Beatitudes in Revelation (4)

Beatitudes in Revelation (4)

Beatitudes in Revelation (4).

“And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ And he added, ‘These are true words that come from God.'”  (Revelation 19:9).

“Blessed” = makarioi; a rich Greek word with many nuances, all in the context of enjoying God’s favor: fully satisfied; deeply joyful; delightfully content; profoundly happy; blissfully fulfilled. When Jesus declares that you are blessed, He is congratulating you, confidently affirming that God is active in your life. You are blessed when you put yourself in the position to be transformed by God. You are blessed, you are most fortunate, you are to be envied, because you now have the unexpected privilege of participating in the Kingdom of God. When you are blessed, you are aware that your blessedness does not depend on your outer circumstances. You are thus filled with hopeful joy. So when Jesus says that you are blessed, it is time to celebrate, for He is looking upon you with favor. In these Beatitudes, Jesus is saying that God wants us to be blessed, He is for us, He wants good to happen to us.

There are so many images in this portion of Revelation that it makes one’s head spin… The Passover Lamb is also the divine Bridegroom; our betrothal to Christ on earth has progressed to a wedding in heaven; believers are invited guests at the wedding as well as the pure bride; we see a closing chapter in human history, but we see also the beginnings of a whole new book. Sometimes it seems that, in its attempt to convey so much far-ranging content, Revelation specializes in mixed images, mixed symbolism. This certainly helps us keep our imagination on our toes.

This Messianic Banquet is a long expected, highly anticipated occasion in the Jewish faith. The wedding supper of Revelation 19 is a fulfillment of Isaiah 25:6-9, which highlights this Messianic feast: “In Jerusalem, the Lord of Hosts will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat. There He will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against His land and people. The Lord has spoken! In that day the people will proclaim, ‘This is our God! We trusted in Him, and He saved us! This is the Lord, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation He brings!”

The Great Mystery spoken of by Paul in Ephesians 5, the sacred secret of God marrying His people, so often hinted at in Scripture, can now be proclaimed on the rooftops. Isaiah spoke of this mystery when he said, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so will God rejoice over you.”  (62:5). John the Baptist contributed to the mystery when he called Jesus the “Bridegroom” (John 3:29). Paul joined in again when he calls the church the “chaste virgin” and Christ the “husband.” (2 Cor. 11:2). The deep spiritual meanings of all earthly marriages are now made clear. God has revealed what Scripture has been pointing toward, and what the angels have been anticipating… the spiritual romance of Groom and Bride, the union of the Lamb and the Church.

The Lord has been yearning for this eternal union to be spiritually consummated. He has desired this fulfillment of spiritual intimacy. After coming to the Bride’s house on earth, the Groom has now led the wedding party to the house of the Father, the home of the Groom, for the marriage celebration. This is the time prophesied by Jesus at the Last Supper, when He said, “I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:25). It is now time for the Groom to lift the cup of new wine.

As in every wedding ceremony, there comes the time for the vows. What will the Husband promise? Jesus just may quote the vow of Yahweh in Hosea: “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” (2:19-20). And then the vow of the Bride? Perhaps the simple declaration of faith from Doubting Thomas is all that needs to be said: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). And maybe the revelation of St. Peter could be vowed for good measure, “You are the Anointed One, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16). The mutual commitment will thus be fulfilled, the promise of faithfulness realized for all time. After their everlasting vows are spoken, and their loyalty and love confirmed forever, it is time to rejoice. Let the joyous festivities begin! “How happy is the one who attends a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15).