At least seven figures with their varied contributions to the truth are needed to set forth the relation which Christ sustains to the Church—the saved ones of this dispensation. He is the Vine and they are the branches; He is the Shepherd and they are the sheep; He is the Chief Cornerstone and they are the stones in the building; He is the High Priest and they are a kingdom of priests; He is the Last Adam, the Head of a new order of beings, and they are that New Creation; He is the Head of the Body and they are the members in particular; He is the Bridegroom and they are the Bride. Under Ecclesiology (Vol. IV) these distinctions have been developed at length. Latent in all these illustrations will be discovered the intimation regarding the whole immeasurable field of relationship which exists between Christ and the Church. Of the first six of this series of figures, it may be pointed out that they represent the present affiliation between Christ and the Church, whereas the seventh—that of the Bridegroom and the Bride— represents that between Christ and the Church which is wholly future. The great company of believers— some on earth and vastly more in heaven—are now the espoused of Christ. But they, like the Lord Himself, await the day of marriage union. That union, it is revealed, occurs in heaven after Christ has come again to receive them unto Himself. The Scriptures which describe the marriage of the Lamb and the wedding supper in heaven declare, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God" (Rev. 19:7-9). The wedding "supper" which is celebrated in connection with the marriage in heaven should be distinguished from the marriage "feast" (cf. Matt. 25:10, R.V.), which is celebrated on earth when the King returns with His Bride and begins His beneficent reign. The time and circumstances under which the marriage feast is to be observed are set forth in Matthew 25:1-13. In this context virgins are seen going forth to meet the Bridegroom and the Bride (cf. Matt. 25:1 in D and other ancient authorities for the text). The fact that the Bride accompanies the King on His return to earth is taught in various Scriptures—notably Revelation 19:11-16, which portion presents not only the last description of Christ's return to the earth but also the only description of His advent to be given in this final, prophetic book. The order of events in this context is to be observed, whereby the wedding supper and the marriage in heaven immediately precede the return of Christ to the earth with His Bride. Luke 12:35-37 presents a description of the same appeal and warning to Israel in the light of the King's return that is found in Matthew 25:1-13. It reads: "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." Israel alone is addressed and respecting the return of her Messiah with power and great glory. It is that event for which the Jews will be taught to watch after the Church is removed from the earth. The Lord states that when they see these things begin to come to pass they may know that He is near, even at the doors.
Truth respecting the Bride is consummated to some extent in the prophetic picture of Christ's coming kingdom on earth as that is presented in Psalm 45:8-15. In this picture the King appears with the queen upon His right hand in gold of Ophir. She is addressed as daughter and as the king's daughter. The virgins who attend her are not the queen but are brought to her with joy and gladness. Of them it is said "they shall enter into the king's palace." Thus the virgins of Matthew 25:1-13 are identified in their relation to the bride. Why should not Israel pay tribute of honor to the queen, the bride of their King? The virgins are the queen's companions and those among them who are ready to enter with her into the "ivory palaces" (vs. 8), which is the King's palace (vs. 15).
No small error has been proposed when it is claimed that Israel is the bride of Christ. It is true that Israel is represented as the apostate and repudiated wife of Jehovah yet to be restored. This, however, is far removed from the "chaste virgin" (cf. 2 Cor. 11:2) which the Church is, still unmarried to Christ. It is Israel that will be reigned over in the coming kingdom. But it is the promise to the Bride that she shall reign with Christ. Such a promise could not be addressed to those over whom Christ will reign. Dr. C. I. Scofield presents the following note under Hosea 2:2: "That Israel is the wife of Jehovah (see vs. 16-23), now disowned but yet to be restored, is the clear teaching of the passages. This relationship is not to be confounded with that of the Church to Christ (John 3:29, refs.). In the mystery of the Divine tri-unity both are true. The New Testament speaks of the Church as a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Cor. 11: 1, 2); which could never be said of an adulterous wife, restored in grace. Israel is, then, to be the restored and forgiven wife of Jehovah, the Church the virgin wife of the Lamb (John 3:29; Rev. 19:6-8); Israel Jehovah's earthly wife (Hos. 2:23); the Church the Lamb's heavenly bride (Rev. 19:7)" (Sco field Reference Bible, p. 922).
The types of the Old Testament foreshadow many important aspects of truth regarding the Bride. It may be said in respect of the Truth that whenever a man is a type of Christ his wife will be a type of the Church, notable cases being Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebekah, Joseph and Asenath, Moses and Zipporah, Boaz and Ruth, David and Abigail, Solomon and his true love of the Canticles.
No human imagination can measure the change that will be wrought by the power of God in those who comprise the Bride of the Lamb. He, the infinite One, will be ravished with the adorable loveliness of His Bride, and so for all eternity. She will have been perfected to this immeasurable and infinite degree.
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