- The relationship of Christ and his Church as the fulfillment of the archetype
- And they shall be one flesh
- The bridal gown
- The spirit of prophecy
- I will make a helper suitable for him
- Psalm 45 in the context of the Tabernacle
- The Lamb's wedding supper
The relationship of Christ and his Church as the fulfillment of the archetype
Marriage is one of the earliest Biblical motifs. Our predecessor Adam is created without a couple. However, God notices that "it is not good that the man should be alone" (Gen 2:18). Therefore, he sends a deep sleep to Adam, takes out his rib and forms a woman (Gen 2:21-23). "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh" (Gen 2:24). According to the words of the Book of Genesis, the connection of Adam and Eve was to be a model of what we call marriage today - a relationship of a man and a woman that was to be durable and inseparable (because they become 'one flesh'). We all today by taking wives and husbands realize this archetypal pattern. However, the symbolism of God's Word goes further. Adam, despite the fact that he is the first husband, he is also the first trespasser of God's law, who brings the curse of death to the whole human kind. Jesus Christ is the one who comes to remove this curse. Hence, direct comparisons of the role of Adam and Jesus appear in the New Testament, such as those that can be found in the 5th chapter of the letter to the Romans, verses 12-19.
The frame of curse and salvation, which serves the description of the role that Adam and Jesus played in human history, can also serve as a starting point for subsequent comparisons, differences and similarities. In 1 Cor. 15:45 the apostle Paul pays attention to a significant difference in the context of the resurrection. Literally, "the first man, Adam, was made to be [gr. eis] a living soul", so Adam was created to be human. And this God's idea will be fulfilled in the future kingdom, when Adam is raised among the earthly subjects of Christ. In turn, the apostle literally writes about Jesus that he was made "to [gr. eis] the reviving spirit". Therefore, the destiny of our Lord was the resurrection to spiritual glory, which was also fulfilled after the victorious completion of his mission. From the point of view of the topic of the lecture, it is interesting and important, however, that the apostle calls the Lord Jesus in the abovementioned verse the 'last Adam'. So the role he played is in a sense opposite to the one played by Adam. What's more, if Adam had a wife (who - it is worth mentioning - played a significant role in the events leading to sin), similarly Jesus has his wife, who - should be expected - has her role to play in the process of salvation.
Indeed, the New Testament leaves no doubt that our Savior also has his wife. The apostle Paul writes about it in 2 Cor. 11:2 - "I have espoused you to one Man, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ". The apostle writes in the plural to the congregation in Corinth, so apparently the wife of Christ is collective and consists of members of the Church. This concisely expressed thought is then expanded by the author of the letter in the letter to the Ephesus congregation. In Eph. 5:21-33 the apostle not only identifies the Church with Christ's wife, but also derives significant conclusions for the marital relations of the called. Because a man and a woman become one body, "men ought to love their wives as their own bodies" (Eph. 5:28). An example in this is Jesus Christ himself, who "nourishes and cherishes" his Church (verse 29). And here the most important words for the current topic fall: "For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:30-32).
And they shall be one flesh
The final fulfillment of the relationship of Adam and Eve is the marriage of the 'last Adam' with his bride. From this fact follow several doctrines regarding Christ's relationship with his Church, which will be the subject of the further part of the lecture. First of all, the information that the Church is one body with her husband. In the lecture on The spirit, soul and body in the Bible I wrote that the concept of the body is described not only by the physical, but also by the metaphysical aspect - automatic behavior scripts written in our bodies. Automatic because they operate on the basis of stimulus-reaction, without the participation of a conscious decision. Written in our bodies because literally they are recorded in the cells of our nervous system. The repeatability of this system means that we can speak of human character because I can expect that in certain circumstances I or a person I know will react in a certain way. According to research, man's behavior even in 95 per cent is character-based. Hence its fundamental impact on our (in)ability to preserve the divine principles of justice. Hence also the great emphasis that the New Testament puts on this thread.
It is obvious, therefore, that husband and wife become one body. And both in the physical and metaphysical sense. The physical union of a man and a woman produces a new person nine months later, who has 50 per cent of father's genes and 50 per cent of mother's genes. So they literally become one body. In a metaphysical sense man and wife become one body because functioning in such a close relationship over time inevitably leads to 'people learning each other': they will learn their reactions, weaknesses and strengths, and also develop their own way of dealing with a partner. Similarly, in the relationship of Christ with the Church, although here this learning process is to take one direction: Jesus is our Master, we are to be shaped according to his pattern. In Paul's words, we are "to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29; hbr. 12:2). "But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18). The goal here is "to present you as a pure virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2).
Hence the concept of the Body of Christ in the New Testament. If the Lord's spirit is in me and works towards the transformation of the body of character into his image, then the body of Christ develops in me, or I become a part of his body understood as a community of believers who undertake the same work of modelling character according to the truth revealed in our Savior. The apostle Paul develops this thought in 1 Cor. 12:12-31. "By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body," writes Paul (1 Cor. 12:13). However, there are various members in the body that fulfill various tasks, and so it is with Christ. One spirit we receive allows us to develop in different directions. "And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages" (1 Cor. 12:28). Not all of us have the same gifts, but we complement each other in our service, just like members complement each other in the body, "until we all come ... to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-13).
The bridal gown
So we are talking about the process of justification, in which the believer takes part - justification understood as a process of actual character reform. At its end we need to achieve a standard that God will regard as perfect (Mt. 5:48). That is why the description of the bride of Christ, which we find in Rev. 19:7-8, does not come as a surprise - "Let us be glad and rejoice and we will give glory to Him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. (8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. For the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints". Pure white robe represents justice in the Bible (cf. Is. 1:18, 61:10,11). At the same time, the fact of covering our bodies with it is suggestive of the way we transform into Christ. Shaping new character traits does not mean that the old ones are blurred. In a sense, using the IT language, it can be said that they are overwritten, it is more difficult to activate them, but they do not disappear completely. Therefore, our sinful body does not disappear. It remains till the end, but it is 'covered with a robe' of new scripts developed in the image of the Lord.
This duality of the sinful body covered with a pure robe of justice seems to be expressed in the Song of Songs, which prophetically describes the experience of the Church. On the one hand, we find a number of descriptions of the beauty of the bride, who is "the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys" (Song 2:1). On the other hand, the bride herself announces that she is 'black' (Song 1:5,6). The color contrast of the whiteness of lily and black tanned skin perfectly reflects the duality of nature, sinful, but in the process of justification. It is worth emphasizing, however, that the robe covering the body of the bride is a robe of deeds, and this is because the character changes through action. James argues in his letter that just staring at the mirror of God's Word will not be effective because turning one's face away inevitably leads to oblivion. "But whoever looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it, he is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work. This one shall be blessed in his doing" (Jas. 1:22-25). Blessed because the 'doing' will procure one the necessary gown of the Bride of the Lamb.
The symbolism of the gown brings us to determining the identity of the bride in the context of the Tabernacle. In the lecture on The people, Levites and priests of the Gospel Age I argued that the division into people, Levites and priests under the Law Covenant indicated the division into antitypical people, Levites and priests under the New Covenant, reflecting the position of God's people towards the truth. The people, i.e. the most numerous class of the chosen people, represent those from among the consecrated people who, having the spirit of the truth, did not proceed in its understanding, and thus could not develop character on its image. Priests and Levites represent those believers who gained direct access to various tasks related to the service of the Tabernacle, and thus developed the knowledge of various aspects of God's Word, allowing further development of character according to the pattern of the truth. Thus, born of the spirit antitypical priests and Levites are those who have the necessary robe of justice, required to participate in the bride class. In the remaining part of the lecture I will discuss Biblical premises that allow to further clarify the identity of the spouse of the Lamb.
The spirit of prophecy
The above quoted Jas. 1:25 leads to another thread related to the Bride, namely we read, paraphrasing, that the lucky owner of the wedding gown will be the one who "looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it". Above, I emphasized the importance of doing/ action, but in order to act, one must first know how. There is therefore a direct relationship between mind/ understanding and formation of character. Bible teachings in the field of ethics, morality and consecration are an important part of the Biblical doctrine as such and create the foundation for birth of the spirit of the new body of character/ procuring the robe covering our sinfulness. Among other things, this purpose is served by the spirit of the truth which repentant elect receive. The apostle Paul declares in Eph. 4:20-24 that 'putting on the new man created in righteousness and true holiness' (just character) requires to 'be renewed in the spirit of your mind', and so the constant work with the Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
However, cognition is a continuous process, leading from more basic to quite advanced matters. There are in the Bible basic doctrines, fundamental for the development of character (spiritual birth), but there are also advanced teachings, including understanding types, prophecies, symbols. It is no accident, therefore, that in the same section in which John describes the Bride we will also read that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10). Those who want to be the Bride of Christ must be in everything in the image of their head, also in the element of understanding the Word of God, "hat you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Col. 1:9). The spirit of the truth that the candidates to the Bride receive, "searches all things, yea, the deep things of God", leading its owners to an increasingly advanced knowledge of 'all wisdom' (1 Cor. 2:10; Col. 3:16). Getting to know the "deep things of God" requires from the faithful Church participation in baptism in the spirit, according to the meaning of the words: baptism - immersion (Greek baptisma), spirit - doctrine (1 Jn. 4:1).
Experience with the truth of the ones called to become the Bride were also marked in the archetype of marriage. On the one hand, we are to become on the model of Christ, just as Eve became like her husband, which is expressed in the symbolism of the rib. On the other hand, we are warned that accepting teachings foreign to the Gospel will lead one astray and breed sin. The apostle Paul writes: "But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, so your thoughts should be corrupted from the simplicity due to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). Knowledge of the truth and behaving accordingly are crucial for the success of our calling. Zeal by itself - even if it was the greatest - if it is not directed by the Gospel, it does not bring any positive value. Those who want to take this path are warned by our Lord, who says: "I never knew you!" (Mt. 7:21-23). That is why we need the attitude of an active study of the Word of God and discernment which teaching is really God's "because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 Jn 4:1).
I will make a helper suitable for him
At its very beginning the Scripture reveals the reason why God gathers the Bride: "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18). In the type, Adam needed a partner who would help him. In the antitype Christ's help is his faithful Church. In what way we help the Lord is explained by the apostle Paul: "And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us. (20) Then we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:18-20). Reconciliation is "in Christ" when, through the knowledge of the truth and its practicing, we become his body (in character developed in the Lord's image). God 'did not impute their trespasses to them', i.e. He did not sentenced man to death without a chance of reform, but He shared the word of the Gospel through which we can be saved.
The Lord Jesus declares before Pilate that the purpose of his coming was to issue a testimony of the truth (Jn. 18:37). After his departure, this testimony was to be still announced by his followers, "we beseech you on behalf of Christ" (2 Cor. 5:20). He himself directly issued this command to his students (Mt. 28:19,20). In the Sermon on the Mount, he called them "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world", emphasizing the role of believers as a preservative and healing factor for the moral condition of society (Mt. 5:13-16). This task was to be performed especially by announcing the Gospel, showing the listeners spiritual things, just as the lamp shining on the candlestick shows in its light items in its surroundings. Here again we encounter an interesting convergence with the archetype. The task with which Eve was to help her husband was to give names, and thus work with words, giving meanings and senses (Gen 2:20). The Bride of Christ also works with the word, proclaiming teachings which similarly lead to giving new meanings, determining what is good and what is bad; what is valuable and without value on the narrow path leading to life (Mt. 7:13,14).
However, the help of the Bride is not limited to current preaching. What is more, all who do this work today are not members of the Bride in a full sense - today we are candidates. The complete Bride will have her special task in the Kingdom of Christ. The current Gospel Age is not intended for the conversion of humanity, but for the election of those who will constitute the Bridal class. The time to convert the world will come in the next age of God's Kingdom. Those who will faithfully make their sacrifice today will become the judges of humanity, leading man through the experience of teaching, trying and correction to gain the gift of eternal life. According to Rom. 8:19-22 the creation today is subject to vanity, awaiting the revelation of God's sons (the Bride), "on hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption" and literally, will receive "the freedom to glory". The Millennial rule of Christ will create perfect conditions in which man will be able to return to God and obtain the glory of God's children. The Lord's Spouse will be helping him in this work.
Psalm 45 in the context of the Tabernacle
Earlier I wrote that the Bride has the spirit of prophecy, which is the will to learn about the deep things of God. In the context of the New Testament, this means the participation of believers in baptism. In the context of the Old Testament, the spiritual baptism corresponds to the position of the priest performing his service in the Tabernacle's Holy. Its equipment was dedicated to the service corresponding to the experience of believers in Christ. The table with shewbread arranged in two piles represented the teachings of the Scripture in two parts of the Old and the New Testament, which is the food of the new creation (Mt. 4:4; Jn. 4:34, 6:47-51). We take it in owing to the spirit of the truth, which enlightens the minds of the students of the Bible as bright light of the candlestick and allows them to see in the dark (Mt. 6:22,23; Jn. 16:13; Eph. 1:16-18; 1 Jn. 1:5 ). We use our knowledge of the truth to suport brethren in Christ, burning incense on the altar as "a sweet savor of Christ" (Mt. 24:45-51; 2 Cor. 2:14-17). It should be emphasized, however, that the service in the Holy was intended only for priests. Levites who performed auxiliary functions could not perform it.
Earlier in the lecture I wrote that the Levites and priests under the Old Covenant have their counterparts in certain classes under the New Covenant. The white robe, in which the Bride is dressed, symbolizes the birth of new character created in the image of Jesus Christ, which would suggest that the Bride includes both antitypical Levits and priests. The spirit of prophecy element, however, seems to narrow this group only to priests, i.e. those from among believers who are not satisfied with the knowledge of basic Biblical doctrines, but are looking for understanding of deeper meanings of God's Word and want to serve their brethren with this understanding. This thought seems to be confirmed by the analysis of Psalm 45, which is a wedding song in honor of the king and his bride. In the song the bride is introduced into the Royal Palace, which shows that the place of residence of the Bride of Christ will also be the glory of the spiritual nature. This is indicated by a number of statements of the Word of God, which gives the elect this hope of spiritual glory and immortality (Jn. 14:2,3; 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 50-53; 1 Thess. 4:17).
It is significant that in the song the bride is described as the "king's daughter". Although many royal daughters take part in the marriage, only one of them obtains the status of the chosen one. Others, though un-chosen, also enter the palace as bridesmaids of the bride (Ps. 45:14,15). The basis for the kinship of royal daughters is birth of the spirit, just like the antitypical Levites and priests are born as brethren of Christ (Rom. 8:29). However, only one of the daughters will obtain the status of the bride - the one who corresponds to the position of priests. Others from among bridesmaids will enter the palace with her as antitypical Levites. Their reward will also be spiritual nature, although not in such a rank and honors as the level of the Bride. The fact that only some of the spirit-born are part of the Bride is emphasized by Paul's thought in 1 Cor. 9:24-27. Many contestants take part in the race for the highest reward, but only one of them receives it. "So run, that you may obtain," concludes Paul.
Therefore, judging on the basis of Psalm 45 and the antitype of the Tabernacle, the Bride includes antitypical priesthood, which in the symbols of Revelation is described as 24 elders (Rev. 4:4) and 144000 elect (Rev. 14:1-5). The bridesmaids, on the other hand, are depicted as the Great Multitude of the antitypical Levites, who praise God in front of His throne clad in white robes of justice (Rev. 7:9-17). It is also worth paying attention to one more fragment of Psalm 45 - "Your sons shall be in the place of your fathers" (verse 16). Earlier in the lecture I wrote that marriage is also becoming one body in the sense of breeding offspring. I referred this fact to marriage as such, ignoring at the same time the offspring of the Bride of Christ. Of this offspring speaks Psalm 45. Children come to this world through birth. The people who will be resurrected under the rule of Christ will be born of the spirit, just like today's Church is (Jas. 1:18). Christ and His Wife will therefore become one body also in the sense of bringing forth offspring.
The Lamb's wedding supper
Another element inseparably connected with the Bride is the wedding feast. In Rev. 19:9 the angel says to John: "Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb". First of all, interpreting the symbolism of the feast, I would go in the direction already signaled in relation to priests serving in the Tabernacle's Holy, namely the common element of the feast and the Tabernacle service is food. During the feast, the best, most exquisite foods are served. In the Tabernacle, "only" shewbread was laid out, but I write "only" in quotation marks for a reason. This was a very special kind of bread, intended only for priesthood, which no one except priests could consume. If you add the spiritual light of the candlestick to this, it turns out that the bread of antitypical priests is the most exquisite food for advanced Bible students. This thought seems to fall in line with the words of the angel, who describes the partakers of the feast as blessed, so not everyone can take part. Participation requires a special invitation, and taking advantage of it is a source of great blessings.
The feast referred to in Rev. 19:9 is the same feast which is described in more detail in the parable of the wedding feast (Mt. 22:1-14). Throughout the Gospel Age, everyone is invited to participate in the feast by universally announcing the Gospel, "as many as you shall find, invite them to the marriage" (Mt. 22:9). However, not everyone can take part in it, even if they react positively to the call because guests are verified in terms of having the right robe - the same which is mentioned in Rev. 19:8 - clean and white robe of just deeds. Earlier in the lecture I wrote that the robe represents birth of a new character shaped in good knowledge of basic Biblical doctrines. It is not surprising, therefore, that possession of a robe is necessary to participate in the feast. Developing advanced understanding requires good knowledge of the basics. If the foundation is laid carelessly, the building erected on it will not have the glory of the temple erected on Christ (1 Pet. 2:4,5).
In the tagline of the parable, Jesus identifies the owners of the robe with the elect. This is due to the fact that development in truth requires the spirit of truth, which is the will to learn about the Word of God, and at the same time the ability to understand His message. Not everyone has such a spirit, but only those who were chosen "before the foundation of the world" and "predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:3-6). Those are lead by the spirit so that they can be prepared to receive their inheritance. We can actually see it - very few believers manifest any efforts whatsoever to understand anything. We also know, however, that in the future age of God's Kingdom, participation in the Lamb's feast will become a common experience of humanity, on which the spirit will be poured abundantly (Jl. 2:28,29). According to the prophet, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9). "And in this mountain Jehovah of Hosts shall make a feast of fat things for all the people, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of refined wine on the lees" (Isa. 25:6). The blessings of Christ and his Wife's rule will fill the whole earth.