In the Bible there is a common theme used as a metaphor of the woman for God’s people who are either faithful and pure, or, rebellious. These include:
- The parable of the two adulterous sisters and their children (Eze 23)
- The daughter of Babylon vs the daughter of Zion (Zech 2:7, 10).
- More generally, the Old Testament uses this image of a woman to represent either faithful (Isa 62:5, Jer 2:1, 2) or unfaithful (Isa 47:1-3, Jer 2:32, Eze 16, Nah 3:4, 5) groups of people. See also Gal 4:21-31 which used Sarah and Hagar as metaphors.
- In the book of Revelation we have two women: Jezebel or the harlot as a symbol of Babylon (Rev 2:20, 17:1-18:24), vs, the pure woman as a symbol of God’s faithful people the bride of the Lamb (Rev 12:1-17, 19:7, 21:9).
This metaphor is continued in many passages in the NT using the extended metaphor of marriage which, in NT times, assumes the following sequence of events:
- A man decides to marry a young woman
- He promises to marry her, and provide for her, and many other benefits
- He then goes away to build her a house for their marriage and expected family - most often an extension of his father's house
- During this "waiting time" the engaged woman is expected to make herself ready, remain faithful to her husband and wait for his return
- The husband is also expected to arrange a marriage feast and ceremony complete with invited guests
- The husband returns at an unexpected time to claim his bride and enjoy the wedding feast
- After the wedding, the husband takes the new bride to the home he has just completed to live with him
Jesus used this symbol of a woman (the church) being married Him in several places such as, John 3:29, 14:1-3; Matt 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:35, 2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:27; the parable of the 10 virgins in Matt 25:1-13; the new Jerusalem in Rev 19:7, 21:2, 9, 22:17.
Thus, the symbol or metaphor of marriage in the Book of Revelation is just a spiritual marriage and NOT a real marriage. The marriage metaphor in Rev 19:9 is used to teach us about the union of Jesus with His church for whom He died and "gave Himself for her" (Eph 5:25). This union occurs at the "marriage supper of the Lamb" following the purification of the church (Rev 19:1-8) when Jesus comes to take his people home (Heb 11:14-16).