By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. And thank you for joining me today as we study God’s word and consider our compelling times. Last month we looked at the economic crisis in Europe and how that is bringing us closer to the plan of the globalists to establish a world-wide confederacy of all the corrupt and apostate powers of the world. This month we are going to study the preparation that must be made by each of us as we try to understand the end-time prophetic implications of Christ’s parable of the great supper and the wedding garment.
But before we begin, I would like to thank you for your prayers and gifts to support the work at Keep the Faith and also for Highwood in Australia. And just so you know, we keep our partners up to date on the remarkable things going on at Keep the Faith Ministry, including God’s thrilling providences at Highwood through our receipt letter sent to those who make a gift of any amount each month. Thank you for partnering with Keep the Faith Ministry in its world-wide effort to prepare a people to meet our God. Your prayers and support are most important at this time.
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As we begin our study today, Please bow your heads with me if you can, and let us ask God to send His Holy Spirit to us as we study.
Our loving Father in heaven, thank you for Jesus Christ who offers to make us pure and clean. He is so kind and so gracious to us. He has preserved us through many difficulties and trials. He has sustained us even though we don’t deserve it, just so that He can appeal to us to love Him more than the world; more than Satan, and more than ourselves. Today as we study the parable of the wedding garment, I pray that Your Holy Spirit will greatly enlighten us so that we may bring Christ’s righteousness into our hearts. Cloth us with His righteousness, we pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
To begin today, I would like to read a passage from the wonderful book called Christ’s Object Lessons, page 307. Here it is. “The parable of the wedding garment opens before us a lesson of the highest consequence. By the marriage is represented the union of humanity with divinity; the wedding garment represents the character which all must possess who shall be accounted fit guests for the wedding.”
What is that lesson of highest consequence? It is a lesson on the union of humanity and divinity in the battle with Satan. It is a parable that tells a story that illustrates a grand picture; what we must do to be ready for the final crisis and for a home in heaven.
I want a home in heaven, don’t you? Perhaps there is no greater incentive to put on the wedding garment than to be with Jesus and the angels and to live in the pure and completely stress free environment of heaven. Isn’t that a wonderful incentive? But the greatest incentive of all is to fellowship with the loving Jesus forever.
But the parable of the wedding garment and its consequences is part of a larger parable of the wedding supper and the Lord of the house, the King. In the gospel of Luke there is a somewhat different rendition of the story of the invitation to the feast, or the great supper, than what Matthew presents in his gospel. Perhaps Luke was telling his own rendition of the same parable, but did not include all the details that Matthew included. In any case, we will look at both stories to get a clearer picture of the wonderful call of Christ to unite with Him.
But there is something about the parable of the great supper and the wedding garment that I want to point out to you. Jesus was giving us a prophecy; a prophecy of the last days in which we are living. Yes it includes a prophecy of apostolic times, which was then still future. But many who study this parable, concentrate on key features and symbolism of the wedding garment itself, but they don’t really think much about the wider aspects of the prophecies that Jesus included in the parable.
When He spoke this parable his eye was on future generations, and in particular, those living just before Jesus comes in the clouds of glory. It is a fantastic parable! It has many prophetic elements to it. Perhaps you have never thought of it that way, so today, I want you to think prophetically with me.
The Bible is full of prophecy concerning Jesus’ second coming. And it comes in many different forms. I can think of at least five.
First, there is direct revelation. “Noah, in 120 years, I am going to bring a flood upon the earth.” And in 120 years the flood came. This is an example of direct revelation. There were many other direct revelations in scripture.
Second; most of the time we think of prophecy in terms of types, symbols and figures. There are many beasts, women, stars, the sun, moon, earth, water, images, kings, merchants, etc. that represent or symbolize real entities on the earth. These figures and symbols often do things, like speak great things, break things to pieces, stamp on things, blaspheme, flee into the wilderness, etc., which also represents events and eras in history and often tell of future developments not yet unfolded.
We also find types in many places, but especially in the sanctuary. The whole Israelite sanctuary system was one great conglomeration of types that prophesied of the great movements in salvation. Prophecy is part of the Bible code. And unless you understand how to decipher the code, you will misunderstand current events and the great things yet to happen.
Promises are a third way that God gives us prophetic utterance. Psalm 91 is a very clear one. Note that verse 5 tells us that if you are in the secret place of the Most High, you will not be afraid of the terror by night. Isn’t that a prophecy about terrorism, especially in the last days? Nor will you be afraid for the arrow that flieth by day. An arrow is an instrument of war. Isn’t this then a prophecy that there will be wars in these last days? Jesus told us that too, but there it is in the promises. By the way, you won’t fear the pestilence, or the destruction, or the slaughter of thousands, or anything else. In fact, if you are in Christ, and you are living in the experience of the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary (which is the secret place) you will see a thousand fall on your side, and 10,000 at your right hand, but you will not fear because it will not come near you.
Do you remember the promise in the book Great Controversy, page 629 that says that during the time when God’s wrath is poured out on the earth, “while the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants?” In the Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, page 446 it says, “though the people of God endure privation, and even suffer for want of food, they are not left to perish. While God’s judgments are visited upon the earth, and the wicked are dying from hunger and thirst, angels provide the righteous with food and water?” Friends, that’s a fantastic promise. You do not need to fear, even a little bit, if you are in Christ.
A fourth way in which God gives us prophecy is through story, historical story. The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is a classic example of a prophecy about the worship crisis at the end of time. The story includes the Sunday law, the death penalty, and many other features, including the globalism that will pervade the world at the end of time to support the oppressive religious laws on a global scale. Another example is the story of Esther, in which the whole Great Controversy is laid out in a combination of story, figures and symbols. If you would like to learn about that, go on our webstore linked to our website and order our 3-part series on Esther.
And lastly, God uses parables to give us prophecy. Many of the parables of Christ are loaded with prophecy. So are many of the parables of the prophets. Today, we are going to look at prophecy through parable.
Prophecy is important because it gives us advance notice of what is coming. Without it, we would be blind and have an excuse not to get ready. But Jesus wants His children so united with Him that He gives them prophecy in so many ways, just so that they can learn what it means to watch and pray, and to watch the signs of the times.
Let us first read Luke’s story of the great supper. It is found in Luke 14:16-24. I think you will find it very interesting. But I also hope that you will be touched by its power. It is a parable of compelling interest. Think carefully about it.
“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.”
This was the first invitation to the Jews. They had advance notice. In other words, the prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. all had a role in inviting them to surrender to Christ and prepare for the Messiah who would come to them with salvation. They knew the prophecies, but unfortunately they misinterpreted them. They were looking for the wrong kind of Messiah.
But here is the parallel. Do we have advance notice of the second coming of Christ? Do we have opportunity to surrender to Christ and prepare for it? We certainly do. History repeats itself, doesn’t it? In speaking to the Jews, Jesus was also speaking prophetically to us and about His church in the last days.
Verse 17 “And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”
This was referring to the coming of the Messiah. He was right in their midst and told them that all things are ready. He appealed to them to accept the invitation in a most powerful way. But they rejected it because it didn’t come the way they expected. Listen carefully to what Jesus was predicting about His church in both the Jewish era and our own times.
Verse 18 “And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.”
Do you think that assets can keep you from coming to the great feast? You see my friends, Jesus is telling us that in the last days there will be those who will refuse the invitation to come to the feast because they have material possessions that rule over them and draw their attention away from their walk with Christ. They have their lifestyle and they don’t want to give it up. So they make excuses why they don’t spend time with Christ, why they don’t have family worship, why they don’t do missionary work, and why they don’t sacrifice their finances for God’s cause. But most of all, why they don’t pursue Christ with all their hearts and with all their souls and with all their might, Deuteronomy 6:5.
Do you think there are Christians, who claim to be Christ’s followers, but who are rich and increased with worldly goods and who will refuse to accept salvation? There are many, aren’t there? That’s what the Laodicean message of Revelation 3:14-18 is trying to tell us.
Listen to what Jesus says to us. “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
Did you notice the white raiment? That is the robe of Christ’s righteousness, which we must wear if we are going to be in heaven. We’ll come back to that a bit later, but I want you to notice it here in the Laodicean message. Laodiceans have need of nothing. They are so self-satisfied and self-sufficient that they don’t need Christ. Do you think it is possible that your lifestyle, including entertainment, sports, food and other cultural things can prevent you from coming to the great feast? The piece of ground represents all those things that you can buy with money, whether assets, expensive toys, or selfish indulgences.
Verse 19 “And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.”
Oxen are for what purpose? They are for work aren’t they? They pull the plow. Do you think that your occupation or work can keep you from the great feast? Do you know anyone that is such a “work-a-holic” that he doesn’t have time for the study of the Bible or prayer? Do you think being a “work-a-holic” is inherently an excuse from the feast? They work so much that they don’t have time for the word and to know Christ. They are so busy making money, or securing their retirement, or trying to get ahead that they neglect to pursue the righteousness of Christ. Friends, you have to purposely carve time out of your day, every day for Christ. It won’t happen if you are not deliberate about it. You can’t just be passive when it comes to Christ. Satan will invent unnumbered distractions to keep you out of the word and away from prayer. Could overwork make you apathetic to Christ? This is the time to repent and turn from it and determine to dedicate time each day for Jesus.
Verse 20 “And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”
Do you think that whom you marry can affect whether or not you can put on the wedding garment? This is a powerful one. No wonder the Bible says that we are not to be unequally yoked. It is for your own protection so that you will have an easier time coming to the great feast.
But there is a larger issue here. Marriage is the most intimate relationship on earth. But it represents all relationships. Really, any relationship, if it distracts or prevents you from time with Christ, is leading you to make an excuse for not coming to the feast.
Earthly relationships, along with material possessions and lifestyle issues, can steal your heart and make you indifferent to Christ. These things become idols if they keep you from Him.
Verse 21 “So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.”
This invitation represents the call to the Gentiles in the days of the apostles. Once the Jews had finally, as a nation, rejected Christ, the apostles were to take the gospel message to the rest of the world beginning in Judea and Samaria and then to every corner of the globe according to Act 1:8.
Who are represented by the poor, maimed, halt and blind? These were people whom the Jews looked down on and had cast aside. They were cursed. They were untouchable. For Jesus to include them in the parable was an offense to the Jewish leaders. By representing these physical ailments in the story, Jesus was addressing spiritual needs that were not being met by the spiritual leaders.
The poor are those who have nothing. They have no spiritual advantages. The maimed are those whom Satan has injured. They have been mistreated, rejected, and are outcasts of society. The halt are those who are crippled by misunderstandings of God, false theology, and idolatrous practices. And the blind are those who have never understood spiritual things at all.
The Pharisees and the other Jewish leaders were very thankful for their spiritual insight. They thought that they understood and could see the way of salvation. They had closed the door on these poor souls. But Jesus had opened it. Again, no doubt, they were very unhappy with this parable.
Verses 22 and 23 “And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
This is the third, and most importantly, the last and final invitation. It is given to all people; to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. This prophetically foretells of the three angels messages, which are to be given at the end time. In other words, this part of the parable applies perfectly to the last days. There is still room, my friends. While ever human probation is still open, there is still room. You can come to the feast! You don’t have to be left out! What a wonderful opportunity! Don’t miss it. This is an invitation to you, both to be at the feast, and to compel others to come in with you. To compel, means to urge, plead and persist in inviting others to join you, for you are one of his servants.
Verse 24 “For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”
This is the condemnation of the Jewish nation as God’s people. In other words, Christ prophesied in His day that the Jewish nation would no longer be God’s church, and very soon.
After the rejection of the Jewish church as God’s church, the apostle Paul said; “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29
So, the Jews, according to the Bible, are no longer distinctly the chosen people. Both Christ and Paul made this clear. Those who teach that the Jewish nation has some prophetic significance have missed this verse. Now the chosen people are those who are Christ’s.
But let us take this one step further. Can you profess to be Christ’s and claim to keep His commandments, and even be baptized in the church, and still not belong to Christ? Of course it’s possible. I dare say, that most of the people in the church today, do not belong to Christ. This is a terrible condition to be in because it is easy to think that you are safe because you are a member of the church, but you are not. In fact, you are headed for condemnation.
The parable of the great feast has important prophetic implications for you and me. Jesus gave that parable especially for us. But that is not all there is to say about this. Matthew’s rendition has other important detail. Matthew’s version places it in the context of a wedding feast. Christ’s bride is the New Jerusalem, which represents His church on earth. There will be a wedding feast to which you and I are invited, but under certain conditions.
So, let us look at Matthew’s version of the parable too. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 22. We’ll begin reading from the first verse.
“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables…”
This parable was given when the church leaders were trying to find a way to destroy Christ. Jesus gave this parable to explain to them what they were doing.
Verse 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son.”
This is a prophecy of the marriage supper of the lamb. Revelation 19:9 says “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Jesus was referring to the marriage supper of the Son of God when God’s church will be united with Christ in the new earth. The king represents God. The son of the king represents Jesus, and those invited are various phases of God’s church. Again, there are several invitations.
Verses 3 and 4 “And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.”
That’s where you get all those excuses in Luke’s rendition.
Reading on, “Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.”
So there are two invitations noted so far. Twice Jesus sent out his disciples, first the 12 and then the 70. But, you can also look at it in another, more comprehensive way. God sent His prophets first, and then Jesus came with His disciples and followers with the second invitation. And like in Luke’s story, Jesus prophesied the rejection of the gracious invitation by the Jews and the call of mercy to the Gentiles.
Christ actually offered the Jews pardon for crucifying the Son of God. They still got a further invitation in connection with His disciples now known as apostles. After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the apostles invited the Jews one more time. It was the first thing the disciples did. They were to give the message of pardon to the Jews first under the power of the early rain.
Keep in mind the call to the feast is a king’s invitation to anyone and everyone who will heed it. It confers high honor on the invitees. This invitation is extended to you and me today. Christ is calling us today just as He did back then.
Notice verse 5 “But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm (that is, to his assets and his work), another to his merchandise (his material possessions and lifestyle).”
Note that they made light of the invitation. Those who don’t take the time to get to know Christ, view His appeal in a superficial light. They make light of it. Others who teach that all we have to do is come to Christ to be saved are also making light of it. They ignore the conditions.
You don’t have to ridicule something to make light of it. That is one way, of course. But those who claim to be the followers of Christ and who don’t follow His instructions are in fact making light of His invitation. Those who refuse to open the door of their hearts and let Christ in, and who ignore His commandments, are making light of His precious appeal to come to the wedding feast.
Now verse 6 “And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.”
Now that’s pretty serious. But the Jews were so exasperated by the offer of salvation, the offer of pardon for rejecting the Lord of glory, that they turned upon the bearers of the message. This is how the Jews treated the apostles when they brought them the fourth and final invitation.
This part of the story represents God’s church, His chosen people. They were so angry that they mistreated the servants of the Lord. But why? They realized that accepting the invitation would change the course of their lives. They were satisfied and they didn’t have need of anything else. And they would have to give up so much. It would require them to change their lifestyle. They might even have to work less and make less money. They would have to get rid of so many things in their lives that they loved. There were a thousand things they would rather do than go to a formal banquet and sit and listen to the king talk about his son. What did they care anyway?
The point Jesus made applies in the last days too. There are many who hear the call to the wedding feast, but they refuse to accept it because it would be too much change for them. Many today sense that their lives are incompatible with God’s will, but they silence their conscience because they don’t want to make the necessary changes to comply with the conditions of the invitation.
And it is the same way that God’s final messengers will be treated during the time of the latter rain when the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of His people is the greatest. In essence, the parable is a prophecy about the circumstances and the message to be given by God’s people in the last days.
In the final moments before Jesus comes the second time there will also be a hot and virulent persecution when the invitation to attend the heavenly wedding feast will be pressed upon the inhabitants of the world. The Holy Spirit will use faithful men and women and probably some children to give the message in a way that it has never been given before.
Listen to this from Christ’s Object Lessons page 307. “The honor of the invitation was unappreciated. The king’s authority was despised. While the householder’s invitation was regarded with indifference, the king’s is met with insult and murder. They treated his servants with scorn, despitefully using them and slaying them.”
What does it mean to “spitefully entreat them?” That is torture, my friends. Think about the apostle John when they tried to put him in a boiling caldron of oil, or Peter who was crucified upside down. Stephen, James and many others were put in prison, tortured, and killed. Paul was part of that very persecution before his conversion, which closed the probation of the Jewish church as God’s church.
Acts 8:1 says there was “a great persecution.” While Jesus’ words predicted the persecution that the apostles suffered, it also prophesied the persecution of Christ’s messengers in every age, especially those in the last generation, just before Jesus comes the second time. There will be a great persecution then too.
They will abuse God’s precious messengers. They will be mean to them and dehumanize them. They will try to inflict pain on them through wicked methods. Perhaps they will waterboard them, or get great dogs to attack them, or keep them in stress positions for long periods of time. I don’t know what they will do, but torture is what Jesus predicts will happen to many of His faithful servants who give the final warning message.
Notice now what Christ said next…
Verse 7 “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
When Jesus said this He was actually making another prophecy. Again from Christ’s Object Lessons, page 309. “The judgment pronounced came upon the Jews in the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the nation.”
The siege of the Roman armies was a direct judgment of God upon the wicked city that had spurned the gospel invitation, tortured and killed God’s messengers, and prevented the nation from fulfilling God’s plan. They were left to their own resources to face Satan’s fury. And there is nothing that Satan loves more than to destroy in the most horrific way, the very ones whom God had chosen. By the way, Satan didn’t leave the Jews alone after the destruction of their capital city. He continued to pursue them. Throughout the Middle Ages, for instance, the Jews were persecuted. Even as late as World War II, he was still trying to destroy them, even though they are no longer God’s church. It is as if he does it out of spite.
But, keep in mind that the destruction of Jerusalem itself was also a prophecy of the destruction of the world or the cities of the world at the end of time. Millions who have refused Christ’s gracious invitation will be left without protection when the cities of the world are destroyed by plagues, disasters, and war as a result of rejecting the multiple gospel invitations. The parable of the feast therefore, is a prophecy involving the final destruction of the world.
Verse 8 “Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.”
Note that they are not worthy. What is this saying? Jesus was saying that those who were bidden, the Jews, rejected Christ and His invitation. But it is also a prophecy about the rejection of the Jews as the church of Christ. They were not worthy, so they could no longer be God’s church. They refused to accept Christ as the Messiah even though He gave them more than ample evidence that He was, in fact, the Anointed One. Christ had no choice but to turn from the Jews and establish another church.
Verse 9 “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.”
Jesus Himself, just before His ascension to heaven said to his disciples that they would be “witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That’s from Acts 1:8.
Again, this was a prophecy of the future. Jesus was telling His disciples that there was a change coming to His church. Since the Jews would not comply with their calling, Christ had to raise up another church to do the work they failed to do. This He did with His disciples who were to take the message everywhere.
This prophecy describes the third invitation given by the apostles to all nations. But it includes all who are God’s messengers right up until the end of time. It applies to us now. We are still in this period of the third invitation.
Verse 10 “So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.”
The Lord’s table will be full, my friends. There will not be any empty seats. God’s intention was that the Jewish nation, if they had accepted His invitation, would then go out and teach God’s message to the rest of the world and invite them to the supper. But, needless to say, that didn’t happen.
Notice that there were both bad and good brought to the feast. Some are interested in God’s message for the wrong reasons. They fellowship with God’s people. They profess great interest in the light of the truth. They may even intellectually understand the principles of truth, but their hearts are not melted by it. They love to argue or “defend” points of truth, but they do not control their passions or allow their personalities to be molded by the Spirit of God. They do not partake of the Spirit of Truth. They do not humbly and meekly yield themselves to Christ and His molding influence that would make them sweet and gentle.
Others show a sturdy indifference. They come to church. They listen to the message. They leave after the fellowship dinner. But they don’t have any interest in reaching others. They don’t have any desire to see other souls transformed into the image of Christ. Their hearts are not under the control of Christ. They love the world more than they love the truth and the lost souls. The cares of this life keep them distracted from the daily study of the word of God. So, even though they claim to be Christ’s followers, and claim to be coming to the wedding feast, they are not really planning on attending.
Putting both Matthew and Luke’s renditions of the parable together, there are actually four invitations with increasing urgency and power. In Luke’s story, the master became angry after the first invitation, but in Matthew’s story the king became wroth after the second invitation. Also note that in Luke, all things were ready at the time of the first invitation, but in Matthew, all the preparations are finished at the second invitation. Whereas Matthew describes two invitations, Luke puts them together into one.
Then in Luke we read of an invitation to those in the streets and lanes of the city. This is the invitation to the poor, maimed, halt and blind. Jesus told His disciples to first evangelize Jerusalem and Samaria before going to the rest of the world. So, this is the gospel invitation under the early rain in the time of the apostles. Matthew’s version of the story doesn’t include this third invitation.
The fourth invitation is found in both gospels. This is the call to all those in the highways and hedges, which represents a global call to all who will heed the invitation.
So, there are four invitations. First, the prophets were sent out. Second, Jesus himself sent out the 12 disciples. Third, He sent out the 70. And fourth, the apostles presented the gospel invitation to the Jews after the resurrection. The apostles gave the invitation under the power of the Holy Spirit in the early rain.
They met with four increasingly hostile and even violent responses. First, the messengers were ignored. Then they were met with excuses. Then they faced open opposition. And fourth, their intended audience persecuted them.
Now, let us see the prophetic point in the last days. There are four last day messages given by God’s people represented in Revelation 14:6-12, and Revelation 18:1-4 represented by four angels. These messages are given in increasing power. In each case they are rejected with increasing resistance.
The first message, found in Revelation 14:6, 7 says this, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”
This is the call to worship the creator by keeping His seventh day Sabbath holy. It was, and is, only accepted by a few while most of the people of the churches in the world ignore it.
The second message is more powerful and warns against the false teachings of fallen Babylon, especially Roman Catholicism and its cooperative and ecumenical spiritual daughters. Let me read it to you. “and there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
That’s verse eight. In the Bible the symbol of wine represents doctrine, in this case it is obviously false doctrine. But the second message is met with opposition. It is sometimes open and sometimes subtle, such as the influence of the ecumenical movement and through infiltration by false shepherds, etc.
The third message is more pointed and yet more powerful. Listen carefully, “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” That’s verses 9 and 10.
This appeal is a warning to avoid the punishment of the rebellious churches. But when it is given with pointedness and power it will be met with hostility, accusation and ridicule.
The fourth angel’s message is found in Revelation 18:1-4. It is really a repeat of the third with more information. “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
Notice that it is given with “great power, and the earth was lighted with his glory.” This is the most powerful of all the messages because it is given under the dramatic power of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain, similar to the power of the apostles who gave the fourth message during the early rain. It is the final call to leave the fallen churches and join God’s remnant people and prepare for the final crisis and the second coming of Christ. This generates outright persecution of those who give this important message.
Listen to this statement from Great Controversy, 606. “Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power [under the fourth angel], the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words, which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred…”
So, my friends, Jesus’ parable has end-time parallels. The four invitations of the story represent the four invitations to the Jewish nation, and also the four messages, or invitations given to the world in the last days.
The last part of the story of the wedding garment has yet further prophetic significance.
Listen to verse 11. ”And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man, which had not on a wedding garment.”
The king came in to see the guests and investigate to see that all were worthy to be there. That meant that they were to put on the wedding garment that would be given them by the king. It was a gift, and it was provided to all the guests without discrimination. But the wedding garment was required in order to attend the feast.
Wearing the wedding garment showed a great respect for the king. It would have been a rich garment, not common citizen’s robes. Not wearing it would have been inappropriate at such a gathering and would be rude and uncouth.
This part of the parable also shows us that in order to be worthy to attend the feast, there must be a preparation. You have to take off your old robe and put on a new robe. Christ was telling us about the robe of His righteousness “woven in the loom of heaven.” Let me repeat, you must remove your old clothes and put on a new garment in its place. This is a spiritual robe. Christ’s robe of righteousness is a wonderful gift to us. But we must cooperate with heaven and put it on. When we do so, divinity combines with humanity and we are transformed from a nobody to an honored guest, a citizen of heaven. We are still the same flesh and blood, the same personality, but we are now something different than before. Now we have a perfect right to be with the king. And now we act differently, we think differently, we have a new way of understanding. Our characters and personalities are molded by Christ and refined by His grace. This is the white raiment Christ tells us to get from Him in the Laodicean message of Revelation 3:18.
This is also a prophecy about the time in which we are living now. Notice that there was an investigation of the guests. Investigations are not new in the spiritual realm. There have been many of them.
Some people think that an end-time investigative judgment is not in the Bible. But if you look at every time that there was a close of probation or whenever God was about to punish, He held an investigation into the lives of His people and judged whether or not they were righteous. Here are some examples.
God conducted an investigation of Adam and Eve after they sinned before putting them out of the Garden of Eden. Here it is from Genesis 3:9-11 “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
God also conducted an investigation of Cain. After Cain killed his brother Abel God came to him to investigate his actions. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Genesis 4:9, 10 Then God punished Cain.
Noah and the people of his generation were also investigated before the close of their probation. Notice what is says in Genesis 6:12 “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”
Sodom was investigated before it was destroyed. Genesis 18:20, 21 tell us that the Lord said to Abraham, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” You know the rest of the story, how the angels discovered the wickedness of Sodom by what happened at Lot’s house.
An investigation prior to punishment or a close of probation is a regular event in history. And it is planned for the end times as well. In fact, it is on right now as we await the second coming. The parable of the wedding garment reveals that the king, or Christ Himself, will review the lives of those who want to come to the wedding feast to see if they are worthy.
The king’s investigation of the guests is also a prophecy about an end-time investigation. And it also involves a judgment or discernment. Those who don’t have on the wedding garment are judged to be unworthy of being at the wedding feast. Those who do have on the robe of Christ’s righteousness are judged to be worthy to attend. There is no confrontation with them. But there is confrontation with the one who did not have it on.
Prophetically, this is called the investigative judgment. And it involves all those who are invited to the wedding feast. If you are a professed follower of Jesus you must put on the spotless robe of Christ’s character before you come to the feast, or you will not be worthy to be there, and you will be cast out.
But this is a wonderful thing. You will not be disappointed to put on the wedding garment of the righteousness of Christ. Your character needs this. By putting on the robe of Christ’s righteousness, you show your humility and your willingness to let go of your own robe, your earthly garments, your arrogance, your pride, your selfishness. You see, my friends, Christ is longing to give you His character, His robe of righteousness instead. It is free, paid for by His death and resurrection on your behalf. He wants to remove your earthliness, your sin, your imperfect character and teach you how to live His life.
You must learn to be meek and lowly and gentle. Your rough and aggressive personality must be brought under the control of Christ and His love. Self-defensiveness must be put away. Desire to always have the last word, or the determination to correct everyone else must be put away. This has to be overcome. Your life must be molded by Christ, so that you do what He does, you think like He thinks, you act like He acts, even when under severe provocation. This is how you get victory over the devil. You cannot overcome your sins, unless you put on Christ, as Paul says in Romans 13:14. Listen to it: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Too many of us make provision for the flesh. We have a contingency plan so that if we want to we can fall into sin and live in the world, live in our own way, live in our own character rather than the character of Christ.
Notice that Paul said we are to “put on” Christ. That means that we take off our robe of our own righteousness, and put on Christ’s righteousness, symbolized by the wedding garment. We are to no longer live in the carnal flesh, but live by the power of Christ. This guides us, it molds us, and it shapes us into model Christians.
When you fall into sin, you have put off the Lord Jesus Christ, the very opposite of the counsel of Paul. But you can put on Christ again through repentance and confession of sin and a determination to live for Christ in the future.
Let us think for a moment about what is usually taught to church members today. Most of the time Christian people are taught that you cannot overcome sin, even by the power of Christ. They teach that Christ is impotent and that He cannot do what He says He can do. They teach that you are going to have your earthly garments until Jesus comes in the clouds of glory and then your character will be changed and you will be ready for heaven. But this is error. Jesus says that He is able to keep you from falling, Jude 24.
Most Christian people are taught that they shouldn’t concern themselves with living a holy life; that they don’t need to worry about putting away sin. Just trust Jesus, they are told. Others are told to just go to confession. Everything will be ok. You don’t have to actually overcome your sins.
We are to trust Jesus, and we are to confess our sins to Christ and plead with Him for forgiveness. But that isn’t all. Christ expects us to put on the wedding garment of His righteousness, His holiness, His power if we are to attend the wedding feast. Righteousness is righteous living. It involves your lifestyle. It involves your thoughts and the intentions of your heart, which translates into the way you live.
People who teach that you cannot live a holy life and overcome your sins, and that forgiveness is all that matters are telling you the lies of Satan. Their teaching does not address the satanic questions and accusations in the Great Controversy against Christ. The Bible reveals that it is not only salvation of lost souls that is important in the universe, but that the vindication of God’s character is at stake. Putting on the wedding garment is really a demonstration of Christ living in your life and revealing that it is possible to live a holy life in Christ.
“Satan had claimed that it was impossible for man to obey God’s commandments; and in our own strength it is true that we cannot obey them. But Christ came in the form of humanity, and by His perfect obedience He proved that humanity and divinity combined can obey every one of God’s precepts.” That’s Christ’s Object Lessons, page 314.
In addition Satan is arguing that God can have one or two here and there who are loyal to Him, like Enoch, Elijah, Noah and a few others. But he claims that God cannot get a whole group of them all at once. God says He can. He will have a whole church without “spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27. And He is developing this group right now, preparing them to live in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. The only reason you need a mediator with God is because you sin. The only way you can live in the sight of a holy God without a mediator is if you stop sinning. Putting on the wedding garment is the way you become one of those people, because when you have Christ’s righteousness in your soul, you cannot sin.
Listen to the apostle John. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:6, 7. In other words, those who do not do righteousness are not righteous.
Listen to that again. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.” If you abide in Christ and Christ abides in you, sin is banished from your soul. You don’t want to sin and ruin your love for Jesus.
The parable of the wedding garment is a prophecy of the sealing time when God’s people are sealed by settling into the truth so that they cannot be moved. That means that they are having a full time experience with Christ in obedience to His law. It means that Christ is living in them so much that nothing can cause them to send Him out of their hearts; they refuse to sin even by a thought. Every temptation is spurned because Christ lives in them.
Friends, unless your heart is molded by Christ and His love, you will not be able to have His righteousness in your heart or live by all of the ten commandments and you will not be putting on the wedding garment which gives you the right to sit at the table of the great feast.
Now let us read verse 12. “And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.”
“The man who came to the feast without a wedding garment represents the condition of many in our world today. They profess to be Christians, and lay claim to the blessings and privileges of the gospel; yet they feel no need of a transformation of character. They have never felt true repentance for sin. They do not realize their need of Christ or exercise faith in Him. They have not overcome their hereditary or cultivated tendencies to wrongdoing. Yet they think that they are good enough in themselves, and they rest upon their own merits instead of trusting in Christ. Hearers of the word, they come to the banquet, but they have not put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness.”
“The life of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God’s law, and when those who claim to be children of God become Christlike in character, they will be obedient to God’s commandments. Then the Lord can trust them to be of the number who shall compose the family of heaven. Clothed in the glorious apparel of Christ’s righteousness, they have a place at the King’s feast. They have a right to join the blood-washed throng.” That’s from Christ’s Object lessons, page 315.
Verse 13 “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This is a prophecy about the destruction of the wicked at the end of the world in the lake of fire. That’s the last place any of us want to be. But in the parable, Jesus is making it very clear that those who don’t have on the wedding garment have only one destination. What an eternal loss that would be! Oh, my friend, don’t reject Christ’s invitation. It is your only hope of salvation.
Notice the last verse, 14. “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
My friends, how do you get chosen? You are called already, but how do you get chosen? To be chosen you must put on the wedding garment. That means that you will live by Christ’s righteousness, which is the priceless robe woven in the loom of heaven and given to every true believer. It is a gift. It is not something you earn. But you must put it on.
John 1:12 says “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” This power is not in the human agent. It is the power of God that is infused into the soul. When a soul receives Christ, he receives power to live the life of Christ.
“It is in this life that we are to put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This is our only opportunity to form characters for the home which Christ has made ready for those who obey His commandments.”
“The days of our probation are fast closing. The end is near. To us the warning is given, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” Luke 21:34. Beware lest it find you unready. Take heed lest you be found at the King’s feast without a wedding garment.
“In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Matthew 24:44; Revelation 16:15. That’s from Christ’s Object Lessons page 319.
Oh friends, I want that wedding garment, don’t you? I know you want it too. It is too important to go another minute without the wedding garment. I pray that you are asking Jesus to give you that special robe today, even now.
Let us pray. Our Father in Heaven, we need the wedding garment. We don’t want to come to the feast unprepared. We want to be found in the investigation to have the wedding garment on. We don’t deserve it, but you have promised to give it to us so that we will be welcome at the feast of the marriage supper of the Lamb. So give us your grace today we pray, and may your righteousness shine out of our lives in living witness to your power to overcome the devil, and the glory of your character. In Jesus’ name, amen.