TO CHEW ON: “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God.” Revelation 21:9,10
Imagery of God taking a bride is present already in the Old Testament. The book Song of Solomon—a celebration of married love all the way through—is interpreted on one level as “… the covenant love relationship enjoyed by God’s church” Donald Pickerill, “Introduction to the Song of Solomon,” New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 860.
Isaiah prophesied a time when the relationship of God and His people would resemble a marriage. About Zion (Jerusalem) he said:
“For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you” - Isaiah 62:5.
Bride imagery comes to us again through Jesus. When John the Baptist’s disciples came to Him and asked Him why His disciples didn’t fast while they and the Pharisees did, Jesus’ answer (“‘Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and they they will fast’” - Matthew 9:15) implied that He was the Bridegroom and was not going to be around forever.
John the Baptist also recognized Jesus as the bridegroom. When people came to him (John) wanting a reaction to Jesus’ success at attracting crowds, John said, “‘He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled’” - John 3:29,30.
Paul picked up this imagery in his letters. In writing to the church in Rome, he spoke of their life of faith in Christ:
“Therefore my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead…’” - Romans 7:4.
And to the Corinthian church he wrote:
“For I have betrothed you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” - 2 Corinthians 11:2.
Finally, in Revelation, John had several visions that included brides, weddings and wedding feasts. Among them is the vision of Revelation 19:7,8 when he heard the multitudes of heaven proclaim:
“‘Let us be glad and rejoice to give Him the 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.”
And then we have the beautiful image in our passage of Jerusalem, descending from heaven like a bride - Revelation 21:2,9,10.
Several thoughts come to mind in response to this:
1. The Christian community’s outrage at changes in society’s definition of marriage is easily understood in the light of the sacred covenant and union marriage symbolizes in the Bible. It’s one of the reasons some of us will never give in to demands that we change our stand on this.
2. The beauty and purity of the Bride, as pictured here, is a challenge to each one of us to keep ourselves ready, dressed in that “fine linen clean and bright,” our wedding garment, gifted and made possible through the shed and cleansing blood of our Bridegroom.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to live in a spirit of repentance and purity, always aware of whose I am. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.