The Spirit of Prophecy
Aug 11, 2016
Revelation 19:9 concludes this section about the bride, saying,
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 the true words of God.”
The New Testament has much to say about the privilege of being invited to the wedding. In Matthew 22:2-14 Jesus told a parable about the “wedding feast,” saying,
2 The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come… 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.
This parable was directed at the Judeans who were the first to receive the invitation, but who refused to come. Worse yet, they mistreated and killed the prophets who had been sent with the invitation. Although this particular parable does not mention the fact that they also killed the son himself (as in Matthew 21:39), it is clear that Jesus was giving the reasons for Jerusalem’s destruction. In this case, “his armies” were the Roman armies, sent by the king (God), not so much because they rejected the invitation, but because they killed his servants, the prophets.
The parable then continues in Matthew 22:8-10,
8 Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” 10 And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
This is a broad picture of the invitation that was extended to everyone else (non-Judeans). Many of them, “both evil and good,” accepted the invitation. This is a prophecy of the church that is filled with people who accepted the invitation, though some were “evil.” Matthew 22:11-14 continues,
11 But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?” And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14 For many are called [kletos, “invited”], but few are chosen [eklektos, “chosen, elected”].
The “evil” ones who came to the wedding were those who were “not dressed in wedding clothes.” Even though they had accepted the invitation (wanting to follow Jesus Christ and give Him honor), they were rejected. Many have interpreted this to mean that they were not real Christians, and each denomination presents its own criteria as to how to be a real Christian. Certainly, there are many church members who are not real Christians. But the parable tells us that they were cast out for not having appropriate wedding clothes. This is how the parable is tied to Revelation 19:8, for one must be clothed with spiritual “fine linen, bright and clean.”
Those who are not clothed appropriately will be expelled. This shows that the time of the wedding feast is not the time for the restoration of all mankind. In fact, as we will see in Revelation 20, the first resurrection is limited to the overcomers, who, by definition, are properly clothed in fine linen.
In other words, to attend this wedding feast, one must put on the glorified body by experiencing the feast of Tabernacles. The problem is that most Christians know little or nothing about this feast and are thus unprepared. They think the requirement is to accept the invitation as one of the “called,” when, in fact, that is only the first step. To accept the invitation is to experience Passover. To hear the word and grow to spiritual maturity through the Holy Spirit is to experience Pentecost. To receive the heavenly clothing, that is, the glorified body, is to experience Tabernacles.
Those who fail to come to the wedding feast, along with those who are cast out, will remain in “outer darkness,” dressed in their mortal clothing until the general resurrection a thousand years later. They will not be consigned to “hell,” nor will they lose their salvation, but neither will they have the honor of ruling with Christ during the Tabernacles Age in the Kingdom.
The message to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 admonishes the believers themselves to “overcome.” These are the eklektos, the chosen ones, in Jesus’ parable. Those who overcome are to be rewarded; those who do not overcome will have to wait until later.
The True Words of God
Revelation 19:9 says, “and he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God’.” What does he mean? In order to understand this, we must first ask ourselves who is the “he” that is speaking? The best clue comes in the next verse. Revelation 19:10 says,
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
This may come as a surprise to those reading John’s narrative. It also appears that John himself was surprised. The glory that was in this “fellow servant” gave him the appearance of Jesus. In fact, this glorified man is the source of the voice from the throne in Revelation 19:5, which we have already identified as that of the Lamb (arnion). But now we find that it is more than Jesus Himself. It is the voice Jesus which is spoken by a representative of His body.
It is the same voice which said “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants” (Revelation 19:5). Hence, when John tries to worship him, he redirects the worship to God, telling John that he is just “a fellow servant,” that is, a fellow bond-servant. In Revelation 3:21, we read,
21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
The promise is given to the overcomers that they will sit down with Christ on His throne. Therefore, this “fellow servant” is an overcomer, and his voice is said to be coming from the throne. Christ and His body are inseparable, spiritually speaking, because they are in agreement. This is one of the clearest pictures of the arnion in the book of Revelation. The arnion are the little lambs who are fed with the word of God (John 21:15) until they have come into full agreement with Him.
This, I believe, is the spiritual force behind the overcomer’s statement: “These are the true words of God.” In order for the overcomer to be able to speak from the throne on behalf of all the overcomers that are seated with Christ, he must first eat those words, even as John did in Revelation 10:10. The purpose of creation was to bring forth sons of God who would be in agreement with their heavenly Father. The introduction of sin created a problem for God to overcome. But the time of creation is not finished until the reconciliation of all things is accomplished and all of creation sings in four-part harmony.
The Spirit of Prophecy
In Revelation 19:10, the overcomer tells John, “I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus… For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Not only this overcomer, but all of his brethren “hold the testimony of Jesus,” which “is the spirit of prophecy.” The Greek word for “testimony” is martyria, signifying testimony before the Judge of the whole earth. Such testimony is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In other words, this testimony sets forth “the true words of God.”
What words? What truth? It all began in Revelation 1:2, as John “bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.” A few verses later, in Revelation 1:9, John said that he “was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” Later, in Revelation 12:17 the dragon declared war on the saints—those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Finally, in Revelation 20:4 we see that those raised in the first resurrection are those who were executed “because of the testimony of Jesus.”
This phrase can mean either that the testimony is being spoken by Jesus Himself, or that it is a testimony concerning Jesus. In a way, it is both, because the true word originates in Jesus Himself, who is called “the word of God” (Revelation 19:13). Yet this “word” is also spoken by His body of overcomers, those who bear witness of Him and who agree with His words.
Any time we agree with the words of God, such “testimony” is “the spirit of prophecy.” By contrast, any word that runs contrary to the testimony of Jesus is NOT a true spirit of prophecy. In order to live by the spirit of prophecy, one must eat the word and assimilate it by meditation until it is changed from doctrine to revelation.
It has been said that Jesus is the Word of God, and we are the words of God. There is much truth in this. In my view, angels carrying specific words (inherent in the name of each angel) represent portions of the full revelation of the word that is in Christ Jesus. Those angels are sent to us as “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14) to imprint that word on our hearts and in our nature. Each of us is only a portion of the word, but as members of the body of Christ, we collectively hold the full word of God that is in our Head. This is the lamb, the arnion, in the book of Revelation.
It is important, then, to eat the word, because we become what we eat. As we assimilate the word that is in each angel assigned to us, we become the living word and the particular expression of the testimony of Jesus that is unique to each person. Many are called, or invited, but those who are chosen—the remnant of grace—will actually participate in the wedding feast, where Christ the Head is joined to the full body at the appointed feast of Tabernacles.
This is part 154 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones