THE GREEK SCRIPTURES ON THE BRIDE
(James Through Revelation)
THE CIRCUMCISION WRITINGS
The epistle, of James is so undeniably addressed to the twelve tribes in the dispersion that it seems difficult to imagine how any Gentile who only reads it, to say nothing of studying it, could pilfer its passages to himself, especially when he must do so at a loss. Nearly every Bible expounder has encountered and acknowledged this difficulty; and they have met it in various ways. Luther, still saturated with the “spiritual Israel” theory, discarded the book altogether, calling it an epistle of straw. It was too hard to fit into his personal system of thinking: therefore he simply dropped it over the backyard fence into the ash can. That was one way of disposing of it, but not a very helpful way. Moody did almost the same thing. But leave it where it belongs and it is thoroughly understandable and conflicts with nothing. Good, helpful, noble, and instructive things it has which are not dispensational, but much of it is dispensational and of such a character as to be irreconcilable with the prison epistles or even with the pre-prison epistles of Paul. Works are certainly involved in the justification which James speaks of. They are not involved in that taught by Paul. Different classes and different times is the answer.
The tone of this epistle is very similar to that of the Gospels. Rich men are scorned and social partiality is condemned — but in the synagogue (James 2:2—rendered assembly in the A. V.), not in the ecclesia.
James speaks of the ‘salvation of the soul’ (James 1:21; 5:20) as does also Peter (1 Peter 1:9) and Hebrews (ch.10:39). This is an expression foreign to the prison epistles of Paul. The soul is the seat of and capacity for sensation, and we have no grounds for expecting that faithfulness on our part will work for comfort and joy on the earth, as the Jews had grounds for expecting. The Millennial kingdom will bring pleasing and happifying sensations of the best and noblest kind to believers. But we can not expect soulish advantages now. In fact they are often, one might say usually, misleading. Love of homeland, love of home, love of family, love of wife and children, love of friends, love of food and drink, love of pets, the concord of sweet sounds, the charm of grand scenes, are all God-given powers but they are all soulish and should not be mistaken for spiritual. They often blur the spiritual vision and dull the spiritual appetite.
The ground of James is certainly different from that of the prison epistles: it is even pointedly different from that of the pre-prison epistles of Paul. There is no harmony as respects faith and works between James on the one hand and Romans and Galatians on the other. But while there is no harmony, there is also no discord unless they are played together. Play them where they belong—James in the apostatizing days of the national decline in the first century and in the worse apostatizing days just preceding the establishment of the kingdom and all is clear. Throughout the whole letter the sky is heavy with judgment, and merciless at that (James 2:13).
We have not only mercy but grace. Mercy is leniency when there is just ground for expecting harshness. Grace is bounty when there is no just ground for expecting anything.
There is an evident allusion to the figure of bridal and marital relations in James 4:4 when he calls the Jews adulterers and adulteresses, explaining that he means by adultery “friendship with the world.” The most of the Jews then and now are not only in but of the world, the devil-dominated world. Therefore invective is heaped high with diatribe in chapters 4 and 5.
Endurance is a condition of salvation in those trying times (James 5:11), as was also the case with the initial ministry of the twelve and as will be the case in the end-time, the unparalleled tribulation of Jacob (Matt.24:13).
Take it all in all and the book of James resolves itself into one question: Do we believe that he knew to whom he was writing when he addressed his letter to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, or do we think that we know better than he and distort it into covering Gentiles for whose direction it was never intended?
PETER TO FIRE-TRIED JEWS
Of the three prominent writers of the Greek Scriptures whose specific ministry is limited to the Jews, Peter wrote principally for the suffering believing remnant (to the expatriates of the dispersion — 1 Peter 1:1), John to the unscathed believing remnant, and James mostly to the apostate mass, as a witness against them.
We would expect, therefore, to find some difference in the tone of these epistles. In the past, when judgment came down on the adulterous nation, one of them was taken in judgment and the other left to go through unhurt. So it will be in the end-time—the end of this age, but past the end of this dispensation. Some of the Jewish believers, who will be legion after the body-church is gone, will suffer great tribulation where they are, in every nation and kindred and people and tongue (Rev.7:9). Others, a representative number from each tribe, will go through the tribulation unscathed. To the fiery-trial saints of that time Peter’s tender words will come with peculiar comfort. They will learn how deeply He suffered, He whom not having seen they will love, in whom, though then they will see Him not, yet believing, they will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, being requited with the end of their faith.
In 1 Peter 1:17 judgment is according to works. This is the judgment which vindicates the believing remnant, condemns the apostate mass, and punishes the scornful nations for their treatment of the Jew. Judgment in accord with works is frequent in the Jewish parts of the Greek Scriptures (Matt.5:16; John 15:24; Rev.18:6; 20:12,13; 22:12), but is referred to only in a negative way in the prison epistles of Paul (Eph.2:9) and as relating to those who were outside the pale of present grace, an apostate Jew (2 Tim.4:14).
Not that good works are anywhere discouraged; far from it (Eph.2:10; Phil.2:12; 2 Tim.2:21; 3:17; 4:5). It is only that good works are the fruitage of grace and not the root of it and that, during this dispensation, they are not the basis of our judgment as to salvation but only as to our service.
In Peter, as in all the Jewish writings, we find the idea of regeneration (1 Peter 1:23); the same thing that our Lord had taught to Nicodemus (John 3:3-8) and involving the same period of time as the reign of the twelve apostles (Matt.19:28). The word is never used in the prison epistles, nor is the thought there. We are, of the new creation, not of the regeneration.
First Peter 2:5 mentions the privileges which were originally to be (Ex.19:6) and still are to be given to the Jewish bride. None of these things apply to us. We are not a “generation.” We are not a “priesthood.” We are not a “nation” or “people” in any sense (1 Peter 2:9). We are individual believers scattered here and there, each joined unto the Head and having a unity of spirit because of our common unity with Him who gives us of His spirit. But the privileges of priesthood and kingship over the earth are “given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof” (Matt.21:33-46; Psa.118:22,23).
Let it be noted particularly that Peter, a Jewish apostle, writing to those believing Jews who had been expatriated, or driven from their own land by the persecutions arising at the time of the death of Stephen, and who had settled for refuge in parts of what we now call Asia Minor, says to them that they, and not the Gentiles, are the ones in whom the prophecy of Hosea (1:9-11; 2:23) is fulfilled. The Jewish people were once estranged and divorced. Now the Lord has come to them and invited them to return. The people as a whole rejected Him but to as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God. They were not His people, but are now the people of God. That Gentiles are in no sense involved in this is shown by the two following verses which speak of the Jewish believers as sojourners and expatriates among the Gentiles (1 Peter 2:11,12).
Peter speaks of following in the steps of Christ, having in mind the only steps he knew anything about, His steps on earth. Only Jews could do that; for our Lord on earth lived and dwelt and worshiped as a Jew. The things testified to by the twelve, of whom Peter was chief, practically ended with our Lord’s ascension. The special manifestations at pentecost and other times were but proofs that our Lord lived.
One book has been written with a circulation of more than 36 million copies, based wholly on a misconception of this text about walking “in His steps.” Had the book honored God’s Word by a right division of it the sale would probably not have exceeded 16,000. As it is, it flatters the flesh by implying an impossibility, by assuming a Christian community and state, neither of which exists. We are to follow Christ, but in the particular way prescribed for us. “Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.11:1; 4:16; 1 Thess.1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7,9).
The Master’s spirit is the same in all dispensations, the spirit of complete submission to the Father’s will.
The basic devotional elements of all classes of believers are the same at all times, but more than that we can not rightly say. When we go as far as trying to find out what the Lord would have us do now by what He did when on earth, having for our talisman “What would Jesus do?” we are sure to go wrong. The question we should ask is not “What would Jesus do?” and judge that by what He did, but, What has the Lord said for us to do now? What dispensational instructions has He left for our present direction? Such instructions will not be found in Peter, precious and sweet though much of his writings are; for he and John and James bound it on earth that they should go to the circumcision, to the Jews (Gal. 2:9). Being bound on earth it was bound in heaven (Matt.18:18, 19).
In Peter we are reminded that in the Bible no one except Jewish believers are ever called Christians (1 Peter 4:16). Our habits of thought and expression are so obtuse that we rarely think or speak of Christians as ever being Jews.
In Peter we meet again the Jewish figure of the Shepherd (1 Peter 5:2-4), not used in connection with the body church. The Greek in 1 Peter 5:2 is “flocklet” in gracious remembrance of Peter’s Master’s words of cheer to the “little flock,” which was certainly Jewish.
Second Peter 1:16-18 refers to the eyewitnesses of the glory of the kingdom as it had been foreshown on the mount when our Lord was installed as the great High Priest, receiving from God his investiture of “honor and glory,” the same words as used in the Greek Old Testament to describe the high priest’s vestments of “glory and beauty.” In that miniature representation of kingdom honor and glory there were Peter, James, John, the Lord, Moses, Elias, and the Father. Of these seven our Lord was the central or mediatory figure, as He will be in the kingdom itself.
Second Peter 3:2 calls attention to the declarations made long before Peter’s writing by the prophets of old and, more latterly, by himself and the others of the twelve apostles. The things referred to here could not have been the revelation concerning the body-church, because that was not known in past ages and generations (Col.1:26). The things referred to are those which have to do with the “promise of His presence” (2 Pet. 3:4). The prophets of old had spoken of that presence and had invariably associated it with judgment. The very word “presence,” parousia, is never used by Paul in his prison epistles, as applied to Christ. It is used twice in Philippians, but refers to Paul’s own personal presence among the brethren at Philippi. The parousia is not a specific hope of the body-church, since it is related to the earth. We are interested in everything that God has thought worth while to do or to make or to perform; but being interested and being directly involved are different things. “O Lord . . . mine enemies . . . shall fall and perish at thy presence” (Psa.9:1-3). That is the key to the parousia of the Lord (cf Psa.68:2; 97:5; 114:7; Isa.64:1-3; Jer.4:26; Nahum 1:5).
JOHN TO THE UNSCATHED REMNANT
John had his ministry confessedly to the circumcision (Gal. 2:9). His first epistle bears testimony of things concerning which he had personal acquaintance. Those things were witnessed about our Lord’s earthly life and teachings, about repentance, baptism, and works. He does not mention grace. He speaks of forgiveness of sins, or pardon, rather than of justification (1 John 1:9).
In 1 John 2:2 propitiation is shown to extend to the whole world, whereas under the Law it had been limited to Israel. But propitiation is a negative satisfaction. Necessary though it is, it is yet lower than the grace that provides and secures for us a celestial allotment.
An anointing is spoken of by John (1 John 2:20,27). No such thing is mentioned in the prison epistles, and only once in the pre-prison epistles of Paul (2 Cor.1:21).
Begetting and new birth are frequently mentioned in John’s letters with the same sense as that of our Lord in John’s Gospel (1 John 3:9; 5:1; etc.).
John speaks of the “day of judgment” (1 John 4:17), which we do not enter, having been called in a day of salvation.
Second John is a private communication, not so much as an apostle as in the capacity of an elder. Doctrine is made a test of fellowship (v.10) because the miraculous gifts of knowledge and discernment were still with them (1 John 2:27; 4:1); and, divergence of view meant a departing from the teachings of the spirit. Doctrine is not now a test of fellowship, but rather cleanness of motive (2 Tim.2:22).
Third John identifies itself as being to a believing Jew by referring to the faithfulness of other believers who had taken “nothing of the Gentiles” (v.7).
JUDE’S WARNINGS OF JUDGMENTS
Jude, the brother of our Lord, deals, like 2 Peter, with the coming of the Lord in judgment upon the ungodly He was not an apostle (v.17), but we may safely assume that he had the spirit of prophecy, as the gift was quite common among pentecostal believers. Jude 5 reminds us that, as most of the original bridal nation entered not into the land because of unbelief, only a remnant will enter the kingdom.
Cain, like all religionists, put himself to no little effort to earn God’s favor, but he was too proud to receive it as a gift. This same spirit was the occasion for the divorcing of Israel and will figure largely in determining in the end-time who of the Jewish-born will be worthy of the kingdom. Worthiness to be a bride does not mean worthiness for all that is given in and through Christ. Worthiness to be a bride consists not in perfection but in singleness of heart toward the espoused.
THE REVELATION A JEWISH BOOK
The book of Revelation, the Apocalypse, or the Unveiling, starts off to a scattered Israel, to the seven lampstands, instead of to the one lampstand with seven branches. But though scattered among the nations, in the cities of the then religious world, the Lord loves them and walks among them, tenderly watching over and caring for them ever though their temple and ritual are gone.
Here we meet with almost every expression used by the prophets of old or by our Lord respecting Israel, the faithfulness of her believing remnant and the perfidy of her unbelieving mass. We read about “kings and priests” (Rev.1:6) as in Exodus 19:4-6; we read about the Lord coming with clouds (Rev.1:7) as in Daniel 7:13 and Matthew 16:27;24:30; we read about the Messiah being first pierced, then looked to with tear-blurred fervor (Rev.1:7), as in Zechariah 12:10 and John 19:37, and about the tribes of the land mourning (Luke 23:28); we read about the sharp sword (Rev.1:16), as in Isaiah 49:2 and Hebrews 4:12; we read about the Is-ing-Was-ing-Com-ing (Rev.1:4,8), which is merely the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yahweh, God in His covenant capacity of Husband over Israel; we read about “first love,” or the love of espousals, as in Hosea 11:1; Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16:8-10.
There is the letter to the congregation of believers in Smyrna saying that some confess themselves to be Jews and are not. Did any but a Hebrew-born ever confess himself to be a Jew? Some Gentile believers mistakenly confess themselves to be Israelites, but certainly not Jews. But some of the bride is there that shall not be hurt of the second death. These are of the same who live and reign with Christ the thousand years and on whom the second death hath no power (Rev. 20:6).
The letter to Pergamos alludes to the land, the married land, where by means of a white stone the land is reallotted. It is the land to which the bride is to be taken, just as was done back there in wilderness times.
The last four letters draw figures from the experiences of Israel in the land: the first two to the ten tribes and the last two to Judah and Benjamin. Jezebel is brought in the letter to the angel of the church at Thyatira, as representative of the vile state religion where the pure theocracy ought to be. The overcomers are given authority over the nations, over the Gentiles, which is a distinctly Jewish promise (Psa.2:8; Jer.51:20; Dan.2:44).
Some of these cities never had and never have had a congregation of body believers, but all of them have had Jewish congregations. That fact must be borne in mind.
To the angel of the church in Sardis is written about the book of life, in allusion to the immense record book kept in the temple, wherein was registered the lineage of every Israelite (Deut.29:18-20). So there is a book of age-lasting life for those who do not worship the beast. This same record is used as evidence at the great-white-throne judgment. Those whose names are found in there may enter into the new Jerusalem. This is the bride. It is not the body; for our life is hid with Christ in God, and is not dependent on our deeds—thank God for that!
As has been shown in the early part of this examination, both Israel and Judah were separately plead with and separately divorced by the Lord. But the separation dissolves with the passage of time, so that when our Lord comes to woo them back all twelve tribes are clustered in point of worship in Jerusalem.
Of such as dwelt in Philadelphia are the 144,000 (Rev.7:4), let into the temple by the key of David and kept there unscathed during the great hour of trial, sealed with the name of their God and miraculously preserved throughout Jacob’s great tribulation. Only those who refuse the sign of the beast will live and reign with Christ the thousand years (Rev.20:4). We have no promise of such joint-heirship. Our destiny, activities, and reign are all in the celestial realm. We are all gone before either the beast or his sign appear. When the war is on between the beast and the Lamb there will be no doubt about it. No recourse to the vagaries of human sophistry will be necessary to establish the fact.
Then Laodicea! Yet not to the city is the letter addressed, but to its angel or messenger. This is not a period or stretch of time, but a group of Jewish believers coexistent with the other six. There is no need to philosophize about it, no need to guess. Deduction is dangerous, while induction is fatal to truth. The great apostasy of Israel is the background here, but the seating of the bride on the throne with Christ, priests and kings with Him, is the foreground.
Yet would God designate the same class by the figure of sons, firstborn, on the one hand, and as the bride on the other? To this the answer is that it is not a question of what we think God would or ought to do: the question is, What has He done? He does the same thing in the later times as He had done under the old covenant. There Israel as a people was called His son, and individuals His sons, but as a nation she was the bride, as a kingdom the wife. And since the national headquarters were in Jerusalem, for both kings and priests, the city itself is as the bride, especially in this book of Revelation. This point is emphasized in contrast, by the introduction of Babylon, the great city, as the faithless pseudo-queen, the false consort, the work and rendezvous of all the apostate Jews, who try to rule the world, to fulfill the Messianic promises without the Messiah.
Chapter four deals with the establishment of the kingdom of Christ and His saints over the whole earth, as in Daniel 7:14-18.
Revelation 5 brings us to the scroll, the writing of divorcement (same word as in Matt.19:7 and Mark 10:4), and the deed to the land, such as was given Jeremiah before the fall of Jerusalem and preserved in an earthen jar as testimony of the Lord’s purpose to restore the land and city (Jer.32,33). The prayers of the saints, the same saints who shall judge the world (1 Cor.6:2), but not the “we” who shall judge angels (1 Cor.6:3), come up as precious odors, being the prayer “Thy kingdom come,” a Jewish prayer given to Jews and of prime interest to those who shall be made “kings and priests” (Rev.5:10). Our own particular prayers are in Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21.
The 144,000 and the great multitude have already been touched upon. Suffice it only to say that the great tribulation is upon Israel. It is a terrific anti-Semitic movement. It is upon the people of Daniel, who certainly was a Jew (Dan.12:1). It has not the slightest reference to the great war in Europe, being entirely after the body-church is gone from the earth.
The temple or religious section of the book begins with chapter 11:19, showing first the dealings with and rewards of the believing remnant, the bride, thereupon the judgments of and upon the unbelieving mass—the former things centered in Jerusalem, the latter in Babylon. Chapter 12 is a picture of the bride, or the living nucleus of it, in the agony of the three and a half years just preceding the establishment of the kingdom. Do not confuse the various classes of Jews at that time. They are as follows:
A. This believing remnant, having asylum in the mountain fastnesses near Jerusalem and miraculously sustained there for 1260 days, in spite of the cumulative and concentrated fury of the devil. These are evidently unusually devout Jews, who shall have returned to Palestine out of faith in the ancient promises, possibly engendered in devoutness or at least stirred up by the preaching of the Two Witnesses.
B. From among this group, but before it escapes from the city into the wild places (in obedience to Luke 21:21) (Rev.12:5,6), is taken the representative group of the 144,000, 12,000 out of each of the twelve tribes, for the special manifestation of divine power, much as 1,000 had been taken out of each of the tribes (Num.31:4-9) to go against Midian. These 144,000 are not in the wilderness with the “mother” group but are safely kept in the temple on Mount Zion In Jerusalem. Thither they have been “snatched away,” not up, exactly as “the spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away” (Acts 8:39) when he was miraculously conveyed to the vicinity of Azotus. They are snatched away to God and to His throne, which will be, as of old, in the most holy of the temple; but they are not snatched away to heaven.
C. There is “the rest of her seed,” the remainder of living believing Jews, perhaps less devout, or, at all events, for some reason not returned to the holy land but still scattered among all the nations, peoples, kindreds, and tongues of the earth, some of them being even in the city of Babylon. This is the great multitude upon whom the brunt of the physical suffering of the tribulation falls.
D. There will be the unbelieving mass, the apostate, money- and power-loving Jews, whose false Messianic kingdom, whose world empire of finance will be centered in the vastly expanded and modernized city of Babylon along the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia. With the divine destruction of that city in a manner similar to that of Sodom of old, these Jews drop out of consideration as Jews, taking their place with the “wicked” dead, with the “unjust,” with those “who have done evil,” and will be dealt with at the judgment of the great white throne after the end of the Millennial reign of Christ.
E. The unswervingly faithful and living among the first three of those groups, all those who will have steadfastly refused the mark of the beast, will be augmented almost immediately (i.e., 75 days, see Dan.12:7-13) upon the termination of the three and a half years of special trial by the resurrection of those believing ones who shall have died prior to that Lord’s return described in Revelation 19. Some of these will have died in the great tribulation itself and others during preceding centuries and millenniums. Apparently the number of the dead thus raised in the former or first resurrection (Rev. 20:4,6) will greatly exceed those who live through the trouble, so much so that the ‘living and reigning’ class as a whole is identified with the resurrection rather than with those who are kept through the tribulation unharmed.
Chapter 13 portrays the particulars of the trial through which believers pass during those terrible forty and two months. Here is the supreme test for believing Jews—the only “saints” ever referred to by any Hebrew prophet or Jew-serving apostle—the test to demonstrate their faithfulness to their promised Lord and Husband (Rev.13:10).
Chapter 15 speaks of the song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev.15:3). Moses was certainly Jewish, and “the Lamb” is a distinctly Jewish appellation, never used in the Pauline epistles. It is forceful to the Jewish mind because of its allusion to the lamb of the daily morning and evening sacrifices in the court of the temple. The “song of Moses” is not the song of “Moses and the children of Israel” on the destruction of Pharaoh and his charioteers in the Red Sea, but it is the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:1-43, wherein God’s dealings with Israel back in her bridal days are rehearsed.
Babylon is not only the false woman in the end-time, in contrast with the true (ch.12) (both of which are Jewish), but she is the “mother of the harlots and abominations of the earth.” She is the mother of prostitutes; while the other woman, the faithful of Jerusalem, is the mother of a virgin male-son class, not defiled with women. Having seen what spiritual adultery and harlotry are, that they are spiritual union with and personal trust in someone or something else as God beside the True One, we will be on the alert to appreciate how grave is the charge that the city of Babylon is the mother of, the one who gave birth to and has nurtured all such harlotry in the whole earth.
But this is true; for Babylon was founded by Nimrod a Cushite power-mad rebel against the true God and the scorner of all those hopes which rest solely on the goodness of God. He started the self-help-to-perfection movement after the flood, giving it a tremendous impetus. He took up and capitalized both phases of Satan’s original lie. Like his prototype, Cain, he found the accursed earth too hard to work in and sought to avoid the thorns and thistles by building a city and a religious and governmental system.
The tilling of the soil was God’s original employment for man, both in and out of Eden. It was God’s purpose for the Israelites. They were to have but one city, and that was divinely ordered and guarded. And just in proportion as the people of Israel fretted over their allotment and sought the avenues of trade and commerce did they lose spirit. They had been promised blessing in basket and store (and God’s blessing carried with it more than a mere augmenting of the crops) but were not promised blessing in commerce. God has given them over to their desire but sent leanness into their souls.
In contradistinction to this desire for cities of human building, and for the relative escape from toil and sweat of face, is the conduct of Abraham and all Israelites indeed who have looked and longed for that city whose builder and maker is God.
So, then, Babylon, the city of the Chaldees, was and is the mother of all systematic belittling of God in His own earth. The great city shall be piled with the wealth of men who shall all toil to pay interest on the bonds held by that great ring of international Jewish financiers. The present power in Russia is an abortive effort to bring about such a situation before the time. The real objection to it is not its Soviet form (if that suits the Russians let them have it), not to the fact that it is bolshevistic, or dependent upon the majority. The objection to it lies in the fact that it is not particularly a government of Russia at all but aims directly at world domination, being domiciled in Russia merely because the local conditions there made a start easier than elsewhere.
The great city of Babylon with man’s amassed wealth, being the peak of man’s proud achievement, shall be utterly destroyed, never to be rebuilt. “The voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in her” (Rev.18:23). This refers not to the voice of the Lord as the Bridegroom of Israel, but to ordinary human relationships (see by contrast Jer.33:11).
Revelation 19:7 gives us a bit of insight into the bridal developments. The time is just prior to the Lord’s actual overthrow of Satan. The Sinaitic manuscript reads “bride” where the common version reads “wife,” and with evident propriety, since the description is of the preparation preceding the marriage. The bride makes herself ready, not by any “character development” that makes her, if not quite, still, nearly ‘perfect.’ She makes herself ready by definitely and fervidly eschewing the course of faithless Israel of old. She makes herself ready by having eyes not for worldly powers but only for her rightful Lord. It is not character development in any current usage of that word. It is no more character development than it was land development when the farmer left the unresponsive and hopelessly stony New England hills for the fertile soil of the prairies of Illinois. It is simply different ground.
The wedding implied in Revelation 19:7,8 is seen from another angle in Matthew 25:1-13, where it is made plain that there are others besides the bride in the kingdom; there are the accompanying virgins, with more or less of alertness. The great multitude, though Jewish, and, like the seven thousand in the time of Elijah, not having bowed the knee to Baal, are not of the supremely honored company, the banquet of whose wedding lasts throughout the millennium (Isa.25:6).
The priestly work will terminate with the thousand years, for there is no temple in the new Jerusalem (Rev.21:22), but the reigning continues (Rev.22:5; Dan.7:27). It is after the ending of the Millennium, after the judgment of the great white throne, that the new Jerusalem, not the Millennial city, but the heaven-built and heaven-sent city, takes its place in the new and sealess earth as its luminary capital, glorious with all the brightness of God. She is, we are told, adorned as a bride for her husband (Rev.21:2). And after the city has settled to place she is described as the bride the Lamb’s wife. That is, the marriage is fully consummated. Is it the same marriage as that mentioned in ch.19:7? Yes: but not the same end of it; for they are separated by a little more than a thousand years. Is she the same bride? The identification seems to mark her as the same. In any case, she is limited to the twelve tribes. She is stamped with the tribal number, twelve, and with the earthly number, four. It is “the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel” (Rev.21:12) which are involved; no Gentiles; no hypothetical substitute for Israel, but Israel itself. To rivet it down still tighter onto Israel, the twelve apostles “of the Lamb” (Rev.21:14), not of Christ Jesus, are named in the twelve foundations.
This is as far, in point of time, as revelation takes us on the bride. Revelation 22:6 drops back in time to the period when the admonitions will apply, to the period just preceding the Millennium; for during the Millennium, and ever after, the nation of Israel will be indefectible.
The Millennium does not effect the divine purpose for the reconciliation of all (Col.1:20); though it does effect God’s purpose for the Millennium. His purpose for that time is to show that perfect law and perfect government will not change the hearts of men. As soon as the restraints are taken off a great rebellion ensues. Even during the Millennium there are executions every day: and dead enemies are not reconciled friends. Righteousness reigns during the Millennium, but righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13) in the new heavens and earth, constituting the fundament of that long and success-laden world after the Millennium and before the consummation, when all rule, and authority, and power is put down as being no longer necessary—as tutors, guardians, and governors are no longer necessary when a child has come of age.
So the time when “the spirit and the bride” are saying, Come, naturally precedes and does not follow the Millennium.
HEAVENS-AS-BRASS TIME FOR ISRAEL
OUR CELESTIAL REIGN
Revelation is the last of the Jewish epistles, and in them only is found the bride. One might know them by heart and know nothing of the celestial allotment which is in store for the church, the body of Christ. The narrative proceeds without interruption through the Hebrew Scriptures, through the Gospels, through Acts, and through the other Jewish writings in the Greek language, commonly called the New Testament. Nothing in them reveals any intervening dispensation, such as we live in now. We should be quite without understanding of this long period of heaven’s silence were it not for the writings of Paul, the apostle of Christ Jesus, but not one of the twelve. To put him in the twelve is not only to do violence to the Scriptures themselves; it is to lower him and constrict his ministry to the twelve tribes or to such proselyting work among the nations as would quite exclude us in our present standing.
Fredrik Homer Robison
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