Quick Links Quick Links

Prepared As A Bride

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again as we look into the precious Word of God. The title for the lesson, “Prepared as a Bride.” The text from the Scriptures is found in the New Testament, the last book of the Bible, Revelation chapter 21 and the first four verses. Listen to the Word of God.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” Precious words for us as believers yet future for those of us in Christ Jesus.

Years ago I visited New Harmony, Indiana, which is in southwestern Indiana. A wealthy social reformer purchased the town in 1825, promising to build an earthly Utopia, a perfect society. But after just two years the plan failed miserably. The vision of a perfect city, a city of harmony was now in the dust pail of history, an old ideal died long ago. Or has it? If someone promised you a Utopia on earth, a perfect society forever whereby the old order of negatives is no more and the passage there is free to you, would you want to go? Well, this Utopia on earth is described in our passage of Revelation chapter 21 and the first four verses.

In verse one it says in part, speaking of the apostle John and the visions that God gave to him, that he saw a new heaven and a new earth. You understand that eventually this current earth and our heaven will be destroyed. Jesus prophesied in the gospel of Luke chapter 21 and verse 33 that heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Well, how is this heaven and earth going to pass away? The answer is in the Bible, in then New Testament, in 2 Peter chapter three and verse 10 where it says, in part: The heavens will disappear with a roar. The elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Now some manuscripts say everything will be burned up. However way it exactly happens it is going to happen.

In Revelation chapter 21 and verse one it also reveals that there was no longer any sea. Well, sea lovers and sailors don’t like this part currently on our earth. This earth is about three fourths covered by seas or oceans. But obviously, evidently, this new earth will be radically different. Now there are various explanations and interpretations for ‘no sea’. To most ancient peoples, including the Jews, of which the apostle John was a Jew, perhaps this is symbolic, symbolic language, which is often the case in the apocalyptic book of Revelation. The sea to ancient peoples represented the realm of darkness. It represented the mysterious, the lack of security. So possibly this is figurative implying that the new earth, instead, will be secure, will be safe, will be peaceful.

Another interpretation points to the idea that the entire new earth will be inhabitable, no longer covered three fourths by oceans or seas and, by implication, only fresh water will replace the undrinkable salt water. However, whenever it will be, even sea lovers should be aware of the truth found written by the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah chapter 65 and verse 17 in this same context. It says, “Behold, I, God will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Former things, which would include the sea. And so sea fishing and seafood and the seas won’t even be remembered or even come to mind. Perhaps gone forever.

So however God chooses to work this out, it is not a problem. In Revelation chapter 21 and verse two John wrote that he saw the holy city, that is holy, set apart only for God’s people, Old Testament, New Testament saints, with God and his holy angels forever. According to Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 10 even Abraham, the great patriarch, the great friend of God, was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God. Also in Hebrews 13 and 14 it tells us that this current earth is temporary, for here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come, that is, an enduring city.

In Revelation chapter 21 and verse two it also continues and refers to the new Jerusalem which will certainly be radically different from the old Jerusalem on this current earth which has been anything but a city of peace. You understand that the last part of the word Jerusalem, Salem, shalom has not been a city not of peace. Salem or shalom means peace. It has been a city that has been fought over by the pagans, the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims over centuries of bloodshed and heartache. But the New Jerusalem, as described in Revelation chapter three and verse 12, in the words of Jesus himself it says Him who overcomes, I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem. Here the imagery of pillars refers to the stability and the strength and the permanence that will be the dwelling in that marvelous city to come.

In Revelation chapter 21 and verse two it also says, referring to this city, that it is coming down out of heaven from God. Therefore, the new Jerusalem is of heavenly and divine origin, not man made. Therefore it will never fail, but is forever Utopia, a perfect society, finally, with God and his holy angels.

And then verse two also continues to say that it will be prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. And so here the apostle John was inspired to write, as he chose this cherished imagery as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit, this imagery to describe what he saw in his vision of the holy city, the new Jerusalem from God in terms of a bride, beautifully dressed.

You know, almost always when there is a wedding, when there is a marriage ceremony and the bride is ready to come down the aisle, where do all eyes go? They go to the bride. And so the meaning here at least is of an extraordinary, spectacular, sensational beauty and splendor that will be the holy city, adorned as a bride for her husband. Well, how so? Consider a few of the marvelous details in Revelation chapter 21 and verses 11 through 21 regarding the new Jerusalem. In verse 11 it says, in part, that it shone with the glory of God, its brilliance like the very precious jewel.

In verse 18 it says, in part, that the wall was made of jasper, the city of pure gold. In verse 19 the foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. And in verse 21 it says the 12 gates were 12 pearls and the great street of the city was of pure gold. Marvelous imagery as the apostle John tried to describe this in expensive and precious jewels and gems as he could imagine for us to have the imagery of a beautifully adorned holy city as a bride for her husband.

But some may think that the Church, God’s people in the Church, equals the bride. And so she is as described, for example in Revelation chapter 19 and verses seven and eight and even elsewhere. But consider this. A city without citizens is dead. But the new Jerusalem, the holy city is alive. The citizens are the Church. And, therefore, the bride here is imagery with double duty. When we speak of a city we also mean its citizens. After all, what is New York without New Yorkers?

And also note in verse two the apostle John wrote: Prepared or made ready as a bride. And so perhaps John pointed to the third part of a traditional Jewish wedding, the actual ceremony imagery. The city, the holy city with all of God’s citizens, including the Church is to be with Christ, the bride groom in the final climactic consummation ceremony of the redemptive history of God forever more together. All believers to be with God the Son in God the Father’s house into eternity. Some Bible students interpret here that only the Church actually will reside in the holy city, the new Jerusalem, as the bride of Christ, but all other believers, for example, the Old Testament saints, their place will be on the new earth. Well, again, however God wants to do it is fine with me.

In Revelation chapter 21 and verse three it says, in part that the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them. Do you realize that this was prophesied way back in the Pentateuch, the Pentateuch being the first five books of the Bible? It was prophesied as God led Moses and as the Holy Spirit carried Moses along as he wrote in Leviticus chapter 26 and verses 11 and 12 where we find these words. It is God, speaking through Moses and he says he he will put his dwelling place or his tabernacle among you. It goes on to say in verse 12: “I will walk among you and be your God and you will be my people.” The glorious presence of God will be with his glorified saints, whether Old Testament saints, or New Testament saints, or tribulation saints. All of God’s people will be together eventually with the Lord.

In Revelation chapter 21 and verse four it says in part that there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. These are a part of the old order of things. They will be abolished forever. They are all the negative consequences of sin today on this old earth. In the old Jerusalem there is a so-called wailing wall. You have probably seen on television Jews praying with tears, sometimes with tears running down their cheeks at this wall in the old city, because, of course, the old order of things is still with us all and especially Hasidic Jews go to this wailing wall to recall and to pray with often mourning regarding their own history, their families, their sorrows, their sufferings. They wail regarding the much pain and death that the Jewish people have been through. But I thought that the Romans had completely and utterly destroyed all of Jerusalem and its walls and temple in AD 70 and that is true. Not one stone, as Jesus prophesied, not one stone was to be left on another. But today’s wailing wall is part of the excavated retaining wall that in AD 70 was underground. Today’s wailing wall is about 59 feet high, a portion of the western wall, believed to be part of the original retaining wall for the temple, probably part of the rebuilt portion by Herod the Great or Herod’s temple.

Since the Middle Ages Jews have gathered at this wall, especially on Fridays to mourn, even to wail, over the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of their temple in AD 70, and to pray for reconstruction, for restoration and even for the revealing of the coming Messiah King. But Messiah already came in the first century AD, Jesus Christ at his first coming. But Messiah is coming back again at his second advent. We, as the Church, must be overcomers, must be prepared as his bride.

In Revelation chapter 22 and verse 17 it says, in part the Spirit and the bride say come. Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. And you understand that the passage, the trip to this holy city, is free to us. Oh, we must have saving faith. It must be genuine faith, and genuine saving faith is an obedient faith. It was free and is free to us to go to the holy city, the new Jerusalem. But ultimately it cost Jesus Christ dearly at the cross. You must receive Jesus today as Savior and Lord to go to that Utopia, to that eternal state, to that new Jerusalem, that new heaven and new earth with God as he tabernacles with his own family, with his own people forever and ever. Won’t you join us?

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




Leave a Reply

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10