July’s weekly posts present a biblical view of marriage. The first post considered the Hebrew Scriptures. The second addressed what Jesus has said about marriage as recorded in the Gospels. The third drew on some of the writings of the Apostle Paul. This fourth looks at marriage as a metaphor in the final book of the Holy Bible, the Revelation to John. Of necessity each post draws on only a small selection of biblical material; the reader is invited to read more deeply in order to perceive what God requires of his people in respect of the institution of marriage in society today.
Revelation to John 19: 6-9 (NIV)
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
The vision given to John included this climax, the in-gathering of the church of God. The church, depicted as the bride of Christ, has been prepared for her husband, the Lamb of God. John’s vision shares the metaphor used by the Apostle Paul. Such a union between Christ and his church could only be celebrated in a bond of eternal faithfulness by both husband and bride.
As John continued to describe his vision, a new metaphor appeared (Revelation 21: 2, 3).
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
The new Jerusalem, the city where the people of God are to dwell and where God dwells with his people, was revealed to John by one of the angels,
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21: 9).
God has used his intention for marriage, a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman for as long as they live, to describe the marriage of Christ the King to his bride the church.
Addressing a Galilean crowd and his disciples, Jesus referred to this momentous event when he described his return, his coming again “in his Father’s glory with the holy angels”.
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes …” (Mark 8: 38).
As we consider what God requires of his people today in respect of the institution of marriage, we do well to pay close attention to Jesus’ warning.
They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the LORD had ordered them, “Do not do as they do,” and they did the things the LORD had forbidden them to do.
16 They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God … (2 Kings 17: 15b-16a)