One of the main things I have tried to provide my fellow believers are deep insights that many of the prevalent doctrinal precepts that prevail amongst the mainstream Christian community are really not biblical. For example, most Christians identify themselves as being "The Bride of the Lamb" and that there is to be a matrimonial ceremony in the future where Jesus Christ is to become wedded to His church in Heaven, and then is supposedly seen descending to earth after spending a seven year period of peace and safety in God's celestial paradise.
Unfortunately, this precept is what adds to the erroneous belief system held by most premmillennial dispensationalists in their attempts to justify a Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven scenario that is not biblical whatsoever. Sadly, whenever I tell most evangelical Christians that the Bride of the Lamb is not the Church, it creates an instant argument and nine times out of ten I will be called a heretic and or a false teacher, which I have experienced on numerous occasions. Just once, I would love to hear a fellow Christian respond by saying, "Oh? Really? Tell me more!"
As many of you may already know, the study approach I used to write my books is one of deep study into the actual meaning (and the original intent) of many key words in the Bible. As I have demonstarted in previous chapters, once we know the deeper meaning of certain words in the Bible, we find out that how we initially interpreted these words actually presented inconsistent meanings to scripture that were not originally intended to convey. As we showed in the 2nd chapter (Who's Taken, Who's Left, at What Rapture) of The End Times Passover (concerning the true meaning of the word left in Luke 17: 34-37), we were able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the word left in that group of scripture actually means to forgive, which in essence turns the whole Left Behind theory upside down!
We are biblically convinced that to believe that the church is the Bride of the Lamb actually takes folks down the wrong path (especially in their eschatology) and we have actually written several chapters to disprove this doctrinal precept. Following is one of these chapters from our book that will disprove this notion. As you read this excerpt, we ask that you pay extra close attention to the true meaning of the words marry and husband, which give enhanced insight into what is actually being conveyed by the original author of the quoted scripture. Please enjoy the 11th chapter of The End Times Passover, which is titled:
Jesus Possesses The Promised Land, Forever, When The Lord Marries The Bride!
There are two scriptural verses that specifically state who the Bride of Lamb is, and not once do they imply, infer nor specifically identify the Christian Church, Israel (spiritual or otherwise), Raptured Christians, nor tribulation saints! These verses are both in the Book of Revelation in Chapter 21:2, 9 and 10. Why many expositors the author has read and studied regarding this subject have failed to recognize, accept or even scrutinize this aspect is a greater "mystery" than those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:51 (we will be changed) and Ephesians 3:2-6 (the administration of God's grace).
This entire subject matter concerning the Bride of the Lamb and its purported nuptial to Jesus Christ is probably one of the most misunderstood messages in the word of God. Once it is understood more clearly, it reveals one of the most important aspects of God's overall redemption plan, a message that was profoundly foretold by many Old Testament prophets, primarily by Isaiah. Let's revisit one of the groups of scripture which theorists interpret to arrive at their conclusions that the marriage of the Bride to Christ supposedly speaks about the Christian Church:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and three was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away, (Revelations 21:1-4, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
With the exception of the words men, they and them being used in this group of scripture (which are an obvious reference to His people, the called out ones of God), the author sees not one word in these four passages that suggests the bride could be inferred as the Christian Church. If anything, the mention of these three words (men, they and them) is obviously referring to whom this New Jerusalem will be dwelling amongst, and most certainly is not identifying them as the persons or they as groups of men that supposedly represent the Bride of the Lamb. If we are to believe the mythology of theorists, who claim the Christian Church (or even national or spiritual Israel) is New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, then who are the men, they and them that the Bible is referring to if not the called out ones, God's ecclesia? For that matter, how much more clearly does the Bible have to be in identifying who the Bride of the Lamb is when it specifically states that it is New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God? Let's look at the verses where it specifically mentions and makes it no more plain that the Bride of the Lamb is none other than the Holy City of God, New Jerusalem:
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:9-10, NIV). [Underline and bold is by the author, solely for emphasis]
The author has read and studied extensively Hal Lindsey's book (The Rapture), John F. Walvoord's (The Rapture Question), and even books by Post-Tribulation authors George Eldon Ladd, Alexander Reese, Robert Gundry, and the works of many other great scholars who have written about the Rapture and the so-called Great Tribulation, and no discussion, study, facts or any data (other than subjective inferences) were presented by them as to who the Bride truly represents. It's as if these learned authors readily accepted (without question) the long held notion that the Bride of the Lamb, New Jerusalem, God's Holy City, is the Christian Church (or possibly Israel), without so much as even commenting on this aspect, when the word of God clearly states specifically who the Bride of the Lamb truly is.
The author is convinced that the keys to a greater understanding of prophecy, and many of the questions that these men have been trying to answer for years, concerning God's overall redemptive plan, lie imbedded in a much needed and further study of this obviously major (yet relatively examined) subject.
The author read these two passages many, many times before and never understood why the supposed betrothal connection between the Christian Church (as the Bride) and Christ (as the Lamb) continued to overshadow – and doctrinally predominate - the needed keys to more accurately discern many of the Bible's greatest messages to mankind! It wasn't until the author began an in-depth study of the Book of Isaiah that the subject of the Bride of the Lamb, called New Jerusalem, not only became more clear, but the Book of Isaiah prophetically and ever so plainly describes the issues of who is the true Bride of the Lamb, the true meaning of marriage ceremony, and what it truly represents. In various chapters and verses, Isaiah clearly tells us that God's Holy City will descend from heaven to earth, fulfilling many other Old Testament prophecies regarding the true and proverbial home and final resting place God promised to Israel! As we will see in this chapter, Jesus possesses the Promised Land, forever, when the Lord marries the Bride!
Before we examine Isaiah (where it clearly pictures the new city of Jerusalem in a bridal/wedding metaphor), let's examine the roles that the cities of old Jerusalem and Mt. Zion have played throughout history.
In TODAY'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE (complied by T. A. Bryant), the definition of Zion reads thus:
ZION: Stronghold - one of the eminences on which Jerusalem was built. It was surrounded on all sides, except the north, by deep valleys that of the Tyropoeon (another name for Jerusalem) separating it from Moriah, which it surpasses in height, by 105 feet. In was the southeastern hill of Jerusalem. When David took it from the Jebusites (Joshua 15:63; 2 Samuel 5:7) he built on it a citadel and a palace, and it became "the city of David" (1 Kings 8:1, 2 Kings 10:21, 31; 1 Chronicles 11:5). In the later books of the Old Testament, this name was sometimes used (Psalms 87:2, 149:2; Isaiah 33:14; Joel 2; 1) to denote Jerusalem in general. In the New Testament (see Zion) it is used sometimes to denote the church of God (Hebrews 12:22) and sometimes the heavenly city (Revelation 14:1)" (T. A. Bryant, Today's Dictionary Of The Bible).
Before we go further into the subject of Zion, the author also wants to provide the definition for Zion found in The New Compact Bible Dictionary:
ZION, one of the hills on which Jerusalem stood. It is first mentioned in the OT as a Jebusite fortress (11 Samuel 5:6-9). David captured it and called it the City of David. Archeological remains show that it was inhabited long before David's time; and certain Bible references (1 Kings 8:1; 2 Chronicles 5:2, 32:30; 33:l4) indicate that this was original Zion. David brought the Ark to Zion, and the hill henceforth became sacred. (2 Samuel 6:10-12), [The New Compact Bible Dictionary, Zondervan Publication]
The author referred to two different dictionaries for the purpose of ascertaining consistency in definition, and to research as many sources for magnification as possible. The end result is that Zion is the hill where Jerusalem sat. And now, let's examine the word Jerusalem. Once again, T. A. Bryant's definition:
'JERUSALEM, called also Salem, Ariel, Jebus, the "city of God," the "holy city;" by the modern Arabs el-Khuds, meaning "the holy;" once "the city of Judah" (2 Chron. 25:28). This name is the original in the dual form, and means "possession of peace," or "foundation of peace." The dual form probably refers to the two mountains on which the city was built - viz., Zion and Moriah; or, as some suppose, to the two parts of the city, the "upper' and the "lower" city. (T. A. Bryant, Today's Dictionary of the Bible, Zondervan)
Bryant's definition goes on to say that Jerusalem was first mentioned in Genesis 14:18 and also on through to the time of David's victory over Goliath, where he brought the behemoth's head he had slain there, as stated in 1 Samuel 17:54. History further records that David eventually built an altar to the Lord there (2 Samuel 24:15-25) and brought the Ark of Covenant and placed it in the new tabernacle, which he had prepared for it. Henceforth, Jerusalem became the capitol of the Kingdom.
From then on, the administration of Jerusalem and the Ark went through some horrific periods that included a diaspora (dispersion) that would not cease until 538 B.C., at which time it would be rebuilt again to last for about two centuries under the dominion of Persia until 33l B.C. After that, it would then come under the reign of the Greek Empire in Asia until 167 B.C. Here, for about a century, the Jews maintained their independence under the Asmonean princes then later fell under the rule of Herod; then under Rome until the time of its greatest destruction in A.D. 70, where the entire city was laid in virtual ruination. Since that time of devastation, the new Jewish nation (today inferred by many to include all 12 tribes of genetic Israel) has struggled for independence, achieving it to great measure in 1948, albeit filled with continued strife to this very day
Let the author hereby state that volumes upon volumes have been written about the subject of Jerusalem by a myriad of scholars (Jewish and non-Jew alike), and this reference here is by no means intended to introduce any new doctrine, or differing historical perspective. What the author has done is merely reacquainted the reader with a simplistic overview of Jerusalem and Mt. Zion in their historical context.
What the author does want to do now is to lay a scriptural foundation that not only identifies God's Holy City, New Jerusalem and Mt. Zion in the myriad of prophecies found in the Old Testament, but how God, through His prophets, was telling His called out people (especially through the prophet Isaiah) exactly how He was going to restore His ecclesia to its true Promised Land!
As we will be examining in greater detail in this book, the promise of eternal salvation was made to Abraham and all his faithful descendants that "all peoples on the earth would be blessed through you (Abraham),"due to his faith (Genesis 12:1-3)! Although God did not go into specific details right then and there, as to how this promise would be accomplished, Galatians 3:29 confirms that this promise to Abraham deals with eternal salvation for all who believe by faith. This promise was extended as well to Isaac and Jacob (who became Israel), as we see the apostle Paul's reiteration that if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise, (see also Exodus 6:8; 33:1; Leviticus 26:42; Matthew 8:11). [Parenthesis (Abraham) is by the author, solely for emphasis]
In addition to God's promise of eternal salvation, we see in two different sections of the Bible (1 Chronicles 17:1-14 and 2 Samuel 7:1-16) where God expands on that salvation promise by declaring to King David that the Lord is going to build and establish an everlasting house (co-administrators) for His kingdom, which will see them planted in a home of their own forever, never more to be disturbed. Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God will be its eternal ruler, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let's read a portion of this promise in 1 Chronicles 17:9-14:
And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies. "`I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor.14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.'" (1 Chronicles 17:9-14, NIV) – [Bold, underline and italics by the author, solely for emphasis]
First of all, the author believes that in 1 Chronicles 17:10, scripture speaks prophetically about Jesus Christ being the builder of God's eternal house. This house building is not speaking about a mansion, a temple or even an earthly geopolitical kingdom; but, rather, it speaks of a spiritual household of called out ones, God's ecclesia: "like living stones, who are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 2:5, NIV)." [Underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
However, many scholars who do believe 1 Chronicles 17:10-12 is speaking about the ecclesia still attribute this house building as speaking about the Bride of the Lamb, which they believe is Christian Church. They are correct in the sense that the house is God's ecclesia; however, they believe that the Bride of the Lamb and the ecclesia are one and the same. As we believe scripture clearly states this is not the case, theorists have and will continue to believe the ecclesia is still the Bride of the Lamb, New Jerusalem!
What adds to their confusion (and conclusions) is their failure to distinguish between the words temple and house, often times using both words interchangeably to identify the church and New Jerusalem as the temple of God. And, conversely, since many New Testament verses state that the church is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), it therefore must also be New Jerusalem. Many theorists believe that the house building issue in 1 Chronicles 17:9-14 and 2 Samuel 7:10-16 relates to the temple that David's son, Solomon, built, which they believe is a type of New Jerusalem, thereby feeling comfortable in concluding that the Bride of the Lamb and the Christian Church are one and the same, and henceforth will soon be wedded to the Lamb.
Theorists use these two groups of scriptures (1 Chronicles 17:9-14 and 2 Samuel 7:10-16) as their evidence that Solomon is the "son" spoken of in verse 11 of 1 Chronicles 17, which states, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom." And they use two verses (2 Samuel 7:13-14) as evidence that this temple-building is not speaking about Jesus Christ building the eternal house of God, because it makes reference to a "son" who does wrong: "I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men." [Underline is by the author, solely for emphasis] They interpret this house building as speaking about the temple that Solomon (David's son) promised to build. Theorists say these verses do not identify Jesus Christ but rather Solomon because surely, where it states, when he does wrong, it could not be speaking about the sinless Jesus! Let's examine 2 Samuel 7:14:
When He does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men, (2 Samuel 7:14, NIV).
Theorists state, "Surely this verse could not be referring to Jesus Christ, as all well know, the Bible states He was sinless." Or could it? True! Christ is known as the "sinless one." Many scriptures such as Isaiah 53:9 and 1 Peter 2:22 (to name a few) affirm this truth. But does Samuel 7:14 really say, When he does wrong I will punish him?
The word in the Hebrew for when he does wrong, or commits iniquity (as it reads in the NASB) is the verb avah. The NASB Concordance renders the word commits as (Heb.) avah and it also renders the word iniquity (with the same Hebrew word) as avah. In other words, the Hebrew verb avah is translated with two English words: commits and iniquity. The NASB Concordance states that avah is a denominative verb from the masculine noun avon which means "bearing the punishment for iniquities of others." If we search our hearts, and hopefully be guided by the Holy Spirit, it appears that the true rendering of verse 14 paints a picture of a sinless individual who not only was numbered with the transgressors, He took upon himself the punishment for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:12), thereby forcing us to conclude that 1 Chronicles 12 and 2 Samuel 7 are definitely speaking about the eternal crown-bearer, our Lord Jesus Christ. Many theorists, and well-intended scholars, have differed as to the true interpretation of verse 14 and have chosen to view this verse as identifying David's immediate offspring, Solomon, the one who assumed the throne after David's demise. Even more important, if we can receive the totality of the message of 2 Samuel 7:10-16, it is clear that no other individual could possibly fulfill this messianic prophecy (of building God's House), foretold to King David by the prophet Nathan.
The point we are trying to make here is that in addition to the promise of eternal salvation given by the Lord to Abraham, God also promised that through David's seed would come one (Jesus Christ) who would build and rule God's house (of called out ones) forever. Solomon did build a house (a temple palace) for the name of the Lord (1 Kings 6:14); however, he was not the one who would build the household (ecclesia) of God. Whereas the ecclesia is referred to as the temple of God (2 Corinthians 6:16), and the Holy Spirit has infused this temple with power, this verse (2 Samuel 7:10) is not speaking about the ecclesia being the temple which theorists interpret as New Jerusalem. This verse is speaking about the future residence of God's ecclesia, as it clearly states: "And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed." This place is speaking about God's Holy City, the New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, which should not be interpreted or inferred it speaks about the Christian Church. Nor does this place or home speak about a future restoration of a geopolitical Kingdom in old Jerusalem for genetic Israel; but, rather, it is speaking about the soon-to-descend New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, which is the true Promised Land! [Underlining is by the author, solely for emphasis]
Throughout the Old Testament, God continually rebuked the Israelites (those whose appointed destiny included eternal adoption as sons, the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worships and the promises) for their disobedience. However, God true promise has always been to restore His people (the ecclesia, not Israelites, as it states in Romans 9:4,5) and provide them eternal rest in His Promised Land. As the scriptures will prove, this Promised Land is none other than His Holy City, New Jerusalem, the true Promised Land, a promise He would never renege on. And God was not saying (as many theorists postulate) that The Promised Land was going to be an earthly geopolitical kingdom for Jews in Jerusalem, the city in the Middle East country known today as the Jewish State of Israel!
If we carefully examine what is stated by the Old Testament prophets, especially in the Book of Isaiah, we can see a litany of scriptures concerning God's call for His people to turn away from sin so He can fulfill His original promise of their eternal rest in the Promised Land! But the Israelites continually rebelled by honoring pagan gods and consequently were cast from His presence and dispersed throughout all nations. The Jews, however (those from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and the Levites), were allowed by God to cling to their law-giving identity throughout their exiled period in Babylon: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be, (Genesis 49:10). Whereas the Jewish nation still clings to the law in regards to their understanding of salvation, the northern ten-tribe nation of Israel was swallowed up amongst all nations until the Lord completed His redemption plan, which was accomplished through His sacrificial death and resurrection at Calvary. The Old Testament prophecy we see in Ezekiel 37:15-28 describes this fulfillment:
15 The word of the LORD came to me: 16 "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, 'Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, 'Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.' 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. 18 "When your countrymen ask you, 'Won't you tell us what you mean by this?' 19 say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim's hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.' 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, [a] and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 24 " 'My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.' " (Ezekiel 37:15-28, NIV) [Bold and underline by the author for emphasis]
God has completed His redemption plan and reconciled the ten-tribe northern Kingdom of Israel and the tribe of Judah (and all nations, for that matter), by making them one new man through His wondrous grace and mercy, by virtue of and through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 2:11-16). However, theorists continue to believe that God's territorial land promise to Abraham still includes a geopolitical restoration for genetic Israel (before The Second Advent or during the so-called Millennium), failing to see that the promise (of 2 Samuel 7:10) actually entails a supernatural fulfillment concerning the true Promised Land, which is New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God on earth!
The true Promised Land, which the Jewish nation (and many theorists) believe is the former Palestinian region now called the present day Jewish State of Israel, is in reality the Bride of the Lamb spoken in Revelation, the very same dwelling place that God has been preparing for them from the beginning of time, a place where the uncompromising Holy God can forever dwell with His creation right here on earth. This eternal dwelling place will not to be established in the Palestinian region that today's modern world recognizes as (and calls) the State of Israel. The eternal dwelling place God promised Abraham and his faith-believing descendants will not be an earthly nor man-made edifice; but rather, it will be a supernatural dwelling that will soon descend to earth. This glorious edifice will house a community of God's called out ones, which is now being built by His Son, Jesus Christ. This priesthood community will be housed in the true Promised Land, New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, which is the Holy City of God!
As we will clearly see in the following, the Holy City of God, New Jerusalem, is the Bride, the true Bride of the Lamb, the one we see descending in Revelation 3:12; 21:2 and 10, Hebrews 11:10, 16; 13:14 and 2 Peter 3:13! What many theorists fail to see is that the Bride we see descending in these verses is the very same "Jerusalem" spoken about in many Old Testament prophecies, especially in the ones we read throughout the book of Isaiah.
The verses that graphically prove that the Jerusalem spoken of in Isaiah symbolically represents the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem we see in the book of Revelation, are found in Isaiah 1:26, 27 and then in Isaiah 2:2-3; 4:1-5; 8:18; 14:1-2; 26:1-3; 37:31-32; 44:28, all of which make reference to Zion and (or) Jerusalem. Isaiah, Chapter 49:14-18 speaks about Zion being adorned by her re-gathered sons as ornaments, and that she (Zion) will put them on like a bride.
If we scrutinize the totality of the book of Isaiah, we can clearly discern the prophecies alluding to the New Jerusalem, and we can see exactly what it has to say about this adorned bride, because that's exactly how the Bride of the Lamb is described in Revelation 21:11. For example, in Isaiah 60:1-22, we see an entire chapter devoted to the glory that is going to come upon Zion, including the fact that all nations will serve it, which compares with Revelation 21:24; it will be called by a new name (the City of the Lord); the fact that the Lord will be its everlasting light (vs. 19), which compares with Revelation 21:22. And, finally, it (verse 21) talks about thy people possessing the land forever (eternal existence) which compares with Revelation 21:4. If we carefully study and compare Revelation 21 with Isaiah 60, we will find that the message of these two chapters are virtually identical, in the sense that Revelation 21 is fulfilling that Old Testament prophecy given to us by Isaiah (about the end of the age), as is described in John's vision in the Book of Revelation.
One of the most profound and convincing groups of scriptures, which graphically and ever so clearly prove that many of the prophecies related to Jerusalem in the Old Testament are actually speaking about the Bride of the Lamb, mentioned in Revelation 21:1-3 and Revelation 19:7, is found in Isaiah 62:
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. 2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. 3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. 5 As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over a bride, so will your God rejoice over you. 6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You, who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, 7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. 8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: "Never again will I give your grain as food for your enemies, and never again will foreigners drink the new wine for which you have toiled; 9 but those who harvest it will eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary." 10 Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations. 11 The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.'" They will be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, The City No Longer Deserted, (Isaiah 62:1-12, NIV). [Bold, underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
Before we examine more closely the messages we are to understand concerning the above cited verses, let us first focus on this marital aspect in these verses. Just what does it mean when it states in Isaiah 62:4 that your land will be married? As the author discussed this "New Jerusalem is the Holy City of God, also called the Bride of the Lamb, and not the church" issue with a colleague, his response was: "How can the Lord be seen marrying land? He added, "It doesn't make sense."
The author recognizes how this marrying the land aspect could cause some confusion. However, if examined closer, what we see in Isaiah 62:4 (and fulfilled in Revelation 19:7) is not a picture of the Lamb of God marrying the Christian Church in the traditional matrimonial sense, as theorists contend; but, rather, this chapter is giving us greater insights about what the word marry truly means. This biblical wedding spoken of in Revelation 19:7 is not a wedding as we understand the institution of a marriage ceremony today; but, rather, these scriptural verses are describing Jesus finally possessing His (and our) eternal dwelling place, the Holy City of God, New Jerusalem!
Most theorists use the Jewish cultural wedding rites as an example to support their belief that the Christian Church will be secretly caught up to heaven for seven years, participate as a bride in a wedding to Jesus Christ, and then see it returning with Him at The Second Advent. It is their contention that the Jewish wedding rites are allegorical of the three stages the Christian Church (as the Bride) will experience before the so-called Great Tribulation. John Walvoord (The Rapture Question), in his debate with George Eldon Ladd's post-tribulation position, asserts thusly:
As a New Testament scholar, Ladd no doubt is acquainted with the facts relating to a Hebrew marriage that makes his position untenable. As Lenski and others have pointed out, -- Hebrew marriage has three states: (1) the legal marriage consummated by the parents of the bride and the groom; (2) the groom goes to take his bride from her parent's home; (3) the wedding supper or feast. Most Greek scholars take the Greek word GAMOS, translated "wedding" in Revelation 19:7, to mean, "wedding feast." With the exception of Hebrews 13:4, this is the uniform meaning in the New Testament. Ladd himself alluded to this inferring to the event as "the marriage banquet" and "marriage supper." It should be clear, then, that if the marriage supper is in view here, the wedding has already been legally consummated and the bridegroom has already come for his bride. (John Walvoord, The Rapture Question, page 163, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979).
We don't have any argument with Walvoord's (and other theorists') understanding of Jewish wedding rites; however, what we see in Isaiah 62:4 and Revelation 19:7 is not a picture of a marriage ceremony in the Jewish cultural (or even in the Western traditional) sense. To fully understand exactly what is transpiring here, one must examine the word "marry" and "husband" in the original Hebrew text to clearly understand what the words "husband" and "marry" precisely mean. Let's examine these two words.
In the NASB Concordance, the word for "marry" is rendered ba'al, a primary root that is translated in most Bibles "to marry" or "rule over." Unger and White, the two Hebrew scholars we have referred to before, state that the word ba'al is rendered "master." They state, "In Akkadian, the noun BELU (Lord) gave rise to the verb BELU (to rule). In other northwest Semitic languages, the noun BAAL differs somewhat in meaning, as other words have taken over the meaning of "sir" or "Lord." (Cf. Heb.' ADO.) The Hebrew word Ba'al seems to have been related to these homonyms." (Unger and White, An Expository Dictionary Of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 19).
Unger and White go on to state that "the word BAAL (ba'al) occurs 84 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, 15 times with the meaning of "husband" and 50 times as a reference to deity. These two Hebrew scholars add, "The primary meaning of "ba'al" is "possessor." They state that "Isaiah's use of ba'al in parallel with QANAH clarifies this basic significance of ba'al: "The ox knoweth his owner (QANAH), and the ass his master's (ba'al) crib, but Israel does not know, my people doth not consider" (Isa. 1:3) Man may be the owner (ba'al) of an animal (Exod. 22:10), a house (Exod. 22:7), a cistern (Exod. 21:34), or even a wife (Exod. 21:3)," (Unger and White, An Expository Dictionary Of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page19). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
Unger and White go on to state that ba'al's secondary meaning; "husband" is clearly indicated by the phrase "ba'al ha-issha," literally "owner of a woman." They also state that "ba'al" may denote any deity other than the God of Israel, the ba'al or BAAL's that modern Christianity has come to understand as the false gods that were worshipped by many Israelites throughout history.
Having gained a much more clear definition of the words marry and husband, we can now examine the more succinct meaning of Isaiah 62. If you will notice very carefully, in verses 4 and 5 of Isaiah 62, it specifically states (in no plainer words) that, No longer will they call you (faith-believing Israel, the ecclesia) Deserted, or name your land(Jerusalem) Desolate. But you (faith-believing Israel, the ecclesia) will be called Hephzibah (Heb. Chephtsiy bahh, my delight is in her) and your land Beulah (Heb. ba'al, married, possessed), "as a young man marries (Heb. ba'al, possesses) a maiden, so will your sons marry(Heb. ba'al, possess) you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will God rejoice over you." [Underline, bold and parenthesis by the author, solely for emphasis]
As we can clearly see, verse 12 of Isaiah 62 succinctly delineates between who they are (they will be called the Holy people, the redeemed of the Lord), and you (now speaking about the land) which will be called sought after, the City No Longer Deserted. Verse 12 speaks about two subjects: They (the redeemed) and you (the city no longer deserted). Therefore this verse cannot be saying that the redeemed Christian Church (or Israel) is the land (or the city of) New Jerusalem. This prophecy in Isaiah 62 is clearing making a distinction between God's faith-believing Israel (the ecclesia) and the land (New Jerusalem), which is the soon to come Holy City of God! This prophecy is speaking about the final outcome of salvation. It speaks about the eternal rest of faith-believing Israel (which was purchased at the cross), and it also speaks (symbolically and metaphorically) about the glorification of the old (Holy City of) Jerusalem through the eventual (and final) realization and supernatural manifestation of God's new Holy City, which descends to earth at The Second Advent. The prophecy of Isaiah 62:1-12 is fulfilled at the cross, and the great hallelujah of salvation's completion that we witness in Revelation 19:1-10 is the resounding proclamation of the everlasting dominion of Christ. New Jerusalem is the Holy City of God that will house faith-believing Israel (the redeemed ecclesia). New Jerusalem is the true Promised Land. (See also Hebrews 11:10-16 and 13:14). And the eternal resting place for His redeemed, which Isaiah 62:7 states cannot be attained until till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. Revelation 21:1 through 7 clearly shows this happening as the Bride of the Lamb, New Jerusalem, descends to earth:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, it is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son, (Revelation 21:1-7, KJV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
If Isaiah 62 doesn't describe the true "wedding of the Lamb to His bride" more graphically than the hypotheses theorists conjure up from the passages referred to in Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 25:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:22-23 (which are used by theorists in their Christian Church-is-the-Bride scheme), then there is no hope for understanding the word of God! More importantly, as we see in Isaiah 62, verse 11, you will notice that this message is not intended for Jews or the national state of Israel, but for God's people of promise, His ecclesia! We see this verified as Jesus uses the very same words in Revelation 22:12 that we see in Isaiah 62:11: Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. Does not Jesus speak those same words to the ecclesia in the Book of Revelation 22:12?
The matrimonial metaphors we see in Isaiah 62:4 and Revelation 19:7 are not describing the scene of a man coming to be ceremoniously wedded to a woman, but rather, what we truly see here is Jesus Christ, the Almighty Lamb of God, getting ready to ba'al (possess, rule, marry or master) New Jerusalem, the Promised Land, and become its everlasting ruler and possessor as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
As much as theorists would like us to believe, that Jesus in the future is planning to become one with the Christian Church through a wedding ceremony, after examining what is really represented in Isaiah 62:2 and Revelation 19:7, it becomes clear to us that these two verses are not describing a wedding in the matrimonial sense we understand today. Besides, is not the ecclesia already the Body of Christ?
But theorists would answer back and say that these prophecies (by Isaiah) refer solely to national Israel. We would respond by saying that these future events are for faith-believing Israel, God's children, those who believe in the Messiah, which includes the engrafted Gentiles into God's original ecclesia, the faith-believing Israel of God. The redeemed will include tribulation saints, holy ones, the remnant, the elect, the 144,000 (of which 12,000 are Jews and the rest from the other tribes of Israel) and all of the great cloud of witnesses (that we see in Hebrews 11) who believed in the Messiah… by faith!
Whether God's people experience a secret pre-tribulation escape to heaven (which we don't believe will be the case); whether they become martyred during the so-called Great Tribulation, or remain alive when Christ returns (all of those names which are recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life), one thing is certain, the Christian Church is not the Bride of the Lamb. New Jerusalem, God's Holy City, His eternal dwelling place, is the true Bride of The Lamb! If theorists persist and continue to believe that the Bride of the Lamb is the Christian Church, then, pray tell, who are all of these people that are seen as the only ones who will be allowed entrance into that Holy City? Revelation 21:26 clearly states:
The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but
only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, (Revelation 21:26, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
If the Christian Church is the Bride, and if the Bride of the Lamb is New Jerusalem, then who are these people whose names are written in this Lamb's Book of Life, the only ones who will have access to this Holy City? They are God's ecclesia, His called out ones! And if those people that are described in Isaiah 62:12 (They will be called the Holy people) also possess access to the city, then the only conclusion we can come to is that Isaiah's prophecy is directed to faith-believing Israel, God's ecclesia! Those of us who now call ourselves Christians have been grafted into God's original ecclesia, by the atoning works of Messiah on Calvary, and by the grace and mercy of God. Therefore, those promises spoken of in Isaiah 62 – concerning Jerusalem becoming married - clearly speak about the same heavenly promises the Christian Church embraces for itself. However, whereas the Christian Church pictures itself in heaven for an eternity, as the Bride of the Lamb, soon to be wedded to Christ, the reality is that the Bride of the Lamb is the soon-to-descend Holy City of God, which Messiah Jesus possesses forever, right here on earth. Whereas faith-believing Israel, God's chosen remnant, that great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 11 that were looking forward to a heavenly city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14), Isaiah tells us that Messiah will marry (possess) the Bride of the Lamb, which is New Jerusalem, the soon-to-come Holy City of God! What we see in Isaiah 62 speaks about the same thing we see in Revelation 21:2 and 3. The only difference the Christian Church (and theorists) fails to see is that the Bride of the Lamb is not the Christian Church, but rather, it's the Holy City of God, which descends to earth to be ruled by the Messiah, forever. Therefore, the mythology of the Christian Church being seen as the Bride of the Lamb to be wedded to Christ has no scriptural foundation, whatsoever. However, the marrying (possession) of the promised land (New Jerusalem) by God has a tremendous amount of scripture to convey to us God's true message, which is, that Jesus possesses the Promised Land, forever, when the Lord marries the Bride!
To conclude this chapter, the author wants to state that whatever geopolitical fulfillments many theorists interpret regarding the Promised Land referred to in Old Testament prophecies, they have no biblical foundation. Theorists merely view these prophecies as claiming the restoration of a Jewish geopolitical Kingdom in present day Jerusalem, in the land now called the State of Israel. What we read in Isaiah 62:1-12 clearly reveals a prophetic fulfillment of that great land promise God made to faith-believing Israel, His ecclesia, in the manifestation of New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, mentioned in Revelation 21:2, 9-10. If they are the same, as all scriptural indications prophetically point to that fact, then there can be no doubt that the Lamb's Bride is none other than New Jerusalem, the true Promised Land, and the soon-to-come Holy City of God, (Hebrews 13:14). This we believe is the perfect picture of faith-believing Israel's true Promised Land, not a recaptured earthly territory, which theorists believe was fulfilled in the Middle East in 1948. The true Promised Land is New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, the soon-to-descend new headquarters for the Kingdom of God, where a positional status for each individual member of God's ecclesia in that Kingdom is being prepared by Jesus Christ before its soon-to-come journey to earth.
We realize that many theorists and dispensationalists will challenge us for doubting, questioning and providing correction to the current teachings and perception that the Christian Church is the Bride of The Lamb. Removing this myth from the Christian psyche, they feel, may be damaging to many Christian's Blessed Hope. The author was taught and personally believed that concept for many years. However, after careful scrutiny of God's word, it is absolutely clear that the Bride of Christ cannot be the Christian Church; but, rather, the Bride is the soon-to-come City of God, New Jerusalem, which will forever be the Lord's headquarters on earth. It is there where the ecclesia, God's called out ones, will be able to enter into it by virtue of their names being written in the Lamb's Book of Life, those who will be called by a new name, who will rule and reign with Him, forever, after God's sons and daughters (the ecclesia of God) will have participated (as His guests) in that great Wedding Banquet that is to come!
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