The Bride and Bridegroom
There are so many references in the Bible to Jesus as a 'bridegroom' that the term cannot be ignored. The prophets of the Old Testament used the term liberally throughout scripture, as did Jesus Himself. The apostles picked up the theme as well, carrying it all the way to the end of the Book of Revelation.
"For now your creator will be your husband, his name, the Lord God Almighty; your redeemer will be the Holy One of Israel, he is called the God of the whole earth." (Is.54:5).
"I exult for joy in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God, for he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity, like a bridegroom wearing his wreath, like a bride adorned in her jewels." (Is.61:10).
"And I seemed to hear the voices of a huge crowd answering, 'Alleluia! The reign of the Lord our God Almighty has begun; let us be glad and joyful and give praise to God, because this is the time for the marriage of the Lamb. His bride is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good deeds of the saints'." (Rv.19:5-8).
"Write this, happy are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb." (Rv.19:9).
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband." (Rv.21:1-2).
"One of the angels came to speak to me, and said, 'Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married'. In the spirit, he took me to the top of an enormous high mountain, and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond." (Rv.21:9-10).
God did not destroy His creation. He searched for it, bringing it out of Satan's domain. As He did so, He purified it, and is transporting that which He has purifed to a new heaven and new earth far away, to rebuild it there in perfection, with its entire dross removed. What we are witnessing in this world is that rescue, person by person, each by name.
The kingship of Jesus is a marriage in the eyes of God. The kingdom He has been given to rule is His bride. That bride is the new and everlasting Jerusalem, the city that God is building now in the new heaven and new earth which will be presented to Jesus just before the final judgment.
"Thrones were set in place and one of great age took his seat...a court was held and the books were opened.
I gazed into the visions of the night, and I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man. He came to the one of great age and was led into his presence. On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and men of all peoples...became his servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed..." (Dan.7:9-14).
Those who are spared the judgment will be given white robes (the wedding garment) which will signify their eligiblity for citizenship in the new Jerusalem. These robes are the new bodies that house the souls of those chosen worthy to accompany Jesus into God's new creation.
Scripture's marriage allegory lies deeply imbedded in the template of the Torah.
The prophecies of scripture, including those in the Book of Esther, show that the Holy Spirit has directed that the two cities of Jerusalem be portrayed in the image of women, and wives of God, and scripture has deeply bound them to the Law in this format.
It presents itself in the form of two wives. In the Book of Esther they are Vashti and Esther. Later, we see a very similar allegory repeated in the form of Hagar and Sarah. In the latter, Hagar is a slave girl while Sarah is the wedded wife. In the Book of Esther, however, Vashti is shown to be the first wife of the king, and Esther, the new wife who replaces her. It is in this image that the two Jerusalem's are portrayed.
This allegory locks the two Jerusalem's (physical Jerusalem and spiritual Jerusalem) and their respective covenants into the Law's directives concerning nuptial vows (Num.30).
"Every vow or oath that is binding on the wife may be endorsed or annulled by the husband...but if he annuls them longer than a day after he learnt of them, then he must bear the burden of the wife's fault." (Num.30:14-16).
This decree in the Hebrew Law allowed Jesus, in His role as the husband of temporal Jerusalem, to annul the first covenant and its deadly penalty by taking her sins onto Himself. To do so, he had to bear the burden of those sins, the penalty for which, according to the Law, was death. Jesus assumed this penalty when He was lifted up on the cross on behalf of the people.
The first wife was not just the Jerusalem in Palestine, but its covenant which encompassed all flesh. God has annuled the marriage vow of the first wife (the Mosaic covenant which covers all flesh) while keeping scripture so that the new wife (the new covenant) stands legal, even by Hebrew Law.
This is very important, because it is the legal avenue God used to exchange the covenants (see 'vows'). God is not lawless. He did not simply throw away the old law, He fulfilled its terms. Thus He removed us from its mortal penalty, and restored us to full legal legitimacy in His name.
When Jesus went to the cross on our behalf, it was more than one man (Jesus) making atonement for the sins of another (Adam). Jesus on the cross was God on the cross. This, too, was attested to even by the Law.
"The rite of atonement must be performed by the priest who has been anointed and installed to officiate in place of his father." (Lv.16:32).
This means that when Jesus became the atonement sacrifice demanded by the Law, he took the cross in God's place. In this perfection, Christ's sacrifice initiated a treaty of peace between mankind and God that allowed His people time to escape their bondage in Babylon through an avenue of humility, and without ambition except to do good.
"Go away, go away, leave that place, touch nothing unclean. Get out of her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of God. But you are not to leave like fugitives. No, the Lord will go in front of you, and the God of Israel will be your rearguard." (Isaiah 52:11-12).
Jesus has gone in front by going to the cross before our journey started. The fact that God has taken up our rearguard shows that He is overseeing the switch of covenants and is guarding against anything that tries to undo what Christ has done. Together, they are leading us to the new wife, the new creation which has replaced the old.
1. Isaiah 54 The Bride of Christ
2. 'The Clock of God', Chapter 3, 'The Return of Christ'
3. 'The Clock of God', Chapter 13, 'The Kingdom of Heaven'
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