The Bride, the Wife of the Lamb

Over the last few days we have been thinking of Scripture about the end of the age, that when Jesus comes, all those who have called upon the Lord and repented of sin, will be married to the Lord and live with Him as His bride. Let’s read what John the apostle writes in the Book of Revelation:

Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long (Revelation 21:9-16).

 The wall around this city is 144 cubits thick. That is equivalent to 216 feet. We are also told that the size of the New Jerusalem is 12,000 stadia and as wide as it is long which today measures 1400 miles wide and 1400 miles long. That is an area extending from California to the Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States, and from Canada to Mexico. The ground level alone is nearly two million square miles. Don’t forget, though, the distance is as high as it is wide and long (verse 16). If each story is a generous 12 feet, that would make 600,000 stories. Billions of people will be able to live there with many square miles per person. The dimension of the city is a perfect cube. In Solomon’s Temple was a room that only the High Priest, once a year, with the sacrificial blood of a slain animal, entered beyond the heavy curtain that kept man separated from the very presence of God. This curtain was the one that was torn at the very time of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross (Matthew 27:51). The room of the Most Holy Place, where God alone dwelt, was a cube of twenty cubits (1 Kings 6:20)The New Jerusalem’s dimensions reflect the fact that God wants for man to live with Him forever. It is a picture of man being invited into the very presence of God and to enjoy Him and His people forever in the Holy of Holies.

How wonderful it must have been for John the Apostle, the person who wrote down the Revelation, for He sees his own name on one of the foundation stones (Revelation 21:14). We don’t yet know how our efforts for Christ in this world affect others, only God knows, but it is interesting that John gets to see that his life has made a difference for eternity

 22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:22-27. Emphasis mine).

The New Jerusalem is the place where Christ enjoys eternity with His bride. A place where there will be oneness of heart and mind, where we will live with Him forever and ever.

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4).

What joy that will be! To see the face of Christ, behold His beauty, and live in relationship with Him. Are you beginning to see the value that God Himself places on you? “What is man that you are mindful of him?” David said. How special we are to God, for of all the places in the Universe for the Lord God Almighty and His Son to live, God chooses to live with man in the New Jerusalem. No matter where you are, the God of heaven is looking for you to come to His home and live with Him forever and ever. The invitation is for you and your family. There’s nothing you can do to earn it, for it is only by grace, God’s undeserved favor. Will you give your life to Him? He wants you to know that Heaven is your eternal home.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

The Dwelling of God is With Men

In the last few days we have been meditating on God’s plan for the ages, to call for a world-wide people who will enter into a marriage covenant with Jesus. Our Bridegroom will come for His Bride and will dwell with those who will respond to His love. He has been building a home for His Bride. In Middle Eastern weddings it is the bridegroom’s responsibility to prepare or build the place where the couple will live after the wedding.

Let’s look now at the place that our God has prepared for those who love Him:

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son (Revelation 21:1-7. Emphasis mine).

The holy city descends from above. Notice that it’s not something that we build on Earth but something that Christ has built and descends to Earth for His people. It’s not New Washington or New London, but it is the New Jerusalem, the place where God has promised to dwell forever. He told Solomon that in Jerusalem He had put his Name forever: “My eyes and my heart will always be there” (1 Kings 9:3). Could that be the reason that there is so much warfare about the city of Jerusalem? I believe God’s enemies want to stamp out the name of the God of Israel from Jerusalem completely, and for the embodiment of Satan himself, the Antichrist, to sit enthroned on the sacred mount at the center of Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Verse 2 says that the New Jerusalem comes down prepared as a bride. Some explain the sentence by saying that the city itself is the bride. Those that hold to that position remind us that we are being built into a temple as living stones: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). To counter that argument, though, Revelation 21: 27 says that those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will live there, not that they are it! We are told that God Himself will live with them. This city will be our dwelling place and God Himself will live with us. Yes, the waiting is hard, but oh, so worth it when the time comes.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

“I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

We are continuing to meditate on the thought that God has called out of the world a people from all nations to be in a marriage relationship to Himself. This relationship is one that is brought about by the greatest of loves, that of agape love, self-sacrificial love. Jesus came to express His love by dying in place of guilty man. The judgment of sin was, “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). God has made a way of escape and sent His Son to take man’s punishment upon Himself—self-sacrificial love. God raised Him from the dead, and now He waits for man to respond to His act of love. In this act of love, He has betrothed those who accepts His death as theirs, into a marriage relationship. When Christ comes, then will begin the festivities. Until then, we are in an engagement or betrothal relationship. We are to live in purity for Him and Him alone. Christians are those who have entered into a covenant of marriage.

I borrow from the words of C.H. Spurgeon here:

“The marriage of the Lamb is the result of the eternal gift of the Father. Our Lord says, “Yours they were and you gave them to Me.” His prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. That they may behold My glory, which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” The Father made a choice, and the chosen He gave to His Son to be His portion. For them, He entered into a Covenant of Redemption, whereby He was pledged in due time to take upon Himself their nature, pay the penalty of their offenses, and set them free to be His own.

Beloved, that which was arranged in the councils of eternity and settled there between the high contracting Parties is brought to its ultimate end in that day when the Lamb takes unto Himself in everlasting union the whole of those whom His Father gave Him from of old.

Next—this is the completion of the betrothal, which took place with each of them in time. I shall not attempt elaborate distinctions. However, as far as you and I were concerned, the Lord Jesus betrothed each one of us unto Himself in righteousness when first we believed on Him. Then He took us to be His and gave Himself to be ours so that we could sing— “My beloved is mine and I am His.” This was the essence of the marriage. Paul, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, represents our Lord as already married to the Church. This may be illustrated by the oriental custom by which, when the bride is betrothed, all the sanctities of marriage are involved in those espousals. Yet, there may be a considerable interval before the bride is taken to her husband’s house. She dwells with her former household and has not yet forgotten her kindred and her father’s house, though still she is espoused in truth and righteousness. Afterwards, she is brought home on an appointed day, the day which we should call the actual marriage. Yet, the betrothal is, to Orientals, of the very essence of the marriage.”[1]

That is what we will talk about next, the home that the Lord has been preparing for us. He said, 1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3). I’m looking forward to being with Him in that place, I hope you are too.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

[1] http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons35.xxxv.html

The Wedding of the Lamb

In the last few days, we have been thinking on the fact that true biblical Christianity is about a marriage God is making between His Son and all those who will enter into covenant with Him. In some mysterious way, we, the people of God, have been brought into an organic union with Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches…4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1; 4). In fact, the words, “In Christ” appear 160 times. A marriage relationship between a man and his wife is a picture of the heavenly union that Christ has entered into with His bride, the people who are born-again of the Spirit (John 3:3).

Many of our wedding traditions are illustrative of the heavenly marriage. Things such as the bride taking on the last name of the bridegroom. Those of us who are known as “Christians”, have taken the name of our husband, the Lord Jesus, and the Bible says that we will bear His name on our foreheads (Revelation 22:4). The name is symbolic of the nature of Christ, and His name on our foreheads symbolize that our thought life, our minds, have been brought into alignment with the nature and character of our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus.

At a wedding, what does the giving of rings on the finger symbolize? Perhaps, the ring speaks of the gift of eternal life that is given to the believer, in that a ring is circular and never ending. Also in a marriage everything that the bridegroom owns belongs to the bride. In the same way, the resources of heaven are given to the Church, the bride of Christ. All we need to do is to ask Him, for He has promised, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13). He has withheld nothing from His bride. The Bible tells us that, “he has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The bride also wears white, which speaks of purity just as the bride of Christ on her wedding day will wear fine linen, bright and clean:

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:6-8).

This passage above is a prophecy of what will happen at some point in the future, the Day when everything will change, and the now-prepared bride of Christ will enter into her wedding with the Son of God. If salvation and eternity is totally a gift (and it is), what does it mean when the passage of Scripture says that the bride has made herself ready? How do we make ourselves ready? All that is of our old nature, things that are not pleasing to our Lord, must no longer be expressed:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22).

Can you imagine what it will be like for you who know Christ to actually be in that moment, to be part of the great multitude shouting hallelujah to God? Imagine knowing that the fight of faith is over and that you will soon enter into the wedding celebration of the Lamb! How can anyone not want such a relationship with God as this? So loud was the sound of all those commingled voices that it sounded like “many waters;” similarly, so great will be the joy of the redeemed of the Lord. What a happy day that will be! Don’t you think the joy on the face of the Lord Jesus will be great as we look upon Him on that day. He will look upon you as He beholds the result of the work He completed on the cross for His people.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas

Called to be Married to Christ

The Person of Jesus is the Great Shepherd of the sheep who wanders over the hillsides to find the one lamb that becomes conscious of being a long way from the Shepherd of the flock (Luke 15:4). He knows and calls His people by name. Over a long period of time, He has gone to great lengths to show man his need of a Savior from sin. God’s plan called for the most loving thing that anyone could ever do for his or her beloved. He died for them to set them free from sin. This act of love brings about the strongest, most powerful thing in the universe—the power of love, agapé love. This kind of love is self-sacrificing and brings about a love response from the one who receives such grace. God has sent His Son into the world to win and woo His bride to Himself, especially those who are far away from Him and wandering near wolves. To show us just how special we are to Him, Paul the apostle, in writing to the church, the people of God at Corinth, deliberately speaks of those who are born-again believers as being prepared for a wedding with Christ Himself:

I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him (2 Corinthians 11:2).

The God of all creation wants us home and in a marriage covenant with His Son, the Lord Jesus. A wedding ceremony between a man and woman is just a picture of what God in Christ has done for His Church, the people called into a marriage relationship with Jesus. Paul the Apostle sees the ministry that God gave him as one who prepares the bride of Christ so that she may be pure and spotless for her wedding. No matter what you have done and no matter where you have been, the Bridegroom can make you clean or has made you clean, pure and spotless. If you are a Christian, you have been clothed with a robe of purity and righteousness that He bought for you at Calvary’s cross. He is calling for His bride to come home. Paul is not alone in using this analogy of a marriage relationship. The prophet Isaiah, also speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, wrote:

As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5).

When you think of a wedding ceremony between a man and woman, of what traditions can you think of that perhaps symbolizes and represents the relationship between God and His church? One of the first things that speak of this heavenly union in a wedding ceremony, is that of the bride leaving her father and mother and the new couple becoming one with her betrothed. Paul the apostle writes in another letter about becoming one with Christ when he writes about marriage:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Paul is speaking on two levels, about a man and his wife’s relationship but also about the heavenly union between Christ and His bride, the Church. How wonderful it is for our heavenly Bridegroom to call us into union with Himself. How loved we are!

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Wedding of the Lamb. Keith Thomas