And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thunder, saying, ‘Alleluia: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints” (Revelation 19:6-8).

There is remarkable similarity and contrast between erses one and six. In both verses John heard "the voice of a great multitude...saying, 'Alleluia!" But in verse one the rejoicing is a collective sigh of relief that the harlot is finally gone. In verse six there is irrepressible joy because the "wife...of the lamb" has finally "made herself ready." Heaven is erupting with praise, more enthusiastic than in any other part of the whole Book of Revelation.[1] At first this seems surprising, because the Second Coming, the Millennium and the final end of sin are still future. But all of those are possible onoly because of what is being portrayed here: "the marriage of the Lamb."

Many have assumed that the bride of the Lamb, referred to here as His wife,” is the Christian church. But in chapter 21 an angel invited John, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great high mountain and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:9,10). John then goes on to give a detailed description of the city. In these verses the Bride is New Jerusalem, the future dwelling place of the saints and of God. But in chapter 19 it says that His wife has made herself ready,” which does not seem like something a city can do. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that New Jerusalem will be the capital city of the Kingdom of God. Jesus in His parables seems to indicate that the marriage of the lamb” is the same as Christ receiving His kingdom.[2] Christ’s kingdom includes the church, but it is much more—it is the whole universe, redeemed from the baleful effects of sin. Thus the Bride of Christ is the kingdom He will receive, represented by the capital city, New Jerusalem.[3]

What kind of a kingdom will Jesus receive? All kingdoms consists of territory and property, laws and policies, subjects and rulers, and most importantly, a king. God's kingdom also has these elements. The King of kings and Lord of Lords” is, of course, Jesus (Revelation 19:16). The territory that Jesus receives includes this world (“the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” Revelation 11:15). Satan, having been cast out of heaven, claimed this world as his own. He lost his right to this world at the cross and will lose his dominion when Jesus comes. But the territory of the kingdom includes much more than this world. Jesus is and will be “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet” (Ephesians 1:21,22). In other words, His kingdom includes the whole universe. There will be no rebel galaxies or dark strongholds of evil.

The law of this world has been the “law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2) and the policy has been like it was during the lawless time recorded in the book of the Judges, when “there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). But the law and policy of the kingdom will be “the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8).

The subjects of the kingdom will include all the sinless creatures of this world[4] and of the uncountable worlds throughout the universe who in their own simple or complex way serve and offer praise to the Sovereign Lord. Throughout the reign of sin they have been suffering along with the human race—“For we know that the whole creation groans…for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:22, 20,21).

Continue to next section: RULERS OF THE KINGDOM

[1] A possible rival for enthusiasm of praise is Revelation 4 and 5, when Jesus the Lamb presented His sacrifice so that the Book of Life could be opened and the judgment of the Day of Atonement could begin.

[2] Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast begins saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son” (Matthew 22:2). Jesus went on to say that when the king sent His servants to call those who were invited they made excuses, refused to come and mistreated and killed His servants. In response the King “destroyed those murderers and burned up their city” (vs.3-7).

Likewise, in Luke 19, “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return…but his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.” When he returned he commanded, ‘Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:12-27). Thus the father arranging a marriage for his son and the nobleman going to receive a kingdom have parallel themes and a similar outcome—in both cases those who should have been a part did not want to and had to be destroyed.

The nobleman who went to receive the kingdom was happy to find some of his servants faithfully doing their assigned work and ready when he returned (Luke 19:15-19). Likewise, when “the master” returns from the wedding he is pleased to find his servants faithfully watching and waiting (Luke 12:35-38). From these parallels we see that the “marriage feast” and “receiving a kingdom” refer to the same heavenly reality.

[3] Daniel 7 seems to compress fifteen chapters of Revelation into five verses, with the climax occurring when Christ receives His kingdom (His Bride). The prophet saw the beginning of the great Day of Atonement (“The court was seated, and the books were opened” Dan. 7: 9,10), which is the focus of Revelation 4-7. Then in verses 11("the pompous words which the horn was speaking") he saw the blasphemous activity of Babylon (in Daniel called "the little horn") which plays such a large role in Revelation 8-16. Next he saw the destruction of Babylon (“the beast was slain and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” Daniel 7:11), which parallels Revelation 17 and 18. Finally Daniel saw “One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him” (Daniel 7:13,14). This receiving of the kingdom is what is called in Revelation, “the marriage of the Lamb.” In Daniel 7, just as in Revelation 19, it happens in Heaven as the Day of Atonement is finishing and Babylon destroyed, and before the Second Coming of Christ (which in Daniel 7 is in verse 22, “and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom”).

[4] The creatures of this world have been marred by sin, but in the kingdom they will be recreated, so that “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox… They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the Lord” (Isaiah 65:25).