The Marriage of the Lamb
Part 3 of a series on Prophetic Subjects
There are four symbolic women alluded to in the Book of Revelation. The first is given the name Jezebel after the wicked Zidonian wife of Ahab king of Israel (2:20). She represents the papal system of the dark infamous days when true Christians were torn by the rack, and when thousands of the Lord’s dear people perished in the fires of persecution. The second is “a woman clothed with the sun” (12:1). She is mentioned in a parenthetical part of the Book of Revelation, and she refers to Israel in governmental authority. The third is the great whore that sits upon many waters (17:1-6). She gives a picture of the conglomeration of religious systems throughout what we know as Christendom, all merged into one mother church. The fourth is the Bride, the Lamb’s wife (19:17). There is a time coming when the Bridegroom will take unto Himself the Bride for whom He bled and died; so that, throughout eternal ages she shall dwell with Him in the nearness and dearness of ineffable affection.
The question has been asked, “Who will form the Bride of that nuptial day?” It is not uncommon to discover that some have the impression that Israel will fill that role; but, let us examine the Scriptures that we may discover what God has to say about this matter.
To Israel many promises have been made; yea, to Abraham the grandfather of Israel. In Genesis 12:2, the divine promise was made, “I will make of thee a great nation;” and in verse seven of that same chapter, God pledges, saying, “Unto thee will I give this land.” This territorial grant divinely bestowed is outlined in chapter 15:18; thus, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” We, therefore, rightly conclude that Israel’s promises are earthly in character.
The Psalmist predicts of Israel, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Psa. 110:3). The rebellious nation whose land her enemies have spoiled, in the day of restoration, will be submissive to the dictates of her Messiah. We learn, consequently, that Israel’s prospects are earthly.
Psalm 45:9 asserts to Jehovah, “Upon Thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.” Never is the Church spoken of as a queen; this is a designation applicable only to Israel is a coming day. Israel’s portion is earthly as the context of this Psalm affirms.
In contrast to the earthly, promises, prospect, and portion of Israel, there stands the heavenly hope of those who comprise the Church. Christ said in John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; … “ The saints of this present dispensation have been promised a heavenly home (John 14:3). They likewise anticipate a heavenly heritage as stated by the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 1:4).
Throughout Old Testament typology, history, poetry, and prophecy, Israel knew only two dispensations, that of the law and that of the kingdom. Israel expected the Messiah to come and to establish His kingdom. Yet, when He did come unto His own things, His own people received Him not (John 1:11).
The teaching of the New Testament is altogether different from that relating to Israel. Paul expounded the “mystery” which is Christ, the Head on high and the Church which forms His Body here on earth. In this Body neither Jew nor Gentile are recognized racially. See Ephesians 2:13-17.
Israel is Jehovah’s divorced wife; of her He says, “I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce” (Jer. 3:8). This is confirmed by the pen of Isaiah, “Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away?” (Isa. 50:1). The Minor Prophet Hosea reveals God’s attitude to Israel, “Plead with your mother, plead; for she is not My wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts” (Hos. 2:2). Despite her unfaithfulness Jehovah has something blessed in store for His earthly people. The remnant of the two tribes shall know the way of escape when “His feet (The feet of Christ) shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives … And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; … and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee” (Zech. 14:4-5). Then the ten tribes shall pass under the rod and be brought into the bond of the covenant; and God shall purge out the rebels, and them that transgress against Him. See Ezekiel 20:30-38.
The Great Northern Power, Russia and her Satellites, those obsequious followers whose territory is situated around the Baltic Sea, will cast greedy eyes on the restored Commonwealth of Israel “dwelling safely, all of them dwelling without walls and having neither bars nor gates” (Ezek. 38:11-23). The Lord Jesus by Nathaniel was confessed to be the King of Israel (John 1:49). He never will be the King of the Jews again; He will reign over the twelve tribes of Israel, not just the two.
In contrast to the earthly destiny of Israel, the Church for whom Christ died and for whom He labours to cleanse and sanctify with the washing of the water by the word, He will present to Himself without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph. 5:25). Since on earth the Church is designated the Body of which He is the Head, she must enjoy in Time a divine nearness. In Eternity a more conscious dearness will be her experience, for Eve was not only bone of Adam’s bone, but she was also Adam’s wife.
The purpose of God regarding His earthly people Israel are ripening fast. The nation which was scattered and peeled among the nations of the earth has a bright and glorious future in store. Those who insinuate there is no future for Israel would be well advised to read the prophetical books of the Old Testament together with the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24 and 25 and also the Book of Revelation. Joel, the Prophet, assures us that Jehovah “will restore the years that the locust have eaten …” (Joel 2:25). There is going to be a reinstatement for Israel after which the feast of tablernacles will again be kept. See Zechariah 14:16-21. There will be a restoration also (Zech. 14:11). In like manner there will be a reunion. The just Jehovah will be in her midst, the King of Israel. In that day Israel will again enjoy:
His personal presence affirmed: “Jehovah thy God, in the midst of thee.”
His place assigned: “In the midst of thee.”
His power attested: “He is mighty.” His prerogative averred: “He will save.”
His pleasure announced: “He will rejoice over thee with joy.”
His portion arranged: “He will rest in His love.”
His praise acclaimed: “He will joy over thee with singing.”
The marriage of the Lamb is prior to the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It takes place in Heaven. Such is the destiny of the saints of this economy. There are those who will be “friends of the Bridegroom (John 3:29). This harmonizes with the invitation which is sent forth, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” The Old Testament saints will be in this category, and John the Baptist will find himself among this illustrious throng.
Paul, in writing to the saints at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:2) reminds them, “I have espoused you one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” The love of a bridegroom for his bride is used by Paul to illustrate the love that Christ manifests toward the Church. That love has not diminished one whit throughout the changing years. Presently He will present her to Himself a glorious Church, spotless, and without blemish.
A careful reading of Matthew 22:1-14 is interesting in the light of this study. Chapter 21:33-46 in parable depicts 1500 years of retrospective history, from the bringing out of Egypt as a vine God’s earthly people and the preparing of them as a vineyard from which He might expect fruit … The messengers sent by God from Heaven were maltreated.
Finally, He sent His Son, and Him they cast out and murdered. Now chapter 22 starts at the cross and covers over 1900 years of prospective outline. The marriage was for His Son, and the invited guests, which were the Jews, despised the invitation; therefore, God sent Titus, the Roman General, who destroyed the murderers and burnt up their city. Henceforth, the overtures are extended to those who were outsiders, enemies, strangers. Today the Holy Spirit is gathering out of all the nations a people for His name.
The marriage of the Lamb will take place after the Judgment Seat of Christ has been established and the saints have been examined as to their fidelity during the absence of their Lord. We read, “His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Verse eight of Revelation nineteen indicates that the acts that have been approved by the Lord will decorate the Bride of Christ in that day. “To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
When a thousand years have run their course, the Bride will be seen in pristine and bridal grandeur indicating that time will not impair the glories which our Lord will bestow on the object of His love.
We affirm that nowhere in Scripture are we authorized to suggest that Israel will be the Bride of the Lamb; she will be the restored wife of Jehovah. A divorced woman can never be a bride in the sense of virginal purity. John’s Gospel chapter two indicates the restoration of Israel to the status she once enjoyed. Jehovah will bring in the joys of the kingdom as He transforms the water of human weakness into the wine of divine joy. All this is seen in the feast of tabernacles which sets forth the millennial reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.