The Four Celebrations of Redemption. Four times in the work of Christ, Heaven celebrates the four outstanding events in the progress of redemption; first. when as the Babe of Bethlehem He entered the court of earth to become our Sacrifice; Luke 2:3-20; Second, when He entered the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to be our High Priest, Ps. 24:7-10; third, when He entered the most holy place within the second veil to act as Judge. Dan. 7:914; Isa. 63:1-6. Every one of these celebrations was indeed a splendid expression of Heaven's approval of the work of the Lamb of God. The fourth, given after the close of probation, will be more magnificent than any that has preceeded it, because at this time "the marriage of the Lamb" takes place, fulfilling the prophecy: "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." Rev. 19:7.
The Setting of the Fourth Celebration. For this occasion all the redeemed from the twelve tribes have now gathered at the four sides of the throne, each group having entered the City through the gate that bears his own family name. It is, of course, utterly impossible to give anything like an adequate picture of this scene, and yet we shall lose much unless we can, in our human way, visualize something of the surroundings and their indescribable glory.
As in the earthly sanctuary the ark was located in the center of the most holy place, so in the heavenly sanctuary, God's throne its antitype, "in the midst of the Paradise of God," occupies the center of the New Jerusalem. Rev. 2:7; 22:1,2. "Far above the city, upon a foundation of burnished gold, is a throne high and lifted up." Isa 6:1; GC 664. It Is located on Mt. Zion. Ps. 48:2; Heb. 12:22. How high up is the throne? The Bible does not tell us, but we know that it is high enough to be seen by Satan and his host when at a later time they surround the city designing to capture it. With this in mind, reliable mathematicians figure that, in order to see over the wall, which is 216 feet high, to the center of the city, at least 187.12 miles distant, the throne must be a number of miles high, not less than the height of Mt. Everest. At any rate, it is very "high and lifted up," "far above the City."
The throne itself is "a glorious throne." "His train (of glorified beings) fills the temple," Isa. 6:1, even as the angel symbols of the earthly sanctuary completely surrounded the ark and formed a glittering canopy overhead, at either side of the throne stand seraphim, antitype of the two angel forms of solid gold that stood on the mercy seat over the ark. These, the two most exalted of the angel throng, stand as honored guards of God's throne" and of His holy law. PP 357.
On the throne, occupying the center of the picture, in all their indescribable glory, sits God the Father in "His great and calm eternity," ME 417, and at His right the Son. So great is the glory radiating from them that "the City had no need of the sun. . . . to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Rev. 21:23. As the stars are not visible by day because of the greater light of the sun, so the sun in the New Jerusalem, although shining "sevenfold" as bright as here on earth, Isa. 30:26, is invisible because of the overpowering light shining from the throne of God to the City's remotest bounds.
The Rainbow About the Throne. "And there was a rainbow round about the throne." Rev. 4:3. The light reflected and radiating from the throne is not just plain dazzling light; is is broken into all its beautiful colors, revealing the intrinsic beauties resident in light, only these radiant colors round about the throne of God are as much more gorgeous than those of an earthly rainbow as heaven is more beautiful than earth. If you have ever seen a double rainbow where the first bow is so bright that a second is reflected from it, you have been captivated by the sight. But what about the rainbow surrounding the throne of God? How many reflections do you think it has?
The rainbow in heaven is "round about" the throne, not arching above it. In this life we never see a complete rainbow.
"Our lives are broken circles here, The glory doth not yet appear,
As only half of God's fair bow Is visible to man below.
Behind the clouds the colors meet Full-orbed; hereafter shall be shown The covenant of love complete,-
A Rainbow 'round about the throne"'
Significance of the Rainbow. As the first rainbow was a token of God's covenant with the human family that never again would there be a flood to destroy the earth, Gen. 9:8-17, even so the rainbow about His throne is the emblem of His everlasting covenant of peace with the redeemed. "My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed." Isa. 54: 8-10. It is "an assurance that God is true; that in Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. . . . The honor of His throne is staked for the fulfillment of His word to us." 8 T 23. It is a pledge that God will keep all His promises of salvation to those who have put their trust in Him. It is His assurance that "affliction shall not rise up the second time," Nahum 1:9, and that even as He kept His promise to Nosh, so never again should the earth be destroyed by fire. "The rainbow of promise encircling the throne on high is an everlasting testimony that 'God so loved the world, that He gave His'only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life'. It testifies to the universe that God will never forsake His people in their struggle with evil. It is an assurance to us of strength and protection as long as the throne itself shall endure." DA 493.
"The rainbow spanning the heavens with its arch of light is a token of the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature. Gen. 9:16 . . . . As the bow in the cloud results from the union of sunshine and shower, so the bow above God's throne represents the union of His mercy and His justice." Ed. 115.
Assembling around the Throne. "In the midst of the throne and round about the throne" are the four living creatures, Rev. 4:6,7, "and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass." Eze. 1:3,7. As symbolized on the four standards of Israel, Num. 2:3-21, and as located by Ezekiel, the group "like a lion" is on the south a group having "the face of a man," and on the north is the group "like a flying eagle." Eze. 1:10. These groups are the most closely associated with the throne.
Next to the four living creatures, round about the throne, are "four and twenty thrones" on which are seated "four and twenty elders." Rev. 4:4. In the earthly sanctuary, these were represented by the twenty-four courses of priests, each serving twice a year, one week at a time. II Chron. 31:2. Both these groups are clothed in "white raiment," and have on their heads "crowns of gold." Rev. 4:4. And everyone of them have harps. They have been "redeemed . . . out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Rev. 5:8-10. They are "the multitude of captives set free at His resurrection," Matt. 27:50-53; Eph. 4:8, "representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming." DA 833,834.
As "representatives," others will be added to these "at His second coming." To the first group, "nearest the throne" will be added "those who were once zealous in the cause of Satan, but who, plucked as brands from the burning, have followed their Saviour with deep, intense devotion." GC 665. Paul the persecutor, who became the great apostle, and Mary Magdalene out of whom Jesus cast seven devils, could fittingly illustrate this group.
To the second group, the twenty-four elders, will be added "at His second coming" "those who perfected Christian characters in the midst of falsehood and infidelity," GC 665, and have finally become great leaders in the cause of God. Men like Luther and other leaders in the Reformation who stood so nobly for Bible truth amidst the false teachings of the papal power could well illustrate this group. Others added to those around the throne are "those who (like the 144,000) honored the law of God when the Christian world declared it void, and the millions of all ages who were martyred for their faith." And beyond is "the great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues . . . clothed with white robes (emblem of the spotless righteousness of Christ which now is theirs) and palms in their hands," (symbol of their triumph. Rev. 7:9; GC 665.
Surrounding the redeemed are "all the angels," Rev. 7:11, "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands," Rev. 5:11. There they are, a glittering phalanx, as if on guard about the redeemed. And beyond are the representatives of the unfallen worlds who from all over God's universe joined the triumphant throng as Jesus led the redeemed to the City. No earthly procession to celebrate the crowning of any king or queen, can in any way compare, either in numbers, in world-wide representation, or in dazzling splendor, with this one that has assembled to celebrate the second coronation of King Jesus and the marriage of the Lamb. No such company ever before graced the courts of heaven. It is a sight that beggars all description.
The Celebration; a Seven-part Oratorio. Everything is now ready for this magnificent celebration, an oratorio consisting of seven parts. "The keynote of every anthem is salvation to our God, and unto the Lamb." GC 665. It Is one vast, continuous outburst of joyous song and adoring praise. Twice it is called âa new song;â Rev. 5:9; 14:3, so called probably because "it was never before sung in Heaven." TM 433. While it cannot adequately be described, we can bring together some of the anthems that are sung by different groups, and perhaps get some faint foretaste of its wonderful inspiration. Our only hope of ever really knowing what it will be like is to be among the redeemed when this celebration of the marriage of the Lamb actually takes place.
The Anthem of the Four Living Creatures. This group of redeemed being in the very midst of the throne, seems to take the lead. Every one of them have harps. Rev. 5:8. They "give glory and honor and thanks to Him that sat on the throne," and they "rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." Rev. 4:6-9. Since their song goes on continuously, it would seem like a murmured accompaniment to those that follow.
The Song of the Four and Twenty Elders. These are closely associated with the first group. They also have harps. Casting their crowns before the throne, they sang a new song, saying, "Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou has created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." "Thou art worthy, . . for Thou was slain, and has redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Rev. 4:10,11; 5:8-10.
The Song of the 144.000. This group "having the harps of God" next takes up the strain. Having "gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name," "they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the 144,000, which were redeemed from the earth." Rev. 15:2; 14:1-3. It is the song of their deliverance from the beast and his image, the song of their experience, saying, "Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glorify Thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest." GC 649; Rev. 15:2-4. This anthem, called "the song of Moses. . . and the song of the Lamb," Rev. 15:3, honors a more glorious triumph and deliverance than "the song of Moses"
which honored Israelâs deliverance from Pharaoh's mighty armies at the Red Sea, where "the Lord triumphed gloriously." Ex. 15:21.
The Song of the "Great Multitude. "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, . . and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." Rev. 7:9,10. "With a loud voice" - such surely would a chorus consisting of an innumerable company of singers. And as they repeat and repeat the words of their anthem, they make all Heaven ring.
The Halleluiah Chorus. As a fitting closing to this greatest of all oratorios comes the hallelujah chorus. "And after these things," says John, "I heard a great voice of much people in Heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honor and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said. Alleluia! . . . And the four and twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen! Alleluia!" Then followed "the voice of a great multitude" "like the shout of a great host and the sound of many waves, and the roar of heavy thunder," Moffatt saying,
Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 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." Rev. 19:1-7.
The "Amen" Sung by the Angels. "And I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and elders. . . saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Rev. 5:11,12. "And all the angels . . . fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen." Rev. 7:11,12.
Haw fitting that the "Amen" is left for the angels to sing! They have never fallen, so they know not the experience of redemption, but with all their melodious might they can sing "Amen" to all that the other groups have sung. "Amen" - a word defined as meaning true or truth, a term used as a strong and positive assertion, fixing, as it were, the stamp of truth upon the assertion which it accompanies, and making it binding As an oath. And so the angels sing the grand "Amen and Amen."
The Father's Solo. Then comes the climax of this unspeakably marvelous oratorio. It is a solo.âA voice came out of the throneâ Rev. 19:5 Every other voice is hushed. Now a harp string is touched. Listen! Powerful, melodious, clear, expressive of infinite love, a voice that reaches to the very ends of the universe. He can no longer keep silent. Like the other parts of this oratorio, the Father's solo first expresses praise to His own Son:
"Praise our God, all ye His servants,
And ye that fear Him, both small and great." Rev. 19:5.
Zephaniah has given us a more complete description of this song of the Father. He says: "The Eternal has routed your foes,
He has driven off your enemies; Israel's King is in your midst, You shall have no more trouble.
Fear not, droop not your hands, 0 Zion." "The Eternal your God is in your midst
A Warrior to the rescue;
He thrills with joy over you," He renews His love,
He "exults with festal song."
Zeph. 3:15-17, Moffatt. Or, as the authorized Version renders it:
"In that day shall it be said to Jerusalem The Lord thy God will save,
He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love.
He will joy over thee with singing."
The Response of the Universe. Answering the challenge of the Father: "Praise our God, all ye His servants, And ye that fear Him, both small and great," not only the representatives of unfallen worlds who have come to honor the Redeemer, but "every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." Rev. 5:13. The unfallen worlds in every part of God's great dominion are happy to be thus represented in this oratorio of the universe, for they know that if Jesus had not gained the victory over Satan, not only this earth but all other worlds would have come under his dominion.
Jesus, Wonderful Saviour. What is Jesus doing during this celebration? The only mention made of Him is that He sits on the throne with the Father. Surrounded with those whom He has redeemed, His lovely countenance beaming with joy and radiating happiness, His last prayer for His loved ones is now answered, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory," John 17:24. He sees the traveil of His soul and He is satisfied. Isa. 53:11. He rests in His love, - love and joy too deep for utterance in word or song. Precious Saviour! Wonderful, wonderful Redeemer:
The Marriage Ceremony, Christ Crowned âKING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.â John calls this fourth celebration of redemption "the marriage of the Lamb." Rev. 19:7. Christ, the Bridegroom, has brought the redeemed to their beautiful home, the New Jerusalem. They are His bride, 'His wife, (who) hath made herself ready. . . She is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white . . . (which is) the righteousness of saints." v. 7,8. This is the garment of sanctification, the wedding garment, woven on earth during a life-long experience in the Trysting place. The wedding is celebrated in that most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ receives His kingdom, the New Jerusalem, His bride. EW 251 As a bride at her marriage receives a new name, the name of the bridegroom, so Christ's bride, the redeemed, "Him that overcometh," is given "a new name," a character name, âWhich no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.â Rev. 2:17. It is also called "the Father's name," Rev. 14:1; 22:4, because through the second birth the redeemed are partakers of His nature, they are His "off-spring," His sons and daughters. Acts. 17:28.
The first coronation of Christ, in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary took place at the beginning of His mediatorial work in Heaven; His second in the most holy place will come at its close. At that time, "On His vesture and on His thigh a name (is) written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. He is literally covered with royal honors. On His crown "He has a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself." Rev. 19:13,16. As a name given by Heaven represents character - the result of struggle and victory over the enemy, so in this name, given to Christ at the close of His mediatorial work, is wrapped up all the victorious sufferings that redemption has cost - sufferings that no man can ever comprehend. The most that we can understand is that this name means "Faithful and True," "The word of God." vs. 11,13. This name on the crown of Christ
corresponds to the inscription âHOLINESS TO THE LORDâ which was on the golden plate of the mitre, "the holy crown," Ex. 29:6, worn by the earthly high priest.
This nineteenth chapter of Revelation seems to indicate that the coronation of Christ as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, takes place at the marriage of the Lamb. vs. 7,16. When the crown, the seal of the marriage, is bestowed on the Bridegroom, "A great voice of much people in Heaven" bursts forth in a mighty and prolonged "HALLELUJAH." vs. 1-6. This magnificent outburst of music and adoring praise is rendered hy the combined groups of all the redeemed, the innumerable company of angels, and the representatives of unfallen worlds who are present on this occasion. Can you picture the scene? Can you hear the music? 0, what will it be to be there! Surely, we cannot afford to miss it!
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Following the marriage of the King's Son, Matt. 22:2, is âthe marriage supper of the Lambâ Rev. 19:9. For this occasion, Heaven has prepared "a table of pure silver . . . many miles in length," laden with all kinds of fruit from the tree of life. EW 19. We are not told how many miles this table reaches. We sometimes think of it as extending from one side of the City to its opposite side, which would certainly be âmany miles in length.â But in our mental picture, we must remember that, while we do not know its exact location, we do know that everything else in the City is âround about the throne.â The rainbow, the four and twenty elders and the four living creatures are "round about the throne." Rev. 4:3,4,6. As shown in the earthly type, so in the New Jerusalem, the angels surround on all sides the throne which is in the center of the City. The mansions also, which the redeemed will occupy, John 14:2,3, are located on all sides of the throne. "The tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God" locates the Garden of Eden about the throne. Compare Gen 2.9 with Rev. 2:7. The redeemed, who will later sit at this table, have entered the City through its twelve gates on the four sides of the City wall and have assembled round about the throne. How meaningful that this table at which all the redeemed gather, is of silver, emblem of the ransom paid for their redemption! Ex. 30:12,13, This is the time that Jesus, the Redeemer, stepping down from His throne, "shall gird Himself and make them (the redeemed) to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." Luke 12:36,37.
In one of His parables, Jesus has told us about this "great supper" to which all are bidden. Luke 14:16-24. The last call to the marriage supper of the Lamb is now being heralded: "Come, for all things are now ready." Let us beware lest "a piece of ground" or "five yoke of oxen," or domestic affairs, or some other earthly possession or temporal responsibility so crowd our thoughts that
we begin "to make excuse" that we have "no time" for eternal realities. Now, more than at any previous time, this call is being given not only to professed Christians, but also to those in "the streets and lanes of the city,' and in "the highways and hedges" of heathen lands, and thousands in the darkest corners of the earth are responding and preparing for the "great supper." Soon, very soon, this "compelling message will have accomplished its work and God's house will be filled. v.
23. If we who live in enlightened lands where the Bible is available to all and where this gospel of the kingdom Is preached within our hearing - if we slight the call, will it not be said of us as it was of those in the parable: âNone of these . . . shall taste of my supperâ v. 24. Can we afford
to meet such a tremendous loss and rob ourselves of a place at the silver table in the New Jerusalem? Shall we not rather say with determination and joyful anticipation:-
"I want to be there, I mean to be there, I expect to be there, I do;
1 want to be there, I mean to be there,
1 expect to be there, don't you?"