INTRODUCTION

Last time, we used the sinking of the Titanic as an illustration.    We talked about how we shouldn’t invest in the world, because it will soon pass away.

When the Titanic was built, it was the largest and most opulent luxury liner for the wealthy.  Made from steel and engineered to make it very difficult to sink, the Titanic was considered “indestructible.”

When we look around at the world today, it seems like the wealthy and powerful of the world are also indestructible.  It seems they’ll never fall or lose out or be anything other than on top.  They control most of the money and power positions in the world.  Consequently, the world seems to be winning over the kingdom of God.  They not only have the majority lead, but their worldly philosophies and immorality have totally eclipsed God’s views and values.  They have seized control of much of the government, entertainment, education, technology, the news, etc.

Many people will abandon Christianity to turn towards the world to join their ranks, thinking this “Titanic” is an “indestructible ship.”  Christianity will be mocked, scorned and seen as foolish.  Maybe, one of their reasons for leaving will be because they want to be on a “winning team,” not realizing this “ship of the world” has a doomed future, no matter how things appear right now.  It will undoubtedly sink to the depths of the ocean, just like the Titanic.

We, as devoted followers of Jesus Christ, can’t be short-sighted.  Since we’ve been made for eternity, we must have an eternal perspective given by God.

According to the Bible, there will be an end to all pride, arrogance and boasting.

WE ARE THE CHERISHED BRIDE OF CHRIST

Another way to combat the pride of the world in our lives is to see ourselves as the cherished bride of Christ.

I think about how rockets escape the pull of earth’s gravity.  They need a stronger force to propel them beyond the gravitational field to shoot off into space.  In the same way, we also need a stronger force to escape the world’s gravitational pull of temptation, deception, distraction, pride and comfort.

What is that force?  The love of Christ for His beloved Bride

There’s a reason why the predominant model city of the world is called the Harlot Babylon and the Church is called the Bride of Christ.

Staying faithful actually means staying faithful to the Person of Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom.

GOD’S LOVE IS THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE ON EARTH

Just like the rocket needs to be filled with rocket fuel, we need to be filled with Jesus’ incredible love for us!  It’s not enough to read about it or hear messages on it.  It needs to become a part of us!  We need to experience it and feel it, as well as take it on faith.  We need to nurture it in our lives.

God’s love is the most powerful force on Earth!  The Bible tells us that love can outlast anything and it never fails!

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  –1 Corinthians 13:7-8a

And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.  –1 Corinthians 13:13

The world, flesh and the devil will try to drown love with either its attacks or its charms, but love’s fire can’t be put out.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.    –Song of Solomon 8:6

Many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it.  If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would utterly be despised.   –Song of Solomon 8:7

THE WHOLE BIBLE IS A LOVE STORY

As mentioned in an earlier post, the Hebrew and Greek mindsets differ in significant ways.  When it comes to time and concepts, the Hebrew mindset is circular, whereas the Greek mindset is linear.

Here I give some examples of the Hebrew mindset being circular.  The tower of Babel and the Babylonian empire in the Old Testament will be seen again towards the end in the Harlot Babylon.   (Genesis 11; Daniel and a host of other verses; Revelation 17-19)  The New Testament Church started in Jerusalem in the book of Acts and everything is now in the process of turning back to Jerusalem.  Israel, especially Jerusalem, will be the focal point of the End Times.  No, God is not through with Israel and the Jewish people.

THE BIBLE ALSO ENDS WITH A GARDEN AND A WEDDING

In the early part of Genesis, God placed Adam in a garden to tend it.  God actually said it was not good for him to be alone with God in paradise, but God will make a helpmeet suitable for him.  (Genesis 2:18)  God, then, put Adam to sleep and did surgery on him.  He took out one of his ribs and fashioned a woman from it, leading to the first wedding and marriage.  (Genesis 2:21-25)

In the same way, Jesus existed for all eternity at the Father’s side in a state of delight.  Incidentally, Eden means “pleasure” or “delight.”   But, the Father, being Who He is, wanted an eternal family and a suitable partner for His Beloved Son.   God started with Adam and Eve in the Garden as a natural pattern mirroring the spiritual.

Unfortunately, due to the Fall of mankind, much of the Bible has become “boy is in the process of redeeming girl after losing her to the quintessential bad boy.”

GOD TAKES A BRIDE OUT OF JESUS’ SIDE

Now we go back to the time when God did surgery on Adam to bring forth his bride and how Christ’s life parallels this same surgery.  When Jesus died on the cross, he made a way to redeem this lost bride.   Just like Adam, God put Jesus into a deep sleep (of death) and his side was pierced.   God the Father did surgery on Jesus taking out the Church from his side.

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  –John 19:34

In one of his letters, John brings together the concepts of the Spirit, the water and the blood with salvation to those who believe Jesus is the Son of God.   (Read 1 John 5:1-8)

Just like Adam and Eve were intended by God to be one, we are to be one with Christ!   Yes, in a spiritual sense, but also in the sense of husband and wife.

JESUS FOLLOWED JEWISH MARRIAGE CUSTOMS

Moreover, Jesus clearly demonstrated his commitment and devotion to us by following the same Jewish customs for betrothal and marriage.  In Jewish tradition, the couple first established a marriage covenant.  The father of the bridegroom took care of all the arrangements for the marriage and paid the bride price.  Afterwards, the bride and the bridegroom went their separate ways for a year.   While the bridegroom prepared a home for the bride, the bride prepared herself for the bridegroom.  Later, when the father deemed the time was ready, the son would go back for the bride.  You see, the natural speaks of the spiritual.  (John 3:12)

Jesus threaded these elements into the story to reveal these things to those who have eyes to see and to awaken us to love

Once again, I don’t just want a surface knowledge of these truths, but I want to meditate on them, so they become a part of me.

More on how Jesus fulfills the Jewish Wedding Analogy:  https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/related-topics/the-jewish-wedding-analogy.html

THE BRIDEGROOM WILL COME…

I can’t stress how important it is to be in this bridal identity.  In the End Times, this will be what the Spirit is saying to the Church!   And those who have an ear to hear will hear it.  Towards the end of the love story, we approach the time of Jesus’ wedding.  The closer the time of His return, the more the Church will awaken to who they are as the BRIDE OF CHRIST!

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  –Revelation 22:17

If you notice, this statement is recorded in the last chapter of the book of Revelation.  I don’t see it so much as a timing indicator, but an endurance factor.

Those who see themselves as the cherished bride will keep themselves pure and do whatever it takes to make it to the end.

Love outlasts!  LOVE never fails!

In unity and in unison, the Spirit and the bride will cry out in longing for Jesus, the Bridegroom.  It’ll be the first time in history, where the whole Body of Christ will be in this bridal identity.  The Church has been described in many ways:  a body, a family, an army, living stones for a building, etc.

Towards the end, however, the primary revelation released to the corporate body will be as a cherished bride waiting for her bridegroom.   We will long for his return!  We will cry and mourn!  We will be lovesick!

We aren’t just faithful servants or friends, but we will be Jesus’ eternal partner, the closest ones to His heart.

… FOR A PURE AND SPOTLESS BRIDE

I don’t feel like Jesus can come back at just any time for us.  If he came back now, He’d be coming back for a broken, compromised Church, not a victorious one.  (Take a few moments to think about it.)  Is the Bride ready?

The Apostle Paul revealed the mystery that marriage revealed the mystery of Christ’s relationship with the Church.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and TO PRESENT HER TO HIMSELF AS A RADIANT CHURCH, WITHOUT STAIN OR WRINKLE OR ANY OTHER BLEMISH, BUT HOLY AND BLAMELESS.  –Ephesians 5:25-27  (Caps mine)

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.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”  (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)  –-Revelation 19:7-8  (Caps mine)

WE ARE MAKING OURSELVES READY

While we wait for His return, we need to make ourselves ready!

During this critical time, the devil tries to distract us with the things of the world:  counterfeit fascinations, flirting with temptations, binge-watching television series, participating in endless debates, consumed with trivia, forever new techy gadgets, consumed by the world’s false narratives, etc.

Furthermore, what we participate in may not be considered “bad.”   It can be just stuff that isn’t essential or primary to cultivating our identity as the Bride of Christ.

Going back to the natural example, the Jewish bride-to-be during Jesus’ time wasn’t just hanging out aimlessly at the corner falafel joint.  She wasn’t just spending time with her girlfriends.   Her schedule and priorities had to change.  It wasn’t “life as usual.”   She only had a limited time period to prepare herself to be the best wife possible for her future husband.  All she did centered around accomplishing that goal.

WHAT ELSE DO WE DO WHILE WE WAIT

  1. Say “NO!” to the Harlot! 

God describes this world system as a prostitute for good reason.  Prostitutes make it their goal to be seductive, alluring and, overall, tempting.   They paint their faces, put their best foot forward and whisper sweet words into your ears.   Those who succumb to the harlot’s enticements become “drunk” or intoxicated by her immorality.   Many a prostitute has wrecked relationships and home!  (Revelation 17-19)

God wants us to stay chaste virgins, unspotted by the world.  (Matthew 25:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:2; James 1:27)  We are saving ourselves for the Bridegroom Who died for us and will come back for us again.

The more we dabble in the things of the world, the harder it’ll be to leave that world.  Think of Lot’s wife.  She was told, while running away from the destruction of Sodom, not to look back.  But, she did look back and was turned into a pillar of salt.  (Genesis 19:26)  That’s just one example of how the world can get into us as we try to get into the world.

Conversely, the more we experience God’s love, the more we’ll say “no” to the things of the world.  The Harlot Babylon’s seductions are described as wine.  (Revelation 17:2; 18:3)  Usually, people break out the wine, during times of celebration.  Though wine is a symbol of the good things in life, Song of Solomon declares how Jesus’ love is better than wine.  (S of S 1:2)

  1. Cultivate a growing love for Jesus!

We don’t often think of convincing an engaged woman to love her future husband.  She exudes love for him and waits in excited anticipation for her wedding day!

The Bible, however, prophesies a disturbing future trend.  In the End Times, most people’s love for Jesus and the things of God will grow cold.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  –Matthew 24:12-13

That phrase “will grow cold” comes from the Greek word G5594, psycho.  It has the meaning of to cool by blowing or to cool through evaporation.  It’s kind of like when you blow on your hot cup of tea to cool it down enough so you can drink it.

In other words, it’s a gradual decline.  Over time you spend less time with God, you think about God less and He becomes less a part of your life.  This can be so easy in a world full of enticing distractions.

We need to trend in the opposite direction!

If you feel your love starting to cool, God’s counsel is simple and straightforward.  At any point in our journey we can make a conscious choice to start over again and do the things we did at first when we were brimming with our first love.

After Jesus acknowledges and commends the church at Ephesus for all they’ve done, he focuses on the primary issue of LOVE FOR HIM.

Yet, I hold this against you:  You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.  –Revelation 2:4-5(b)

  1. Embrace lovesickness during the wait, however long!

My simple definition for being lovesick:  loving someone enough to be in pain when separated from him or her.  It can be painful.  There’s longing, there’s an ache in the heart.  If you’ve ever had this experience, then you have an idea of how Jesus feels every day while He’s waiting for you to become fully His.

Many people would prefer to not be in that state.  Like, who wants to be sick, especially lovesick?  Nobody willingly enters into a place of pain, longing and loneliness.

Rather than try to get closer to the person we miss, we try to cushion ourselves with a bit of distance.  We preoccupy ourselves with other things, so we don’t have to think about the other person or the separation.

When it comes to Jesus, however, we’re to grow ever closer, even while we’re apart from each other!   When Jesus touches our hearts even now, it awakens a longing for a closer, deeper relationship with Him and to finally be with Him.

In the same way, the ultimate desire of Jesus’ heart is for us to be WITH HIM and to KNOW HIM!

Father, I want those you have given me to be WITH ME WHERE I AM, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  –John 17:24  (Caps mine) 

Throughout the ages, Jesus has never held back His heart from us!  We shouldn’t hold back either!

Jesus prophesied that in our love we will mourn for the Bridegroom’s absence.

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom MOURN while he is with them?  The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.   –Matthew 9:15 (Caps mine)

Yes, Jesus talks about a literal fast here.  But, I think that metaphorically this “fast” encompasses, not just food, but all lesser substitutes meant to fill our hearts or dull the pain.

  1. Defy the scoffers and the occasional doubts of your own heart and continue to wait patiently. 

One important note:  the mockers of the day will try to compromise your faithful waiting on the bridegroom.   They’ll tell you he is not coming back.  As noted in other places in the Bible, when we lose heart and give into unbelief, we will grow slack and lose focus.

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?  Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  –2 Peter 3:3-4

The Bible tells us that the people of the world won’t expect their time of visitation.  They will be living life as usual, when Jesus finally comes back, like in the days of Noah and Lot, before destruction came.  (Luke 17:26-30)

Jesus already gave us his “engagement ring,” the downpayment of the Holy Spirit, as a promise that He’ll return for us, no matter how long it takes.  (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14)

  1. Deeply engage with, meditate upon, understand and receive Jesus’ strong love for you! 

He loves you as a bridegroom loves a bride!  Throughout this post, we talked about how Jesus loves us.   I’ve never been married, so I don’t know what that’s like in the natural.  Maybe you’ve had that experience of being engaged and married, as a bride or bridegroom.  Maybe, you’re going through that experience right now.

Can you imagine Jesus being any less excited and emotional than any other bridegroom on his wedding day?  I so can’t!   He is the most loving, passionate, open and pure man!  He loves us with the ocean of God’s love!

Song of Solomon can be read in primarily two different ways, a story of an earthly marriage and an allegory of Christ and the Church and/or God and His people.

Solomon declares his love for the bride in a variety of ways!

Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.     –S of S 2:2

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.    –S of S 4:7

You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes… –S of S 4:9

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine… –S of S 6:3

May I tell you something?  One of the best studies I have ever done was Mike Bickle’s teaching on the Song of Solomon.  He teaches it from the perspective of Jesus and God’s relationship with the believer.  One of his main points is that God delights in you and in the relationship you have with him, even as you’re growing, even when you make a mistake, etc.  The more we realize God loves us, the more we will love God!  The point is to grow in confidence and be transformed by the love God has for us.   His perfect love!  His strong love!

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear.  –1 John 4:18

If you want to know more of God’s heart, I so encourage you to think about doing this study.  Here’s an introductory message about Mike Bickle’s Song of Solomon teaching and why it’s important to study this book:  https://www.mikebickle.org/watch/?guid=2016_05_20_1800_MB_FCF   Keep in mind, he has different versions of this study, some more involved than others.  You can find all of these studies at mikebickle.org.

CONCLUSION

To escape the pride and attractions of the world, we need a stronger force, a better delight, a greater fascination, a higher love.  That can only be found in the heart of our bridegroom.  As we go on this journey of deeply understanding God’s heart for us, we will transformed into a pure and spotless virgin bride, awaiting patiently for the bridegroom’s return.

[All Bible study information was found on Blue Letter Bible App.]

I’d like to share two videos.  The first video is a song that summarizes a lot of what I’ve shared in this blog post.

The second video is filled with emotional responses from bridegrooms upon seeing their brides, for those who need a visual.   It’s really touching and may provide a glimpse (just a small one) of how Jesus feels about you and what it’ll be like for Him on His long-awaited wedding day.

 

 

 

–Joyce Lee

REFLECTION AND APPLICATION QUESTIONS

  1. There was a lot to think about and digest in this blog post.  The most important thing as I see it is to internalize and process the bridal paradigm.  Make it a conviction of your heart!  Reread the post or sections of it.  Look up the verses and passages throughout the post.   Study them more closely and meditate upon them.
  2. Have you ever meditated on Jesus as the bridegroom king?  Better yet, your bridegroom.  You’re actually going to marry Him someday.  How is being a bride different than being a member of a family, army, building, body, etc.?  What does that say about how Jesus loves you and His desired level of closeness with you?   A bride has access to the bridegroom’s heart like no-one else does.  Journal your thoughts and feelings about it.
  3. Was there anything that spoke to you throughout the blog post?   Why?
  4. Reread the “What Else Do We Do While We Wait” section.  Do you agree with the suggestions that were made?  Why or why not?  How will you apply any or all of the suggestions?
  5. We, as the Bride, are in a time of waiting and preparation.  What steps will you take to prepare yourself for your future bridegroom?  Think of how you can cultivate a deeper, more fervent love, be faithful to the end and grow in Christ-likeness and righteousness.  (Remember Jesus is with you and for you and is forever fighting for your destiny!)
  6. Take the time to watch or listen to Mike Bickle’s introduction on the Song of Solomon to see if you’d be interested in studying it further.  I believe it’ll change your life!  We all need to know how God delights in us!  We all need to be anchored and fortified in God’s love for us, now more than ever.
  7. If you liked what you heard in Mike’s introductory overview and you want to experience the benefits of going through the study, then take the time to go through the whole study.  Like Mike says, make the book a part of your prayer life with God.  Get it into your heart and spirit!  Be one of the wise virgins who continually produces new oil, saving extra for the long haul.

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