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 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

What! No Wedding Garment?

1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14“For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:1-14).

In this parable of Jesus, the Lord tells us of a time that is soon coming, when the King of the Universe will gather together His people to Himself, everyone who has entered into covenant relationship with God through the substitutionary death of His Son. He Himself will be at the wedding banquet. We are told of the His coming into the midst of the wedding celebration and seeing a man wearing no wedding clothes. In the story of Samson’s wedding in Philistine country we are told of the custom of supplying the wedding guests with linen garments (Judges 14:10-13). In Samson’s case he tried to get out of the custom by posing a riddle.

This custom is alluded to in the Parable of the Marriage Feast, the passage above. The king in the parable is a picture of God who supplies all of His wedding guests with a robe of righteousness. There will be none at the wedding feast better dressed than others—we will all be one in Christ Jesus and be clothed in God’s righteousness:

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).

This man’s lack of the proper garment shows that he has purposely rejected the king’s provision for him. This is a greater insult than those who refused to come to the wedding. This man chose to affront the king in the presence of all His guests. He is a picture of those who refuse to wear God’s provision of the garment of righteousness that God has given (Isaiah 61:10). This part of the parable is spoken to those who were standing around Christ as He spoke, those who were acting as believers but trying to trap Him in His words (Matthew 22:15). This is also a picture of those who think they are believers; however, they have never truly submitted their lives to the Son and been born again of the Spirit (John 3:3). Sadly, they will find out too late that the only way to come to the Wedding Feast in the Kingdom of God is to wear the Kings provision of His righteousness in Christ. Clothe yourself with Christ! Keith Thomas

Did You Respond to the Invitation?

As a professional singer, it was not unusual to be asked to sing for a wedding, but it was a bit unusual to sing for the wedding of a millionaire. I knew the wedding would be picture-perfect and was pleased to be able to participate, but when the invitation to the reception arrived I knew it would be something exceptional.

The reception was held on the top two floors of Seattle’s Columbia Tower, the Northwest’s tallest skyscraper, and it was even more wonderful than I imagined. There were waiters wearing snappy black tuxedos who offered luscious hor d’oeuvres and exotic beverages for the most discriminating tastes. The atmosphere was one of grace and sophistication. After about an hour of merriment the bride and groom approached a beautiful glass and brass staircase that led to the top floor. A satin ribbon, which was draped across the bottom of the stairs, was cut and the announcement made that the wedding feast was about to begin. The bride and groom ascended the stairs and the guests followed. What a lavish event of which to be a part.

A gentleman with a lovely bound book greeted us as we reached the top of the stairs. “May I have your name please?” “I am Ruthanna Metzgar and this is my husband, Roy Metzgar,” I replied. The gentleman searched the Ms. “I’m not finding it. Would you spell it please?” I spelled it slowly and clearly. After searching throughout the book the gentleman looked up and said, “I’m sorry, but your name is not here. Without your name in this book you cannot attend this banquet.” “Oh, there must be some mistake,” I replied. “I am the singer. I sang for this wedding!” The gentleman calmly answered, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you did, without your name in the book you cannot attend this banquet.” As I looked around the room I thought briefly of running to the groom and trying to plead my case, but with a hundred guests on the stairs behind us and every place at the tables assigned according to the thoughtful choices of the bride and groom, I stood silent.

The gentleman with the book motioned to a waiter and said, “Show these people to the service elevator please.” We followed the waiter past beautifully decorated tables laden with shrimp, whole smoked salmon, even gracefully carved ice sculptures. And adjacent to the banquet area was an orchestra, its members all dressed in dazzling white tuxedos, preparing to fill the room with glorious music.We were led to the service elevator, stepped in, and the waiter himself pushed “G” for garage. My husband, thoughtfully, did not say a word, nor did I. As Roy drove out of the Columbia Tower garage, we both remained silent. After driving several miles in silence, Roy reached over and gently put his hand on my arm. “Sweetheart, what happened?”And then I remembered: “When the invitation arrived for the reception I was very busy and I never bothered to return the RSVP. Besides, I was the singer, surely I could go to the reception without returning the RSVP!”

As we drove on I began to weep. I was not weeping because I had just missed the most lavish banquet of my life, but I was weeping because suddenly I knew what it will be like someday for people as they stand before the entrance of heaven: People who were too busy to respond to Christ’s invitation to His heavenly banquet. People who assumed that the good things they had done, even perfect church attendance or singing in the choir, would be enough to gain entry to heaven. People who will look for their name in the Lamb’s Book of Life and not find it there. People who did not have time to respond to Christ’s gracious invitation to have their sins forgiven and accept Him into their hearts.

And then I wept again because I was so grateful that I had, many years earlier, received Christ as my personal Savior and can be confident that my name is written in the most important book of all: The Lamb’s Book of Life. Is Yours?

(Copyright Ruthanna Metzgar, excerpted in Heaven, by Randy Alcorn.)