Lesson 22 | Sabbath, 27 November 2021
“God is the husband of His church. The church is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. Every true believer is a part of the body of Christ. Christ regards unfaithfulness shown to Him by His people as the unfaithfulness of a wife to her husband. We are to remember that we are members of Christ’s body.” –(Letter 39, 1902)Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 985, 986.
1. What do we read about Jerusalem as a symbol for the church? Who identifies Himself as her Husband?
Isaiah 62:4. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
“A Jewish marriage was an impressive occasion, and its joy was not displeasing to the Son of man. By attending this feast, Jesus honored marriage as a divine institution.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 150.
“It is then that the peaceful and long-desired kingdom of the Messiah shall be established under the whole heaven. ‘The Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.’‘The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon.’‘Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called My Delight, and thy land Beulah.’‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.’ Isaiah 51:3;35:2; 62:4, 5, margin.” –The Great Controversy, p. 302.
2. Who will rejoice over her, just as the bridegroom rejoices over his bride?
Isaiah 62:5. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Zephaniah 3:14-17. Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.16In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 17The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
“‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.’ Isaiah 62:5. ‘He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.’ Zephaniah 3:17. And heaven and earth shall unite in the Father’s song of rejoicing: ‘For this My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 207.
The Lord’s wife
3. How do other prophecies apply the symbol of marriage between God and His people?
Isaiah 54:6, 7. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. 7For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
Jeremiah 3:14. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
“Like every other one of God’s good gifts entrusted to the keeping of humanity, marriage has been perverted by sin; but it is the purpose of the gospel to restore its purity and beauty. In both the Old and the New Testament the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people, the redeemed ones whom He has purchased at the cost of Calvary. ‘Fear not,’ He says; ‘thy Maker is thine Husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.’‘Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.’ Isaiah 54:4, 5; Jeremiah 3:14. In the ‘Song of Songs’ we hear the bride’s voice saying, ‘My Beloved is mine, and I am His.’ And He who is to her ‘the chiefest among ten thousand,’ speaks to His chosen one, ‘Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.’ Song of Solomon 2:16; 5:10; 4:7.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 64.
4. How does the apostle Paul use similar symbols and terminologies to describe the intimate relationship that exists between Christ and His church?
Ephesians 5:23-26. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.
“In later times Paul the apostle, writing to the Ephesian Christians, declares that the Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife, to be her protector, the house-band, binding the members of the family together, even as Christ is the head of the church and the Saviour of the mystical body. Therefore he says, ‘As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives.’ Ephesians 5:24-28.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 64, 65.
His desire for His bride
5. How much has Jesus loved His church? What was His purpose in giving Himself for her?
Ephesians 5:27-32. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
“But the church is very precious in His sight. It is the case which contains His jewels, the fold which encloses His flock, and He longs to see it without spot or blemish or any such thing. He yearns after it with unspeakable love. This is why He has given us opportunities to work for Him, and He accepts our labors as tokens of our love and loyalty.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 261.
“The Lord has wrought with you, enabling you to act your part as His workman; but there are other workmen also who are to act their part as His instrumentalities. These help to compose the whole body. All are to be united as parts of one great organism. The Lord’s church is composed of living, working agencies, who derive their power to act from the Author and Finisher of their faith. They are to carry forward in harmony the great work resting on them. God has given you your work. But He has other instrumentalities, and to them He has given their work, that all may become, through sanctification of the truth, members of Christ’s body, of His flesh and of His bones. Representing Christ, we act for time and for eternity; and men, even worldly men, take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus and have learned of Him.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 174.
6. Who will have prepared for the Lamb’s marriage?
Revelation 19:7. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
“The church is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. She should keep herself pure, sanctified, holy. Never should she indulge in any foolishness; for she is the bride of a King. Yet she does not realize her exalted position. If she understood this, she would be all-glorious within.” –(Letter 177, 1901.)
“The church is the bride of Christ, and her members are to yoke up with their Leader. God warns us not to defile our garments.” –(Letter 123 1/2, 1898)Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 986.
The marriage feast of the Lamb
7. What is represented by the clean, white linen in which the bride is attired? According to the Scripture, how are those who are invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb considered?
Revelation 19:8, 9. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
“By the wedding garment in the parable is represented the pure, spotless character which Christ’s true followers will possess. To the church it is given ‘that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white,’‘not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ Revelation 19:8; Ephesians 5:27. The fine linen, says the Scripture, ‘is the righteousness of saints.’ Revelation 19:8. It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Saviour.
“The white robe of innocence was worn by our first parents when they were placed by God in holy Eden. They lived in perfect conformity to the will of God. All the strength of their affections was given to their heavenly Father. A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would ever have continued to enshroud them.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 310, 311.
For additional study
“In both the Old and the New Testament, the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people. To the mind of Jesus the gladness of the wedding festivities pointed forward to the rejoicing of that day when He shall bring home His bride to the Father’s house, and the redeemed with the Redeemer shall sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb. He says, ‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.’‘Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken;… but thou shalt be called My Delight;… for the Lord delighteth in thee.’‘He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.’ Isaiah 62:5, 4, margin; Zephaniah 3:17. When the vision of heavenly things was granted to John the apostle, he wrote: ‘I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.’‘Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ Revelation 19:6, 7, 9.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 151.