I believe that when John saw the Bride of Christ prepared in the perfection of her beauty and glory just as her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, John felt compelled to worship.

The Bride Has Made Herself Ready

by Daniel Lim
3 weeks ago Christian Living

In Revelation 19 the apostle John was shown in a vision that the Bride of Christ had made herself ready. 

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:7–10; emphasis added)

When John saw the Bride of Christ had made herself ready, he was compelled to respond by falling down in worship of the angel who had shown him this. The angel rebuked John for doing so as he was merely a created being who was serving God, just as John, and only God deserves our worship. What did John see that compelled him to worship and caused the angel to issue such a rebuke? The Scripture does not give us a definitive explanation in Revelation 19, but in Revelation 21–22, this incident occurred again, almost as a replay. John received another similar rebuke from the angel who was with him.

I personally believe John, the seasoned apostle of love, would not commit such a fundamental theological error after consistently defending and expounding upon the divinity of Christ and the monotheistic nature of God for most of his life. What then caused him to fall down in worship? Revelation 21:9–18 gives us some insight into this puzzling question. The New Jerusalem, the Lamb’s wife, has glory like a jasper stone that is as clear as crystal. The glory like a jasper stone was first seen by John when he saw the Ancient of Days sitting on His throne in Revelation 4:2–3. It was this glory like a jasper stone that caused the seraphim and the four living creatures to extol Him as “Holy! Holy! Holy!” in a perpetual symphony of worship.

I believe that when John saw the Bride of Christ prepared in the perfection of her beauty and glory just as her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, John felt compelled to worship. It was not just the angel in Revelation 19:10 that compelled John to worship—I personally believe the glory of the Bride elicited John’s worship! She is now like the image of the Son of God, who is the fullness of God. Humanity, who fell short of the glory of God in Eden, has been redeemed and restored to their eternal calling. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is finally answered. 

And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them
, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:522–24; emphasis added)

How then shall the Bride of Christ be made ready? As I study the Scripture, I realize there are five major tasks that the Church must complete before the second coming of Christ. These tasks are delineated from the great commandment and the Great Commission. They are integrated yet distinct. Some are qualitative in nature and some are quantitative in nature. I believe these five biblical tasks constitute the final frontier of works for the corporate Bride of Christ that will make her ready for the marriage of the Lamb at the return of Jesus Christ, her Bridegroom.

We must not forget that we are God’s workmanship, saved by grace and justified by faith for good works. Thus we are both the field and the coworkers of Christ. When God sets a task before us, He will empower us to complete the task, and our responses to Him in the process will transform and mature us from glory to glory into the likeness of Christ. When John saw the Bride of Christ in Revelation 19, he saw the Bride of Christ clothed in fine linen, which represents the righteous acts of the saints or “righteous works of the saints.” The works of the saints overflow from her walk of faith, preparing her for the marriage of the Lamb. Thus, we must discover the quantitative and qualitative nature of the works. These five final frontiers of the preparation of the Bride of Christ can be summarized using the acronym P-I-N-G-O.

P: Prayer—Unceasing night-and-day prayer for speedy justice (Luke 18:1–8).

I: Israel—The salvation of Israel and Jerusalem to become a praise on the earth (Isaiah 62:6–7Acts 1:6–8Romans 11:25–26).

N: Nations—Witnesses of the gospel go to all nations and disciple in every tongue, every tribe, and every nation (Matthew 24:1428:19–20).

G: Gospel of the kingdom of God—This gospel of the kingdom will be preached and demonstrated to all nations; then the end will come (Matthew 4:2324:14Mark 16:15–16).

O: One—The Church shall be one even as the Father and Son are one. Union with God and with one another will manifest the most glorified, unified witness for Christ (John 17:20–26).

In Luke 18:1–8, Jesus taught the parable of the persistent widow to instruct us as to why we always ought to pray and not lose heart. This story focuses on a desperate widow who was pursued by her adversaries and was making her petition before an unjust judge day and night. Her persistence caused her to ultimately receive justice from the unjust judge, even though he did not respect the just cause of the widow or have the fear of God. The judge granted her justice simply to get rid of what he considered to be an annoyance.

Jesus highlighted the point of this parable: if a faithful, consistent, day-and-night petition can even move the heart of an unjust judge against a desperate situation, how much more will such persistent prayer move the heart of our one true Judge. Jesus concluded the parable by asking, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Jesus concluded by posing a question that needs to be answered by believers in every generation but especially in the generation of the Lord’s return to the earth. It is of course applicable to every generation of disciples of Christ, but the immediate context of Luke 17–18 demands that this parable have an eschatological focus. It is clearly apparent that Jesus desires to raise up night-and-day prayer across the nations in the last days. Isaiah 62 further emphasizes that Jesus’ desire for night-and-day prayer essentially involves Jerusalem. Night-and-day prayer is one of the major eschatological frontiers for the preparation of the Bride of Christ.

There are several biblical reasons why night-and-day prayer is essential to prepare the Bride of Christ. First, we witness in Revelation 5 a symphony of worship and prayer between heaven and earth that led to the golden bowls of intercession being filled with the prayers of the saints. These bowls were then poured out in Revelation 16 as a picture of the wrath of God. Thus, these prayers of the saints release speedy justice on wickedness upon the earth alongside salvation and redemption. This means that the end-time night-and-day prayer movement is catalytic for all the other works of the saints.

Second, the Bible also highlights that the saints are transformed from glory to glory into the likeness of Jesus Christ as we behold Him with unveiled faces. Thus, spending substantial time in prayer, worship, and communion facilitates transformation and encounter with the living God.

In Acts 1:6–8, the Bible shows us the relationship between the salvation of Israel and the salvation of the nations in God’s redemptive history. When the early disciples, who were almost all Jewish in ethnicity, heard the teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of God, they desired a quick restoration of the kingdom to Israel. They had been under Roman occupation for more than a century, and Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection did not immediately give them political freedom. Therefore it was reasonable for them to attempt to understand the timing of the restoration of the kingdom of God to Israel. They viewed the kingdom of heaven as YHWH ruling Israel with the Messiah as their King of kings. They could not easily understand why they were still under Roman occupation if Jesus, their Messiah, was there. Jesus assured them that the kingdom of heaven would be restored to Israel, but it would be fulfilled in ways they did not anticipate. There would be a historic outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit would lead and empower the believers to be witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. It was to be a process rather than an event.

The gospel of the kingdom was to be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations before the end would come. Those are the very words of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2, the gospel had spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, Samaria, to Syria, Asia Minor, Rome, Gaul, Egypt, Libya, Persia, and even India by the first century. By AD 800, the gospel was found in China, in North Africa, most of Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. By the 1700s, the gospel had spread to the new world of North and South America and the Pacific Islands. By AD 2000, the gospel had taken root in every geopolitical nation on earth. However, it has not yet taken root in every ethnos (ethno-linguistic people group). Within each country (geopolitical nation), there are diverse ethno-linguistic groups that require unique missiological strategies of engagement.

In Romans 11:25–26, the Bible clearly reveals a time when the witness of the gospel will reach the ends of the earth and a remnant from all the nations will be gathered in. At that time, Israel’s hardness of heart and blindness in part will be removed. They will declare, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Israel will embrace Yeshua (Jesus Christ of Nazareth) as their Messiah and be saved, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus in Acts 1—the restoration of the kingdom of God to Israel. It will be directly related to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which will empower His disciples to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.

When the gospel brings forth the fullness of redemption to the Jews and Gentiles in Christ, the imagery in Ephesians 2:15 of the one new man will be manifested. The corporate Bride of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ, and the Israel of God will corporately become the one new man in Christ.

In Matthew 24:14, apart from the promise that the gospel will reach all nations as a precursor to the time of the end, there has also been an emphasis on the gospel of the kingdom of God. As we approach the last days, we witness a variety of dilutions and distortions of the gospel. The true gospel of the kingdom must proclaim the coming of Christ and His complete work of redemption over humanity and creation. The coming of Christ includes both His first and second comings, which together depict both the betrothal and the consummation of a marriage covenant.

In the Hebraic wedding customs during the time of Christ, typical weddings were divided into three ceremonial sections; the betrothal (ketubah), the wedding (chuppah), and the feast. During the betrothal, the father of the bridegroom would present a bridal contract (ketubah), which included the bridal gift (mohar). Once both sides agreed on the ketubah, the bridal gift would be showered and the bridegroom would offer his covenant bride a cup of wine. If she drank the cup before everyone, she thereby expressed her will to marry him beyond her parental consent. The bridegroom would usually leave a special gift (mattan) to help her remember their covenant. The mattan helped the bride remember and grow in love with the bridegroom day by day when they were apart.

Then the bridegroom’s party would depart. The bridegroom would spend at least nine months to one year to work on building a house for their future family. The bride would start preparing her bridal garments, usually made up of fine linen. She had to keep herself chaste and undistracted by other would-be lovers while her bridegroom was laboring to build a house for them, since he would come to receive her when he was ready. When the bridegroom had finished all preparations, he would usually seek permission from his father to go and receive his bride. This timing of the coming of the bridegroom to receive his bride, whom he had redeemed and paid for with a precious bridal price, was in his father’s authority. Before the bridegroom left to receive his bride to himself, he would usually send his friends ahead to blow the trumpet (shofar) and shout a warning, “The bridegroom is coming!”

When the bride heard this trumpet and shout, she would get ready and dress in her bridal garment together with her virgin friends. These virgins would accompany the bride in the bridal procession to the bridegroom’s home. They would prepare lamps to light the way, but a typical lamp had an oil compartment that only contained sufficient oil to light the lamp for a couple of hours. If the bridegroom delayed his coming deep into the night, the virgins’ lamps would run out of oil. Wise virgins would bring along larger containers with extra oil to last through the long, dark night.

The bridegroom would usually come between sunset and sunrise. He would come like a thief in the night to snatch away his bride, which was part of the fun and ritual. It mimicked a voluntary kidnapping of the bride since she was already betrothed to her husband and they were technically married.

When the bridegroom saw her, he lifted her up and carried her back to the home he had built for them. In that home, under the chuppah, they would receive the wedding blessings and consummate their marriage covenant in their bedroom. Often they would drink a cup of wine in their room together. The feast then began in the house of the bridegroom and would often last for seven days or longer. While the family celebrated and feasted, the wedded couple would spend time in intimate communion with each other while occasionally entertaining guests.

Jesus often spoke and taught using the wedding analogy when He described His coming and His departure. The two comings of Jesus are clearly foreshadowed in this wedding analogy. Thus the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom of God must essentially include Christ’s first coming, when the kingdom of God is at hand, and His second coming, when the kingdom of God has come in fullness.

While the witness of the gospel was glorious during the first few hundred years after the death and resurrection of Christ, I believe the witness of the gospel at the second coming of Christ will be far more glorious. The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus has prayed for the Church to be one just as He and the Father are one. 

Finally, Jesus’ apostolic prayer in John 17, commonly known as His high-priestly prayer, promises us that the Holy Spirit given to the Church will equip us and bring us to the fullness of the stature in Christ. When we become one with one another and with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit, the world will know the Father has sent the Son. The unified witness of the Body of Christ will be the most glorious moment for the Church on the earth. It is a sign of the maturity of the Bride of Christ who has made herself ready for her Bridegroom. In Ephesians 3, Paul prayed for the fullness of maturity in love to come to the saints in the context of corporate unity. This was part of Jesus’ high-priestly prayer in John 17:11 and reiterated in Ephesians 4:1–615–16.

How is the Lord stirring your heart in preparation for His return?

Want to hear more from Daniel Lim? We recommend his message Saturating Your Conversation with Jesus During Christmas. Watch it here>>

Daniel Lim

position

  • CEO, IHOPKC
  • Facilitator, Onething Global Leadership Summit
Daniel Lim served as the Chief Executive Officer of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (2008-2020). He was trained at a Baptist seminary (MA in World Missions) and served as a Baptist pastor in Southeast Asia. With a passion for the gospel of the kingdom of God and the glory of Jesus Christ, Daniel teaches at conferences, churches, universities, and seminaries throughout the nations.

Daniel is the author of Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God. Daniel is married with two children. One of his children went home to be with the Lord in 2008 during a crisis relief effort.

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