Revelation Part 5: The Bride

[PART 4]  
    This is the fifth
and final lesson in a short series on the wonderful book of Revelation. The
lessons in this series are as follows: the dating, the timing, the martyrs, the
millennium, and the bride. All of these lessons will be for the purpose of
arguing the following: “The Revelation that was seen by John was written prior
to the destruction of Jerusalem and found its full fulfillment in the overthrow
of Judaism in AD70.” While this proposition may seem intimidating and, perhaps,
threating to some, I encourage you to read the following lessons with an open
heart and mind – trusting only in God and not man. As mentioned, our last
lesson will be on the bride that comes down out of Heaven in Revelation 21:2.
Revelation 21:1-7

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new
earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was
no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of
heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a
loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be
with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain,
for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne
said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,
“Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me,
“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I
will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He
who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be
My son” (Revelation 21:1-7).

     These words of
John are usually applied to life for the faithful after an alleged “end of
time” (something the Bible doesn’t breathe a word about); however, I believe
that, given the context of the Revelation, these words are best suited for the
eternal kingdom and the church of the Living God and of His Son Jesus Christ.
The most common objections to this position usually revolve around a discussion
of tears, sorrow, or physical death. However, when dealing with a book of signs
and symbols, it would be irresponsible to jump to a woodenly literal conclusion
concerning chapter twenty-one while at the same time chiding the
dispensationalists for their literal interpretation of chapters four through
twenty. Also, we should not strip chapters twenty-one and twenty-two away from
the first century, “shortly to come to pass” context that the book is set in
(see previous articles). These ideas of “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying”
are spiritual ideas concerning the wonderful life that we now have in Christ in
His established kingdom. This is not our subject, but it will be one of the
main objections to our conclusions in this article, so I see it good to quickly
answer them. An example of this exact type of language is utilized by the Old Testament
(Revelation uses hundreds of Old
Testament, prophetic symbols in describing the fall of the city where the Lord
was slain; Revelation 11:8) in Isaiah 65. “But be glad and rejoice forever in
what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a
joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping
shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying” (Isaiah 65:18-19; see
Luke 21:21-22). Brother Wayne Jackson says of Isaiah 65, “In this final section
of chapter 65, the prophet describes the creation of a “new heavens and a new
earth.” In this instance, this is a symbolic description of the Messiah’s
reign
 during the Christian age[1]
(Jackson, par. 13, emp. in original). He goes on to say, “The sound of weeping
will pass away (19). The language does not suggest that the Christian will
never know tears, sadness, etc. (cf. Acts 20:31; Philippians 3:18); rather, it
is simply a negative way of emphasizing the joy characteristic of that new
atmosphere. The thrust of verse 20 seems to be this. In the new regime,
quantity (in terms of time) will not be nearly so important as quality” (par.
15). We, of course, couldn’t agree more, but here’s a few questions: How many
times must God wipe the tears from our eyes? How many New Heavens and New Earth
are there? How many times must the former things pass away and God make all
things new? Hear brother Jackson’s words from the same article once more: “The
“former things,” i.e., the elements of the Mosaic system, will pass away (17).
Paul sets forth a similar truth in the New Testament. “Wherefore if any man is
in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they
are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new creation is described as a
rejoicing in Jerusalem — an atmosphere of joy (18). This is, of course, a
spiritual Jerusalem, not the material city. God will rejoice in Jerusalem and
joy in His people. The parallelism reveals that Jerusalem is a body of
people
, not the literal city” (par. 14, emp. in original).  Now, friend, take this fantastic hermeneutic
and go read 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21, and see what you come up with! Brother
Jackson spoke of the former things, the New Heavens and New Earth, God wiping
away tears, and the elements of the Mosaic system; this is what we are arguing
– no more and no less. Just as a point of clarification, brother Jackson is not
consistent with this mode of thinking when he comes to the two aforementioned
passages.
The Bride
     Now that we have our housekeeping
done, let’s move on with our subject matter. Who is the bride of Christ but the
church? Does the New Testament not proclaim that truth again and again? Is
Christ a polygamist? I don’t believe that I should have to go through the
scriptures to prove that fact that is already well known (e.g. Ephesians 5:27).
Instead, we will focus our time on answering questions regarding that subject.
1) Was Jesus married to His bride on Pentecost? 2) When did Christ marry His
bride? 3) What effects did the marriage have?
Was Jesus married to His bride – the church – on
Pentecost?
     There are many
who believe that Jesus was, in fact, already married to the church on
Pentecost, but that is simply not the case. That is not to say that Christ was not
“legally” bound to the church, but in order to understand the relationship
between Christ and His church, we must first understand first century marriage
customs. For a thorough examination of this subject, see this article: http://www.bible.ca/marriage/ancient-jewish-three-stage-weddings-and-marriage-customs-ceremony-in-the-bible.htm.
Now, assuming that you either know this information already or you read that
article, we find that when we look at the New Testament scriptures, we learn
that Christ was in the “betrothal” stage of the marriage and that the marriage
had yet to be consummated. “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I
have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to
Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). If the marriage had been consummated, then why
did Paul speak of the church in these terms?
     Let’s see more
evidence, shall we? In John 14, Jesus says, “”Let not your heart be
troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many
mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for
you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you
to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Many have
recognized that this is proposal language. Dr. Renald Showers said of John 14,
“Those who live in the modern western
world do not catch the full significance of Jesus’ promise. This is due to the
fact that in His promise Jesus was drawing an analogy from Jewish marriage
customs in biblical times[2]” (par.
3). As we will see, the fulfilment of this promise and the consummation of the
marriage would not take place until the second coming of Christ.
When did Christ
marry His bride?
     If the marriage of Christ was not consummated
at the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when did Christ marry His bride? As we said
in the previous sub-section, it was at the second coming of Christ – the time
when Christ would receive the church unto Himself (John 14:3). Does the New
Testament say anything else about this time? Actually, in Revelation 19, at one
of the several depictions of the judgement of Babylon – old covenant Jerusalem –
we read a description of the bride of Christ. “Let us be glad and rejoice and
give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made
herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen,
clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then
he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage
supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings
of God.”” (Revelation 19:7-9). From this text, we see that the marriage of
the lamb and His bride corresponds to the destruction of the harlot, Mystery
Babylon (Revelation 19:1-3; see Revelation 17:1-6). The destruction of Babylon
is the time when the elders say, “The kingdoms of this world have become
the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and
ever!” (Revelation 11:15). There is another passage that connects the
kingdom of God to a marriage scene. We find it in the Olivet Discourse where
Jesus spoke of things pertaining to the fall of Jerusalem that would take place
within that first century generation (Matthew 24:34). “Then the kingdom of
heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to
meet the bridegroom” (Matthew 25:1). Once more, we see the solidarity between
what Jesus said in Matthew 24-25 and what John saw in Revelation (see previous
articles).
     While the above
is true, there is even more evidence for a first century fulfillment of the
marriage – and, therefore, the second coming and the fulfillment of Revelation.
That evidence is the “marriage supper of the lamb.” The marriage supper takes
place after the marriage, so if we can determine when the marriage supper takes
place, then we can identify the time of the marriage, second coming, etc. When
would this great feast, celebrating the Messiah and His bride, take place?
There are several references to it in scripture, and we will only mention a few
here. Read them now, and then we will get to our main text.

“And in this mountain [see Isaiah 2:1-4
– DR] The LORD of hosts will make for all people A feast of choice pieces, A
feast of wines on the lees, Of fat things full of marrow, Of well-refined wines
on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain The surface of the covering
cast over all people, And the veil that is spread over all nations [see 2
Corinthians 3:7-18 – DR]. He will swallow up death forever [see 1 Corinthians
15:54-56 – DR], And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces [see
Isaiah 65:11, 13, 17, 19 – DR]; The rebuke of His people He will take away from
all the earth; For the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 25:6-8)

“And I say to you that many will
come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the
kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).

“Now when one of those who sat at
the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who
shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then He said to him, “A
certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at
supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now
ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to
him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to
have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am
going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have
married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported
these things to his master. 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 here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant
said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the
master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel
them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of
those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ “” (Luke 14:15-24).

          While all of these texts would be beneficial
for us to dive into, I will leave that work for you. I believe after seeing
what we have, it should be relatively simple for you to see when you use the
Bible as its own commentary. Perhaps the text that I would like to cover will
reveal the meaning even more than before.

“And Jesus answered and spoke to them again
by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who
arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who
were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent
out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have
prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are
ready. Come to the wedding.” ‘ But they made light of it and went their
ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his
servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard
about it, he was furious. And he sent
out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
Then
he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were
not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to
the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered
together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was
filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a
man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend,
how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and
cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are called, but few are chosen”” (Matthew 22:1-14).

     As you can clearly see, Jesus is speaking
of nothing different from what would later be revealed to John in Revelation
19. Commenting on this particular text, brother Jackson says, “God warned the
Jews that he would send “his armies” to destroy those who murdered his Son, and
cause their city to be burned (Mt. 22:7); this was to be accomplished by the
Roman invasion” (Jackson, par. 14). All of the texts that I presented to you
have to do with the kingdom of Heaven. From the foolish virgins, to the
mountain of Isaiah 25, we see that God places the time of the marriage supper
with that of the fall of Jerusalem.
What
effects did the marriage have?
     In this section, I only want to focus on one
particular aspect of the marriage. We can find this effect in the book of Ephesians
5.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ
also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and
cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to
Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but
that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their
own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one
ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does
the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO
HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” This is a great mystery,
but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:25-32; Old Testament
quotations are often capitalized in the NKJV).

     Let’s work our way through this text.
Jesus gave His life for the assembly for the purpose of washing her with water.
This imagery comes from Ezekiel 16:9 where God is recounting the blessings He
offered to Israel when He brought her out of Egypt and made her is bride –
which covenant she broke when she went after idols (see Jeremiah 3:6-9; Hosea
5:15; thus, the harlot imagery in Revelation). The purpose of this cleansing
was so that the church could be presented pure and clean, as we saw was Paul’s
hope in 2 Corinthians 11:2. In Revelation 19, the Bible says, ““Let us be glad
and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His
wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in
fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the
saints” (Revelation 19:7-8). Once the time of preparation was complete, when
the bride had made herself ready, the marriage was consummated. Now, what does
Paul say would take place? The two shall become one flesh. This, says Paul, was
a great mystery!
     Now, let’s think about that for a second.
Christ, as the savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23), would marry His wife at the
time of the second coming and the two would become one flesh. Well, what kind
of flesh does Christ have? When He was resurrected, God said, “…’YOU ARE MY SON,
TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’” (Acts 13:33). Jesus established a rule, “That
which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit” (John 3:6). Peter said of Jesus’ resurrection, “For Christ also
suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,
being put to death in the flesh but made alive [in the – YLT] Spirit” (1 Peter
3:18; see 1 Peter 4:1). What do we gather from this? Was Jesus a spiritual man
or a fleshy man at the time of the marriage? When I say flesh and spirit, I do
not mean in terms of His physical makeup. I’m speaking in terms of His covenantal
allegiance (compare Romans 8:8 to Hebrews 11:6; cf. Galatians 4:4). At the time
of the marriage “the body,” of whom Christ is the Savior, would become one
flesh with Christ: spiritual. Christ would not marry a bride who had not made
herself ready with righteousness. This is why the Holy Spirit was sent to work through
the apostles to prepare the people and serve as their guarantee until the “day
of Redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul said, “For we know
that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from
God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed
with our habitation which is from heaven,
if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in
this tent groan, being burdened, not
because we want to be unclothed
, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared
us for this very thing is God, who also
has given us the Spirit as a guarantee
” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
     At the marriage, what would happen to the
body? Read the following text for further information:

“So also is the resurrection of the dead.
The body is being sown in corruption, it is being raised in incorruption. It is
being sown in dishonor, it is being raised in glory. It is being sown in
weakness, it is being raised in power. It is being sown a natural body, it is
being raised a spiritual body. There is currently a natural body, and there is
currently a spiritual body. And so it is written, “THE FIRST MAN ADAM
BECAME A LIVING BEING.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the
spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the
Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of
dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we
have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the
heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a
mystery [recognize this from Ephesians 5? – DR]: We shall not all sleep, but we
shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and
this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on
incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to
pass the saying that is written: “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY”” (1
Corinthians 15:42-54; verbs clarified according to Greek text).

Conclusion
     The marriage of Christ would take place at
the fall of Babylon which was a symbol for Jerusalem (the city where the Lord
was slain – Revelation 11:8). The time of the marriage is the time when the
body becomes one flesh with Christ – spiritual, incorruptible, immortal (2
Timothy 1:10). This corresponds to the timing of the revelation of the New
Jerusalem and the New Heavens and Earth in which we are able to dwell today if
we become righteous by appropriating the righteousness of Jesus through being conformed
to the likeness of His death and resurrection (see Romans 4:25; Romans 6:3-6;
Philippians 3:9-10).
     So, this concludes our short series on
Revelation. We have established the date of Revelation and the timing of the
fulfillment of this great book by examining scripture and comparing spiritual
things to spiritual. I hope that this has been beneficial to you, and that,
even if you have disagreed with my conclusions, that you were able to be
blessed some way through our study together. I’d love to hear what you think
about this study, so feel free to contact me. I hope the Lord blesses you
beyond all measure.


[DOWNLOAD THE SERIES AS A PDF]


[1]
Jackson, Wayne. Will Heaven Be On Earth?.
https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1353-will-heaven-be-on-earth
[2]
Showers, Renald. http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/jewish_marriage_customs.htm

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