirs, his congregation. Babylon has done everything that she can to destroy them and to prevent the marriage, but in doing so she has gone against the God of heaven, the Father who arranges the heavenly marriage for his Son and whose purposes cannot fail. He provides the Bride, just as Abraham arranged for a bride for his son and heir Isaac. So the day of destruction of the great, jealous harlot comes at the time of wedding for the Lamb’s bride. This certainly gives paramount joy to heaven and earth. John says:
“And I heard what was as a voice of a great crowd and as a sound of many waters and as a sound of heavy thunders. They said: ‘Hallelujah, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king. Let us rejoice and be overjoyed, and let us give him the glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself. Yes, it has been granted to her to be arrayed in bright, clean, fine linen, for the fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the holy ones.’”—Rev. 19:6-8, margin (1950).
As wedding feasts often are accompanied by singing, so this wedding enjoys the shouting of a great chorus of voices. A fourth Hallelujah resounds throughout the heavens from a mighty chorus of voices, just as if it is on the joyous day of the enthronement of a new king.
A NEW EPOCH IN JEHOVAH’S RULE
Did not Jehovah God take to himself his great power in 1914 C.E. and begin to rule by means of his newly installed Messianic kingdom? (Rev. 11:15-18) Yes. Then why proclaim his becoming king at this late point of time? Because this event marks a new epoch in the reign of Jehovah God for the reason that Babylon the Great has been a religious opposer since his kingdom has been established in 1914 and she has for many centuries assumed the right to anoint and induct kings on earth. In fact, the first human king, Nimrod, the “mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah,” started in ancient Babylon. At the time ancient Babylon fell before King Cyrus in 539 B.C.E. and he released her captives, it was said to Zion: “Your God has become king!” (Isa. 52:7) Now, with Babylon the Great destroyed, Jehovah reigns forever without a religious rival.
Although the Father has made preparations well in advance and has seen to it that his Son has a bride, do the Bride and Bridegroom make any preparation? Assuredly so. First of all, Jesus Christ laid down his life for her, then paid the value of this price, his human life, to Jehovah in heaven. He nourished her and cared for her, in the face of the stiffest opposition of her rival to destroy her by every possible means, including the bringing of political opposition against her. Babylon, in her efforts to overcome the Bride, has brought forth many harlot daughters, her member religious organizations. She has made a special effort to contaminate the Bride and cause her to be a harlot associate of her whorish daughters, by trying to seduce the bride, get her to fall through false doctrine, political involvement, interfaith movements and opposition to the point of death. Through all this fight, the Bridegroom has been with his espoused beloved one and, with his Father’s full cooperation, has seen her through it safely.—John 17:11, 19, 20; Eph. 5:25-27.
THE BRIDE’S STRENUOUS PREPARATION
On the Bride’s part it has been with great effort. It has taken faith, it has taken courage and determination and love for Jehovah God and for her espoused Bridegroom and she has had to hate wickedness and be completely clean and free from contamination by Babylon the Great in order to gain the victory. With the destruction of Babylon the Great it can be undisputedly said that the Lamb’s wife has prepared herself. She comes through the test wearing symbolic “fine linen,” “the righteous acts of the holy ones.” It is spotless clothing, and these righteous acts are a justification for her to become the Lamb’s “wife.” It has been a matter of integrity on her part, and heaven can rightly bear witness that “it has been granted to her to be arrayed in bright, clean, fine linen.” She has gained the complete victory and now no rival religious organization exists on the earth.
Since Jehovah God the Almighty is the One who makes the marriage for his Son and provides the Bride, it is proper for heaven to “give him the glory,” especially since he foretold and prefigured that there would be such a marriage and he was engaged more than 1,900 years in forming the Bride. He as well as the Bridegroom and Bride has every cause to make this a time of joyful celebration.
SHARE IN WEDDING ASSURED TO FAITHFUL ONES
When the apostle John saw the vision he was still on earth. He was one of those invited to be present as a member of the Bride class at the “evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage.” Correspondingly, when God shortly executes judgment upon the “great harlot,” Babylon the Great, there will be a remnant of faithful, anointed members of the Bride class yet on earth, as was John, who expect to be present at that same great heavenly supper. It is, therefore, of special encouragement and benefit to them to read what Jehovah commanded John:
“And he tells me: ‘Write: Happy are those invited to the evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage.’ Also, he tells me: ‘These are the true sayings of God.’”—Rev. 19:9.
For those espoused members of the Bride yet on earth there is assurance now that they will yet realize, themselves, a full share in this ceremony. When the great harlot has been executed they will have still more reason to be happy, as John, who saw these things in vision, was:
“At that I fell down before his feet to worship him. But he tells me: ‘Be careful! Do not do that! All I am is a fellow slave of you and of your brothers who have the work of witnessing to Jesus. Worship God; for the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying.’”—Rev. 19:10.
The angel was undoubtedly the one sent forth by Jesus to present to John the revelation “in signs.” (Rev. 1:1) This angel would not permit even what might be termed “relative worship.” He reminded John that only the great Source of the revelation, Jehovah God, was to be worshiped and that all prophecy was inspired to bear witness to Jehovah’s Son and anointed King, Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, for it is God’s arrangement through which the universe will be ruled and through which mankind can gain life. Jehovah is the Inspirer of prophecy, and so the angel commanded: “Worship God.”
THE WEDDING COVERS A PERIOD OF TIME
Evidence from the prophecies of the Bible and their fulfillment in our time indicates that Jesus Christ came with his Father, Jehovah God, to the temple for judgment in 1918 C.E. He first turned his attention to the members of his Bride who were asleep in death and resurrected them. They, of course, joined the Bridegroom at that time. Then Revelation 14:13 says: “Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.” So when these die they immediately join the Bridegroom in heaven. Of course, even after Babylon’s destruction there will be some of the anointed remnant left on earth. They in time must die to be able to receive the change of nature to the immortal, incorruptible spirit to be with their beloved Bridegroom. When the last of these is resurrected into the heavens, then the marriage of the Lamb will be completely consummated. But before the greatest benefits of the marriage can come to mankind the Bridegroom has a war to fight. Just how he does this and then how he and his Bride settle down to taking care of a “family,” we will wait for succeeding issues of this magazine to describe.—1 Cor. 15:51, 52.