Christ and His Bride
In these verses we have the formal conclusion to the Book of Revelation and the fitting close to the whole Word of God. Three great themes are presented—First, and foremost, the Lord Jesus is personally brought before our souls; then we have the Church in relation to Christ as the Bride; and finally, we have a gospel message to the wide world. It is of those great subjects I would speak a few words.
I think it is clear, from Scripture, that at the end of every dispensation, the ministry the Spirit of God brings before the Lord’s people is one that, in a special way, directs the eye and heart to Christ Himself. In this connection I would refer to John the Baptist. It was said of John that he should be great in the eyes of the Lord, and what constituted him great would be the fact that many of the children of Israel would “he turn to the Lord their God.” Other prophets had turned the people back to the law they had transgressed, to the Sabbath they had broken, to the sacrifices they had neglected, or to the Temple they had desecrated, but when John the Baptist came the nation had entirely broken down, and the dispensation was about to end. Hence he turns their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ—the One that was coming. And so John, the Evangelist, having presented the ruin of the Church in responsibility at the beginning of the Revelation, turns our hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ—the One that is coming at the end of the Revelation.
In the course of this Book there pass before us many wonderful visions of coming glories—the glory of the Millennium, the glory of the new heaven and the new earth, and the glories of the holy city—but finally we are left alone with JESUS. What indeed would all these glories be without Jesus, beloved brethren? And how should we reach these glories or get through this wilderness world without Jesus? So at last these visions of coming glories pass away, and we are left alone with Him. He Himself speaks. As it is written, so blessedly, “I JESUS.”
In the course of this Book, angels have spoken, trumpets have sounded, the voice of a great multitude has been heard, but when all are silent, Jesus speaks. He must have the last word. Hence this closing passage begins with the words, “I Jesus” and it must touch our hearts that the Lord presents Himself by His personal name “Jesus.” In the Revelation, the Lord passes before us under many titles, presenting His varied dignities, as King of kings and Lord of lords, as the Word of God, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, but at the close we come to the Name that is above every name, the name “JESUS.” The name that is individually so precious to all our hearts. And may we not say that of all the Names He wears there is none so precious to His heart? It was the one name He had to die to make good. Had He not died He still would have been the King of kings and Lord of lords, and the other titles would have been His, but if He is to wear the name of Jesus—the Saviour—He must go to the Cross to verify it. It is the name He came into the world with, “Thou shalt call His name JESUS.” It is the name He passed out of the world with, for over the Cross it was written, “This is JESUS.” It is the name He ascended to glory with, for the angels said to the disciples, “This same JESUS, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner.” And it is the name He still wears in glory today, for in this last passage He is speaking from the glory and says, “I JESUS.”
Moreover, the Lord presents Himself in three different ways, first as “the Root” of David, then as “the Offspring” of David; and lastly, as “the Bright and Morning Star.” Not only is He the Offspring of David, but He is the Root of David. Solomon was indeed the offspring of David, but never could it be said of Solomon that he was the root of David. As the Root He is the source of all vitality and life; the One that secures a life of blessing for God’s people, whether earthly or heavenly. Job can say, “There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again . . . though the root thereof wax old in the earth. . . yet through the scent of water it will bud and bring forth fruit.” So Israel as a tree has been out down, but the root remains, and hence final blessing is secured for Israel and the world.
Moreover, Christ is the Offspring of David. He is God’s anointed King, the Heir to the throne. The world’s great aim is to get rid of all thought of God, and His King, in order that man’s will may be carried out without restraint. Nevertheless, God says, Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.” As the Root of David He is the source of all blessing, and as the Offspring of David He inherits all the kingdoms of the world, and secures the blessing.
But further, Christ is seen as the Bright and Morning Star, and as such He is presented in relation to the Church. The Old Testament closes by presenting the Lord Jesus as Sun of Righteousness, but at the close of the New Testament He is presented as the Morning Star. The day is coming when the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. He will chase away the darkness and end the sorrows of earth, and as such the world will see Him, but they will never see the Bright and Morning Star. When the sun arises the stars go out. It is the privilege of the waiting Church to know Christ as the Bright and Morning Star before He shines forth as the Sun of Righteousness.
Three passages of Scripture present the Lord as the Morning Star. First in the second Epistle of Peter 1:19, we read, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” Peter wrote his epistle in a dark day. He warns of the approaching apostasy. He sees that men will arise who will deny the Lord that bought them. But, in the presence of these false prophets, Peter reminds us that we have the sure word of prophecy to guide us “as a light that shineth in a dark place.” But he tells us that we have more, for we have the “Day Star,” and there is a great difference between prophecy and the Day Star. Prophecy is like a lantern; it lights up the darkness; but the Day Star does a great deal more, it tells us that the day is coming. The Morning Star is the harbinger of the coming day. Prophecy exposes the condition of things around, and warns us that judgment is coming upon all the evil, but the Day Star tells us that the day of glory is coming. The end of all prophecy is this, to bring all to see that Christ is the only hope, and so link the heart with Him as the coming One. Prophecy, tells us the hopelessness of everything here, and fixes our hopes and affections upon Christ, and when this end is reached, prophecy has done its work and the Day Star has arisen in our hearts.
Then there is a second passage that speaks of the Morning Star. In Revelation 2:28, we hear the Lord speaking of it to the overcomer in Thyatira, “I will give him the Morning Star.” All spiritual and moral darkness is found in Thyatira, but the overcomer has the light of the Morning Star. Before this, the Lord said to the overcomer, “To Him will I give power over the nations.” But if this were all that He gave would it satisfy the heart? Even if you had power to rule over others would it satisfy? No, indeed! And so the Lord says, as it were, “I will give him something else, not only power over others, but I will give him all that will have power over him; I will give him the Morning Star.” Nothing will satisfy us in truth but an absorbing object that holds the heart by the power of love, and there is no object in all the great universe of God that is great enough to absorb our affections and hold our hearts but JESUS, the One that is coming—the Morning Star.
Then when we come to the last passage (in Revelation 22:16), we have a word added. Not only is the Lord Jesus the Morning Star, but He is presented here as “the Bright and Morning Star.” And when we see Him as the coming One, our only hope—the One who alone can set the Church right, Israel right, and the world right—then indeed, the Bright and Morning Star has arisen in our hearts.
Passing now to the next great truth in this passage, we see the immediate result of this beautiful presentation of Christ is that the Church comes into view in an exceedingly interesting way, for here the Church is spoken of as the Bride, as we read, “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” This is the proper response of the Church under the control of the Spirit to the presentation of Christ as the Bright and Morning Star.
It is important to remember the different ways in which the Church is viewed in Scripture. First it is presented as the Body of Christ, then as the House of God, and lastly as the Bride of Christ.
Much has been said of the Church as the Body of Christ and as the House of God—and rightly so, of course—but it would almost seem that the aspect of the Church viewed as the Bride of Christ has been somewhat overlooked.
It is interesting to recall how the truth of God has been reinstated to us. We all know how that great vessel Martin Luther was used in the early part of the sixteenth century to restore the great truth of justification by faith: then in the early part of the last century, there was the gracious recovery of the true Scriptural thought of the Church. In that revival of truth the first aspect of the Church that came before God’s people was that of the Body of Christ. Later in the century the Church as the House of God came more prominently into view. But if we read the written ministry of those days, I think we shall find comparatively little as to the Church seen as the Bride of Christ, and I would suggest that possibly the Holy Spirit has waited for these last days, just before the Lord’s return, to give greater prominence to this aspect of the Church.
When we think of the Church as the Body of Christ, we should probably all admit that the leading thought is, that in it the fulness of the Head is to be set forth. For this thought we should turn to the closing verses of Ephesians 1, where we read of Christ the Head, and “the Church which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” In the Church as the Body of Christ there will be the full setting forth of the fulness of the Head.
Then, as the House of God, we know the Church, as such, is said to be the pillar and base of the truth and in it God dwells that through it He might make Himself known in grace to the world.
But when we think of the Church as the Bride of Christ there comes before us the amazing thought that in the Church, God has purposed to secure an object that is entirety suited for, and worthy of the love of Christ. We do well to pause and take in this great thought. We can easily see that in the Lord Jesus there has been disclosed to us an object that is suited to, and worthy of all the love He will ever receive from His people, but the wonder is, that in the Bride God secures a people that will be perfectly suited to, and worthy of, the love of Christ. It is not simply that He is the object for the satisfaction of our hearts, but that in the Church viewed as the Bride there is found an object for the satisfaction of His heart.
As the outcome of the purpose of God, and on the ground of the death of Christ, God can take up lost creatures such as we were, and so mould and shape and form us that at last we can be presented to Christ all glorious, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, perfectly suited for Christ to love, and hence, an object in which His heart will find eternal satisfaction—“He shall we of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.” This, as I understand it, is the great thought in the Church, viewed as the Bride.
As showing the importance of this aspect of the Church, it is deeply interesting to see that it is the first view of the Church that is presented in picture in the Old Testament. We know that in the formation of the woman and the presentation of Eve to Adam, as recorded in the second chapter of Genesis, we have a picture of Christ and the Church. We are left in no uncertainty as to this for the apostle Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31, and immediately adds, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”
And mark, brethren, this picture of the Church as the Bride of Christ comes into view before the fall brought sin and death into the world: That is to say, the instant creation was completed God says, as it were, “I will tell you the great secret of My heart, I will tell you why I have brought this creation into being, I am going to secure out of it an object to satisfy the heart of Christ.” It gives us a sense of the importance of the Church, viewed as the Bride of Christ, in the mind of God when we we that Genesis opens with the Bride and Revelation closes with the Bride. In Genesis we have the Bride in picture and in Revelation the Bride in fact. With this thought God brought the creation into being, and throughout the long ages God has never given up His thought; and here at last, in spite of all ruin and failure on the part of man, we see the Bride at the close of the dispensation coming into view, and according to the mind of God, for she is seen controlled by the Holy Spirit on earth, with her affections set upon Christ in heaven presented at the end of her wilderness journey alone with the Holy Spirit looking up to Christ in the glory and saying, “Come.”
Thus this closing passage of the Word of God first presents Christ and His glories, and then the Church as the Bride in right relation to Christ. And when the Bride can say “Come” to Christ she is ready to turn to the world around and say, “Come.” And first she turns to those that hear. “Let him that heareth say, Come.” The fact that they hear is a proof that they are believers, but that they are invited to say “Come” would show that they are not in the conscious joy of bridal relations to Christ. Then the witness is borne to those who are “athirst.” Needy souls who would fain partake of the blessing, but doubt the grace of Christ. To such the Bride can say, “You are welcome, Come.” Finally, there is the worldwide gospel appeal, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The Lord Jesus “gave Himself a ransom for all,” and hence He has the right to appeal to all. The invitation is to “whosoever will.” Should it not touch our hearts that the last message that comes from the lips of the Lord Jesus is a message of grace from Christ in glory to a needy world.
Then we have two solemn verses—solemn for all of us, but so intensely solemn—in view, of the attacks of the Modernists upon the Word of God. We write numerous books and pamphlets seeking to expose in detail this terrible evil, but God will not stoop to argue with such: He dismisses them with two verses. They may deny every vital truth of Christianity, but in so doing they “take away from the words of the Book,” and this alone seals their doom.
Then, in response to the Spirit and the Bride saying “Come,” “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.” And if, beloved brethren, our, hearts are turned to Christ, if we think of Him as He presents Himself to us in His personal name of JESUS, if we think of Him as the Root and Offspring of David, if we know Him as the Bright and Morning Star—the Harbinger of the day of glory—then surely our hearts will respond, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Finally, we have the closing touching words, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints.” And we need these words, for though the Lord is coming quickly, yet He may tarry for an hour, a week, a month, a year, even a few years; but be it so; we shall have the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with us until the end. And this grace is “for all the saints,” for thus it should read. It is not simply with “you all,” which might confine the grace to some particular company, it is for every saint on earth. And it the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us, we shall find that whatever difficulties or trials we may have to face, His grace will be sufficient. Hence, when we read, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints,” we can surely add from our hearts, “Amen.”