“THE BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE”
(Rev. Chapter 19 to 20:3)
A SHOUT of praise is raised in heaven: “Hallelujah; Salvation, and glory, and honor and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great harlot, which did corrupt the earth.” But why is “Babylon” so persistently called a “harlot?” It is for this reason: The Lord made a very solemn covenant with the children of Israel, when He led hem out of Egypt into the land of Promise, Palestine. That covenant was that they should worship Him alone, not idols. The children of Israel, on their part, took this covenant upon themselves (it was not forced upon them). The covenant was so solemn that God speaks of it as of a marriage vow, and of the breaking of the vow and turning to idolatry as adultery. You will learn this by reading such passages as Deut. 4:23; 5:2-9, Jer. 2:2; 31:32; and Ezek. 16:1-8.
When the Israelites became settled in Palestine, Jerusalem was made the capital of their government, and according to Divine instructions, their religious headquarters, too. It is called a “harlot” by Isaiah (1:21): “How is the faithful city become a harlot! It was full of judgment: righteousness lodged it; but now murderers.” This is the only city in the world, which God regards as His own. Hence, this is the only city, which, if unfaithful to God, could appropriately be called a harlot city. From this fact, we get its Scriptural title, “Babylon, the mother of harlots.” Under Antichrist, with the place given over to his worship, God will not call it by a name meaning “city of the God of Peace” for He is an enmity against it. He calls it “Babylon” because as such it is a great international city, trampled under foot of many nations, as it is said (11:2), who talk many languages (10:11).
But Jerusalem, under the government of Christ, God will own.
Next, all the hosts of heaven joined in raise, saying, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready: (19:7). By the marriage of the Lamb is meant the coming of Christ to live at Jerusalem.
The Lord once described this marriage of the Lamb in a parable. He did not represent this marriage quite the same as it was conducted in the days when He was on earth, nor as is customary with us today. In our day, the marriage feast is at the bride’s house, and then the husband takes the bride away to the home he prepares for her. In the days when Christ uttered His parable, it was customary for the bridegroom to come, with the “friends of the bridegroom,” and fetch the bride away to his own home, where there was feasting.
But the most ancient custom of all differs from both of these. You will find the ancient custom described in Judges, chapter 14. Samson with his parents went down to Timnath, where he was married at his bride’s home, and the feast was in her home; and after the feast she did not leave home. In those early days, the bridegroom ordinarily made the bride’s home his home, as did Jacob when he married Leah and Rachel.[i]
Here in the Lamb’s marriage we have this ancient custom. It answers to God’s marriage law: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” So here, the Lamb comes to live with the bride, Jerusalem, not to take her to His home, heaven. When Jesus uttered a parable to warn all to be ready for that marriage supper of the Lamb (Matt. 25:1-13), He represented those waiting at the bride’s home of Him to arrive; and as He approaches, they go forth to meet Him., and then return to the bride’s home for the feast. Five of the virgins were not ready for His coming, and they were shut out. In Oriental countries, people make themselves so free in each others’ homes that you must fasten to the doors, if you do not wish people to come in uninvited, to witness a wedding or join in feast.
In that parable, Christ is the Bridegroom, of course. The bride is Jerusalem restored, Jehovah-Shammah. The “friends of the bridegroom” come with Him to the feast. The five wise virgins are those who are prepared for His coming, and go out to meet Him, in that they are translated into His presence, as He approaches this earth. They are the second firstfruits. They do not stay up above, whither they rose to meet Him, but they escort Him to this earth, and to Jerusalem, His bride. The foolish virgins, who were not ready to go out to meet Him, are not wicked people who go to hell. They believed in Him, and believed in His coming. They are left outside the marriage feast; they pass through the misery of the entire tribulation, lose the chance to reign with Him on the earth, and only appear again at the Great Judgment Day of God, described at chapter 20:11-15, at the end of the Millennium, when the “book of life” is again opened. They are saved, “yet so as by fie” the fire of the wrath of the Lamb. But this part we will consider later.
[i] Abraham would not allow Isaac to go to live at Rebecca’s home (Gen. 24:4,8), as his trusted servant thought might be required, because God had expressly called Abraham and Sarah its idolatry, (Joshua 24:3,3.)