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Rejoice! And Give Him Glory

by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries

Week 3 of Advent: Rejoice

A COVID Postponed Wedding

Last year, my nephew got married. We all rejoice at weddings (unless we don’t approve of the marriage for some reason). And as exciting as marriages are, Blake and Eileen had the added “excitement” of COVID that interrupted their plans. They did not rejoice over the delays, but they worked together to tackle the obstacles and they did rejoice on the day they finally exchanged their vows.

They were supposed to have been married in the spring. However, Blake is in the Air Force and stationed overseas. The military would not let Blake come back home due to COVID travel restrictions, so the wedding was postponed. And then it was postponed again…and again. Finally, Eileen just stop coming up with a new date and waited for the military to allow Blake to travel.

When he did finally get to come home in August, they wouldn’t allow him enter the state we live. So we took the wedding to the state just north of us and with a lot of pulling strings, getting a quick marriage license, and people working together to make it happen, Blake and Eileen were finally married…about five months after the original wedding date. It didn’t happen exactly as they planned and dreamed about but we did rejoice with them and then again when months later, Eileen was finally able to join Blake overseas.

Wedding Plans

Did you know that right now, Jesus is getting ready for the Marriage of the Lamb? He’s busy making the preparations. Just like Blake and Eileen didn’t know when their marriage would actually take place and once Blake was able to come home, we had about a week to scramble and put all their wedding plans (some altered) in place, we do not know the moment that Jesus will come again to collect His bride – the church who is all those who have placed their faith in Him as their Savior.

In fact, Jesus doesn’t even know the time. Jesus said in Matthew 24:26, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” But Jesus will not be unprepared. He is making His plans and getting everything ready. And when God the Father says, “Son, go get my children!” you can bet Jesus will be ready to welcome the church with open arms and all of heaven will rejoice.

Rejoice! Give Him glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come and the bride is ready.

Today’s verse is found in Revelation 19:7.

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.

As I read this verse about the wife making herself ready, I thought about all the months of planning Blake and Eileen did to create their very special, magical moments for their wedding day. The bride chooses a dress, venue, flowers, cake, and caters. She chooses her maid of honor and bridesmaids. She chooses the music for the wedding service and the reception. On the day of her wedding she sits for hours to get her hair done, carefully puts on her make up or hires someone to do it for this special day. She puts on her dress and veil. Slips on her shoes.  She takes the arm of her father or maybe an older brother or someone who has been a father-figure in her life and starts down the aisle towards her waiting groom to join her life with his.

What is the Marriage of the Lamb? answers this question this way:

The concept of the marriage supper is better understood in light of the wedding customs in the time of Christ. These wedding customs had three major parts. First, a marriage contract was signed by the parents of the bride and the bridegroom, and the parents of the bridegroom or the bridegroom himself would pay a dowry to the bride or her parents. This began what was called the betrothal period—what we would today call the engagement. This period was the one Joseph and Mary were in when she was found to be with child (Matthew 1:18; Luke 2:5).

The second step in the process usually occurred a year later, when the bridegroom, accompanied by his male friends, went to the house of the bride at midnight, creating a torchlight parade through the streets. The bride would know in advance this was going to take place, and so she would be ready with her maidens, and they would all join the parade and end up at the bridegroom’s home. This custom is the basis of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1–13.

The third phase was the marriage supper itself, which might go on for days, as illustrated by the wedding at Cana in John 2:1–2.

The Implication of John’s vision says the following:

What John’s vision in Revelation pictures is the wedding feast of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and His bride (the Church) in its third phase. The implication is that the first two phases have already taken place. The first phase was completed on earth when each individual believer placed his or her faith in Christ as Savior. The dowry paid to the bridegroom’s parent (God the Father) would be the blood of Christ shed on the Bride’s behalf. The Church on earth today, then, is “betrothed” to Christ, and, like the wise virgins in the parable, all believers should be watching and waiting for the appearance of the Bridegroom (the rapture).

The second phase symbolizes the rapture of the Church, when Christ comes to claim His bride and take her to the Father’s house. The marriage supper then follows as the third and final step. It is our view that the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place in heaven between the rapture and the second coming (during the tribulation on earth).

Jesus will rejoice for His Bride

One of my favorite parts of any wedding is watching the groom’s face light up the moment his bride starts down the aisle and he sees her in all her wedding glory. Blake was no different. His whole face shown with joy and he was grinning from ear to ear. I thought about the moment that Jesus sees His bride and the joy He will express in that moment. Can you imagine what it will be like to see the Savior’s love for us on his face? Oh, how we will rejoice to see Him!

The bride has made herself ready

Revelation 19:7 tells us the the bride has made herself ready. How do we make ourselves ready for Jesus? By admitting that we are sinner, lost and bound for hell, which is the penalty for sin. We must believe that Jesus is the one and only Son of God who died in our place to pay the price for our sins. And we must confess our sins, ask Jesus to forgive us and then confess Him is our Lord and Savior.

1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In that moment, you become a child of God, a part of the church and you have made yourself ready for the Lamb and you can rejoice knowing that Jesus is getting ready for you to join Him at the marriage of the Lamb.

We can rejoice because Jesus is getting things ready

From the moment that Jesus ascended into heaven until the moment he returns for His bride, He is making preparations to receive His bride. In John 14:2, as Jesus was assuring His disciples and telling them that He would be leaving them to return to His father he said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He’s getting ready for His bride and we can rejoice in that.

Would you marry a stranger?

If you have ever watch the TV show, “Married at First Sight,” they put together a whole wedding in less than 2 weeks and then marry someone they have never met, allowing so-called “experts” to match them and create an arranged marriage. Referred to as an “experiment,” the couples are legally married and live together for eight weeks and then decision day comes and they have to decide if they will stay married or get a divorce (A testament to how little the marriage vows mean in today’s society and how common and acceptable divorce is.) Based on the number that stay married and the number that get divorced, it doesn’t look like that these marriages based on “scientific data” is any more successful than traditional marriages.

When the show first started, they married three couples. Over time, they began matching four couples. In each marriage, you can see the stress of the brides and grooms as the moment they are to meet their spouses at the altar to exchange vows arrives. They don’t even know each other’s names until they get to the altar. They don’t know what one another looks like or their likes and dislikes, bad habits – they know nothing about one another. (Side note: I don’t advocate for such a marriage, just pointing out the added stress of marrying a total stranger.)

We’re not marrying a stranger

Thankfully, Jesus is not a stranger to His bride. We have met Him in the scriptures and He tells us everything we need to know about Him. This is why reading your Bible everyday is so important. It is there that you meet your waiting Groom and Savior. It is in the pages of scripture that we learn to rejoice in the love of our Savior. In the Bible, we learn that He loved us so much that He left the glory and splendor of Heaven to be born as a human infant to a poor, virgin girl, grew up in poverty, was rejected and despised, nailed to a cross, died and then rose again – all because of His love for us.

True Love

Our version and understanding of love is mostly based on a Hollywood created version of love – or a Disney princess Happily ever after. My son loves the movie, “The Princess Bride,” which is known for the true love between Wesley and Buttercup. A “love” that can bring Wesley back from being “mostly dead.” Hollywood would have us understand love as riding off into the sunset and heading out to life without problems. Whenever we measure our marriage based on the conceived ideas of love that Hollywood has created, we will always find our marriages lacking and we’ll choose divorce trying to find that elusive idea that Hollywood has created.

We cannot truly understand love until we personally know and experience the sacrificial love of Christ. Any other love is cheap, lust, selfish, and leaves us unhappy and wanting something different. God created us to desire and to know and love Him. Until we experience His love, we don’t truly know what love is. True love is selfless and sacrifice and Jesus sacrificed his life for us. When we understand His love, we can rejoice!

Death cannot stop true love

In the “Princess Bride” movie, Wesley says, “Death cannot stop true love, it can only delay it for a little while.” Jesus’s death did not stop his love for us – in fact, it’s why He came to earth. But neither did his death delay His love. He expresses His love to us in so many ways, each and every day. He is right now lovingly getting everything ready for the Marriage of the Lamb. And even as we wait for His coming to get his bride, He is working every thing out for our good. Take a moment to pause and acknowledge the ways He has expressed His love to you this week. Rejoice and praise Him for his unconditional love that never ends.

We’re not promised “Happily Ever After”

As the bride of Christ prepares for her groom, it’s important to remember that Jesus never promised an easy life. In fact, Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation.” We can also expect times of chastisement (Hebrews 12:5-11). And sometimes, things happen in this world that we simply cannot understand. But we can trust in the promises of God that He will never leave us or forsake us or that when we walk through the fire, He is with us. Even when things happen that we don’t understand, we can know that God is working everything out for our best and He will carry us through to the other side.

Is the bride of Christ ready for his arrival?

What are we, the bride of Christ, doing to prepare for the marriage of the Lamb? Are we prepared to take our place beside Him? Have we yielded and surrendered to God so that we are ready when it is time? Are we walking by faith, obediently living for Him? Are we telling others about Him so that we bring them with us to the marriage feast? Do we know and understand His true love for us? Are we daily reading His Word so we can get to know Him and develop a relationship with Him? We don’t often hear of arranged marriages anymore. Could you imagine marrying someone that you met once at the altar of a church but never saw again? We get to know the groom as we study God’s Word, attend church, worship with other believers, and through prayer. How well do you know the groom?

What are you doing to prepare for the marriage of the Lamb? The groom is coming!

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