Robert Jeffress - The Coming King
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In 2011, it was estimated that over a 100 million people around the world tuned in to watch the royal wedding ceremony between Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was arguably one of the most extravagant events in modern day history. And yet, the Bible promises that no celebration has ever come close to the wedding feast of the Lamb. My message is titled, "The Coming King," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
In January of 1961, a few days before he was inaugurated as president of the United States, president elect John F. Kennedy invited Billy Graham to join him in Florida for a round of golf. On the way back from the golf course, president elect Kennedy asked Billy Graham this question, "Billy, do you believe that Jesus Christ is coming back to earth one day"? Dr. Graham said, "Yes sir, I do". And then the president elect said, "Well if that's true, Billy, why do I hear so little about it today"? The fact is you don't hear much about the return of Jesus Christ. It's a subject not even addressed in many pulpits across America today. But even though it may not be talked about a lot, the fact is certain, Jesus Christ is returning to earth one day, to reward the righteous and to punish the unrighteous. And it is our hope, the only hope, that we have. And it is that certain visible literal return of Jesus Christ that we have come to in our study of the Book of Revelation.
If you have your Bibles, turn to Revelation chapter 19, as we talk about the coming king. It's hard to believe we've been in this Book of Revelation for almost a year. And in a very real sense, everything we have studied this past year is simply a prelude to what we're going to look at today, history's most important event. But before we get into the text itself, let me just answer the question, why is a literal second coming of Christ important? And I want to mention four reasons that Christ must return to earth. First of all, Christ must return to fulfill the promises made in the Bible. If Christ doesn't return, then it means hundreds and hundreds of prophecies will be left unfulfilled, and therefore the Bible is unreliable.
But remember in the Old Testament itself, there were 1.800 references, not to the first coming but to the second coming of Christ. Did you know that, 1.800. In fact, for every one prophecy in the Old Testament about the first coming of Christ to Bethlehem, for every one prophecy about that, there are eight prophecies about the second coming of Christ. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are over 300 references to the return of Jesus Christ.
The second coming is not just incidental, it's essential. It is the theme of the entire Bible, the old and the New Testaments. Secondly, Christ must return to judge unbelievers for sin. If Jesus Christ doesn't return, sin and wickedness will only intensify in the world today. Thirdly, Christ must return to depose Satan from his earthly dominion. Remember, Satan is the great usurper. He has temporarily stolen this world, which belongs to God. And if Christ doesn't come back to reclaim this earth, than Satan has won. Do you think God's going to allow Satan to do that? Not on your life. He must return to depose Satan from his earthly dominion. And finally, Christ must return to establish his kingdom on the earth. The promise over and over again is that the Son of God is returning to rule this earth in perfect justice and perfect righteousness.
Don't we look forward to that day when this earth will finally be what God intended it to be? That period of Christ's rule on the earth is the period of the millennium that we will look at beginning next time. That's why Christ must return to earth. Now when we get to chapter 19, this chapter is divided into two distinct parts. In verses 1 and 10, the rejoicing of God's people over the fall of Babylon, the empire of the Antichrist. And in verses 11 to 21, the theme is the triumphant return of the king. Let's look at the first 10 verses first, in which the saints are rejoicing over the fall of Babylon.
Remember last time we saw how Babylon, the empire of the Antichrist, is destroyed by God. Both the city, the capital of the empire, as well as the religious and economic aspect of that rebellious empire of the Antichrist. The silence of the ruined Babylon gives way to the praise in heaven by the saints over the destruction of Babylon. And that praise comes in the form of four hallelujahs. You know in the Book of Revelation, the term hallelujah is used four times and it all occurs in this chapter, chapter 19 of Revelation. Now the word hallelujah, we say it a lot without knowing what it means, it's Hebrew for praise be to God. And notice the four hallelujahs in these opening verses.
Why are the people in heaven so excited when Babylon is destroyed? First of all, verses 1 and 2: "Hallelujah, for the great harlot is fallen". After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God because his judgments are true and righteous, for he has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth". That great harlot, remember, is the false church during the tribulation, that for the first three and half years will assist Antichrist in his rise to power. But halfway through that tribulation the Antichrist and the ten kings who rule with him will decide they don't need that harlot any longer, and they themselves destroy her.
Secondly, there's a hallelujah for the great city is consumed. Verse 3, when Babylon is destroyed, they said in heaven, "Hallelujah! Praise be to God for her smoke rises up forever and ever". That city continues to smolder after it is destroyed, symbolizing that its desolation is complete, but it's her punishment is forever and ever. This is just a hint of what we're going to see in a few moments about the lake of fire, the eternal torment of those who die apart from Jesus Christ. The third hallelujah, "Hallelujah! For God has vanquished evil". He has vanquished evil forever and ever. We find that in verse four: and the 24 elders and the living creatures fell down and worshiped God saying, "Amen, hallelujah"! And finally, "Hallelujah! For the Lord God Almighty reigns".
That phrase, Almighty, is the Greek word, pantocrator, it literally means, the God who controls all things. Even in the midst of the chaos of the tribulation, we're reminded that God is in control of everything that is happening. Don't we need to be reminded of that today? Regardless of the racial unrest, the pandemic, the economic uncertainty, regardless of the chaos in this world in general or in your world specifically right now, no matter what happens, don't forget, the Lord God Almighty reigns. Nothing that's happening in your life this week is taking God by surprise. He uses all of it to accomplish his purpose in your life. That's why Paul could say with confidence, "And we know," not we hope or wish but, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him and to those called according to his purpose".
Now these four hallelujah chorus gives way to the final hymn in the Book of Revelation. We've looked at a number of hymns in the Book of Revelation. Here is the final one. It's a hymn, a song, for the Lamb and his bride. Look at verse seven, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to him for," why? "the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready". The reason we can praise God at this point in the tribulation is because a marriage has already taken place. That phrase "Has come," it denotes an action that has already been completed. We can rejoice because a wedding has already taken place.
You say, wedding? Was there a wedding that I wasn't invited to? What do you mean a wedding has taken place? Who is this wedding for? Well, it's the marriage of the Lamb. And we know who the Lamb is. We've seen it over and over in Revelation. The Lamb is Jesus Christ. "Behold, the Lamb of God," John the Baptist said, "Who takes away the sin of the world". The Lamb, Christ, has gotten married. Well who did he get married to? Well, his bride. Well, who is the bride? Some people say, well it's the Old Testament saints. No, they're not the bride of Christ.
Some people say, well, it's those who are alive in the days of Jesus, like John the Baptist, and Anna and Simeon. No, they're not the bride. Some people say it must be the tribulation martyrs, those who gave their life during the tribulation for Christ, they were saved and martyred during the tribulation. No, they're not the bride. The bride of Jesus Christ is you and me, the church of Jesus Christ. Those who were saved in that unique period of history between Pentecost and the rapture of the church, that is the bride of Christ. So when did the wedding take place? How does it take place? How's it already happened at this point? None of this will make sense to you unless you understand the three phases of a Jewish wedding.
And there's going to be an aha moment for you in just a moment, as it all begins to make sense to you. In a Jewish wedding, there were three phases to that wedding. First of all, phase one, a marriage contract was drawn up and a dowery was paid. When two sets of parents decided they wanted their children to get married, they entered into a contract while the kids were just kids. And at that point, a dowery was paid by the father of the bride. That was stage one, a contract was entered into and a dowery was paid. Stage two, phase two, then the marriage ceremony took place in the groom's house. Once the children were of suitable age to marry, the groom-to-be and some of his friends would go to his prospective wife's house unexpectedly, and they would take the bride-to-be with them, back to the groom's home. And there, the marriage would take place and be consummated. That was these two.
And then phase three, after the ceremony, the wedding feast was celebrated. There is a great party, not a two hour dinner, but a multi-day affair, in which people were invited to come and celebrate the marriage of the groom and his bride. Now, do you see the picture here of our relationship to Christ? Phase one, the marriage contract was entered into. When did God decide that you and I were going to become the bride of Christ? Before the foundation of the world, that was determined, that contract was entered into. God chose you. He chose me. Not because of anything we did, we weren't even born yet. But it was all because of his grace and his plan. We were chosen before the foundation of the world, but the dowery was paid, not by the bride's father, but by the groom himself, Jesus Christ. When he shed his blood on Calvary for our sins, that was payment that was made to secure us as his bride. That was when the dowry who was paid.
Step two, when is it that the groom is going to come and snatch us away unexpectedly to be with him? That's the rapture of the church. We don't know when it's going to happen, it could happen today. But unexpectedly, the Lord will come, not to come down to earth, but to take us up to be with him in the father's house. That is the rapture of the church that is yet to come. And after that rapture of the church, at a future day will be the great wedding feast, after the marriage is consummated. We are united with Christ at the rapture, and then at a time to be designated seven years later, he and his bride, Jesus and the church, will return to earth for the great marriage ceremony, the wedding supper of the Lamb. Notice verse 8, "And it was given to her," that is the bride, "To clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints".
The bride is getting ready during the tribulation. We, the bride, are in heaven with the groom, we're getting ready to come back to earth for this great celebration, the marriage feast of the Lamb. And how are we going to clothe ourselves? With bright linen. That is, if you don't know what that is, it is the righteous acts of the saints. You know, a lot of people get confused about this. They think that our works, our righteous acts, don't matter to God. After all, we're saved by grace, not by works, right? It's true, our good works are meaningless. They are worthless to God before we are saved. We can never earn God's forgiveness, it is a gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast". Works have nothing to do with securing our salvation. But after we are saved, our good works mean a great deal to God. That's why verse 10 of Ephesians then says, although we are not saved by works, for we are his workmanship created by Christ Jesus for good works which God determined we should walk in. Do you see that, we're not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works. God does care how you and I live after we are saved. And the good things we do for God, our obedience to God, it is like a white garment we put on, the righteous acts of the saints. And so when the church returns, the church will return clothed in her righteous acts.
Dr. Criswell made this point: he said in John's day, you had two garments that you wore. You wore the tunic, which was the undergarment, if you will. It's basic, everybody had a tunic. But you didn't walk around in your underwear, there was an outer garment, the toga. People saw the outer garment. He said, in the same way when we trust in Christ as our Savior, we all received the same tunic, the undergarment of righteousness. That means when God looks at us after we've trusted in Christ, he doesn't see our unholiness. He sees the righteousness of his son, Jesus. That's what you call imputed righteousness. But we clothe ourselves in our toga, in the outward righteousness, in the righteous acts that we perform.
And so the church is adorning herself with those righteous acts to get ready for the wedding feast of the Lamb. Now look at this, a blessing for the wedding guests. This is so interesting, verse 9: then John said to me, "Write this, write this down, 'blessed'," literally happy, "Are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb". It is a happy thing if you receive an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb. Now who gets invited to a wedding feast? Does the bride get an invitation? Well, no, the bride doesn't get invited to her own wedding. The groom doesn't get invited to his own wedding. This is for guests of the bride and groom. And what the angel was saying to John is, how happy are those who get invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.
Just imagine for a moment that you go out to retrieve your mail and, when you get the mail, you notice a slightly oversized envelope, beautifully decorated, it's cream colored. It's embossed. And you notice immediately the return address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. Immediately, you open that envelope to see what it is. And in beautiful calligraphy, there is on a card written, "The president of the United States and first lady invite you to a state dinner at the White House honoring queen Elizabeth, the second".
Now, how would you feel about receiving that invitation? Would you throw it down in disgust and say, well, if it's not going to be to honor me, I'm not going to that dinner. Why would I go to a dinner for the queen? I want to go if it's written for me, but not for the queen. No, you wouldn't do that. You would be honored that the president and first lady thought enough of you to invite you to come and honor queen Elizabeth the second.
Now, as wonderful as an occasion is like that, and trust me, dinners at the white house are something to behold. They are elegance defined. A dinner at the white house is like eating a hot dog at a picnic table compared to what the wedding feast of the Lamb is going to be like. Nobody has ever experienced anything like that. Now who's going to be the honored guest? The groom, Jesus Christ, and you and i, the church. We're the ones who are being honored at that wedding feast.
Well, who is it that are going to be the guest? Well, you going to have the Old Testament saints there. David, Solomon, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, Solomon. They're all going to be invited to be there. It's going to be the Old Testament saints. It's going to be the New Testament characters who died before Pentecost. John the Baptist will be there. Anna and Simeon, who prophesied about Christ will be there. The tribulation martyrs will be there as well. Those who were saved after Pentecost and after the rapture, people who gave their life for Christ, they will be there. And then you and I will be there. They're not going to feel like they were second class citizens because they're not the honorees. They're going to be absolutely thrilled to be at that wedding supper of the Lamb.
You know, I've often tried to picture what that wedding supper would be like. Just imagine what it would be like in a banquet hall, surrounded by the saints of all of the ages. Just imagine what it would be like for you to be there with your parents and your grandparents and anybody else who was instrumental in helping you know Christ as Savior. Imagine all the chatter that will go on through that dinner as people share with one another, their story of how they came to faith in Christ. And then at a moment in that ceremony, John the Baptist stands up. And in his right hand he has a golden chalice filled with that new wine. And he says, tonight, I want to propose a toast to the one who made all of this possible. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the earth, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.