Revelation 5: 1-7; 19: 6-9; 21:9-11
I seek help, dear brethren, to say something as to the Lamb and the Lamb’s wife. Revelation is a book which is very interesting. It tells us what is going to take place when the church has gone. John is told, too, at the outset to write what he has seen, what he sees, and the things that are, things that have been and things that are about to be after these, Rev 1: 19. That is what the book is taken up with. The things that have been - I suppose you could say we have been occupied with them this afternoon, the Lord Jesus, the way He has gone, His sufferings. The things that are - that is what there is now; chapters 2 and 3 are the things that are, especially chapter 3. The last four assemblies, as we have been taught, go on together and go on to the end. Think of the Lord Jesus looking round, looking round these assemblies, thinking of how He is able to speak to them. He has taken account of what is in them. Oh, dear brethren, what would He say if He looked in our localities? What could He commend? How He delights to commend! He does that first, does He not, mentions what He can commend? But then, too, “But I have against thee”, Rev 2: 20. The call is to repent. How solemn! What would the Lord say about my locality? He is able to take account of it at any instant, any moment. What is He saying? Do we need to repent? There are only two assemblies that are not spoken of as needing to repent. One is Smyrna and it might be said that that day is gone - a day of terrible persecution against the Christians, and Philadelphia. If you say you do not need to repent, you are putting yourself in Philadelphia and if you claim to be in Philadelphia, the danger is you are Laodicean. How solemn!
The book changes a little at the beginning of chapter 4. John is called to “Come up here” (v1), an allusion, I would understand, to the rapture, “Come up here”. That is what we are waiting for. That is what we sang of, we are waiting for the Lord to come, we are going to hear His voice. Have we heard His voice? Has each one in this room heard His voice, heard His appeal in love in the glad tidings, “Come to me”, Matt 11: 28? Have you heard that? Have you heard that appeal? I believe every one in this room has heard it, but have you answered it? Because if you have not answered it, at the next cry, “Come up here”, you will not be there. How solemn! And yet God in His goodness and grace is giving you a fresh opportunity now. You say, ‘This is not a gospel preaching’. No, but it is important. I happened to pick something up this morning that spoke about Noah, Noah and the eight souls that were in the ark, and the rain coming down. All these persons in the rain were going higher up, as the waters were rising, going further up the hill, further and further up the hill as the waters rose. They would say, ‘I wish I was in that ark’, but it was too late. Dear friend, at the moment it is not too late for you, it is not too late. God in His goodness is giving you an opportunity now. You might say, ‘Well, it is the gospel tomorrow’. Who says you have got tomorrow? You have got now. Oh dear friends, think of what we talked over in the reading, what the Lord Jesus endured. That was for you, that was for me. Have you come to know Him as your Saviour? If you have not come to know Him as your Saviour, what we are going to talk about has no bearing on you. “Come up here”. Are you ready for that? If that call was to go out now before this address is finished, would you be ready for it? “Immediately I became in the Spirit”, Rev 4: 2. What a viewpoint John gets. If you look around the scene that we are in, we take account of things, how terrible they are. Oft-times I think we have earth’s viewpoint as to them. Let us get heaven’s viewpoint, “Come up here, and I will shew thee …” The church is going to go, the church is going to leave this scene, the church is going to be with Christ in glory. What a moment! And we have this book so that we know what takes place on the earth after the church has gone. But also, I believe we are to be regulated by these things now.
And John becomes in the Spirit. “Come up here … Immediately I became in the Spirit”. What is the first thing he sees? He sees a throne in heaven, and he sees One sitting on it. Whatever goes on in the earth, or has gone on in the earth, the throne is unchanged and it is unchanging, as is the One who sits upon it. What a marvellous matter, as we consider all that is going on around us, if we get a glimpse into heaven we find that the throne is undisturbed. What a marvellous matter that is, dear brethren. That is the first thing John sees. Then he sees those round about it, these living creatures. What do they speak to us of? The lion would speak of strength, a calf would speak of dependency and tenderness, a man would speak of intelligence, and a flying eagle would speak of swiftness. Now these things have to mark us and are seen in heaven. Then there are these elders, twenty-four elders. What they represent is intelligence, wisdom, experience, and all this is in complete accordance with the throne, and Him who sits on it. Can we say that? Can we say that this afternoon? Are we in complete accordance with the throne and the One who sits on it? What is going to take place, the ways of God relating to the earth. What is going to take place is in the book and it has not been opened yet. It is written within and on the back, the fullness of the ways of God in relation to His dealings with the earth. All that is displeasurable to Him is going to be taken away. Who is going to do it? “Who is worthy to open the book, and to break its seals?” The search goes on. No one! No one was able. Who is going to take up God’s desires for the earth? Men? Governments? Think of the weakness of government, think of what they try to do, what they set out to do, and how largely they fail, how largely what they do is reactive. They react to a situation or a need, and they try to deal with it after it has taken place, try to make sure things are dealt with properly and see that things will not happen again. For the blessing of men they may try to do that, but here is God’s book. Is anyone able to deal with things in the way that God is looking to do it? No one. No one is found able, no one is found worthy. John weeps. I wondered about that. John knew the Lord. John knew who He was, and yet he weeps. It is almost as if he had forgotten about the Lord, but there is one of the elders, who was in the secret of it. Are we in the secret of what God is going to do? Are we in the secret of what God is able to do? The elders are. Think of what they represent. “Do not weep”. Immediately a word of comfort is brought in, and then he tells him, “Behold, the lion which is of the tribe of Juda, the root of David”. What a One! This is the Lord Jesus, this is the One, “the lion which is of the tribe of Juda”, that is the One who is victorious, who “shall have annulled all rule and all authority and power”, 1 Cor 15: 24. He shall annul it! He is the One who is the victorious One, the One who has been in death, the One who has laid down His life for you and for me, and has come out triumphant, who has bound the strong man and spoiled his goods. He has come out of the grave triumphant, risen victorious. He has the keys of death and of Hades. What a Victor!
Blest Victor, Thou, o’er every power malign
That is the Lion of the tribe of Juda.
What a One He is, the Root of David - that is His deity. That is the deity of the Lord, the Lord is God. “I this day have begotten thee” (Ps 2: 7) relates to time, as Man. There is no begetting in a past eternity. The Lord is God, the Root of David. What a One He is! Offspring of David too, that relates to His humanity. I suppose that is what He has accomplished as the Lion of the tribe of Juda. Think of David, think of the true David. Think of what David secured for God, and so much more the true David. “Behold, the lion which is of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, has overcome so as to open the book, and its seven seals”. How wonderful it is! The Lord is going to take up all that God has in mind for the earth in perfection.
This book is written. There will not be any bits scored out. God will not have to change anything. Man would put in errata, but there is nothing of that. This book is written within and on the back, and it is sealed. God has sealed it and said that is what is going to happen, and the Lord Jesus is the One who is going to open the book and everything is going to take place under His hand. What a One He is, the Lion of the tribe of Juda!
Yet when John looks again he does not see a lion, he sees a Lamb. Think of the suffering character of what the Lamb speaks to us of, “the meekness and gentleness of the Christ”, 2 Cor 10: 1. Think of what a lamb portrays to us, what is defenceless, what is meek, what is untainted. The Lamb speaks to us of that. That is what John sees, “a Lamb, standing, as slain”. Think of what we have been occupied with already this afternoon, the way the Lord Jesus has gone for us, the Lamb. Think of what was lamb-like, “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and was as a sheep dumb before her shearers, and he opened not his mouth”, Isa 53: 7. Think of what the Lord Jesus endured at the hands of men. We did not go into what happened at the court of Pilate before the chief priest and the Jews. Think of what He endured in a lamb-like character. Think of who He was, the Root of David. Think of who was there. “He opened not his mouth”. Our brother referred to Peter in the reading, He left us a model through suffering. The Lord is a model for us in everything. How He is a model for us in suffering! How quickly we feel we have been hard done by, how quickly the flesh rises up in us to justify ourselves, and the Lord is a model in suffering. Think of the way that He went, “he opened not his mouth”. Think of that time, standing before these men, how He accepted it all. He had to go that way because He had to carry out the work of salvation and redemption, “a Lamb standing, as slain”. Does it affect your heart that this is the One who has gone that way, and who is the One who is going to open the book? “A Lamb standing, as slain, having seven horns”; it speaks of the perfection of power, seven horns. The Lord was crucified in weakness. Outwardly it was weakness, that was what was outward. Morally, of course, there is no weakness in the Lord Jesus but outwardly He was crucified in weakness. There is no weakness now, seven horns, the perfection of power. All that God has in mind is going to be carried out in power and in perfection. “The seven Spirits of God which are sent into all the earth”; seven eyes, which are able to take account of everything perfectly and carry it out. Oh, what a One He is! That is the Lamb and all that His suffering speaks to us of, and He is going to have a vessel that is suitable to Him in that character.
That brings us to His wife. Think of the Lamb, and the Lamb’s wife. The assembly is the Lamb’s wife, and how suitable it is as we consider that the One who has suffered should have one who is able to answer to Him on the line of suffering. How suitable that is. Do we consider it? How much suffering there is at the present time. We spoke of the church at Smyrna earlier. We might say that day is gone now. We are not persecuted in that way any more, and yet there are areas where such persecution is continuing. I know of an Iranian, a believer, a Christian. He has been in this country for many years and where he comes from in Iran there have been Christian believers for almost two thousand years. There have been believers, Christians, in that place since before there have been in our own country; and they are being persecuted. If they do not convert to Islam, some of them are being slain. These things are still going on. Think of the way the Lamb’s wife is being formed at the present time. She is being formed in suffering; so these things continue. I wonder how much that word to the overcomer in Smyrna means to these people, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give to thee the crown of life”, Rev 2: 10. What an encouragement! I suppose you could say the history of the testimony, the history of the assembly, has been marked by suffering. Many of the apostles were martyred. Think of the age of the martyrs. In the last century or so brethren have known what it is to have financial hardship. Think of the present moment with many passing through suffering in their bodies. Why? It is so that this vessel is prepared to be suitable to Christ as the Lamb’s wife. It is not the wife of the Son of God, it is the Lamb’s wife. So there is suffering, her suffering. Paul says to Timothy, “Take thy share in suffering”, 2 Tim 2: 3. Think of what the Lord suffered supremely. We do not have to suffer much compared to the way that the Lord suffered. “Take thy share in suffering”. Suffering is something that we shrink from. I feel tested even to speak about it. How little I know about it. Suffering is something that naturally we would shrink from, but we are exhorted to take our share in it so that these features that are suitable to the Lamb may come out in us at the present moment. These things are being formed at the present time.
In chapter 19, “rejoice and exult... for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready”. What is wifely is going on now. The Lord is absent from this scene; the Lord is in glory: the Lord is installed there in glory. What a place it is! The assembly is here on earth. It is the time of His absence, the time of His public rejection. That is now, but His assembly is here. That which is precious to Him is here. Being a believer in the Lord Jesus, and being under the shelter of His precious blood, having the gift of the Spirit, you are part of that vessel, the assembly; you are part of it. So here the time is coming, “the marriage of the Lamb is come”. We enjoy a wedding. Naturally speaking it is a time of great enjoyment. We look forward to going to weddings. Here is a wedding. Is everyone here in this room going to be at it? If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus you will be at it. If you know the forgiveness of your sins, you are going to be at it, but not only at it, dear young one. You will form part of this wonderful vessel that is the bride. Think of that. You are not there simply as a guest, you are part of this vessel that forms the bride. How wonderful! What a moment, and yet we can know something of it now “Let us rejoice and exult … for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready”. In the scripture we read that readying has taken place, but at this moment she is making herself ready. She is not going to be taken unawares, she is making herself ready. “And it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints”.
It says in the note that it is actual righteousness, it is not imputed. There is that which is imputed. As being a believer in the Lord Jesus, righteousness is imputed to you, but this is practical righteousness. What does that mean? What does practical mean? That means it is what is worked out now, the bride is making her wedding dress now; that is what Mr Coates says, vol 3 p198. Have you got part in this? We should have part in it, each one of us should have part in it. You may say, ‘Well, I am not sure that I am able to do very much’. The dear young ones go round and speak to the brethren after the meetings. Why do they do it? Because they want to, because they love the brethren. Yes, but more than that, they do it, I believe, because they love the Lord Jesus and all that He has done. You may say, ‘That is the simplest thing’. The youngest one here can do something like that. That is a stitch in this wonderful garment. Dear brethren, I believe something as simple as that would be a stitch in this garment. The older we get the more responsible we are. Sometimes we do things because we feel we have to do them. That is not what is looked for here. The righteousnesses of the saints is what you are doing because you love the Lord Jesus, it is not duty. The motive behind it all is love. Think of the love that has been displayed to us. How does it affect our hearts? Are we able to answer in any way, in the smallest measure it may be: a cup of cold water to a thirsty one, a prayer for a needy saint? These are all stitches in this clothing. You may say, ‘There are times that I do not feel that the brethren appreciate me’. You do what is right, you go on in love for the Lord. You may even go further than that. Perhaps you may say that you have been badly treated. You do what is right in love for the Lord.
Another matter of practical righteousnesses is partaking of the Lord’s supper, I believe. The Lord has desires that we should be there, and partake of the Supper in the time of His absence. It is the time of the Lord’s absence, we are looking forward to Him coming again. This day will be gone, this day will be forever over, the opportunity will be gone. We will be forever with Him, and how wonderful that is. But at the present moment weekly, let it not become ritualistic with us. Sometimes perhaps we can be like that, but each time we partake of the Lord’s supper I believe that is another stitch in this garment. How wonderful!
You are doing what you do in love for the Lord, and that comes out in expression in what you do to the brethren; how we act with one another may be the way in which it comes out. Whatever we do, it may involve suffering. We are not to shrink from that. We are not to be taken aback by it, dear brethren. So this wedding garment is being made. How suitable it is! Do we enjoy that every Lord’s day? “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready”. Think of what we are making ready for. Are we making ready for it tomorrow, so that we can enjoy union with Christ? The marriage of the Lamb, can we touch what anticipates it - perhaps fleetingly, perhaps just for a moment? We can touch it, and we do touch it. What we have in Revelation is actuality, but how we can enjoy these things now. “The marriage of the Lamb is come”. You know, this is not display, this is what is for Christ Himself; this is what is for the Lamb, the Lamb’s wife. This is what is for Him. There are others that are going to be here, other families, I think, “Blessed are they who are called to the supper of the marriage of the Lamb”. There are other families in heaven that are going to be there. What a wonderful time! We are going to be there as part of this wonderful vessel. How wonderful! Everything that is here is pleasing to Christ, everything is pleasing, everything is in complete accordance with His own desires, everything is suitable. The washing of water by the word that has taken place in the present dispensation has had its effect. The judgment seat is past for each individual who is part of the assembly; they have looked back with Christ on all the way, and everything is in complete accordance with Him. There is nothing on her save what is pleasing to Him. What a moment! Think of what is for God’s own heart, think of what is for His own heart. Think of this vessel which is a complement to Him as the Lamb. These things are to be gone through now. Are we able for it? That is the question I raise with myself.
What we come on to in chapter 21 is the time of display, “I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit”. John was already in the Spirit. Here is a further matter, “he set me on a great and high mountain”, what elevation! Do we know what elevation like this is, and to be able to take account of this scene? What a scene it is! It is a scene of display. You know the Lord Jesus, the Lamb: “I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife”, the one who is in complete accordance and suitability to the Lamb. ‘I am going to shew it to you’, the angel says to John. It is going to be shown to a wondering world. She is going to be the vessel of administration in the millennium, a thousand years of rule. The assembly is the holy city, Jerusalem. He is going to administer for a thousand years. She is qualified to do it because she is the Lamb’s wife. She has known what it is to suffer. She has known what it is in the time of the Lord’s absence to be standing for His rights, and now she is fitted for display. What a moment! Think of the Lord, think of the delight that this must be to the Lord. The Lord is the Lamb who opened not His mouth, Acts 8:32. Think of that! Are you looking for vindication? No. He was vindicated when He was raised by the glory of the Father. He was further vindicated when He was taken up into heaven and installed in glory, and here is this public vindication. How long has the Lord waited for it? He is still waiting for it. Oh, what a wonderful matter this is. Here is display. Here is where all that has been formed in suffering in the present time is going to come out in display. How suitable this vessel is to the Lamb. Oh, dear brethren, are we being formed by this at the present time? Are we able to endure sufferings, how many and varied they are, so that we are suitable to come out as the Lamb’s wife? The beginning of the chapter is the eternal day. It does not speak of the Lamb and the Lamb’s wife there because what we have is the tabernacle of God, it is God dwelling with men; but the time of display, what it will be.
Well, dear brethren, I trust we know something of these things, and I trust that we are able to endure suffering. As we look on the Lord Jesus as the One who is the model and as we look forward to what lies before us. Indeed, we are looking for Him to come. How patiently the Lord Jesus is waiting. How patient He is, waiting to see His church complete in His presence. The Lord is waiting for that, and we should be waiting, waiting patiently too for this moment when He is going to come out and reign, reign “from the river unto the ends of the earth”, Ps 72: 8. What a time! And the assembly, the Lamb’s wife, is going to be there as His bride, wholly suitable to Him, reigning with Him. Oh, what an answer to His suffering!
May we be encouraged, for His Name’s sake.
14th October 2006