The bride is ready
Aug 09, 2016
The voice from the throne continues in Revelation 19:7, saying,
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.
The bride emerges after the fall of the counterfeit bride, that is, the great harlot of Babylon. For this reason, the time of the true bride’s emergence is set by the length of time in which Babylon was to rule the earth, pretending to be the true bride. We know that Babylon was given dominion over the nations for seven times as a judgment upon Israel and Judah. Hence, it is clear that the exposure and fall of the great harlot is the time when Israel is recognized as the bride.
But much has changed since Israel and Judah were in their old land. Recall that they were cast out of the land for continuously violating the (old) covenant. That covenant was rendered null and void on account of their refusal and inability to fulfill their vow. For that reason, Jeremiah spoke of a new covenant and the reason why this was necessary. Jeremiah 31:31, 32 says,
31 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
It is clear from this that the prophet understood that the old covenant was a marriage covenant, which they had broken. The vows taken at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:6-8 were marriage vows, and Moses was the minister performing that marriage. God became Israel’s husband three days later after the people had prepared themselves in Exodus 19:10, 11,
10 The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; 11 and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
The marriage was to be consummated three days later when the Husband came to claim His bride on the day that would later be known as Pentecost. He came in the appearance of fire and spoke the Ten Commandments to the people, in order to impregnate them with the seed of the word that would beget Christ in them.
Of course, the problem was that Israel was too fearful to hear the word, and they told Moses to go up the mount and relay to them the words of God (Exodus 20:18-21). Eventually, this marriage broke up, and God divorced Israel for adultery with other gods (Jeremiah 3:8).
The Remnant of Grace
This marriage, then, failed to produce the sons of God, because the nation as a whole was too afraid of their Husband to bear His children. So only on an individual level did any of them actually consummate the marriage in order to bring forth the sons of God. These few individuals came to be known as the remnant of grace. There were 7,000 of them in Elijah’s time, and Paul comments on them in Romans 11:4-7. Paul shows the distinction between the nation and the remnant of grace in verses 5-7, saying,
5 In the same way then, there has come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7 What then? That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.
Under the Old Covenant, the nation was required to fulfill its vow, but Israel was unable to do so. Nonetheless, because God had already made a New Covenant vow to make them His people by the council of His own will, He preserved a remnant of grace in each generation that would overcome their fear of a direct relationship with God and embrace Him by faith. These formed only a tiny minority of the nation itself. “The rest were hardened,” Paul says.
When Jesus came as the Mediator of the New Covenant, it was expected that all who followed Him would be part of the remnant of grace. However, the church largely followed the pattern of Israel under Moses, and so the remnant of grace remained a minority throughout the Pentecostal Age. By definition, the church had faith in Jesus Christ, and so Christ was begotten in them; however, their problem came during pregnancy, for the Christ in them was often malnourished by the famine of hearing the word. Many even rejected the law.
For this reason, Christians have often miscarried and some have deliberately aborted the Christ that was in them. I wrote about this in my booklet, The Prophetic Roots of Modern Abortion.
The bottom line is that the church as a whole has failed as much as Israel of old. Yet in each generation God has preserved a remnant of grace, so that at the end of the age there is a sufficient number of them to form a prophetic “baby” (son) that can be born into the world. They are the manifested sons of God who are born to the bride emerging in Revelation 19:7.
The bride is the “nation” who brings forth the fruit of the Kingdom. This nation is the one Jesus prophesied about in Matthew 21:43,
43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.
This was a direct reference to the remnant of grace that has taken thousands of years to be fully formed. This nation is a New Covenant bride, chosen by grace, truly God’s Chosen People.
Israel, the Bride
There is a classic dispute over the identity of the bride. Some say it is Israel; others say it is the church. Both are right, but those who take one position or the other are not seeing the complete picture. Israel is called “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38 KJV). The whole nation was called out of Egypt in order to become the church. The same is true with the New Covenant church that was called out of Judea and Jerusalem—which was their “Egypt,” the place of persecution and bondage. Paul calls Jerusalem “Hagar” in Galatians 4:25, because Hagar was an Egyptian.
Scripture shows us that there are actually two brides, each corresponding to a different covenant. Israel under Moses was the Old Covenant bride; the church under Jesus Christ is the New Covenant bride. In Galatians 4, Paul shows that Abraham had two wives that allegorically portrayed these two covenants: Hagar and Sarah. Both were married to Abraham, but only one could bring forth the chosen seed.
It would be foolish to insist that only one of Abraham’s wives was married to him. We must recognize the validity of both marriages. Yet we must recognize that one marriage produced children of the flesh, while the other produced the sons of God, or spiritual children. The Old Covenant (Hagar) could not produce spiritual children, because this covenant was based upon the will of man, or man’s vow (Exodus 19:8). Only the New Covenant (Sarah) can bring forth the sons of God, because it is based on the promise (or vow) of God Himself and is therefore based upon grace, which is by His will alone. So Paul says in Galatians 4:28, 29,
28 And you, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh [i.e., Ishmael] persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
The children of Hagar-Jerusalem persecuted the children of Sarah (New Jerusalem), driving them out of Jerusalem and Judea (Acts 8:1). The Old Covenant city, being the first-born, believed that it was the “mother” of the chosen people. They did not like it when another son was born through a different mother and by a different covenant. They knew—with good reason—that this spiritual son of the New Covenant was their competitor for the promises of God.
Who is Israel?
Scripture always calls Israel a “nation,” never a race. In fact, the nation of Israel, though led by twelve tribes who were direct descendants of the sons of Jacob, also included many from other nations. There were thousands in Abraham’s camp even before he had a single son, when he sent 318 men “born in his house” (Genesis 14:14) to defeat the kings of Shinar. These were “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), because they were spiritual “children” of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 9, 29). Over the centuries, those families who were not literally of Abraham’s seed, formed the bulk of the nation of Israel.
About 400 years later, when the nation left Egypt with a population of about six million, those of Abraham’s household were fully integrated into the tribes of Israel, even if they were not of his direct bloodline. Furthermore, many Egyptians left their land with Israel (Exodus 12:38). Since there was no land set aside for a tribe of Egypt in the land of Canaan, it is evident that these Egyptians too settled in the tribe of their choice and became known by that tribe.
The law never excluded people of other nations, but rather encouraged Israel to be a light to the nations and to be a blessing to all other nations. Eventually, of course, the nation of Israel was divorced and sent out of God’s house into the land of Assyria. But when God promised to regather them, He said through the prophet in Isaiah 56:8,
8 The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”
In the end, Israel under the Old Covenant failed not only to follow God for themselves, but also failed to dispense the blessings of God to all nations. Under the New Covenant, Jesus gave His disciples the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19, 20), which was essentially to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant, which the children of the flesh had refused to fulfill.
People have tried to distinguish between Israel and the church because they think that Israel was limited to a particular genealogy, not realizing that most Israelites were not even physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. They were a nation, not a single genealogy. In fact, the goal was for all men to become children of Abraham by faith. The divine plan is not complete until all of humanity become Israelites.
In Jesus’ day, the church was begun mostly by people from Judea and Galilee and a few Greeks. Because of the great rebellion of Judah against its rightful King, the bulk of that nation was “cut off” as the law commanded (Leviticus 17:4). Those who supported Jesus as the Heir became the remnant of Judah (as recognized by God), and hence, what men now call “the church” was actually the tribe or nation of Judah. To these were added many from other nations as they came to believe in Jesus Christ and to support His claim to the throne of Judah and of the world.
Unfortunately, even the church degenerated over time, and so there came to be a distinction between the church as a whole and the remnant of grace within it. Like Ishmael and the Jews before them, the church too persecuted the remnant of grace. The Inquisitions prove that the church in Rome was another fleshly religion manifesting the spirit of Hagar and Ishmael, rather than that of Sarah and Isaac.
In the end of the age, then, the true bride that emerges in Revelation 19:7 is not the entire church, but is the remnant of grace that has emerged from its time of persecution at the hands of the children of the flesh. This “Sarah” bride is the New Covenant and the New Jerusalem (Galatians 4:24, 25), whose “children” are those begotten by the Spirit. The bride is certainly “Israel,” but we cannot limit this term to those who are Israelites on account of fleshly birth.
For this reason, as we have already seen, the overcomers (i.e., the remnant of grace) are described in Revelation 5:9, 10 as people “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” They are all Israelites who have followed the footsteps of Jacob in his quest to become an Israelite. They have walked by faith and have finally wrestled with God to come face to face with a new revelation of the sovereignty of God.
This is part 152 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones