Every Thought Captive

Why the Bride of Christ Rejoices

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,   
for His judgments are true and just;  
for He has judged the great prostitute  
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,  
and has avenged on her the blood of His servants.”  

Once more they cried out,

The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”  

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,  
all you His servants,   
you who fear Him,  
small and great.”  

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God  
the Almighty reigns.  
Let us rejoice and exult. 
and give Him the glory,  
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,  
and His Bride has made herself ready;  
it was granted her to clothe herself. 
with fine linen, bright and pure”—  

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.  

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Revelation 19:1-10

Have you seen the famous photograph V-J Day in Times Square? It is known to most people simply as The Kiss. It’s the iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on August 14, 1945, as they celebrate the United States’ victory over Japan and the end of World War II. Here’s a link to the photograph if you’ve never seen it before or want to have your memory jogged.

This photograph was printed in Life magazine and has endured as a moving image of people’s natural instinct to celebrate the triumph of life, and its joys such as love, over the powers of evil, suffering, and death. However, the true story behind this photograph - revealed in a 2005 audio interview with Greta Friedman, the nurse being kissed in the photo - is not as wholesome as the happy story the image seems to depict. According to Mrs. Friedman, the kiss was nonconsensual! “It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and kissed [me].”

Though Mrs. Friedman was undoubtedly happy about the U.S.’ victory and the end of the War, the way in which one of the victorious soldiers forced her to celebrate was inauthentic and unpleasant, even scarring. I believe that this is the way many of us feel when we read Revelation 19:1-10, or any passage of Scripture that deals with the saints of God celebrating and glorying in God’s justice and wrath poured out on His enemies for all eternity. Though we are ultimately thankful for the new and perfect heavens and earth, we also struggle with the idea of anyone suffering for eternity. Some may now even feel somber as we, His Bride, think about singing these songs of praise to our Warrior Jesus.  

How do we cross the chasm between this experience and the one that Revelation 19:1-10 promises us we will have? How can we genuinely celebrate the coming judgment and vengeance of God on His enemies for all eternity today?

I believe the only way we are or will be able to do this is by learning to truly adore God and to truly hate sin.

Scripture leaves no doubt that all human qualms about the sovereignty and judgment of God have to do with our proud and insufficient view of His perfection and our sinfulness: “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted…I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know…but now my eye sees You; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6); “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:20-21); “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Reread the first hallelujah chorus of Revelation 19:1-2. Meditate on the photograph of God provided through these words: He is gracious in salvation, He is perfect in glory, He is awe-inspiring in power, and He is fair in judgment. Now meditate on the photograph of the great prostitute: She is selfish, dirty, and hateful in her immorality, and her union with Satan has led to every form of evil, suffering, and death that has ever afflicted the earth and the children of God.

Have you done both of those things? Good.

Now remember that we were all once that prostitute. We were the immoral ones who deserved the judgment of God as vengeance for the part we played in the corruption of the world and the suffering of God and His people. We were blind, selfish, dirty, and hateful. But thanks be to God that while we were still sinners, He sent His only Son Jesus - a friend of prostitutes (Matthew 21:31) - so that through His receiving of the stripes, mockery, and death that we all deserve for our sins, we could be clothed in the fine, bright, and pure linen of His righteousness. This righteousness is given to us through justification by faith and is experienced through sanctification by abiding in Him. Hallelujah, indeed!

Maybe now, through meditating on God’s perfect Word, we have become, or at least taken one step closer to becoming, the kind of Bride who isn’t afraid of professing praise to our warrior Husband. May we become the kind of Bride who clearly sees Him as He truly is: the gentle, pure, and loving Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world, suffering the wrath of God in our place, so that we could join Him in glory and celebrate with Him over the just ending of evil, suffering, and death, and the eternal consummation of the good, healing, and abundant life found in Him.

About the Author

Photograph of Ross Earley

Ross Earley

High School Youth Resident

Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Ross is the PCPC High School Resident for freshmen and sophomore guys. He is a former PCPC Covenant Child and current member of the church. He is pursuing his calling of pastorship at Reformed Theological Seminary - Dallas. Ross loves his wife Margie, his family and friends, God’s Word, and all things story (reading, writing, acting, etc.)!