“Let us rejoice and exult and give glory, for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come, and the Bride has made herself ready;” Rev 19:7 ESV
So Who is she? Who is this Bride that has made herself ready? Who is this woman that when all is said and done, is united in marriage forever with the righteous Lamb of God?
She is a mystery!
Yes, there are scriptures in the bible that refer to her, like when John the Baptist says in John 3:29 that, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. “ and in Revelation 21:2 when John the Apostle says: “And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Even in the Old Testament God refers to Israel as His bride, like in Jeremiah 2:2 when He tells him to, ‘Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.’ The prophet Hosea is even asked to marry a prostitute as a prophetic sign that God’s bride, Israel, was prostituting herself by forsaking the Lord. There are seemingly many scriptural references to the bride, and how God relates to His people as a bridegroom does to a bride; but is that it? Is that all we are supposed to gather about the bride? That it is a metaphor for the way we relate to God? Or is there more? Is there a deeper story running through the pages of scripture, that at first glance cannot be seen? Is there maybe more to her than meets the eye? Lets look a little deeper….
I love the way Paul talks in Ephesians. He uses the word mystery 6 times. He is trying to convey something spectacular to the Ephesian assembly, yet he can’t seem to express it in words. So he uses the word mystery, defined as ‘a truth that is incomprehensible to reason and knowable only through divine revelation,’ to try and help them understand.
I don’t know if any of you have experienced this before, but sometimes when I can feel something brewing inside me that I can’t seem to describe, I find that sitting down and writing helps me process my thoughts. Eventually what happens is I figure it out. Yeah, by running through all the concepts and placing them down, the mystery within me eventually reveals itself. Or maybe you think verbally and so speaking to someone helps you process everything and then eventually without them even saying anything, you kinda just figure it out. Well, whichever works best for you, I believe Paul was doing just that in his letter to the Ephesian saints. He was trying to express a revelation the Lord had given him, and as he wrote (and spoke) to them, the picture became clearer.
I will not be making a theological or exhaustive interpretation of Ephesians, but for the sake of this study, will just be commenting on the mystery thread that seems to run through its pages.
In chapter 1, Paul already makes mention to this aspect of mystery. He basically interprets the times and helps the saints understand that what is happening with the church (in terms of people getting saved, the gifts of the Spirit, and so on) is actually what God had predestined all along. He then continues to expound that this is a reality that is in Christ and explains what it means in its practical outworking. In chapter 3 he says that the mystery that was given to him by revelation of Christ was hidden in God from the beginning of time; and then, just a little later he actually says out-rightly that the mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
After this, in chapter 4 he introduces a breathtaking new concept, the [body of Christ], and how everyone is a member of that body, like limbs and organs are a part of a human body. He is clearly developing a concept and leading up to something and in chapter 5, to further reveal this mystery Paul decides to personify the church as the bride of Christ and in verses 25-27 he says that “Christ loved the church (his bride), and gave himself up for her, that he may sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so he might present the church (his bride) to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, or without blemish.”
And then, to end off his attempt to try and reveal the depth of the revelation that God gave him concerning Christ and the church, he likens them to a divine and eternal mystery that God established in the garden of Eden, way before the fall in Genesis 2:24 when He said that, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” He explains that this same mysterious power that joins a man to his wife and makes them one flesh (body), is what joins Christ to the church and makes them one body (flesh). What a mystery!
And so, if all I have done is completely confuse you… good! For that is what a good mystery should do. Thus far, in all generations, this enigma of the Bride of Christ and the ambiguity of how she is one with Him has confused, confounded, and mystified… And for good reason. God has kept this amazing secret hidden to the eyes of the proud. For it is His greatest delight, His eternal enjoyment, His most passionate purpose. Hence, you will not find scripture that out-rightly explains who the Bride is. For God has hidden her. In parables, riddles, and stories. To ensure that only those willing to seek will find. Those willing to look past the words and choose to see and appreciate His heart will discover. Those, who delight in knowing God as friend. With them he says He will share all His business. (John 15). All His inner workings, plans, and desires He will reveal to those He calls Friend.
And His Bride, this [pearl of great price] that He searched for, eventually found, and sold everything He had for, (including his very own son), He will never throw before swine to be trampled upon. She is too precious to Him.
And so, only with those who truly desire to know Him and value His heart will He share this revelation. It is His greatest secret. The most precious thing He owns. That which He gave everything He had for.
And so, my question to you today is: “Do you really love the Lord and His heart’s desires? Do you really appreciate Him for Who He Is? Can He share His most precious pearl with you? Can He trust you? Will you make space for His heart? Can He feel safe with you? Can He really call you Friend?
Lord, my prayer today is for us all. I pray that you will show each of us the pride and selfishness in our hearts that keep us from loving you unconditionally. That which keeps you from feeling safe with us. That which keeps us from being able to receive and cherish the truth in your heart. That which keeps the bride veiled from us. We want to be your Friend. We want to know you. We want to be stripped from everything that would keep us from loving you. Please God, change us. Do a deep work in us. Prepare our hearts to house your pearls. Prepare us to be safe loving vessels of your deepest desires. Make us real Friends.