The Bridegroom & Bride

relationshipA few years ago a Russian newspaper reported a light-hearted poll of 100 Soviet households. In 90 of the homes, the wife described herself as the head of the family–and the husband agreed. In nine families the husband said he was head of the household, but the wife disagreed. The only husband whose wife named him as head of the family was told by the newspaper that he had won an award. When asked to select his prize, he turned to his wife and asked: “What shall I choose, Maria?”

If Christ is the groom, then who is his bride? The synoptic Gospels don’t really answer that question, but the rest of the New Testament does. And the answer probably doesn’t offer much help to people hoping Jesus’ marital status could shift the debates over women in ministry or the definition of marriage in a contemporary society where political correctness is accepted and God’s commands are debated. In Ephesians 5 (one of the more controversial passages of the Bible), the apostle Paul tells his readers, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Christ’s wife, at least according to Paul, is the church; all believers—not an individual human woman.

That the church is Jesus’ bride gets confirmed in Revelation, the final book of the Bible, which serves as a prophecy for the end of the world. In this apocalyptic vision, Jerusalem, a proxy for God’s people as a whole, is described as “a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Later the narrator says, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'” Here, the wife is again Jerusalem, and the Lamb is Jesus.

The image of Christ as groom and the church as bride infuses Christian theology and writing. Pastor and best-selling author Timothy Keller preaches frequently on the topic, including a sermon called “The True Bridegroom,” where he compares God to a husband whose wife (the church) is constantly challenging on him. A classic hymn includes these lines in its opening verse:

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord / She is his new creation by water and the word. / From heaven He came and sought her to be his holy bride.” Countless books have been written meditating on what the Bible means when it calls Christ a groom and the church his bride.

The answer is in a simple Ephesians 5 text but our culture does not want to accept it. So does that make God wrong and political-culture persuasiveness correct?

Political correctness and political party jockeying for votes want all differences between men and women eliminated. Stay at home dad and working mom is more readily accepted then the centuries old norm of mom at home and dad works to pay the bills and maintain the family standard of living.

Why does the Word of God even mention Ephesians 5:21- e.o.c. if it is so hotly debated in so many cultures; the exception being Islam? Why is not that previous of verses 15 – 21 included in this discussion? Are they distinctly different context than 21 forward? A different chapter but mismarked in our translations? Topics too confusing? Instructions that no longer apply?

I am going to make this somewhat simple for all of us and let your own knowledge and understanding take on it be the dominant factor: it is significant that the Bible never says, “Husbands, get your wives to submit to you.” That is not your responsibility, men! It never commands the husband to be the head of his household. Rather, it states it as a fact in the course of discussing the wife’s role. What God’s Word says to the wife is her responsibility.

In other words, it is not God’s responsibility to get individual humans to submit to Jesus as head of the body (church) or the church to submit itself to Jesus as the head of the church. It is up to us as individuals and the church as a God-centered part of the body of Christ to do as it commands. If it was God’s job to force submission, then Israel never would have gone astray. If it was up to Jesus to force submission of his church, then there never would have been the 7 churches discussed in Revelation 1, 2, 3.

“Submission” in English is only a shadow of the Greek and Aramaic definition. One of its synonym’s is “to be open minded.” I close with Isaiah 55:8…The LORD says: “My thoughts and my ways are not like yours…”

Dr. JStarkcropped-minijim1


Revelation 14 & Chapter 15

Chapter 14 Power Point

Revelation Chapter 14-1

Chapter 15 is the dove-tail of chapter 14. Chapter 15 is the moment we are waiting miniJimfor in the end of the Tribulation. It took 9 more chapters after Revelation 6 to get to the judgment; i.e. the 7 bowls. It is important to realize that the Book of Revelation is not Chronological. Here is an example referencing back to chapter 6:

It begins with the apocalyptic four horsemen (white, red, black and pale green horses actually). We read of the rapid opening of the Seals. We see prophetic events unroll very quickly. Seal one is the white horse; seal two is the bright red horse; seal three is the black horse, seal four is the pale green horse; seal five is the souls under the alter, those killed [most likely] during the Tribulation; seal six is the darkening of the sun and moon, a great moment of reality for those remaining on earth. The souls under the throne are pleading for vengeance. God says, here are white robes to wear, but it will be just a little bit longer until the right number has been *slain. The mountains disappear, islands are no longer, the sky rolls up like a scroll (this author believes this will reveal heaven or witness the return of Jesus Christ). It will be the record setting Guinness Book of Records earthquake.

*Slain – This could very well be the 144,000 discussed in chapter 14.

JIV NOTE: Has anyone noticed that in the apocalypse scripture and first four seals in Revelation 6 say as much about the horse as it does the rider. Also, many of the main Islamic States have the white, red, black and pale or yellow-green colors in their national flag. The black horse is the horse of DEATH. ISIS or ISIL has a black flag with white figures. Could they be the ones who wish to bring peace to the world through death of all infidel therefore ushering in the [their] 12th and final Imam? This is something to give serious thought and watchful consideration. As a subtle reminder, the pale grizzled green horse, the 4th and final horse and rider of the apocalyptic horsemen, is given ¼ of the earth’s land mass “to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. [Revelation 6:8]. If one considers the land mass of the Middle East and Africa, it is almost exactly ¼ of this planet’s land mass.end of the ages

Now chapter 15 gets very specific: [ESV]

6:15 “…and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains…”

6:16 “…calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb…”

6:17 “…for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

It is all quite obvious at this point in global events that God’s time and patience has ended; cataclysmic events encompass the world and for those who reject the Holy Spirit, there is no hiding place. But,this will not be so for the redeemed or those who accept Christ and remain on earth.

7:1 does begin with the words “after this,” however that does not mean the events are sequential but it is what John sees or witnesses… kahee meta tauta eido, “and after these things I saw,” The Greek here does not lend itself to a sequence of events but the order in which John records what he saw and recorded.

David Guzic puts it well when he points out, “Remember, we already saw what seemed to be the end (of the world) in Revelation 6:12-17. Then John took us over the same material in greater detail again (in the following chapters). This reminds us that Revelation is not strictly chronological in its arrangement.” [emphasis mine]

Revelation 15:1 takes us forward from chapter 8; seven angels, seven trumpets, seven catastrophic events on earth. It seems that after chapter 6, John then goes into greater details of what he has already recorded. After chapter 6 he becomes more detailed in describing what he saw and heard.

There is a word in verse 1 worthy of our understanding. It is never the goal of this blog to teach Greek or Hebrew, but when a word stands out, it needs to be pointed out.

“…seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last,…” The word “last” is eschatos. To quote Thayer:

1) extreme

1a) last in time or in place

1b) last in a series of places

1c) last in a temporal succession

2) the last

2a) last, referring to time

2b) of space, the uttermost part, the end, of the earth

2c) of rank, grade of worth, last, i.e. lowest

The conclusion is that it is all over. What has been foretold for centuries is now history. It is more than the last of something or things. It is THE LAST of the need for this word “last.” Eternity is just around the corner and there is no more time and no more last; lasting as in everlasting, yes, but last, no. God saying “It is done” is not recorded by John until Revelation 21:6.

Verses 2 and 3 of chapter 15 explain those who are victorious over the beast and its image. Note that the false prophet is not mentioned and neither is Satan. Satan’s defeat is in the hands of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. His judgment is yet to be concluded but rest assured it is now upon him. His defeat is not ours to be victorious over. But as James 4:7 puts it, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you [NIV]. Ours is to resist THE DEVIL. God has already overcome and is his judge, jury and prosecuting attorney. He has no defense. However, not to submit to the “beast or its image” is our task and victory over them. [NIV; Revelation 15:2a] “those who had conquered (ERV says ‘had victory over…’) the beast and its image…” [emphasis mine].

The word “worship doglickingand all” in verse 4 means there will be no exception but the word ‘worship’ proskuneō, means to (pros) to wither before; (kuneō) means like a dog. A dog can be cowardly and lick one’s hand which is not out of love but total fear. or it can be dedicated like a man’s best friend as illustrated by licking its master’s hand. The reader should know which is the Matthew 25:31-45 sheep and which is the goat in this worship/ pros-kuneo.

Verse 3 states “they sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb.” Here is evidence that the New Testament in no way replaces or substitutes the Old Testament. This brings the New Testament revelation (small ‘r’) and the Old Testament together into 0ne context. The word all (pas) means ‘without exception.’ Now the 7 angels are given 7 bowls or vials full of God’s wrath and judgment. Nothing is held back anymore.

Once again I must quote David Guzik: “The (Revelation) temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power: When the cloud of glory fills the temple in heaven, no one can enter.”

We will see in the next few chapters (16-18) the details of God’s wrath. When scripture says that there has never  been anything like nor will there ever be again, it is past the time to believe what God’s Word says. People, that is, all people will at this time believe that there is one God. This will not put them into the lineup at the doorway to heaven. Even the devil and his fallen angels believe there is ONE GOD.  By this time misery is no longer the byline but the context and content of life on earth. There is no longer any doubt that God means what He says and His patience is exhausting. No, we should get from the end of chapter 15 that His patience is now exhausted. Might one wonder where Armageddon comes into play? This is in the very next chapter and our next blog.

PS: In verse 8 chapter 15 states… “smoke filled the sanctuary of God. No one could enter the Temple until the seven plagues is complete.” This reminds one of Moses in Exodus 40:34, 35. While still in the Wilderness, the “Meeting tent” or temporary sanctuary of the wandering Israelites was filled with smoke. When this happened in the Wilderness and again in heaven in Revelation, it is off limits to anyone and everyone, including Moses.

Rev. Dr. James W. Stark
June 2016