Letter from Chairman Rhodes: “The Marriage of the Lamb”
August 20, 2012
The exciting Feasts of God are drawing very near as we end the month of August. As we often see during the fall Holy Day season, world events seem to speed up during this time of the year.
In 1973, Israel was attacked on the Day of Atonement, in what has become known as the Yom Kippur War. In 1987 an international financial crisis took place, along with another in 2008.
This year the secular press is predicting the likelihood of another major financial crisis, euro-centered, sometime between now and October. In the Middle East we are witnesses to the ever-worsening Syrian conflict—a growing clash between Sunni and Shia Muslims. At the same time there are increasing predictions of an Israeli strike on Iran before the November U.S. presidential election. The speculation is that the current administration in Washington could not be too critical of Israel just before the election!
With impending world-changing events likely to take place in the next few weeks, what should we be focused on?
“Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) reminds us of where our priority should be at all times. “Thy Kingdom Come” (verse 10) should be a part of our daily prayers. We all know just how desperate this world is for the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
But for us, especially, it’s even more personal.
Preparing for the Marriage Supper
Revelation chapter 19 looks forward to Christ’s return and the marriage supper—the time when Jesus Christ marries His Bride, the Church. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (verse 7). Our priorities are clear—to seek first the Kingdom and to make ourselves ready for that very same Kingdom!
The prophet Daniel spoke of this time as a time “when many shall run to and fro” (Daniel 12:4). The literal meaning in the Hebrew here is “to lash at sea with oars”—implying travel. It’s only in recent decades that people have been able to travel extensively, a development that has led to us all feeling exhausted as we rush around trying to fit in way too much. The result? We neglect the spiritual priorities that are essential if we are to focus on what is most important.
Added to this is the other prediction in the same verse, that “knowledge shall be increased.” This implies a multiplication of knowledge that is overwhelming. It’s impossible to keep up with it all, but many try by reading books, papers and magazines, or surfing the Internet, or watching television—all at the expense of our seeking the Kingdom and making ourselves ready.
It’s ironic that at the same time knowledge is increasing, the knowledge of God is decreasing. Paul wrote Timothy that in the last days many would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). That reminds us of another priority we have: the need to preach the gospel with great fervency and zeal throughout the world so that others may come to the knowledge of the truth.
How Do We Make Ourselves Ready?
One way to be ready is mentioned immediately after the reference to the marriage supper. “And to her [the Church] it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). My New King James Study Bible says this in the margin in explaining this verse: “The bride of the Lamb wears a garment of precious fine linen that symbolizes the good works of believers. In other words, the white garment signifies faithful obedience to God.”
In Matthew 22 we read of a guest attending the marriage feast in the parable “without a wedding garment” (verse 11). When asked why he was unprepared “he was speechless” (verse 12). It’s sobering to think that some of us may one day be in that same situation. How could that happen?
Earlier in the parable we read that some of those called to the wedding supper “made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business” (verse 5). In other words, the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).
But we are exhorted to be spiritually very fruitful: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8).
We will have no excuse when that day comes. There’s plenty of warning in the Scriptures about the need for us to “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). As we obey God’s laws and live as Jesus Christ lived, so we will increasingly understand His Love.
We cannot boast that we have ever lived up to Christ’s definition of a true Christian as explained in John 13:35. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Preparing for the marriage supper means that each one of us has to become more like Jesus Christ—this is part of making the bride ready. Just as a bride prepares for her marriage by learning to please her future husband, so we must learn how to please our future husband, Jesus Christ. Just as a wife should submit to her husband, so we must learn to submit to Christ.
Much of this comes down to time management. What are our priorities? We must “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16). Our priorities were laid down for us two millennia ago when Jesus Christ walked the earth. Asked by a lawyer, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:35), “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind’” (verse 37). Put God first. It’s that simple! But how many do that? “This is the first and great commandment” (verse 38). “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (verses 39-40).
It really is that simple. We are instructed to live our lives according to the two great commandments—love toward God, which includes obedience to His commandments; and love toward others. Living according to the two great commandments is “the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8).
If we want to be in that wedding supper we need to change our priorities to ensure that we are not preoccupied with the cares of this world, but rather we are focused on living in accordance with the two great commandments.
Have a wonderful, uplifting and truly edifying Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles.