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IS THE BRIDE OF THE LAMB READY FOR HER MARRIAGE?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

7 JULY l 996

BY Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 24:34-67
Revelation 19:5-9
                21:9-27

As Mary and I approached our 35th wedding anniversary, I couldn’t help thinking about how many marriages fall apart for one reason or another.

One or both parties won’t allow themselves to be joined spiritually to the other, or they just give up.

And in this observation there is a comparison between the Church and Jesus Christ, for the Church is to be the bride of Christ.

Let’s look at what we are told in Revelation 19:5-9:

5. And a voice came from the throne, saying,

"Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great."

6. And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

Early Wednesday morning, thunderstorms came roaring through here.

I heard the mighty peals of thunder.

I saw the almost constant flashing of lightening.

And I heard the rushing and pounding sound of many waters.

But nowhere did I hear a "Hallelujah!"

The Church should be mightier than that storm; but alas, her voice is like a baby chicken’s "peep" that can so easily be drowned out.

And as we consider what we are doing and not doing, let’s return to heaven and continue to listen:

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

Note carefully, that no one made the bride ready, but "His bride has made herself ready."

In other words, we who claim to be part of the church must make ourselves ready.

8. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

9. And he said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ " And he said to me, "These are true words of God."

Have we made ourselves ready?

Nearly 4,000 years ago, Abraham wanted to find the proper bride for his son, Isaac. Thus he sent his servant to his relatives’ home in Mesopotamia. (Genesis 24:34-67)

In a way, this journey, and its outcome, is very similar to the call of the bride to Christ.

Let’s begin this excursion into the past by listening to what Abraham’s servant said to his relatives: (Genesis 24:34f)

34. So he said, "I am Abraham's servant.

35. "And the Lord has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys.

36. "Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age; and he has given him all that he has.

37. "And my master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live;

38. but you shall go to my father’s house, and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.’

39. "And I said to my master, ‘Suppose the woman does not follow me.’

40. "And he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives, and from my father’s house;

41. then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my relatives; and if they do not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.’

Think of the comparison: hasn’t the Lord God also sent out His servants the prophets, the apostles, and many disciples to call other people to come to the Lord?

He has even sent His angels before them; and even more, He has sent His own Spirit to speak to the hearts and souls of the people, that they might be willing to come.

And some did come, but most refused; and thus the servants were freed from their oath concerning them.

Even within the church, many have refused, or come up with excuses why they couldn’t come, or why they wanted to delay, or why they couldn't want to change their worldly lifestyle.

Listen to how the Lord prepared the way, and how this servant met Rebekah, beginning at verse 42:

42. "So I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now Thou wilt make my journey on which I go successful;

43. behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, "Please let me drink a little water from your jar";

44. and she will say to me, "You drink, and I will draw for your camels also"; let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’

45. "Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder, and went down to the spring and drew; and I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’

46. "And she quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’; so I drank, and she watered the camels also.

47. "Then I asked her, and said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him’; and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.

48. "And I bowed low and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son.

Everything has been prepared by the Lord for this servant, so he says to Abraham's relatives:

49. "So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left."

50. Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, "The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good.

51.  "Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken."

They sound sincere, but are they really sincere?

Let’s see:

52. And it came about when Abraham’s servant heard their words, that he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord.

53. And the servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.

54. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night. When they arose in the morning, he said, "Send me away to my master."

Here’s where we see whether or not they are sincere.

If they know the matter is from the Lord, there should be no hesitation concerning sending them back to Abraham and Isaac.

55. But her brother and her mother said, "Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go."

So immediately we are faced with a sense of doubt.

Did they agree to send Rebekah to Isaac, because it was from the Lord, or did they agree because of all the gifts they received.

56. And he said to them, "Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master."

Will they listen this time, and do what is right?

57. And they said, "We will call the girl and consult her wishes."

Now we have a second delaying tactic.

But what about Rebekah?

Where is her heart attuned?

58. Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go."

The Lord had prepared her heart to receive the word of the Lord, just as he had done with the other members of her family; but only she responded with true sincerity.

59. Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men.

60.  And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

"May you, our sister,

Become thousands of ten thousands,

And may your descendants possess

The gate of those who hate them."

Note that they are thinking in worldly terms. Their blessings are centered around physical strength, and not spiritual strength.

For if it were based upon spiritual values, their blessing would be to possess the gate of heaven.

61. Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.

62. Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev.

63. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming.

64. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel.

65. And she said to the servant, "Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?" And the servant said, "He is my master." Then she took her veil and covered herself.

66. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.

67. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Isaac had prepared a place for his bride, Rebekah, just as the Lord has prepared a place for His bride, the Church.

Listen to the description of what He has prepared (Revelation 21:9-27):

9. And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

Remember that the plagues were poured out upon the ones who wouldn’t receive the Lord’s call and respond to it.

10. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

11. having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.

12. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

13. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.

14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15. And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.

16. And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.

A city of this size would be large enough to hold every person who was ever born, yet a relatively small percentage of them will be there.

17. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

18. And the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

19. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;

20. the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Compared to this quantity of gold and precious stones, the wealth of the whole earth has very little value.

Putting it another way, in this new Jerusalem gold and precious stones will be so common that they will have no more value than the materials we use to build our cities and buildings.

22. And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple.

23. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

24. And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.

25. And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed;

26. and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;

And just in case someone may think there is also a place for the unbelievers and evil doers, the Lord had John write this caution:

27. and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life?

Are you prepared to be the bride of the Lamb?

If you are not absolutely sure, then now is the time to correct your present situation, and give your heart and soul to the Lord.

Let us pray.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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