CDPCKL · The Great Suppers of God, Part 1 (Revelation 18:21-19:10)

The Great Suppers of God, Part 1 (Revelation 18:21-19:10)

It is hard for us to grasp just how devastating the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple was for the ancient Jewish people. When Babylon’s armies came and carried the people away into captivity in the far east, beyond the Euphrates river, they did not just lose their homes and their freedom, really they lost any hope of salvation. 

This is because, in the Old Testament, the entire system of salvation was centered around the temple in Jerusalem. 

From the very earliest days of the nation, the people understood that, despite our best efforts, it is impossible to live on this earth without becoming corrupted, unholy. And they understood that God cannot live with unholy people. At the same time, however, God had also promised that he would live with them. 

But how is this possible? How can a holy God live with unholy people? 

This is why God set up the system of temple sacrifices: so that the people could be regularly forgiven, their relationship with their Heavenly Father restored. 

And this is why, when the temple was destroyed, defiled, the people really wondered if they would be able to have a relationship with their holy God ever again. 

And really, their whole situation was made even worse by the fact that they were forced to live under Babylon’s rule. Because Babylon’s entire social system was a complete inversion of Jerusalem’s. In their own homeland they could at least try to structure their lives around God’s Law. But life in the Babylonian empire made this almost impossible! They were forced to compromise with corrupted Babylonian values on many different levels just to survive — and so, not only did they find themselves removed from the source of their salvation, they found themselves living in a land that was actively dedicated to defiling them. 

And this is why, when we read the words of the Old Testament prophets who wrote during this terrible time, we find that they often describe the city of Jerusalem as a woman who has been captured and sold into sexual slavery. In one place Jeremiah says this: “I hear the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hand and saying, ‘Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers.’” In another place he says, “What can I say that I may comfort you, Virgin Daughter Zion? Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?” There is an instinctive understanding that, even if a woman managed to escape from such a terrible situation, even if she managed to find her way back home to her father’s house, she would never fully recover from the physical and emotional trauma of that abuse. And even if there could be some measure of healing, in the eyes of her community she would always be damaged: who would ever want to marry her, love her, give her a family and a future? The prophet Isaiah described it like this: In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, “We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!” 

This is the kind of darkness and doubt God’s people experienced during those years of captivity in Babylon: the fear that, even if they managed to find their way home, their Heavenly Father would not accept them back into his house. 

But this is why the prophets also made sure to tell the people that, no matter how terrible the abuse, no matter how deep the wound, God would redeem his nation and provide a future for her. 

For instance, right after Isaiah wrote that part about how seven women will all try to marry one man in order to cover their shame, he went on to say this: In that day the Branch of the Lord — the warrior Messiah — will be beautiful and glorious. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. 

And as we read during our Call to Worship today, Jeremiah promised, “Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion. I am against you, you destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth. I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain.” 

And Jeremiah was so confident this would happen that, when he finished his book, he sent a man to tie it to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates river outside the city of Babylon as a symbol of how complete the fall of Babylon’s empire would be. 

Well, the prophets were right: Babylon fell in a single night. God’s people did find their way home, and God did accept them. A new temple was built, the cleansing sacrifices restarted. 

And from that point on, every year when God’s people gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast, they would arrive singing the Hallelujah Psalms. ”Hallelujah“ is a Hebrew phrase that means “Praise the LORD.” The Hallelujah Psalms were originally written to celebrate how God redeemed his people from Egypt, but after that they had a double significance as a celebration of their redemption from Babylon. 

So, with all this Old Testament background in mind, we are now ready to return to the Book of Revelation and understand what is going to happen next. 

When John first wrote down these visions, Jesus’ Church was already in the same Babylonian situation that God’s people experienced in the Old Testament: the city of Jersusalem was gone, the temple destroyed, the holy nation scattered. Now, those who had refused to accept Jesus of Nazareth as God’s Messiah were once again lost in an empire dedicated to defiling them, without any hope of forgiveness through cleansing sacrifice. However, those who had accepted Jesus as God’s sacrifice Lamb did carry the hope of salvation with them wherever they went — but still, they were faced with the very difficult task of trying to live holy lives in the midst of an absolutely corrupted system. 

Our situation is the same. We do not live under the rule of ancient Babylon, or under the rule of ancient Rome. But both of those ancient empires were actually just the individual heads of a sea-serpent whose monstrous body has remained concealed beneath the surface of events for most of human history, a beast that is the source of every tyrannous nation on earth — including the nations that we live in now. In essence, every nation on earth shares the same corrupting values as ancient Babyon and ancient Rome, they are all just heads of the beast, reincarnated aspects of Babylon the Great. 

And, as John showed us last week, reincarnated Babylonian values are always an inverted mockery of the values God first set up for mankind in the garden of Eden. God’s law is centered around compassion for the poor and the defenseless; Babylonian law is centered around commerce at the expense of the poor and the defenseless. 

And so the problem for all Christians is this: even though we live in a world increasingly dominated by Babylon’s commercial values, we are still called to live according to Jerusalem’s compassionate values. 

Now, when we put it like that, we all say, “Well, of course we choose compassion over commerce!” But the reality is a lot more complicated, isn’t it? We all know, intuitively, that if we actually did live consistently according to God’s compassionate values, we would quickly become the poor and the defenseless. And who wants that? And so — as we discussed last week — we are always wrestling with the temptation to adopt the commercial values of the world around us. We are always trying to justify why we should. We are always telling ourselves that we are different, that we would use worldly power and prosperity for good, that our generation would succeed where every previous generation has failed. 

These justifications are a lie, of course, fully supported in every generation by a flood of false teachers who secretly want to defile Jesus’ Church from the inside-out. Worldly power is like a gun that explodes when the trigger is pulled: it backfires and kills every community that tries to use it. We know this! — through scripture, history, and our own experience — and still we find it so hard to figure out the line between “necessary participation in the world” and “total integration with the world”. 

And so, just like God’s Old Testament people in the Babylonian empire, just like Jesus’ New Testament people in the Roman empire, we also struggle with this constant sense that we are unable to walk that line properly. The Church is like God’s daughter, and we long to live lives that please our Heavenly Father, but generation after generation we find ourselves captured and sold into cultural slavery in large ways and small ways, we find that we just cannot quite extricate ourselves from the corrupted values of the societies around us, we carry with us wounds as deep as the sea. We hear the voice from heaven saying, “’Come out of her, my people!’ Flee from Babyon!” — but so often we do not really know what that even means. We are told that the chains of our slavery have been broken, that we have been set free, but so often we do not know which way to go, and besides: even if we did manage to find our way back home to our Father’s house, what if he rejects us anyway? 

But this is why Jesus told John to write down these visions in the Book of Revelation: he wants us to know that, no matter how terrible the abuse, no matter how deep the wound, God is going to redeem us. 

And Jesus is so confident this redemption will happen that, here, he gives John this vision as an echo of Jeremiah’s confidence in the Old Testament: 

[21] Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” 

A millstone was a large, flat rock used for grinding grain after the harvest, and a millstone in a factory mill would have weighed several hundred kilos. So for this “mighty angel” to throw it into the sea symbolizes the end of Babylon’s commercial power, the end of Babylon’s food supply and economy. 

This vision is also the final fulfillment of Jeremiah’s symbolic action in the Old Testament: Jeremiah’s man threw a small stone into a river, and this resulted in the destruction of Satan’s ancient Babylon. Here, a mighty angel throws a mighty rock into the sea and this results in the destruction of Satan’s global Babylon. 

It is also the final fulfillment of an event that was previewed for us back in Chapter 8, when we saw something like a huge mountain thrown into the sea, and a third of the ships were destroyed. That was a symbol for how Rome’s collapse would disrupt the economy of one third of the earth. Here, we get to see that the future “destroying mountain” of Babylon is really nothing more than a large rock in God’s eyes; just as Jeremiah prophesied in the Old Testament, God will one day roll it off the cliffs and get rid of it forever. 

And so now, with the commercial heart of Babylon removed, the angel goes on to say this: 

[22] “The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No worker of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. [23] The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. [24] In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth. 

So now Babylon has been paid back, in blood, for the blood she has shed. The city is a bombed out shell, lifeless except for the demons and impure spirits still haunting the ruins, a civilization brought to absolute stillness, darkness, silence. 

And this silence here is meant to take us back to the silence just after the Lamb opened the seventh seal in Chapter 8. 

Now, if you remember that episode, we saw an uncountable multitude standing before God’s throne, wearing white robes, holding palm branches in their hands, poised and waiting while an angel went to the golden altar of incense, filled a golden bowl with fire from that altar, and hurled it on the earth. At that time there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake as the old earth was deconstructed, each part cleansed and made holy again, ready to be reassembled into a new creation. 

According to the Old Testament patterns of worship, that is when the multitude should have burst into a great song of praise! — but instead the vision in Chapter 8 suddenly cut to the beginning of the next cycle and we were left…disappointed. 

Well, now we finally get to hear that song: 

[1] After this, John says, I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, [2] for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” 

God’s redeemed multitude is now singing the Hallelujah Psalms. Just as God’s Old Testament people used to sing and carry palm branches through the gates of Jerusalem as they arrived for the Passover feast every year, so now — for the last time — God’s people sing the Songs of the Redeemed as they are lifted up, out of Babylon’s ruins, and pass through the gates into their eternal home. 

[3] And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” 

Back in Chapter 15 we got to see this same multitude, with harps in their hands, standing beside what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire, singing the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb — but we were not told directly what that sea contained, or why it was glowing with fire. 

Well, here we do get to look down, into those depths, and what do we find? The earth: every mountain shattered, every valley filled with rubble, every ocean congealed black like dried blood, every city burning — a world populated only by zombies and fallen gods — and the smoke from her goes up for ever and ever. 

Then [4] the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” 

We first met these twenty-four elders and four living creatures way back in Chapter 4, when John first arrived in God’s heavenly throne room. Throughout the book they have served as angelic worship leaders for God’s living people and God’s living creation, and we have seen how, at various points, these angelic beings have cried, “Amen! Lord, may it be so!” and how, from time to time, they have even expressed frustration and grief over how hard it is to guide rebellious mankind into true worship. 

Well, now they have finished their work. Their students are graduating from ”worship school”. And so this is their final Amen. This is the moment they hand their completed project over to God and then retire. We are not going to see them again from this point on, because — to be honest — they have been replaced by us, their former students. That is why, in verse 5: 

[5] Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” 

The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures were our representatives before God’s throne in heaven — but when we finally arrive at this point in history, we will be there to represent ourselves before God’s throne. 

And of course, when the voice from the throne says, “Praise our God, all you his servants!” we obey: 

[6] Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. [7] Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. [8] Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” 

And then John explains that fine linen symbolizes the righteous acts of God’s holy people. 

[9] Then the angel said to me 

— now, this is probably the same angel that has been guiding John since Chapter 17, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, though this could be the mighty angel that threw the rock into the sea just now. 

But anyway: 

[9] Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” 

— which is really an extended way of saying, “Amen!” once again. 

And [10] at this, John says, I fell at his feet to worship him. 

John is overwhelmed by the glorious weight of this blessing, so he falls at the feet to worship the one who spoke that blessing. 

But the angel says, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” 

In other word, the angel is saying, “It is God who is the source of this blessing, not me! I’m just a servant, like you. I’m just the messenger! Do not worship the messenger!” 

And this just goes to show us how easy it is for even a very mature Christian to become over-impressed with the glory of a miraculous revelation. We know from John’s other letters that some people in the Asian churches were already claiming to be more ”anointed“ than others because they were receiving special revelations from angelic beings: the angels would give them new spiritual insights in exchange for worship, and then those people would use those spiritual insights to set themselves up as spiritual gurus so that other people would worship them. 

In response to this tendency, the angel is making two points: 

First, angelic beings and human beings are actually more or less equal in God’s economy. A man like John would never consider worshiping a physical person, no matter how great and powerful that person might be! — and so he should not consider worshiping angelic persons either. 

Second, if a human or angelic messenger is truly from God, they will prove it by refusing to be worshiped. A false teacher or a fallen angel will always be happy to take credit for their power, to use their power to benefit themselves. But anyone who is truly anointed with the true Spirit of prophecy is going to push attention away from themselves and always toward the testimony of Jesus. 

And John was humble enough to write down his mistake here. He could have covered it up, pretended that it did not happen — after all, he is like a spiritual great-grandfather in Jesus’ Church by this point, why would he want to embarass himself by admitting that he lost his way for a moment? But John was a man with the true anointing of the Holy Spirit, so he was happy to publically confess his sin if it could serve as a warning to all his spiritual children and grand-children. 

Even so, as we look back over what the angel said here, we can understand why John would be overwhelmed, and why his first instinct would be to worship the messenger. After all, isn’t this the answer to all his prayers and ours? The great city of Babylon that has terrorized the world in its various forms down through the ages has finally been silenced, once and for all! — while in the heavenly city of Jerusalem, the great song of the redeemed has just begun. Never again will Babylon the Great host a wedding feast; as the angel said, “The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again” — while on Mount Zion the wedding supper of the Lamb is just getting started. 

The prophet Isaiah made this promise: The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Here, that prophecy is fulfilled: For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. After hundreds and thousands of years of captivity and abuse and fear, Daughter Zion has found her way home at last, and discovered that her Father has not just healed her of her wounds, he has arranged a marriage for her with his only begotten Son, his only heir. Which means that every bit of the inheritance that the Father passed down to his Son is going to be passed on to us, his bride. And we are going to find out exactly what that looks like during the weeks to come. 


But in the meantime, really we have to ask: what does this passage mean for us now? How are we supposed to apply this to our lives today? 

Well, since it is the wedding supper of the Lamb we are looking forward to, really our application should be: let’s make sure we are invited. That is, basically, what the angel said to John: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.” In other words: “Trust me: you really want to be invited to this party!” 

So, okay: how can we make sure we are invited? 

It’s pretty simple, really: look to the Lamb, the Lion, the King who is waiting for you, and accept his offer of marriage. 

So listen, if you are here today and all these Christian ideas are new to you, this is your application, this is what God wants you to do: he wants you to accept his Son’s offer of marriage. 

But what does that mean? 

Well…I do not know you. I do not know what degradations you have suffered in this world. But I do know that you have been degraded by others in their ambition to get ahead, to push you down so they can push themselves up. I know that you have also degraded others in your own ambition to get ahead, sometimes even pushing down the people that you love the most. And I know that you have degraded yourself to get ahead. I know this because we are all the same in that way. We all share the same problem: it is impossible to live on this earth without corrupting the earth or being corrupted. 

Now, by the way, every religion and every philosophy on earth agrees that this is the fundamental problem with our existence. Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and even secular atheist philosophies all agree that the mere fact of our living means we are corrupting and consuming resources and being consumed in turn. Our lives are what philosophers call a zero-sum game: in order for you to win, someone else has to lose; in order for someone else to win, you have to lose. This is the nature of our world, and everyone actually agrees on this. 

And, everyone — or, almost everyone — agrees on what we have to do to solve this problem. Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and even secular atheist philosophies all agree that the only way to make this life tolerable for ourselves and the next generations is for each generation to somehow balance the spreadsheet so that we give back as much or more than we take. 

The details differ, of course: for Muslims, giving back means prayers and fasting and pilgrimage; for Buddhists, it is meditation and control; for Hindus it is a system of rituals and a reverence for various forms of animal life; for secular atheists today, balance consists of things like carbon taxes, or recycled plastics. 

But underneath all these details, every philosophy has this one thing in common: they are all saying that there must be balance, and we must do the balancing, we must pay the debt. 

But there is a fundamental problem with this solution to the fundamental problem. And this is it: how will we ever be able to pay back the resources we have used without continuing to use resources? 

And, once again, I have to tell you that deep thinkers from every single religion and philosophy all agree that this is a fundamental glitch. Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist and Christian thinkers have all realized that it is in fact impossible to reverse the consumption of our existence by continuing to practice consumption. In short: the greatest thinkers of every generation have drawn the conclusion that existence is a zero-sum game not just on a personal level, but on a universal level: in order for us to win, the universe has to lose; in order for the universe to win, we have to lose — but if the universe loses, then obviously we also lose, because we depend upon the resources of the universe for our existence…! 

So if you are here today, and you are from a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or atheistic background, really you only have two choices: you can play the game of trying to repay your consumption by continuing to consume, and ignore the fact that this is actually a logical contradiction; or you can just say, “Screw it! I am going to consume everything I can until I die, because ultimately I don’t care about the next generations!” 

Those are basically the choices offered by Babylon the Great. This is the Babylonian system, the Roman system that John has been describing for us during the last few chapters of Revelation. 

…now, I realize all of that is some pretty abstract philosophy. Some of you are really into that, but I know that for some of you this just makes your eyes glaze over. 

So let me turn all this into a concrete example: once you have taken a bite from a fruit, it does not matter if you immediately regret damaging the beauty of that fruit. Even if you spit out the piece you have bitten and try to put it back, the fruit is ruined. It will never be whole again. 

And here’s the thing: we all began eating the fruit of the universe from the moment our mothers’ bodies began spending resources to give us life. Basically, if you are sitting here today, it is already too late: you have been eating the fruit for years. So if you are looking at the half-eaten fruit of your life and you are thinking that it was probably more beautiful before you started chewing on it, now you have a choice to make. You can say, “Oh, well, too late! I don’t care!” and keep on stuffing yourself, or you can try to spit up what you have eaten and to put it back, which is…never going to work. 

Or you can follow a third path. A minute ago I said that almost every religion and philosophy agrees on the solution that is not really a solution, because there is one religion, one philosophy on this earth that disagrees. There is one system on this earth that refuses to submit to the logic of Babylon, and that system is Christianity. 

The Babylonian system teaches that the key to balancing the spreadsheet is you restoring the fruit you have eaten, and the Babylonian system also works very hard to hide the fact that this is actually impossible. Christianity alone refuses to hide the truth. Yes, the key to balance is you restoring the fruit, and this is actually impossible, illogical. Therefore mankind has no hope. 

— unless, somehow, something apart from us decides to restore balance, restore the fruit back to the way it was. 

And this is ”something“ must actually be a ”someone“, because true restoration is something that only a conscious Creator God can accomplish. The universe cannot do it, because the universe is a closed system, contained within the zero-sum game: we consume the universe and the universe consumes us back, energy cannot be created or destroyed, it only changes form. The only way to bring new energy, new unspoiled life into the system is by bringing it in from outside. And new life must always come from old life. Therefore, if there is going to be a restoration of our system, there must be a living God who exists outside the universe, a God who was the original source of life for everything in the universe. He would be the one who created the fruit in the first place, so he would be the only one with the power to re-create the fruit. 

Christianity is the only system on earth that believes the original Creator God has offered to take what we have consumed, bury it in the ground, and grow it up again into something completely new. And he did this by sending a new unspoiled life into the universe in the form of a man, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus became a human being, just like us. He participated thoroughly in our Babylonian system, he consumed the resources of our universe just as we do, and then he allowed himself to be consumed: he lost so that the universe could win, so that balance would be restored. 

That is what the death of Jesus Christ means to our Christian faith: Jesus became the broken and buried fruit of all mankind so that the spilling out of his eternal life into the universe could become the seed of a new humanity and a new creation, overloading the Babylonian system from the inside-out. 

Basically, this is what Jesus’ offer of marriage to you means: if you accept, then you will share in his eternal life, and all the degradations you have given and received in this life will be undone. The bible tells us that when a man marries a woman they become one flesh: the woman draws her life from man and gives it back again, and together they become something new, they create something new. Now simply take that idea and expand it: this is what it means to be married to the eternal Son of God. 

It does not matter where you come from or what you have suffered. It does not matter how you have been degraded and defiled: you can be made new. Many of us in this world have experienced abuse that we know cannot be fixed, we know we are going to carry these wounds as deep as the sea for the rest of our lives. The fruit of our lives cannot be uneaten, but it can be reborn. 

So do it. Accept the invitation. Just say, “Lord Jesus, save me!” and he will. 

Now, what about the rest of us who have already accepted the invitation? What are we supposed to do with the rest of our time here? 

Well, our application is found in the hymn of the great multitude in verses 7 and 8: Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. 

One of the ways we know we have been invited is this: Fine linen, bright and clean, has been given us to wear. We have received a package, and that package contains a set of white robes. A wedding dress! 

And what do brides generally do with wedding dresses? I am a man, so I have only a limited experience with brides, but it seems to me that when a bride receives her wedding dress she tries it on. I know my bride did, 25+ years ago. It also seems to me that a bride tends to spend a lot of time making herself ready. At least, I know my bride did. Our wedding took place at 5:30 in the afternoon, so I woke up late and spent the day goofing off with my best man until about four o’clock, then we got dressed. But my bride started preparing herself at eight in the morning, maybe? and there were adjustments being made right up to the last second. 

It works the same way for us: if we are truly the Bride of Christ, then we are going to try on the dress we have been given, we are going to be making ourselves ready right up until the last second. 

And as John explained to us earlier: that fine linen, bright and clean, symbolizes the righteous acts of God’s holy people. The package of righteous acts we have received is our invitation to the wedding feast, and the way we accept the invitation is by claiming those righteous acts as our own: putting off our old selves, which are being corrupted by deceitful desires, and putting on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 

But wait a minute! someone might say: how is this demand for righteous acts any different from the Babylonian system that demands “righteous acts” in order to balance the spreadsheet? 

Oh, it is very different! In Christ, we are no longer part of Babylon the Great, we have become Daughter Zion. We are the Bride of Christ, we are no longer the Bride of the Beast, and the identity of the bridegroom makes all the difference! 

See, the beast demands that his bride prepare herself for the wedding, and maybe — maybeif she is beautiful enough, if she brings enough dowry, then he might accept her, but no guarantees! 

Jesus, however, makes no such demands. Instead, he is one who gives his bride fine linen, bright and clean, to wear. He does not leave her wondering whether she is going to be beautiful enough, he has already told her she is. That is what this gift of a wedding dress means! It is a way of saying, “I have decided that you are beautiful enough to wear this, this first symbol of our union, this first preview of all the great blessings of my inheritance that I have set aside for you. And because I have decided…you are!” 

Babylon the Great is a bride who lives in constant fear of rejection, and that fear has turned her into a bitter, adulterous, all-consuming prostitute who has decided that the best way to protect herself is by seizing control of the whole world. But we are the Bride of Christ, a bride who knows that she will be accepted and healed and made whole, no matter what might happen to defile her in this world. As the bible says in another place: Jesus is even now cleansing the church by the washing with water through the word to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Our salvation is secure. He is making us holy. 

And this changes everything about how we make ourselves ready for the wedding feast. We are nervous with anticipation, sure, just like any bride would be. But we can be confident that when he finally arrives to carry us away from our captivity here he will be pleased with what he sees. So let us live with confidence! Yes, like God’s Old Testament people in ancient Babylon, like Jesus’ New Testament people in ancient Rome, we are faced with the very difficult task of trying to live holy lives in the midst of absolutely corrupted systems. We wish every decision was between ”compassion“ and ”commerce”, but many times it is much more complicated than that, we are often having to choose between “selfish compassion” and “generous commerce”, and it is not always so clear which way we are to go. But listen! We know God’s law. We know the 10 Commandments, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we know that for us every righteous path leads to the wedding supper of the Lamb. So let us continue to act with confidence in our Saviour’s righteousness. Let us do what righteous acts we are able to, leave the results to God, and hold on to what we have until Jesus comes to claim us. 


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