Sunday, May 5, 2019

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 209

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 209) by J. Preston Eby.

THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (continued)
“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9).

How precious the knowledge that we have a God who hungers, thirsts, deeply desires, to feast with His people — a God who from the beginning has tried to show us that His greatest delight is not in showing His authority or His power, but in enjoying intimate and close fellowship with His own. He set a feast of fruits before Adam and Eve, the like of which man has never been able to reproduce, and He came in the cool of the day and communed with them face to face. He ate and talked with Abraham in his tent at noonday. He spread a table in the wilderness for the entire nation of His chosen, and He gave them the very bread of heaven. He instructed the priesthood how to make twelve loaves of bread, called the bread of His presence, and had them eat it there in the tabernacle of His abode. Jesus performed His first miracle and began to show forth His glory at a wedding feast. He fed five thousand on a hillside. He did not hesitate to attend feasts, but sat at meat with many, even the rich and famous, and went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feasts of Yahweh. Even after His resurrection He grilled fish upon the fire and ate it there with His disciples. And He has established the New Covenant with a feast, the great spiritual feast, wherein He has given His sons and daughters His own body for their meat and His own blood for their drink, that death might be swallowed up of Life.

God has promised through the prophet Isaiah that in the latter days He would make a great feast of spiritual blessings and benefits for ALL NATIONS, upon His holy Mount, the mount of His glorious Kingdom. “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined” (Isa. 25:6). God Himself has prepared this feast! And right now, the Lord is in the process of preparing this banquet for all the peoples of earth. The Lord is telling us in essence, I’ve saved the best wine for last, and now I’m pouring it into the vessels of my called and chosen elect who shall pour it forth before all people. All the families of the earth shall be gathered to this feast and partake of wonderful things in the presence of the Lord! Now, the mountain where this feast is spread is very significant. It bespeaks a holy place, the house of the Lord in the tops of the mountains (Mic. 4:1) where the presence, glory, and power of the Lord is manifest. It’s a place where the Lord’s people become the feast by being filled with all the fullness of God! The mountain of God’s presence, glory, and power is an important concept for His elect, for everything that the Lord shall do in the earth in these days is contingent upon His fullness formed in a people. Believe me, there is a spiritual mountain that is high and holy where God is preparing a glorious feast! God intends to work an amazing display of His glory that will overwhelm our minds and hearts! And He’s had all this planned since before the world began! This feast of fat things, of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, speaks of a people who aren’t satisfied with the milk of God’s word or just His gifts. They seek to know the Lord for themselves, to know Him in all His glorious fullness, to have the fatness of His word raised up in them, and to become within themselves His refined, aged wine!

It is my conviction that this is the greatest feast of all — the marriage supper of the Lamb — which ushers a people into the most intimate relationship with their Lord! It is not in meetings, preachings, teachings, prophesyings, singing, dancing, or any outward exercise that we enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb; it is at the marriage union of our “soul bride” with our “spirit bridegroom” that we discover within ourselves the glorious marriage feast provided by our Father! God cannot spread a table in His holy mount for all people until we have this feast prepared within ourselves. Little wonder, then, that John on Patmos admonishes, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb!” The word “blessed” makes this a beatitude — a new beatitude, the fourth one in the book of Revelation. This beatitude proclaims the blessedness of them who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The perfect passive tense of the verb speaks of these blessed ones as people who do not just have an invitation and may accept or decline, but as people who have accepted the invitation and are ready for the feast. They for sure are blessed — their happiness is guaranteed!

A marriage feast is a time of great joy and festivity. Those who have tasted something of this heavenly meal know how bountifully the table has been spread with His presence and glory and power! I have good news for you. Many are called to partake of this supper! Not all shall know Him as the bride knows Him, but vast multitudes shall be at attendance at His feast and be filled with the overflow of the abundance that is provided upon His table! The attendants will be there, the friends of the Bridegroom and the bride will be there, and guests from far and wide will be there, and what rejoicing and music and dancing there will be as we all eat of His meat and bread and drink of His wine! What quickening, what impartation, what fulfillment, what strength! As we leave this feast in great strength, it shall mean a new day of hope and deliverance and glory for the whole earth as the Lord comes as the heavenly Bridegroom to spread the great and glorious feast of HIS FULLNESS!

What constitutes the marriage supper of the Lamb? When we think of a feast we are prone to think in natural terms and picture a banquet of rich foods and an evening of superlative entertainment. There was a day when Jesus and His disciples came to Samaria. The day was long and the disciples of Jesus were weary and hungry. The disciples went to buy food and tried to get Jesus to eat. He refused, and said to them, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” This statement troubled the disciples, they wondered whether someone had brought food to Jesus. Then Jesus explained plainly, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” To do the Father’s will! That is what Jesus lived for; but it is also what He lived ON! “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that is proceeding out of God.” Nothing could satisfy Jesus’ appetite but this: He hungered to do the Father’s will! And nothing else could fill Him. The truth of these words is simply this: the strength of life for the firstborn Son of God was to do the Father’s will. He did that will by eating of the Father, allowing the Father to live in and through Him as the expression of His life. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (Jn. 6:57). Now this is a great and surprising revelation to many. When we have thought of eating and drinking and feasting with Christ we have entertained such carnal concepts. Roast beef and potatoes — indeed! This is not what the Christ feasted upon, and it is not what those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb feast upon! We are commanded to feed upon Christ Himself, to eat His flesh and drink His blood, “for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn. 6:55). Those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb no longer feed off the husk’s of man’s sustenance, no more do they feed off the putrification spread upon Babylon’s polluted tables, but are drawn to feast on the bounties of the fullness of Christ in an exceedingly rich and intimate manner!

Jesus promised that when He returned He would “gird” Himself and make His servants to sit down to meat, and that He would “come forth and serve them…meat in due season” (Lk. 12:35-44). In these days at the transition of the ages we have in a unique way and in an abundant measure experienced the very fulfillment of this promise. The Bridegroom is here! He has come and has served “meat in due season” to the elect household of faith. Rich indeed, faith strengthening and spiritually nourishing has been the fare made available by Christ in the spirit and by the spirit, as He has spread upon His table profound truths of the kingdom of God reserved for this hour. Only those who are prepared to enter into a deeper and more mature and intimate relationship with Christ are bidden to come and sit with Him at this reserved table at the feast — HIS TABLE! In the natural, babies do not have teeth and therefore must drink milk or eat baby food; neither do babes in the Lord have mighty faith to feed upon His deep truths and His rich word and His incorruptible life; but God metes out to them the milk of the word, and the food that is specially prepared for babes. He sends them His word and promises, presented in such a way, most often by charismatic and entertaining preachers, teachers, and programs, and on such a level that they are able to take them; and He gives more than they can ask or think, not according to their faith, but according to His grace and mercy. But — BLESSED ARE THEY THAT ARE CALLED UNTO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB!

I would be remiss if I failed to point out in clear and unmistakable words the fact that the “marriage of the Lamb” is not exclusively a future event as the preachers are wont to proclaim. Let me make it quite clear before we go any farther that what our Lord is speaking about under the figure of the marriage feast is an actual personal experience which every soul may have, something intensely real and precious, not in the sweet bye and bye, but right here in our today. What it is, is a past event, a present event, as well as a future one! It is an on-going reality in the same sense that initial salvation is past for some, present for some, and still future for others. Millions of souls have through the centuries experienced the Lord as Saviour, some are now receiving Him, and many more will experience Him in the future. The future will indeed be greater by far than anything in the past! In like manner, the “marriage of the Lamb” is a relationship of union with Christ entered into as a result of spiritual growth and participation with the Lord. The marriage supper of the Lamb has already become a reality in the lives of countless saints who have responded to the gracious appeal, “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

There is an old song of the church that has a profound meaning. It says, “Jesus has a table spread, where the saints of God are fed; He invites His chosen people, Come and dine!” That table is in the heavens of God’s Spirit, and in the Spirit and by the Spirit we are seated there. Paul confirms that we have been “raised up, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). There is a table of the Lord spread for us in the heavenlies! Jesus said to His disciples, “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father has appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Lk. 22:29-30). Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the elders of Israel were at the Lord’s table on mount Sinai. “And they saw the God of Israel: and there were under His feet as it were a paved work as a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And…the nobles of the children of Israel…saw God, and did eat and drink” (Ex. 24:9-11). What an awesome picture! Seventy-four men of God, seated with Him in the height of a mountain peak, eating and drinking! What a supernatural table! What glory was there! It seems from the record that it was so overwhelming that none but Moses could take it in. Can we not see by this that the one thing the Lord seeks above all else from His chosen ones is COMMUNION AT HIS TABLE! Oneness around His heavenly table! A continual abiding in Him as our food, our nourishment, our strength, our enjoyment, and our life!

To sup with Christ is to commune vitally with Him; it is to fellowship intimately with Him and freely partake of all that is proffered by His Spirit. He comes in to dine! That is His heart’s desire. It is there, deep within — in the inner union of soul and spirit — as nowhere else, privately and alone, that spiritual edification and the understanding and participation in heavenly things begins and continues and consummates. Numerous yielded souls have attained this glorious experience, sitting with Him at His table; it is now happening for others, and it shall yet happen for multitudes of others. It is, first and foremost, an individual experience for believers. Multitudes are called to the feast, but for those chosen ones who sit at this feast with Christ at His table, it occurs for the individual when he reaches a condition of being ready for marriage — to fulfill the responsibilities and privileges of truly BEING A WIFE. Not many of the teeming millions of earth who profess to know the Lord are ready at this time for this high and holy calling, but those who do make themselves ready will be married to the Lord here and now in this life. It is a blessed and glorious fact that the marriage of the Lamb is taking place now, but only those with spiritual understanding know it. The rest are “star gazing” — watching the clouds — waiting to go to a banquet in the sky! While they wait, snug and smug in their childish denominational beds, the Lord is taking a bride! The Bridegroom stands knocking at their door — but they sleep on.

If you will step from the little boat of human understanding to tread the waves of revelation with Christ, the following experience between the Shulamite and her Beloved will speak to your heart in liberating, transforming power. “I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. She answers him, I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? My Beloved put his hand in the hole of the door, and my heart was moved for him. I rose up to open to my Beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my Beloved; but my Beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer” (S. of S. 5:2-6).

Beloved reader of this message, have you ever heard your Bridegroom’s voice calling you to come apart with Him, to leave everything and every one that hindered you and come into a higher place of revelation and separation unto Himself? Have you kept your Lord waiting while you pampered your flesh, or while you did something that you wanted to do, or while you clung to the religious excitement of a lower realm of so-called church life, instead of coming away with HIM? Have you heard Him chide you because you neglected Him, because you were not giving yourself to seeking His face, because you were not putting Him above all else, because you were not following on to know Him in deeper measures? When you have heard His voice in these and other ways, have you risen up eagerly and quickly hastened to obey? Or have you asked Him to wait until a more convenient season? Did you have some “religious” work which you felt was very important? Did you have some association you felt you could not break? Did you tell the Lord to wait until you could leave them, or finish what you were doing? Not always in words do we tell Him to wait; we just go on with our “work,” with our little religious games, with the carnal programs of Babylon, with the demands of family and involvements with the flesh, with the admiration of friends, with pleasures and pursuits. We are going to respond and obey, we are going to come out and go away with Him, we are going to arise and commune with Him, we are going to explore the deeper measures of His wisdom, purpose, and love, His power and His glory which He waits to disclose to us, but not until a more propitious moment when we have finished what we are doing!

In this vision of the marriage of the Lamb, the Spirit of God has given us a strain from the heavenly choir, the theme of which is CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE. Has this divine music sounded upon your heart until your spirit has been caught away to the Mount of the Lord? Have you received a deeper revelation of your high calling in Him, and the processes by which we may attain? Has the Spirit revealed clearer visions of those things that mortal eye cannot see nor ear hear, neither can the human heart contain, even the things that God has prepared for you and me? If you will draw close to God, He will anoint your eyes with heavenly eye salve: He will give you a divine perspective; He will cause you to behold the things that are unseen and eternal as you lose sight of the things that are seen and temporal. He will bring you into His banqueting house and your soul will be ravished with the revelation of His love. The noise and glitter of Mystery Babylon the Great will fade from mind and heart until it seems but a dream dreamed in the long ago. There is a remnant of the Lord’s people over the whole earth that have heard the cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom!” This remnant has arisen, trimmed their lamps, and with vessels full of oil and lamps shining bright have fixed their eyes upon Jesus, they are looking away from the earth, from people, from church systems, from everything to the Everlasting Hills of God.

WORSHIP NOT THE ANGEL
“And I fell at his (the angel’s) feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren which have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).

Do not forget that in the book of Revelation everything is communicated to us in the form of signs and symbols. Just as the horns, beasts, candlesticks, horses, etc., are symbols of spiritual realities so are the “angels” also figures that stand for something else. The word angel simply means messenger. In the Revelation an angel or a messenger signifies a message communicated. Never get stuck on the angel! The angel is unimportant and irrelevant except as he relates to the message that he imparts. Now think about that blessed day when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce to her that she is to bring forth a son, and this son will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

Ah, can you comprehend, can you imagine with me the unutterable awesomeness of that moment when one of the mightiest of the angels from heaven stood there in Mary’s humble house, delivering that message from the Lord God of heaven and earth! It wasn’t just any angel, either, it was Gabriel himself. He stood there, right there, in her home, and delivered to her this word from the throne of God. Just imagine with me for a moment what Mary’s reaction might have been to this remarkable event. Let us suppose that the following day Mary begins to tell some of her friends that Gabriel had appeared to her. She brings them into her house and says, “He stood there, right there. His feet touched my floor there by that chair. Gabriel stood there! Right there! This area will always be sacred to me because that is where Gabriel stood. In fact,” she continues, “can’t you see the burn marks from the glory that radiated out of his feet?” And I can imagine that she put some posts with a rope around that holy spot. Perhaps later she received an inspired idea and started charging twenty shekels for people to come in and view the spot where the mighty Gabriel stood and left the burn marks on her floor! And thus Mary’s house became the primary tourist attraction in the town of Nazareth. I’m sure by now my reader realizes that I am truly being facetious!

But you see, my friend, should Mary have done such a thing she would have missed the point altogether! Gabriel was not the issue. Gabriel was not the item of importance that blessed day in Nazareth of Galilee. In fact, Gabriel disappears completely from God’s holy record following that event — he’s never mentioned again anywhere in scripture. It wasn’t about Gabriel. The message was the point! We don’t hear about Gabriel any more after that day, but we certainly hear a lot about THE SON OF THE HIGHEST! Gabriel spoke a word from God, a word of power, and that word produced a son in Mary. Gabriel faded away, but the Son of God is still seated upon the throne! His kingdom is unfurled from sea to sea and from pole to pole and His mighty work of redemption and restoration continues its triumphant march to subdue all things unto God!

I’m just a flesh and blood man, but upon me today there is a word. Out of me there flows a message. You may not think much of me. You may be able to discern my weaknesses and perhaps you can see some of my flaws. You may not like me. I don’t even like myself very much! But I know who I am and I know what Father has sent me to do. It makes no difference whether you like me, whether anybody likes me, or whether I even like myself. No difference at all! Because I’m not the issue. I’m of no importance. I am irrelevant to anything except as I relate to the message I bear. None of the “kingdom preachers” today are of any special importance within themselves. None of us matter. Never get your eyes on the angel! Never fall down and do obeisance before the messenger! If you get your eye on the angel, you’ve missed the point! I do honor the men of God who bear the revelation of the Lord in this great hour. But we are not called to participate in a Mutual Admiration Society or to exalt any man. We are called to deliver and to hear every word that is proceeding out of the mouth of God! It’s the word! It’s the message! And the spirit of our prophecy IS THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST!

The great lesson here is that God speaks through man. Have you not heard the Spirit speak through man? Peter said that we proclaim the good news with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven! Not only do spiritual men read by the Spirit, hear by the Spirit, see by the Spirit, and know by the Spirit — they also speak by the Spirit! “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11). I have heard the voice of the Spirit through a great many men and women during my lifetime. The word of the Lord and the revelation of God that flow through my pen in these days are not original with me. I cannot deny that the Holy Spirit has spoken many things to me right out of the depths of my being, out of the most holy place of my spirit. But much of our knowledge of the things of God has also been imparted to us as the voice of the Spirit has spoken to us through many chosen vessels across the years. Almost daily I hear the voice of the Spirit through precious letters we receive from members of God’s elect all across the land and around the world. I have both seen and heard great and mighty things from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in God’s people! But we are never to pay homage to the vessel, we can never fall down to worship the messenger through whom God expresses Himself! We have to watch the esteem we give to the man God uses — for many have become followers of men rather than followers of God. This “angel” which showed John these things was in fact the spirit of a man, a saint from the other side of the veil, a fellow-servant of God, and one who with John bore the testimony of Jesus Christ. But he spoke by the Spirit! It was the Holy Spirit of God speaking through the man, unveiling to John the mystery and the glory of these wonderful truths! But John made the mistake of falling down to worship the man, the messenger — yet God Himself ordained this as an object lesson for us out of this book of pictures and symbols! He was straightway commanded, “See thou do it not!”

And I command you today — never get your eyes on me, beloved, nor on any other of the voices of God in the land today! I am but a vessel, a voice, a messenger. The voice is that of the Spirit, the testimony is of Jesus Christ, it is not my voice nor the testimony of myself. The sincere love and steadfast faithfulness of all those precious ones who esteem and value the ministry the Lord has been pleased to flow through us is truly appreciated on our part. But do not esteem us too highly, beloved! Be not followers of men, but be a follower of Christ Jesus the Lord! Do not worship at the shrine of any man, whether he calls himself an apostle, a bishop, a prophet, a teacher, a king-priest, a son of God, or any other title. And do not obey my word or their word above the witness of the spirit in your own heart. All — if indeed they are the messengers of Jesus Christ — are but servants, of thy brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! That is what the Spirit is teaching us in these things.

THE SPIRIT OF THIS PROPHECY
“I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren which have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).

The book of Revelation is without doubt one of the most important and wonderful books ever written. It is, in my opinion, the most important book for all who are called and chosen as God’s government of kings and priests! It is difficult for many people to understand because it is written in highly symbolic language, understandable only to the spiritual mind. Long millenniums ago Joseph spoke a wonderful truth when he asked the burning question, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Gen. 40:8). Moses said, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this teaching” (Deut. 29:29). Many preachers spend far too much time delving into future speculations about world events. Time invariably repudiates their futile predictions. God did not give us a heavenly version of NEWSWEEK magazine, but the Book of Life!

When the book of Revelation was written, John was in the Spirit! This is a fact of extreme importance. The realm of the Spirit is a realm beyond the reach of the natural. Spiritual things are all about us to such an extent that we live and move and have our being in them, yet the natural man can never see them until the Spirit draws aside the dusky curtains of our carnality and opens our eyes to the realities of the spiritual world. Thus it was with John, in exile on barren Patmos, a place of few inhabitants and always swarming with pirates and banished criminals of various sorts, but the record says of him, “Who bare record of the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw...for the testimony of Jesus IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY” (Rev. 1:2; 19:10). Preachers and teachers ought to heed this wise counsel and concentrate on the testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy, rather than futuristic forecasts of earthquakes, plane crashes, riots, nuclear disasters, political coups, invasions, wars, terrorist attacks, foreign policies, world government, etc. When God gave us the Holy Spirit, it was not to take soundings of uncharted depths into the future of America, Russia, China, Europe, or the Jews, but to develop a SPIRITUAL CHARACTER, to put on the mind of Christ, and follow the Lamb whithersoever HE goeth!

The ministers of God were not meant to be soothsayers but truth-sayers. We were not called to predict all the changing events in the kingdoms of this world, not to herald a future antichrist, but to proclaim the ETERNAL PRESENT CHRIST! The book of Revelation is not primarily intended to teach world events. It is intended to teach the purposes of God and spiritual realities! Men have put so much stress on outward things, so much carnalizing of the word of God which is spirit and life, that when we read the scriptures we oft times overlook the real truth the Spirit is speaking.

The world is full of people today who are prophesying about a great many things. I never cease to be amazed at those who prophesy world events that are to come to pass. So many of them have prophesied and they were not right; their prophecies failed! Some of them have never prophesied anything that has come to pass, yet they keep right on prophesying, and their followers quickly forget the things that didn’t happen and continue to cling tenaciously to each new prediction. Some have called me a prophet. I don’t claim to be a prophet, though I have prophesied through the years, and do believe that my voice is a very small part of the many waters of God’s corporate prophet who speaks in this new kingdom Day. I know what prophecy is. I know Jesus who is the author of all true prophecy, and IS HIMSELF THE TRUE PROPHECY. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy!”

In the spirit of Jesus is the real truth and it cannot be found in any other place! Jesus is alive in you, my brother, my sister, and He is alive in me. God has given us the spirit of His Son! The testimony of Jesus within ourselves is the spirit of prophecy! The spirit of prophecy most often speaks of Christ — of that of Christ which is becoming reality within us. Yes, the Spirit of God can reveal things to come in the outer world of politics, economics, warfare, the rise and fall of nations, disasters, etc. God has on occasion revealed such things to me. But those things are only incidental to the great spiritual realities of the kingdom that God is raising up within His elect! THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY! The Spirit bears witness to God’s Christ — that is where true prophecy will be found! A true prophecy contains the testimony of Jesus — the word which energizes and causes the life of the Son of God to be raised up in us! It is a spiritual testimony, therefore its fulfillment does not come literally — it comes spiritually and is realized in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ has come within us to reveal in us the unseen things of the kingdom of God!

Some people contend that the book of Revelation cannot be a spiritual book because the spiritual interpretation takes away from the true prophetic nature of this book. I ask, however — How in the world can spiritual understanding take away from the prophetic nature of the book when the book itself declares that “the testimony of Jesus IS the spirit of prophecy.” The testimony of the antichrist is not the spirit of prophecy! The testimony of the beast is not the spirit of prophecy! The testimony of the false prophet is not the spirit of prophecy! The testimony of the dragon is not the spirit of prophecy! The testimony of Daniel’s 70th Week is not the spirit of prophecy! The testimony of the rapture is not the spirit of prophecy! The testimony of what is going to happen in Israel during the tribulation is not the spirit of prophecy! The testimony of the Third World War is not the spirit of prophecy! It is the testimony of JESUS CHRIST which is the spirit of prophecy! And Jesus Christ is the glorious, risen, ascended, exalted, spiritualized, omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal GOD-MAN! We are the body of Christ, and the testimony of Jesus Christ is within us!

“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The application of this expression is given a more specific meaning by both Rotherham and the Emphatic Diaglott when they translate the Greek as saying, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of this prophecy.” The fact that it reads “this prophecy” instead of merely “prophecy” indicates that there is a special relationship between the spirit of Christ and the words of this prophecy. The definite article is found in all the oldest manuscripts discovered, even though it is not expressed in the King James Version. In other words, a special work would be performed in relation to this prophecy. The prophecy itself is the word of God. But the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of this prophecy! The letter of this word is a lamb with horns, beasts, elders, locusts, women, angels, cities, wars, etc. But the spirit of this word is JESUS! The spirit of Christ within us is that which bears witness within ourselves to the true message of this book! And the spirit of Christ within us is that which accomplishes within us all the truth and reality of this book! The end of everything you will learn or experience out of this book is Christ! It can only be understood, known, and experienced by the spirit of Jesus Christ within us!

Understanding the book of Revelation spiritually is the only view by which you can interpret the book by the Bible. Every other view requires one to understand history, geography, politics or world events; and to have access to Newsweek, Time, USA Today or CNN in order to compare contemporary happenings with the symbolisms of the book. I have made the necessary discovery that the book explains itself, and I do not hesitate to tell you that this is the only view that makes the book relative to our spiritual life today as well as to the spiritual life of the saints of every generation. It is the only view that makes the book relative to anyone, anywhere, at anytime who reads or hears the prophecy of this book and keeps the things that are written therein (Rev. 1:3).

“The time is at hand” for all who come into an experiential revelation of Jesus Christ! When the unveiling of Jesus Christ within us becomes the power of our life, the book of Revelation becomes a NOW book! Every other view makes the Revelation either a past book, or a future book. Let every child of God know for a certainty that it is now, in our today, that we are experiencing the unveiling of Jesus Christ! We will not be helped spiritually one iota by an understanding of what Titus did to Jerusalem in A.D. 70, or what the Moslems did in the eighth century, or by what the Pope did during the middle ages, or by what some future antichrist will do after the church has gone to heaven. Those are, one and all, exercises in carnal minded foolishness that have absolutely nothing to do with THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST!

In this connection George Warnock wrote, “People continue to cry out: ‘We need another Elijah! We need another John the Baptist!’ But God has something even better in mind. Twice John fell at the feet of this shining one who was showing him heavenly things. And twice the man rebuked him for his error. For this angel was a man who had gone on, perhaps one of the prophets; for he said, ‘I am thy fellow servant, and of…the prophets, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus.’ And he said to John, ‘Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ Is he not reminding us, who are often captivated by the charisma of some great prophet — that the testimony of JESUS in the earth is something better than having a great prophet? It is a corporate Testimony, a people moving in such union with Christ that they speak with one Voice, and shine as one Light, in this world of darkness” — end quote.

Those who interpret the book of Revelation literally give us only the “letter” of the prophecy and miss altogether the “spirit” of the prophecy. The “letter” is merely the outer shell, the husk, the chaff, which is inedible and fit only to be cast aside. The “spirit” of the prophecy, however, is its inner kernel, its essence, its substance, its marrow, its reality, its life! The “spirit” of this prophecy is THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST! It testifies of HIM! If you cannot see God’s living Christ in every chapter and verse of the Revelation you have not yet come to or touched the “spirit” of this prophecy! That is the mystery.

To be continued…

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 208

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 208) by J. Preston Eby.

THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (continued)
“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9).

Who are those blessed, truly happy, and abidingly fortunate, who have been invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb? I turn to the only possible authority, that is, to the Lamb Himself. When Jesus told the parable of the king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and of the invited guests who gave various excuses as to why they couldn’t attend, while others made light of the invitation, and some even abused his messengers, he continued, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited are not worthy. Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, and the disabled, and the lame, and the blind. As many as you can find, invite them to come to the marriage feast.” And the servant said, “Lord, it is done just as you have commanded, and there is still room.” So the king said to the servant, “Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”

The question follows — who are those who are invited to the marriage supper? One thing is quite certain — they are not the bride! The bride is never “invited” or “called” to her own wedding, for it is her wedding and the bridegroom himself escorts her there at his side. And if for some reason the bride “made excuse” not to be at her own wedding feast, she certainly wouldn’t be replaced by a vast crowd of unfortunate folk! The “blessed” ones are the invited guests. As a rule, in most any culture, a wedding consists of a number of guests which are friends and relatives of the bridegroom and bride. Every marriage feast is filled with guests! In its spiritual meaning, they are redeemed ones no less than the wife, but they have not attained to the same degree of relationship, intimacy, glory, or honor. Certainly that vast throng that sings, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor unto Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready,” are not themselves the wife, for they sing of the wife, and they rejoice with the Lamb and His wife!

The bride, on the other hand, is composed of those elect saints who live in most intimate communion and union with the Bridegroom. Who can deny that there are vast multitudes of believers who know Christ as Saviour and rejoice in the blessed knowledge that they are forgiven and are redeemed children of God, but have never themselves matured into that true godly submission in the love of a woman that is so pure and intense that she wants to yield herself completely to the high desires of her husband — a woman so in love with her man that it transcends friendship or even infatuation — her submission becomes a willing and loving laying down of her own life until she no longer has a life because HER LIFE IS SURRENDERED TOTALLY TO ANOTHER! Her cry becomes, “I don’t want my life…I want to share yours.” Oh! Most Christians know so little of HOW TO BE A BRIDE! They know how to be “sinners saved by grace,” and many know how to be “servants” of God, but only the blessed Holy Spirit can teach us how to truly BE a bride!

The question is just this — Do we really love Christ, or are we merely using Him? When we are mere children, we love Him out of a childish, immature love. We love Him primarily for what He gives us and does for us. When you hear someone testify, “I love the Lord because He saved me,” or “I love the Lord because He healed me.” or “I love the Lord because He answers my prayers and supplies all my needs,” you know you listen to the testimony of a child, imperfect in love. That kind of talk is like the girl who married a rich man and confessed, “I love John because he provides me with a fabulous beach house, a new Mercedes, a mink coat, and a $5000.00 weekly allowance!” Obviously, she loves John ONLY FOR HIS MONEY! Should John lose his wealth her love would soon die away like grass upon a lawn. And untold millions of immature Christians, the “little children” of God, profess to love God basically out of those same selfish and self-centered motives!

Do we know what it means to come into His sweet presence, asking nothing for ourselves, but only reaching out to HIM with gratitude and thanksgiving for loving us so completely? Haven’t we been most selfish and ego-centric in our prayers? We will pray for God to save America from judgment. “Spare us — don’t judge us,” we cry. “Give us, meet us, help us, bless us, strengthen us, deliver us, heal us, prosper us, use us, protect us,” on and on goes the list of our petitions! That is all good in its place, but the focus is still on US. IT IS NOT THE CRY OF THE BRIDE! Even in our work for Him we have become selfish and self-centered. We want Him to bless our service to Him to prove that our faith is genuine. We seek to be considered diligent, capable, successful — as a sign of His blessing upon us. The focus is always on the benefit derived, rather than the pure adoration of love. But the claims of the Bridegroom are paramount upon the bride — she is to love Him, not for His gifts, not for what He can do for her or make of her, but for HIMSELF! The true heart of a wife loves her husband FOR WHO AND WHAT HE IS! It’s not about the bride, it’s about the Bridegroom! “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor unto HIM…” When a wife really, deeply, fully loves her husband, she loves him just as much if they are poor and have nothing. As God brings forth a people into brideship to Christ, this people is coming to love our Lord Jesus Christ out of a pure heart for who He is and not because of the blessings and benefits received. Children are always excited about the GIFT, but the bride is excited about the GIVER!

I feel assured that the foregoing truths will aid us in understanding that there are many guests at the marriage of the Lamb who are not the bride, but are very dear friends and relatives of the Bridegroom and the bride. There are many saints who shall enter into realms of glory in God’s great and eternal kingdom, but they will not be of that elect company which makes up the bride of the Lamb. They know the Lamb, they love Him and have a relationship with Him on some level, but are not drawn by that irresistible love which craves ultimate union with Him. These will indeed inherit heavenly glory and its bliss as servants, attendants, and guests at the wedding of the Lamb! They shall have a part: but that part is not the higher part of the perfected and beautified bride. Still, they are invited to share with the Bridegroom and the bride the joy and gladness and bountiful provision of the marriage supper! This may include all those Christians now in the church systems. The church systems are ill prepared for that glorious union to come! But they will most certainly be prepared by the Spirit to have a share in its glory, by being cleansed from their corrupt and unholy affiliation with the Babylonish systems of man, and of all their many false doctrines, by the fiery purgings of the Spirit of the Lord! They will receive their call, their “invitation” to the wedding, and they will wear a wedding garment provided by the Lord of the wedding feast, but it will not be the fine linen, clean and white, of the bride. It is a lesser glory!

Americans often have a false sense of “equality” and this view carries over into their understanding of the kingdom of God. Our ideas of equality have their origins in Thomas Jefferson’s claim that all men are created equal. Obviously there is an important truth there — yet it is sometimes mis-applied. We all know that none of us is “equal” in our aptitudes, in our abilities, potentialities, opportunities, or life experiences. There are striking differences between individuals that make some stronger, smarter, and better than others. Some are brighter, more talented, and more beautiful than others. Some of us could never become CEO of a large corporation or president of the United States no matter how hard we tried! We are just not “equal” to the tasks. I do not believe that the Bible teaches anywhere that all men are created equal. That is a Jeffersonian concept, but not a biblical one. Is that child created equal who is born in the slums; the child of a harlot and a whoremonger; a child without a name, who grows up in a wicked and dysfunctional atmosphere, and never knows virtue until it is steeped in vice? Is that child created equal and endowed with the same inalienable rights who grows up amidst falsehood, and never knows what truth is until it is steeped in lies; and never knows what honesty is until it is steeped in crime? Is that child created equal who is born in a communist land and in a godless home; who is told by its government and taught by its teachers that there is no God in heaven, and never knows even a verse of scripture until it is steeped in unbelief and infidelity? Is that child created equal with all the more privileged children born into homes of love, purity, faith, and blessings? It is a sham, a delusion, and a snare to say it. It is not true. All are not born into this world on an equal footing! They are perhaps “equal under the law” but they certainly are not created equal in their state of birth, their opportunities, their growth and development, or their life experiences.

How sad my heart often gets when I hear someone trying to explain how we are all “equal” in Christ. How often we have heard the remarks that they who have received Christ as Saviour are all the “bride of Christ,” or are all “sons of God,” or that irrespective of denomination or spiritual experience we are all “going to the same place.” Such statements indicate a lack of both spiritual perception and scriptural understanding. Beloved, nowhere within the pages of God’s holy Book is it taught that all believers have the same gifts, the same ministry, the same degree of maturity and spiritual stature, the same calling, the same position, the same rank, the same order, or even the same goal or destination. Yet most Christians and almost all preachers entertain the mistaken notion that all any child of God needs to do is just be faithful and “hold out till the end” and we’ll all go to the same heaven, walk the same golden streets, strum the same kinds of harps, sing and shout the same praises to God — and that will be IT. They seem to associate “going to heaven” as the ultimate reward. “We’re all going to the same place,” they croon. OH, NO, WE’RE NOT! In the visions of John we see clearly that some are in the throne, others are before the throne, and multitudes of the “nations of them that are saved” are outside the city — walking in the light of it! Does not even nature itself teach us that the “babe” in Christ, or the “carnal Christian,” or the spiritually dilatory, the reluctant, the sluggish, the dawdling, the procrastinator, the spiritually lazy, the one weak in faith, the idolater, would not receive the same reward as the consecrated saint who diligently seeks God with a pure, undivided heart, who draws nigh to God, takes up his cross, lays down his life, seeks the Lord with all His heart, and walks in the Spirit of the Lord?

In the poetry of the Psalms the Lamb’s wife, the virgin bride, is referred to as “the daughter of the king,” that is, the daughter of the king of Tyre, or Egypt, or any other country which became the bride of King Solomon (Ps. 45:10-13) who pre-figured Christ. But the bride does not come to the wedding alone! She is accompanied by a train of followers, called her “companions.” “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace” (Ps. 45:13-15). Ah, how those words resonate with the song John heard in the spirit: “Let us be glad and rejoice…for the marriage of the Lamb is come!”

The 45th Psalm speaks of the King, who comes forth from the ivory palaces, whose qualities are described so graphically, with great vigor and animation. But there is also the Queen, the King’s Bride, standing on his right hand, adorned with gold of Ophir, clothed in wonderfully wrought garments of beauty and glory, and inwardly she is all glorious. But besides the Queen, the King’s Bride, there is another blessed company, who are also to enter with gladness and rejoicing into the King’s palace, and to share his favor and the light of his countenance. They are called “the virgins,” the “companions,” associates, and bosom friends of the Queen, but plainly distinct from the Queen herself. They do not go with her when she is “taken,” but “follow her,” — come after her — and are “brought unto the King” at a subsequent time, and in quite another capacity from that of the Queen and Bride. All of them are citizens of the kingdom, members of the congregation of the Lord. All of them find their joy in association with the King and Queen, but they do not share that one thing — total intimacy and ultimate union. The Queen is related to the King on a deeper and higher plane than any of “the virgins the companions” that follow her.

Throughout the scriptures we see great diversities in the attainments of the saints and the rewards apportioned to them. Our Lord Himself frequently spoke of those who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven as well as those who would be least. He also revealed that some would be first, while others would be last. It should be obvious that there would be many levels in between! There are some who get crowns, and there are others who get none. As we have pointed out earlier, in the Revelation there are those blessed overcomers who are granted to sit with the Lord in His throne, while others are positioned “before” the throne, and besides these there are vast multitudes of those who are characterized as “the nations of them which are saved” who are completely outside the city but who “walk in the light of it.” That there is no equality of rewards in the kingdom of God is revealed plainly in the words of the Lord of the kingdom Himself: “And, behold, I come quickly: and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12). The Lord also stated that in the kingdom there are some who are assigned dominion over ten cities, some over five, and some who lose all reward, and are saved only “so as by fire.”

These are truths that vitally concern all of God’s elect who have received the call to brideship and sonship — the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! Even in the church of this age there are diversities of gifts and differences of administrations. And Paul tells the saints, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts…” (I Cor. 12:27-31).

Our blessed Lord and Elder Brother has opened up the way into a realm of ministry that transcends all that we have hitherto known or experienced. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, that we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK” (Heb. 6:18-20).

The word “order” in the phrase “order of Melchizedek” is something like the word “order” we use when we speak of certain religious orders, such as the Franciscans or the Dominicans, or the orders of various secret societies or lodges. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is a high priest after the “Melchizedekian Order.” And that was a startling statement when it was made! It was startling because the people who heard it first, knew only one order of priests. They were the Levitical priests of Israel and they were of the Aaronic order. When the new age of the church was inaugurated, the priesthood of Aaron was terminated and Christ ascended to become a high priest in the ORDER OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD. This is why Jesus had to be a special kind of priest. He had to have the Melchizedek Connection.

Never under the Aaronic order of priesthood, apart from one example, do we find where a king exercised the office or ministry of a priest. In the Levitical order the offices of king and priest were separated, there were those who reigned as kings, and there were those who were the Lord’s priests. Kings could not intrude into the priest’s office, and priests were not permitted to sit on the throne. The tribe of Judah produced the kings, and the tribe of Levi supplied the priests. On one occasion Uzziah, king of Judah, tried to assume the role of priest and “went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense” and for this infringement upon God’s due order was smitten with leprosy in his forehead (II Chron. 27:16-20). God had separated the two offices for that time, and the one was not to intrude into the other.

God is a God of order, and not of confusion! Truth has an order for all things that God made by Jesus Christ, who upholds all things by His word and power. So, with His word and power He keeps all things in their places, and in their proper order, and in their times, and in their seasons; the summer and the winter, the night and the day, the sun, moon, and stars, as also billions of galaxies with their untold trillions of stars and suns and planets and moons, all things are kept in order by the word of God and his power; and the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,” speaking of the Christ, “thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4). And Christ is not called after the order of Aaron (Heb. 7:11-22). Here you may see, the priesthood of Melchizedek was not made WITHOUT AN ORDER, just as Aaron’s priesthood was made by an order of God, according to his rod’s budding in the Tabernacle. And Jesus Christ is not a priest made without an order, but it is a priesthood of many sons called to share His fullest glory and His highest order, and is after the order of Melchizedek; and His royal priesthood, that is, His kingly priesthood, who offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, are in His spiritual order, which is the order of the Son of God, which is the order of SONSHIP.

Now, I have said all that just to say this: Melchizedek is a priesthood of ORDER! Jesus Christ is made a priest for ever after the ORDER of Melchizedek! How important it is that every member of God’s elect who is taught by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God should understand and comprehend the great truth and the deep mystery of all the “orders” that exist in the vast and eternal kingdom of God! We find that in the resurrection, every man comes up in his OWN ORDER. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But EVERY MAN IN HIS O-W-N O-R-D-E-R: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end (of the resurrection)…all things subdued…God all in all” (I Cor. 15:20,22-24,28). But what does this mean? The Greek word translated “order” is tagma and means “a group,” or “rank,” or “band,” or “company.” Tagma actually comes from a root word meaning to appoint, determine, or set in array, as used in Acts 13:38, “and as many as were ordained (appointed, set in array) to eternal life believed.” The thought is of soldiers marching in bands, companies, regiments, or battalions. As in times of war the country calls age groups and forms them into companies of men, so in like manner the Spirit of God shall call to life every man who has ever lived on planet earth in his own time, order, and rank. Some glad morning, when the ever unfolding plan of God is complete, every man will behold with endless joy the reality that his rank in the resurrection is determined not by what he became on earth, but by the pre-ordination of God before he was lowered into this realm!

You came into this realm out of the bosom of the Father! Before the Creator formed you, He knew you. He didn’t know you in your present physical form as Joe Smith or Sally Brown, but He knew you as spirit. God spoke to you about His plan for your life before ever you were formed as an embryo in the womb of your mother. Paul states it so clearly when he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:3-4). The Amplified Bible reads, “Even as He chose us (actually picked us out for Himself as His own) in Christ before the foundation of the world.” Never doubt this reality for a moment — the only way God could have loved you, chose you in Christ, and picked you out for His special and highest purpose before the foundation of the world is that you truly existed in and with Him before the appearing of the worlds. Nothing can be plainer than that! Yet we have supposed that we were just recently, in this life, apprehended of God to His purpose for us. I thought the work of God began in my life eighty years ago. Now I find that the thing God is doing with humanity began in eternity! It didn’t begin in time. It began before the ages were framed! God knew me, God loved me, counseled with me, and picked me out for a particular purpose, a specific ordination, work, company, rank, and order, and assigned me to that order, placed me in that order, before the foundation of the world! And that, my beloved, is what it means to come up in the resurrection IN YOUR OWN ORDER. Resurrection is the work of raising men up and bringing them back into the order they came out of when they were lowered into this gross material realm. You are raised up into the order you came from, not merely an order that was attained to on earth. Oh, the mystery of it!

Oh! How many realms of glory there are in God’s vast, illimitable, inexhaustible, and eternal kingdom! “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. And there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. SO ALSO IS THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD” (I Cor. 15:35,39-42). Let us not then lightly lay aside this truth of the MORE EXCELLENT GLORY, which the Holy Spirit has illumined and to which the word of God points the way. We may want to settle for just any degree of glory, but let us all who value the glory of God lay hold on the prize that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.

Now let us return to our thought of the bride of the Lamb and the companies of saints which surround her. Princesses and queens, above all on occasions of their marriage, always have their associates, companions, maids of honor, attendants, and friends, who, in a general way, are counted with them as making one and the same company, but who in fact are very distinct in honor and privilege from those on whom they find it their joy to attend. Just as the Bridegroom comes not alone, but with attendants, companions, and a long train of rejoicing ones who make up his party, the whole of whom together are called “the Bridegroom’s coming,” while in reality there is a vast difference between Him and those with Him; so it is on the side of the bride. The great crowd that gathers at any marriage, attendants or guests, are indeed blessed and honored to be “called to the marriage feast,” but they do not share that most sacred relationship and union of the bridegroom and the bride! And so it is also in the kingdom of God!

Throughout the beautiful Song of Solomon, from time to time the “daughters of Jerusalem” are addressed by the bride, or they address the bride. On one occasion they ask this question: “Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee” (S. of S. 6:1). The “daughters of Jerusalem” are the old-order church system Christians who love the Lord but are not “bride-like” in their relationship with Him. The Shulamite always addresses them as those who are looking on and are not enemies, although they are not seeking the most intimate fellowship and vital union with Christ. But here we meet the beautiful truth that because of the exquisite beauty of the Bride and because of the bride’s fervent love for her Beloved, a real hunger is aroused in their own hearts to seek after Him with her. From an attitude of indifference and detachment, they are at last brought to a place of hunger and desire, to a longing to seek Him with the bride. Oh, how wonderful are these things! For these are spiritual realities, and when one is dealt with by the Lord and responds to His dealing, that one can ascend in Him from one company to another — from being a “companion” of the bride to becoming a bride within himself or herself!

A little later in the same chapter we are shown even more “companies” of the bride’s companions. “There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters (of Jerusalem) saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her” (S. of S. 6:8-9). Though there are beautiful and highly honored “daughters of Jerusalem” without number, the Bridegroom declares that His dove is but one. In the second chapter, we are told that all the daughters are as thorns when compared to His love, who is the only lily! The expressions, “but one,” and “only one,” in the passage above are both translated from the same word in the Hebrew language. Their meaning throws much light upon our oneness and union with Christ. “But one” means “the united one; to unify or make one.” This reveals the great truth that there are many in the bride of the Lamb, but they are so united or unified in mind, heart, devotion, and will as to make “but one.” The bride is one; the companions are many. The bride is from among the daughters, but is singled out from them. From this moment of separation, a difference is made. The bride is that special one out of many! We can know by this that those who are truly the bride of the Lamb share a common understanding, revelation, submission, and purpose, being brought together in such perfect unity of spirit as will make her one. They are one among themselves, but even more importantly they are one in mind, heart, love, and devotion with their Beloved!

“The daughters saw her, and called her blessed; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.” All the precious children of God on earth, all of those who could have been in the bride of the Lamb and are not, all the hosts of heaven, every creature in heaven and upon earth, shall behold her, even as they shall look upon the Christ when He is revealed through His “many brethren” in all of His glory. Those who love God will rejoice in her brightness, those who could have been in this blessed company, will rejoice that she has attained to that which they have missed. In the wonderful glory of that day there will be no regret, bitterness, or resentment in any heart of God’s people, and they will call her blessed, they will praise her; not because of herself, but because she shows forth the purpose and handiwork of God and is to His praise and glory as she bears the image of His Son.

The Lord Himself has told us, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Ah, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb!” Oh, how bountifully blessed they are! Yet — can we not see that these are the “called” ones? “Many are called…” May I say it this way — in our present application, the multitudes attending the marriage of the Lamb are the called ones. The bride, however, is the chosen one! And the mystery is just this: “…few are chosen.” There is a little company today, who have come out of all the defilement around about us, who have forsaken man-made churches with their fears and fables, to be married to their Lord, and to Him alone. These are they who rule over His household, and who are now in travail to bring forth (Isa. 65:8). And there is a great feast spread, a feast wherein the wife and a portion of the “daughters,” the “virgins,” will attend (Mat. 25:10). It is the third feast of the Israelite year: not Passover, for that was fulfilled at Calvary; and not Pentecost, for that has been fulfilled throughout the church age. This third feast of the year is the feast of Tabernacles! It is “the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year” (Ex. 23:16, 34:22; Deut. 16:13-15). And this feast IS THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB! “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb!”

God is calling many in this hour and He is also choosing a few. We are now in this place where God is choosing, just as He chose Moses, David, the prophets, Peter, Paul, Andrew, James, John, Martin Luther and others who have been His instruments in every great move of God throughout the ages to be used by Him specially; we are now in an hour of divine choice. God is again choosing men! We are not choosing Him, He is choosing us. We are just responding to His choosing! God is making choice of those through whom there will come the complete, the full, the total revelation and manifestation of Jesus Christ in all of its glory, all of its power, all of its authority, and all of its salvation, so that all flesh shall see the salvation of God and all the ends of the earth the glory of the Lord upon the Lamb and His wife and His many brethren!

Behold — I show you a mystery! While we speak of the bride, and what a glorious and illustrious company she is, and those called, what a blessed company they are, let us not lose sight of the fact that the marriage is the “marriage of the Lamb.” It is the Lamb and His wife. It is the celebration of their joy, of their love, of their union, of their lives. The deep mystery which the Holy Spirit would now make precious to our hearts is just this — there is a corporate body of overcomers having a masculine character identified with the Lamb and they share His holy mount of Zion, they sit with Him in His throne, they ride white horses with Him in His conquest — for just as the bride is a corporate body of beloved ones, so also the GROOM is a corporate body of sons. Paul by inspiration wrote of those mature ones who “grow up into Him in all things WHICH IS THE HEAD, EVEN CHRIST” (Eph. 4:15). Can we not see that this signifies those who grow up into HIS HEADSHIP. These are also designated as a MANCHILD and as KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God, indicating that they grow up into HIS KINGSHIP, into HIS PRIESTHOOD, and into HIS SONSHIP. It should be obvious that a son cannot be a bride anymore than a king can be a queen. The bride of Christ has a joint rulership as a queen — but she is not the king! Christ is King of kings — signifying a KINGSHIP COMPANY.

George Hawtin has so ably written of this, “This is none other than Jesus Christ, the first begotten Son of God, together with all those other precious sons that have come into His image and likeness throughout the ages. This is in truth the FULLNESS OF THE BODY of the BRIDEGROOM, for the Bridegroom is more than Jesus of Nazareth. He is JESUS CHRIST AND ALL THE SONS whom God has given Him now joined together as one glorious BODY OF SONS, the Bridegroom of whom it was said, ‘Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.’ Christ together with ALL THE SONS OF GOD is the completeness of the BODY OF THE BRIDEGROOM. The long awaited time has come to take the bride, for the marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready. The marriage of the Bridegroom, the male company of sons, to the bride, the female company, will be the signal for the beginning of that age of all ages in which everything in heaven and earth will be gathered into Christ (Eph. 1:10)” — end quote.

This spiritually masculine company of overcomers are those sons of God, the manchild out of the virgin bride, of whom it is written by the prophet, “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” (Isa. 62:5). In this ONENESS WITH HIM in His headship there are positions and qualifications which denote a mature, spiritually masculine state of being in Him, with strength, authority, wisdom, and power. There are likewise positions and qualifications which denote a mature, spiritually feminine state of being in Him, with tenderness, compassion, mercy, succor, and love. The Father is choosing His GROOM COMPANY just as Christ is choosing His BRIDE COMPANY. The rest of God’s people are called to the marriage! That is the mystery.

THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB
“And 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” (Rev. 19:9).

God is an incredible host. He throws parties with the things we love: great food, great people, warmth, and laughter. God’s parties are lavish, extraordinary. Traveling through the desert, God’s people Israel pictured a promised wonderland “flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 13:5). And Joel 2:24 says, “The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.” It’s no surprise, then, that Jesus describes the kingdom of God as a joyful banquet (Luke 14:15). And in our present text John describes the time of the ultimate union of Christ and His bride as “the marriage supper (wedding feast) of the Lamb.”

Just the sound of the words “the wedding feast of the Lamb” brings great joy, excitement, and anticipation to our hearts! Weddings are a time of celebration, which usually includes a meal of one kind or another. Because of tradition we have visualized the bride of Christ whisked away into the sky, where millions of Christians sit down at a physical table set high in the atmosphere upon a brilliant white cloud, the table stretching to infinity with Jesus seated at the head and the saints of all the ages are with Him enjoying a meal of heavenly filet mignon; the angels standing at attention, refilling our glasses with living water and celestial wine. Many say this feast lasts for seven years, while the great tribulation is wreaking havoc on earth. Then, these stuffed saints come back and watch while God destroys the world system in the Battle of Armageddon. After that, Satan is bound up in chains and cast into a bottomless pit, and all the saints reign with Christ for precisely one thousand years. When the one thousand years are over, for some inexplicable reason, Satan will be let loose again to deceive all those people the saints have reigned over for the past thousand years. Eventually, fire will come down from heaven and destroy all those people and Satan will be thrown back into the lake of fire, and the saints will rule and reign with Christ forever — over something, somewhere!

A number of weddings are described in the Bible. The first wedding was performed by a very special guest minister. Whatever ceremony He may have chosen, it did not include those familiar words, “If man can show just cause why these two should not be lawfully joined together, let him now speak, or else forever hold his peace.” This statement was unnecessary, for the minister was God Himself, and the couple was Adam and Eve. Then there was a very unusual wedding in which the bridegroom found out the next morning, by light of day, that he had married the wrong girl (Gen. 29:21-25). One of the most beautiful wedding stories began in the barley field outside the little town of Bethlehem (Ruth 2). Perhaps the most tragic wedding was that between Ahab, king of Israel, and Jezebel, a godless Baal worshipper. This marriage would result in much sorrow and suffering for God’s people (I Kings 16:29-31). Finally, the Saviour of men chose a wedding in the city of Cana of Galilee to perform His first miracle and show forth His glory (Jn. 2:1-11). However, the most fantastic and wonderful wedding of all time is recorded in the book of Revelation — the marriage of the Lamb and His bride!

Much has been said about the proceedings involved in the marriage of Christ and His bride, and it is rather natural that Bible students speculate about what actually occurs in the marriage. Some are prone to view the marriage of Christ in a rather literal way, after the pattern of a wedding in our modern society, in which there is a ceremony with the bride being given away and nuptial vows taken. Of course this is absolutely foreign to the scriptures! If we are to understand what the Bible means by a marriage or a wedding, we must view it as it is portrayed in scripture itself. There are some Bible examples of marriage which will, to this writer’s thinking, adequately depict the marriage of Christ to His bride, and will show what constitutes that marriage.

The first is the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. The beautiful story is related in Genesis chapter twenty-four of how, when Abraham was old, he sent his eldest and most trusted servant, the steward of his house, into his own country from whence he had come, and among his own kindred to select a bride for his son Isaac. When the servant came to the city of Nahor, by the guiding hand of God he was brought into contact with Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel. Through his conversations with Rebekah it was clearly evidenced that she was the one God had chosen to be the bride of Isaac. After Rebekah consented to go and become Isaac’s wife, and after the servant had given some special gifts to her, he began the long journey to deliver Rebekah to Isaac. The scripture relates that “…Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. AND ISAAC BROUGHT HER INTO HIS MOTHER SARAH’S TENT, AND TOOK REBEKAH, AND SHE BECAME HIS WIFE; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen. 24:62-67).

There was no ceremony, no giving away of the bride, and no nuptial vows exchanged as we see in formal weddings in our society. The marriage simply consisted in their personal agreement and in Isaac’s taking Rebekah unto himself. There is no evidence in scripture that there were any special religious forms in the ancient weddings, no priest or clergyman officiated or validated the marriage. The essence of the marriage ceremony consisted in the removal of the bride from her father’s house to that of the bridegroom. That event had previously been arranged, of course, by the mutual consent of the families involved; the matter was publicly known and acknowledged and the marriage was binding.

Another beautiful example is presented in the book of Ruth. When Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer, redeemed both Ruth and the estate of Naomi according to the law of the kinsman-redeemer, he redeemed Ruth to be his wife. When the marriage occurred, there was no ceremony. The record simply states, “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife…” The marriage consisted simply in the bridegroom taking his bride to himself. It is my deep conviction that, in keeping with these analogies, the marriage of Christ and His bride consists simply in CHRIST TAKING HIS BRIDE UNTO HIMSELF. The spirit of inspiration has stated it this way: “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it…that He might PRESENT IT TO HIMSELF a glorious church…” (Eph. 5:27). The Emphatic Diaglott expresses the thought beautifully and correctly: “…that he might PLACE THE CONGREGATION BY HIS OWN SIDE, glorious…” Ah, He draws us to Himself, to His side, He takes us unto Himself, into union, and that, my friend, IS THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB!

The marriage of the Lamb is the revelation of Christ that causes you to know that you are united to Him; it is the conscious knowledge and the experiential reality. It is not a ceremony nor merely an assent or agreement. You cannot understand the marriage of the Lamb until you know UNION. You cannot be in that particular concert with Christ which the name of bride expresses until, forsaking all others, you yield yourself to be made ONE IN HIM. When I know that I am united to Christ I am so identified with His interests that they are paramount with me. Few know it! A wife to Christ is one who has reached full maturity in the spiritually feminine characteristics of her spiritual life, one who has given herself unreservedly for her Lover, one who has lost her own name and identity to take His. She has left all to follow Him! In mind, will, emotion, desire, hopes, plans, and actions the two become one.

In later times it became a custom in the Israelite wedding to have a feast after the bridegroom had taken his bride to his house and consummated their union. To this feast, all the family, friends, and neighbors were invited. Such a feast was celebrated when the marriage of Jacob occurred, when he had worked seven years for Laban in order to obtain Rachel, but on the night of the wedding, was given Leah instead (Gen. 29:18-31). In the days of Christ this “marriage feast” was arranged by the bridegroom at his parent’s home, his own home, or some other suitable place. When the night arrived for the wedding festivities to begin, the bridegroom, attended by friends and accompanied by musicians and singers, set out to claim the bride at the house of her father. The bride would be waiting at her house with her maid-servants stationed along the road to alert her when they saw him approaching. The first one to see the bridegroom would shout to the next, “Behold, the bridegroom!” and the shout would be passed along from maid to maid until it reached the bride. She would hasten to put the final touches to her wedding attire and stand ready for his knock on the door. At his knocking the door would open and there would stand his bride, in beauty and splendor, all adorned and prepared to go with him to the marriage feast. It was this wonderful scene, applied to Christ and His bride on the spiritual plane, that John beheld in his awe-inspiring vision on Patmos!

After receiving the bride from her parents with their blessing the bridegroom conducted the whole party back to his own house. There were demonstrations of joy all along the road to the destination. On the way other friends of the bride and bridegroom joined the party and there was much music and dancing. When approaching the bridegroom’s house, the bridegroom took his bride into the nuptial chamber. They were then left alone and the bridegroom took his bride and the marriage was consummated. At last, there was UNION! Following their union they both went out to join the festivities of the marriage feast.

Now, lest you get the idea from this typology that Christ is coming to take His bride away, to leave this earth and take a flight to some other planet for a big supper of steak, baked potatoes, and apple pie a-la-mode, let me set things straight. For long centuries the church world has been telling us of a day in the sweet bye and bye, a time when we would be “caught up” in the air and find ourselves feasting and dining at a huge banqueting table in the sky. It would be a wonderful time indeed, this meeting in the air, and we would all feast lavishly on the richest dainties, while all the poor souls on earth who didn’t make this “rapture” would be suffering the hellish torments of the “great tribulation.”

Most Christians, unfortunately, are busily preparing themselves to go “up” to meet the Bridegroom. Not knowing who or what the Bridegroom is, they therefore cannot know how to go forth to meet Him. As we have previously pointed out, there is not one scripture in the whole Bible that speaks of being “caught up” to meet the Bridegroom, or to eat the marriage supper in the sky. This “marriage supper in the sky” business is naught but an ignorant invention and senseless delusion of the carnal church systems of man — Mystery Babylon. Most Christians today are not preparing to meet the Bridegroom, but are trying to fix themselves up so that they will be ready to be whisked away into the clouds instead. All their fuss and stir is in vain. I tell you plainly — THERE WILL BE NO MARRIAGE SUPPER IN THE SKY! In order to meet the Bridegroom one must go “out.” “Go ye O-U-T to meet Him” (Mat. 25:6). The marriage supper is not “up.” It is OUT!

Great harm is done to God’s children in teaching the coming of the Bridegroom and the marriage supper according to the wisdom of man. The natural mind does not receive the things of the Spirit of God and therefore does not receive the spirit of wisdom and understanding which illuminates the precise wording of scripture as given by the Spirit. There are not words in the English language adequate to express how important it is to make the proper preparation for the right event. Suppose that I am invited to a special work day at a church and am instructed to wear old clothes and bring along a broom, a mop, a bucket, some rags and cleaners. Let us further suppose that I get the date confused, and upon arrival at the church discover that a very formal wedding is in progress to which I have also been invited, but have confused the date with the work day, and which I feel obligated to attend, and many of my friends are in fact there. How unspeakably embarrassed I would be standing there before my well-dressed friends at this lavish event attired in ragged clothes, with mop and bucket in hand! Ah, one must be very certain about where he is going, and what the nature of the event is, and precisely how to prepare for it. And should someone find my illustration too crude or inappropriate, let me hastily add that it is a great fact that one does not prepare in the same way for going UP as he does for going OUT! Is it not a delusion that men are preparing themselves for a literal trip through the tangible air to feast on some kind of natural food in these last days?

This speaks to the heart. Our Lord prophesied of this, our day, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom…and at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye OUT to meet him!” (Mat. 25:1,5). May our hearts be seized, my beloved, by this one compulsion — to detach ourselves from the world and its pressures and values, from self and its demands, from present things, from religion with its carnality, from ALL — to go forth, in the spirit of our minds, in the affections of our hearts, to meet CHRIST THE BRIDEGROOM! It is not a question of going forth from one physical or astral location to another; it is not a matter of soaring away into the skies to join Jesus on a cloud; it is not geographical at all, but deeply spiritual. It is the out-going of the heart to be uniquely joined in union with our Head and Lord. It bespeaks such a detachment from this world system that our one goal, our sole aim, is Christ; we are going forth to meet HIM!

The preachers have the coming of the Lord all muddled because they cannot with their carnal minds and static creeds distinguish the difference between the facets of His coming. They know nothing of the distinction between His coming as King and His coming as Bridegroom, and His coming in many other ways and forms. Therefore they know not how to prepare for His comings. This much is clear — in order to meet the Bridegroom, one must go “out.” And “out” does not in any way indicate UP! The great truth the Holy Spirit would now make real to our hearts is just this: the only way one may go “out” to meet the Bridegroom is to “come out” from among the world and the flesh and the harlot church systems with their idolatries and miserable distortions of truth, to be JOINED UNTO THE LORD in intimacy of fellowship and vital union!

One cry in the book of Revelation is for us to “Come up hither” into a higher realm of life and glory. The important truth for us to understand now is that in the Revelation there is both a coming out and a coming up. Pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s use of terms! “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her my people, that ye be not partaker of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). That very word came to us in great power by the Spirit many years ago during the time of a most sovereign move of God in our midst. We were obedient to the word we heard from heaven and hasted to come out of the carnal confusion of Mystery Babylon, the old-order church system, and out of the whole religious order of man. God began in us a process of complete and total restoration of His truth, His ways, His will, His purpose, His mind, His heart, and the things of His spirit and His kingdom! The reason we must go “out” to meet the Bridegroom is because He is Himself “out.” The message of the Gospels is very clear — all things related to Christ are OUTSIDE of organized, man-made religion!

The natural mind is very dark and without understanding. Only the Holy Spirit can awaken it! May Christ who is the power of God open the eyes of all who read these lines, even as the scales fell from the vision of Saul of tarsus when Jesus purged them away. In Matthew 22:1-14 we are informed in the solemnest of tones about the marriage supper of the Lamb. Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a king who invited different ones to a marriage feast for his son. A great number of people were invited and the wedding feast was filled with guests. Among the Eastern peoples, noblemen kept in their wardrobes a great number of garments which are called caftans. They are given at such occasions as this to be worn by the guests. It is a great affront for anyone to come and not be appropriately costumed for the occasion.

Since they were giving out wedding garments at the door, we can only assume that when this fellow Jesus told about came to the door, and the servant inquired, “What size are you — small, medium, or large — you look like a medium,” the man replied, “I don’t need one.” “Well,” the servant insisted, “The King expects you to use this.” “I don’t have to do that, don’t worry about it, the King knows me very well,” and with his heart full of neglect or rebellion he entered into the hall. Soon the King entered into the wedding chamber to welcome his guests. But immediately he noticed a man who was not wearing the wedding garment. “My friend,” he said, “how did you come in here without putting on the required wedding garment?” The king was simply enquiring whether he had an excuse, if there was a valid reason why he had no garment. “Did we run out of garments at the door? Did we have no garment that would fit? Did the garment not look good on you? Did you not like our color schemes? Were you allergic to something in the material? Friend, give account of your conduct!” The scripture says he was speechless — not because he could not speak, but because he was without excuse!

Brethren! Are we not told by the preachers that the marriage supper is celebrated someplace far away in the sky, and sometime after the “rapture” of the church? Were we not fervently taught that we are going to be in the air for seven years and have a wedding feast with the Lord? The question follows — If the wedding feast is after we are raptured, and somewhere in the sky, HOW DID THIS MAN WITHOUT THE WEDDING GARMENT GET IN THERE? WAS HE SOMEHOW “RAPTURED” BY MISTAKE? Did the Lord Jesus commit a terrible error and accidentally “translate” a man who was not adequately prepared or properly invested for the marriage supper in the sky? How preposterous! This parable proves beyond any possibility of contradiction that a so-called “rapture” has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the marriage supper of the Lamb!

This parable shows that the wedding feast takes place right down here on this earth, and there are people who are feasting on the riches of present truth and the depth of God’s revelatory word just as you are, and are standing right in the midst of those who are experientially entering into union with Christ, but they have not had a change of garment; they have not been clothed in the transforming righteousness of Christ; they have not put on that precious mind that was in Christ Jesus; they have not put off the old man with his works and put on the new; they have not died to sin and self and religion; they are neither living nor walking in the Spirit of the Lord! But they have come into the marriage hall of the Lamb!

These have presumptuously “jumped on the bandwagon” of the message of the hour. With unsanctified minds and fleshly zeal they grasp after the deep things of God; they are along for the ride; they mingle with those elect saints who have been apprehended of God to the high calling in Christ Jesus. They show up at every meeting and attend every convention; with unwashed hands they eat from the table so bountifully prepared by the Holy Spirit for those who forsake all to follow the Lamb; they parrot all the right words, and mouth the sacred secrets revealed by the spirit of truth, and may, with feigned piety appear as one of the choice vessels of the kingdom; but beneath the cloak of pretense there is no true consecration in their lives, no inworking of the holiness of God, no conformation to the image of Christ, no transformation of mind or heart or nature; they are clearly imposters, deceivers, usurpers, pretenders, hypocrites, and cheats.

They have no wedding garment! And now, exposed to the penetrating gaze of the King’s presence, the man of nice words and spiritual-sounding expressions no longer could conceal his true condition. In due time, prior to the event of the marriage of His son, the King dealt swiftly and effectively with the usurper. “Then the King said to the attendants, Tie him hand and foot, and throw him into outer darkness (the darkness outside the hall); there will be weeping and grinding of teeth” (Mat. 22:13). No, the poor fellow is not cast into hell fire, nor into Hades, nor into Gehenna, nor into eternal damnation — he is simply excluded from the marriage feast, outside the blessings and benefits of this realm of glory, devoid of true understanding and revelation, denied for that time the privilege of fellowship in the higher light of the kingdom of God and the glory of union with Christ. What a word!

To be continued…

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE 207

FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
(A study in Book of Revelation Part 207) by J. Preston Eby.

THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (continued)
“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. 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. And 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” (Rev. 19:7-9).

I have heard great stress laid upon the fact that the bride of Christ consists of a body corporate, not of the individual; and therefore that we cannot, without irreverence and impropriety, personally experience Jesus Christ as the spiritual Husband of the individual soul. I readily admit the fact, but I demur to the inference. It should be obvious that the church, though a body, is made up of individuals; and it is as an aggregation of individualities, each containing its own individuality, and not a unit — in which individuality is sunk and the individual absorbed — that the church is to be presented to Christ. We no more believe in the absorption of the individual in the church than we entertain the notion espoused by the eastern religions of the absorption of all things into God in such a way that all personal identity is lost.

The body of Christ is now multiplied by thousands, tens of thousands, yea untold millions, and it is not just one little girl that Christ receives but a corporate bride composed of a vast multitude of individual members. The point is just this: all that happens to the corporate body must be experienced by each member — it is first and foremost the experience of each member that finally constitutes the experience of the whole. By way of example, in school each year you have a graduating class. The “class” is a corporate body, but the corporate expression can only exist when each member of that body has completed the same courses with essentially the same grades. Each individual member must have had a like relationship with the school, the teacher, and the work required. Thus, it is the corresponding experience of each member that finally constitutes the experience of the whole. In just that way, if I do not know the Christ personally as my Bridegroom, it is impossible for me to be a part of that corporate body which is joined into experiential union with Him. Let us by all means remember that we are to be perfected in One; but let not this check the outflow of our individual affection to Him with whom, in some strange way, we are to be thus closely related. The thought of this most intimate relationship loses all its warmth, and even its reality, when we miss or eliminate the personal element in it. We teach the sinner to see in “God so loved the world,” that God loved ME. Surely we can’t be wrong in seeing in “Christ so loved the church,” that Christ loved ME!

It is a precious experience when any child of God begins to understand personally something of the import of these prophetic words: “In that day thou shalt call me no more Baali (that is, my lord, master); but thou shalt call me Ishi (my husband)” (Hos. 2:16). The grammar of that prophecy is both singular and personal. And there are moments when His voice seems to sound in our ears, as though we heard Him say personally to each of us, “Hearken, O daughter, and consider…forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the King have pleasure in thy beauty: for He is thy Lord God; and worship thou Him.” He is the Bridegroom of the corporate bride, but our love and relation to Him is to be as gloriously personal as though to each of us He had made this revelation of Himself, and to no other. Let it be the one work of our lives to fit ourselves for the enjoyment of this wondrously close relationship with Him. Let all lower affections be dominated by this one, and all that is unworthy of this be renounced. We are espoused to Christ! We are called and chosen and separated to be presented as a chaste virgin to Him! Oh, let us be true to His claims upon us, for with His own blood He has paid the dowry for us! Let us gladly sacrifice all that keeps us back from full self-surrender to Him! So shall the King of glory have pleasure in us, and we shall find our crown of eternal fulfillment in HIM!

In our text the cry is, “…the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready!” This addresses the heart. It is not an historical event. Nor is it merely a future dispensational event. It is a spiritual experience! The marriage of the Lamb is that revelation of the Christ that causes us to know that we are united to Him; it is the conscious knowledge and the experiential reality. We cannot understand the relationship of the bride with the Lamb Bridegroom until we know UNION. We cannot be in that particular concert with Christ which the name bride or wife expresses until we yield ourselves to be made ONE IN HIM. And that is not something which happens someday when Jesus comes crashing down through the clouds. Oh, no! This is a present reality! When I know that I am united with the Christ I am so identified with His name, His person, His presence, His life, and His interests that they are paramount with me. Few know it! A wife is one who has reached maturity, fully developed in mind and body, her hormones have kicked in, and she has given herself in a mature relationship completely and unreservedly for her lover; one who has lost her own name, residence, and self-identity to take his. She has left all to follow him! The result of such a union is described by the inspired apostle in these words: “…that we should be married to another, even to HIM who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4).

It was to the church which is His body that Paul wrote, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning CHRIST AND THE CHURCH” (Eph. 5:31-32). It was also to the saints that Paul addressed these significant words, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to HIM…” (Rom. 7:4). Again it was to the elect of the Lord that Paul explained, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to ONE HUSBAND, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to CHRIST” (II Cor. 11:2).

In our consideration of the Bridegroom and the bride we need to remember that first of all these precious realities are fulfilled within each of us personally! Christ is not just in some far-off heaven somewhere; for us He is our life, our reality, and our only hope of glory; and that hope of glory is neither Christ in heaven nor Christ coming again — it is CHRIST IN YOU! This is a phrase of inexhaustible wonder — “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME” (Gal. 2:20). “For He abideth with you, and SHALL BE IN YOU” (Jn. 14:17). “He shall be IN you.” In these simple words our Lord announces the wonderful mystery of His indwelling which was to be the fruit and the crown of His redeeming work. It was for this that man had been created! It was for this, God’s incarnation in flesh, that the Spirit had revealed God unto men! It was for this that Jesus had lived and was about to die. Dwelling in them, He would prepare them to receive Himself as their true life and identity — as Bridegroom! We can never understand the deep mystery of the Bridegroom and the bride until we know that Christ is the Bridegroom and that Christ lives in us. All who give godly consideration to these simple truths cannot avoid the conclusion that the BRIDEGROOM IS WITHIN OURSELVES. There is deep within the inner sanctum of each of us a place where the Bridegroom dwells and He comes out of that place and woos us into intimacy of fellowship and vital union with Himself! Isn’t it wonderful!

Suppose someone wants to visit me. He must first find where I live! If he cannot locate my home, he will have to forfeit his visit. Some years ago a precious brother from Kenya, East Africa was on a mission to the United Nations in New York. While here in our country he boarded a bus and traveled from New York City to El Paso, Texas to visit us. He failed, however, to contact us ahead of time and make the necessary arrangements to see us. When he arrived in El Paso he was unable to locate us and had to get back on a bus and make the long journey back to New York. Although there is much talk about Christ living in us, the vast majority of Christians have absolutely no idea where it is that He dwells in us! They are searching, looking for the Christ, and cannot find Him because they do not know His address. We can never know Christ the Bridegroom, or union with Him, until first we know where He dwells! A wonderful clue is found in these words: “The Spirit of God dwelleth in you…and if Christ be in you, the body is dead…but the spirit is life” (Rom. 8:9-10). Roman 8:9 refers without doubt to the Holy Spirit of God, but verse 10 refers to the human spirit. “The body is dead…but the spirit is life.” Of course, the Holy Spirit cannot be compared with our body. The contrast is between what is true in OUR BODY and what is true in OUR SPIRIT. If Christ is in us our body (the earth man) is dead, but our spirit (the new man) is life, quickened and energized by HIS INDWELLING LIFE!

Ah — Christ is in us, but where within us is He? In what part? What is His address? Is He in our brain? Is He in our liver? Is He in our solar plexus? Is He in our bloodstream? It is abundantly clear — Christ today is in our spirit! There is no need to be vague like many who say, “Oh, the Lord is in you and the Lord is in me.” The Holy Spirit has definitely revealed that Christ is in our spirit. “The Lord be with thy spirit” (II Tim. 4:22). The preposition “with” is from the Greek sun which denotes “union.” The Lord is in union with our spirit! There is a mighty working taking place within God’s elect — no more to have that duality — our spirit, His Spirit, but to be so fully merged into one with Him that HIS Spirit is mine, and MY spirit is swallowed up into His. “There is but ONE SPIRIT,” says the apostle. And the great truth is that that one spirit is neither the Holy Spirit nor our spirit — it is His Spirit joined to our spirit — for the testimony of scripture is irrefutable and immutable: “He that is joined to the Lord I-S O-N-E S-P-I-R-I-T!”

It is a blessed day for any man when he makes the amazing discovery that Christ Himself is the Bridegroom; that this Christ is in our spirit; that the Bridegroom (the Lamb) is thus in our spirit, His place of residence; that the coming of the Bridegroom is WITHIN! It should be obvious to every spiritually thinking mind that if the Bridegroom is within, the bride is likewise to be found within! Marriage is the conjunction to two into one. When these two enter into union, they are called one. It is no longer Miss Jones and Mr. Brown; it is Mr. and Mrs. Brown. There is, therefore, a part of our being which must be wooed by Christ in our spirit and brought into relationship and oneness in Him. Bride in Hebrew is kallah meaning “the completed one” or “the perfected one.” It reveals the concept of a woman being completed once she is married to her husband — and, as Paul so beautifully expresses it, “YE are complete IN HIM!” In order to identify this bride within we must understand what part of us it is that must be completed and perfected. The bride is a woman, a female. THE BRIDE IS THE FEMALE PART OF YOU! Your soul is the female part of your being; therefore your soul is the woman or the bride of the Lamb who is in your spirit. For a clear picture of this truth I now call your attention to the awe-inspiring words of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden!

The story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden is the greatest parable in the Bible. I do not mean by that that there was no literalness to the garden or to Adam and Eve in it, for literal things always serve as parables of spiritual realities! The record of Adam and Eve in the Garden is supremely important because it explains the real nature of life here on earth. It tells us about ourselves, it portrays in vivid imagery our true state of being, our testings, our fall and redemption, and our destiny in God. It is the blueprint of spiritual anatomy. Once we thoroughly understand Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden we then understand the nature of God, the nature of man, and the ground-plan for the outworking of the purposes of God through the ages. There is one thing about which the Lord’s people must be perfectly clear. The Bible is not primarily intended to teach history, or biography, or geography, or natural science. It is intended to teach divine principles and spiritual realities!

On a day in the long ago the inspired apostle Paul penned these telling words: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor. 11:2-3). In this significant passage Eve in the garden of Eden is contrasted with two things: the bride of Christ and the mind. The mind is a function of the soul! In fact, the Greek word psuche is often used interchangeably for both mind and soul. In a broader sense the four-fold function of the soul as revealed in scripture is the mind, the will, the emotion, and the desire. It was in the soul that Eve was beguiled! It was in her mind, in her will, in her emotions, and in her desires. The vision of the bride of Christ pervades the whole of scripture, from Eden onward, with ever-increasing clearness. Eve, the mother of the human family, is the first type of this great mystery. Let us not underestimate this remarkable woman from whom the whole human race has sprung!

In that ancient shadow Adam stands as a type of the spirit, Eve is a type of the soul, and the garden of Eden serves as a type of the body where both dwell, which Adam was to “dress and keep.” Thus we see our tri-partite being symbolically portrayed in the Adam-Eve-Garden story! The Garden was the earth, the land, the locale; and Adam and Eve were its inhabitants, in the same way that our spirit and soul are the inhabitants of the physical body. It is through our “Eve,” our soulical faculties of mind, will, emotion, and desire, that we who have been espoused to Christ the Bridegroom in our spirit, can be “beguiled” and turned from our single and pure devotion to Christ, entering instead into intimate but illicit associations with the flesh, and the fleshly systems of the world and religious Babylon, thus disqualifying ourselves from being presented to Christ as a pure and holy virgin. Paul speaks of the “simplicity” that is in Christ; that is how the King James Bible renders it. The Greek word denotes not simplicity but singleness. A bride is to have a singleness of eye, of desire, of heart, of love for her husband. Paul shows that just as Eve was beguiled from her singleness to God and her husband, so those espoused to Christ can be corrupted in their minds or in their souls from their singleness to Christ in our spirit!

“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.” When God created man in His own image he was ONE, not separated in the beginning into two persons. This reveals to us the nature of God Himself who is both male and female, both Father and Mother, both Begetter and Nurturer, both the Propagater of sons and the Mother Hen who gathers her chicks under her wings (Mat. 23:37). Thus Adam remained until the Lord separated the feminine from the masculine, making Adam and Eve, man and woman, to exist separately. Within the one man’s nature were both masculine and feminine characteristics, all the possibilities of both male and female, all the potential of fruit and power, wisdom and love, strength and nurture. The spiritual man, being a son of God, possessed that perfect chaste virgin within himself and could have replenished the whole earth with his kind in God’s image and likeness simply by a word of power!

It was not the burning self-desire of Adam that caused Eve to come forth, but the purpose of God! It was God Himself who initiated the whole process, for the record states, “And the LORD GOD said, It is not good for the man to be alone; I WILL MAKE him an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18). Eve was God’s idea! “Meet” in the expression “help meet” is an old English word meaning “suitable, fit, proper, corresponding.” The whole flavor of the word “meet” is to fit, join, agree, be compatible, be in union, be together. No hostility here! No war between the sexes! No men from Mars and no women from Venus! And no division. God made a helper to properly and suitably and equally fit, join, combine, agree, be in union with, yes, to be ONE with Adam, and he ONE with her!

When Eve had been built by the skillful hand of the Creator we read that He “brought her unto the man” (Gen. 2:22). I cannot conceive of anything more exquisite and meaningful than that beautiful type! I say to every soul reading these lines, Have you been brought to Christ where Christ is? If you do not know union with Christ in your spirit, you will never know union with Him in the sky nor in any heaven anywhere in all God’s vast universe. And know this, oh man; you cannot become “spiritual” by any self-effort! Many seek to be spiritual by doing something: by prayer, reading the Word, devotedness, keeping the commandments, paying tithe, doing good works, keeping the traditions, attending meetings; but spirituality is not found in any of those things! The only pathway to spirituality is to be brought by the Spirit to realize union with Christ! One can only be spirit-ual by union with spirit! Union! What was Eve’s thought when her eyes first rested upon Adam? Do you suppose she immediately questioned within herself if somewhere there might just be another man even more handsome and desirable than he? Perhaps she should wait a while? Ah, I doubt not that she was immediately and completely overwhelmed, truly fell in love at first sight, was at once drawn by irresistible cords of love and passionate desire to find union with him!

Let us meditate deeply upon the soul-bride that Eve reveals to us. I must remind every reader of these lines that there is an essential and radical distinction between the spirit and the soul. God is the Father of spirits, but He is the Former or Builder of souls. “And the rib (Hebrew: side, chamber), which the Lord God had taken from man, built He a woman…” (Gen. 2:22). I know not why this has been forgotten by the church world, and I know not why men claiming to be Christian scholars have never told you that the soul is not the spirit, and the spirit is not the soul. It seems to me a remarkable thing, that that which God has so clearly revealed, the distinction between the soul and the spirit, men have, through their ignorance and devotion to a false platonic philosophy, been unable to see. If you read your Bible carefully, starting with the first chapter of Genesis, you will find that what the apostle says in the epistle to the Hebrews is true; that the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing asunder, separating soul and spirit. It is not the philosophy of Socrates or Plato that does this! They confound soul and spirit, not recognizing any difference. It is not the philosophy of Kant or Hegel or Strauss that does this! It is not the philosophy of the Hindu or the Buddhist or the Transcendentalist that does this — but it is the Word of God that separates between soul and spirit! What a marvelous thing! In the same way that God separated Eve from Adam, the Spirit of God separates between the soul and the spirit of man.

What is this thing called spirit? How can we know the spirit? How can we touch the spirit? To speak of the body is very easy, because we can see it and touch it. To speak of the soul is also not difficult because we can discern it, feel it, and know it by its functions and actions, such as thinking, reasoning, determining, being pleased, angry, fearful, seductive, vindictive, sorrowful, or joyful. But it is not as easy to understand and speak of the spirit.

Romans chapter eight speaks of the spirit and gives us a wonderful clue. In verse two the apostle refers to “the spirit of life.” In verse six he says, “to be spiritually minded is life.” In verse ten he adds, “the spirit is life…” In these three statements he shows us that the spirit is the spirit of life, the spirit is related to life, contains life, and belongs to life. If we desire to have true spiritual growth in life we must be able to discern what is the spirit and what is the soul, and what is spiritual and what is soulish. Paul has declared without equivocation, “For we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God…but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:12,14). These inspired words speak of two classes of men: one is the soulish man (the Greek words for “natural man” are “soulish man”), and the other is the spiritual man. This reveals to us the great truth that man can live by and belong to either of these two distinct realms, the soul or the spirit. Man can either live by the soul, thereby becoming a soulish man; or he can live by the spirit, thereby becoming a spiritual man.

The soul is our individual human personality, our natural consciousness, our ego; therefore the soul is our natural Self. That which is included in the soul, analytically speaking, is the mind, the will, the emotion, and the desire — these four parts. The mind is the organ of man’s consciousness and thinking. It is what we usually think of as the brain; physiologically it is the brain, but psychologically it is the mind. It is the dominant aspect of the soul. Man’s thinking, reasoning, memorizing, are all functions of the mind in the soul. The will in the soul is the organ of man’s conscious, deliberate decision making and action as well as the process of exercising this power or faculty of choice, volition, judgment, acceptance, rejection, determination, and self-control. These are all functions of the will in man’s soul. The emotion in the soul is the organ of man’s love, hatred, sorrow, joy, fear, contentment, etc. Man rejoices, mourns, is excited or depressed — these are all functions of the emotion in man’s soul. There are many people who are emotional, easily stirred to be ecstatic or sad, animated or depressed. They often deal with matters by their emotion rather than by knowledge or careful deliberation. The desire in man’s soul is the organ of man’s wishing for, longing for, craving, wanting, and coveting of things either tangible or intangible. The desire in man’s soul is both his biological and psychological appetite of various kinds. These four parts are present in every man, for every man possesses the quality of soul.

Regardless of whether a man is functioning in the mind, the will, the emotion, or his desire, he is soulish. Every man that lives only by these natural senses apart from the spirit, is a soulish man. Therefore it is very easy to discern whether a man is soulish! I would be remiss if I did not point out that the soul can be moved upon to act religiously — and what a fine act it is able to perform! But forget not for one moment, precious friend of mine, that in spite of its “religious” appearance, it is still the soul! The soul can be taken into a meeting where a religious atmosphere is created by a man at the podium; with a suave and dynamic personality he directs you to stand, sing, clap your hands, raise your hands, praise the Lord, say Amen, etc. Often with peppy choruses, hand clapping, and rhythm your soul is stirred and takes on the appearance of spirituality. Now, there is nothing wrong with standing, clapping, singing, raising the hands and praising the Lord. The real issue, however, is the source of these things! Are they instigated by the spontaneous outflow of HIS LIFE IN THE SPIRIT, or are they merely contrived actions of the soul? If the soul is responding only to the command of man, there is nothing of the spirit or spiritual about it. I know many people who prefer peppy songs and clapping because it creates a good feeling. These often don’t appreciate a slow, worshipful chorus, because this doesn’t stir their soul. They are not worshipping in spirit and in reality — they are merely praising the Lord in the soul. Ah, better that the soul praises the Lord than that it becomes upset or angry and utters vulgarities! Better that it sings the songs of Zion, than the perverted music of the world! But we do not want to mistake that which is soulish for that which is spiritual. If none of these “good” things are motivated from within by the spirit, it is still naught but the vanity of the flesh!

If we can recognize what kind of person is soulish, it is not difficult to realize what kind of person is spiritual. Since a soulish person lives by the mind, will, emotion, and desire, a spiritual person is one who does not live by these. A spiritual person must live in the spirit, act by the spirit, speak out of the spirit and not the soul. These allow the spirit, the power of the inward spiritual mind, will, emotion, and desire of the indwelling Christ, to be the master and source of all their action and behavior. The spirit, the living presence of Christ, in them occupies the pre-eminent position; it is the source of their behavior and the starting point of their action. The soul in them is in the position of submission, under the government of the spirit and controlled by the spirit. They are not like soulish persons, who let the soul be master in everything; they deny the pre-eminence of their own mind, will, emotion, and desire. They do not stand, sing, clap, speak, praise, or do anything simply at the command of man or their own volition; they do any or all of these things and more only when the command comes from within, out of the moving of the spirit deep within themselves. They allow the spirit to BE LORD in them! They allow the spirit to direct their whole being so that they become the expression of the spirit. Whenever they encounter a situation they do not draw from their mind, will, emotion, or desire to deal with it; rather they draw from the divine wisdom and power in their spirit first to understand and comprehend it, seeking first in the spirit for the Lord’s mind and purpose in the matter. THESE ARE SPIRITUAL, living by the life of the spirit, and the soul is but a vehicle of expression for the spirit. Praise God! It is the ONE SPIRIT that becomes the Bridegroom within which ultimately is fully joined to the bride-soul within — the spirit becomes the master of the soul and receives the soul into union with itself. This is the marriage of the Lamb and His wife within ourselves — and that is the mystery!

The allegory of lover and beloved, bride and groom, marriage and union, gives to us the highest example of the oneness which we desire to share with Christ, which we seek within ourselves, the union of our soul with our spirit. We are weary of the sense of duality and separation! We are frustrated with the unending warfare between the flesh and the spirit! We are tired of speaking in tongues one minute and flying off the handle the next! From the time we were awakened to Christ in our spirit we have struggled with this dualness — our mind often pulled in the direction of the flesh, while yet our soul truly yearns for that life from above which alone would satisfy. Thank God! The spirit of Christ within is gaining the ascendancy as He woos the soul and the soul becomes more and more subdued. But the prayer remains, “that they all may be ONE…”

Long millenniums ago the aged prophet-king of Israel articulated the deepest cry of the soul-bride for her Beloved, saying, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God…” (Ps. 42:1-2). As a woman yearns for union with her husband, so the soul longs for union with Christ. The natural mind cannot comprehend what fearful loss befell the man in Eden when the woman was severed from him. All the female qualities of tenderness, patience, long-suffering, intuition, nurturing, gentleness, submissiveness, and succor were separated from his bosom and embodied in Eve. But consider also what the woman lost in strength, wisdom, courage, bravery, energy, stamina, and much more. Nature has created the fundamental urge of every human being for re-union with its counterpart — to find itself again in WHOLENESS. This complement of the sexes one with the other, and the need for union to find wholeness and experience fulfillment — and the ecstasy that brings — is the greatest proof that the Genesis record of how the woman was taken out of the man is absolutely true and reliable! Just as there is the natural drive for union with the opposite sex, there is also within the soul the intense thirsting for union with God! The truth is, this urge exists not only within the soul — it is just as powerful in the spirit! This is the meaning of the mystery of “the way of a man with a maid,” the mystery that every human being, male and female, goes through a “mating season.” We call it dating, courtship, and engagement! In the natural, it is the man who courts the woman and is the aggressor. It is most often the boy who chases the girl! The bride of Christ (the soul) has now entered a great “mating season” of reunion with God. In His appointed times the Christ within our spirit initiates the courting in His own subtle yet divine way as He woos the soul, drawing our desires and affections unto Himself. There is to be a unification within, so that all our soul realm is swallowed up into the life of the indwelling spirit of Christ, bringing us eventually into the personal experience of THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB!

Nowhere is this beautiful truth presented more clearly and powerfully than in the Song of Solomon. Nowhere in scripture does the unspiritual mind tread upon ground more mysterious and incomprehensible as in this book, while the saintliest men and women of the ages have found it a source of pure and exquisite delight. The story is written as a dramatic play having six distinct scenes. Hear now a sample of the interplay between the Bridegroom and His bride…

“My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine” (S. of S. 2:10; 1:2).

“Behold, thou art fair, my love: behold, thou art fair…thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart…how fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine!” (S. of S. 4:1,9,10).

In the Song of Solomon you have two key symbols: a male and a female. And it is a story that depicts the way by which the two are brought to each other in the union of love. What is significant for us to understand is that the story is as important for her as it is for him. The young maiden, the Shulamite, is a type of many things — not the least of which is that this story is a picture of heaven being joined to earth. It is also a picture of Yahweh and Israel under the Old Covenant. It is furthermore a picture of Christ and the church. And most importantly for us today, on the individual plane, it is a picture of how the spirit is wedding your soul. And why is that important? Because the soul is what you are in your human consciousness. The soul is more than something you have, the soul is you in all your earthly identity. When God breathed into Adam the breath of life, man became a living soul. When that fact is repeated in the New Testament the term “living soul” is expressed in the Greek as zoe psuche. Zoe is the word always used in the New Testament for the divine, incorruptible life of God. Psuche, on the other hand, is the word for the human soul. The great truth the Holy Spirit would make real to us here is just this — man is both divine and human, zoe and psuche, spirit and soul — truly a LIVING SOUL! There can’t be anything more outstanding than being a living soul!

The story of the Song of Solomon is the story of how she, the soul, comes to know Him, the spirit, and how He comes to know her. Few of the Lord’s people have this kind of experience with God! We have a religious experience where we learn of God and worship God along with others in the group in an external kind of way. THAT’S NOT THE SONG OF SOLOMON! Solomon’s Song bespeaks a personal and intimate encounter. Solomon’s Song is a personal awakening and personal journey into God. And the thing we are awakening to is not God out there someplace, but God in you, one with your soul, joined as one spirit, God in you as you! We must awaken to the value that God is in us, and God in us is part of us. You can never truly serve someone out of obligation — but out of love and respect you can serve. You cannot serve anybody out of laws. God does not want you to serve Him faithfully out of obligation — He desires you to rise to your true nature, dignity, and stature. He wants you to become equal to Him so He will have a counterpart, a help meet, a help equal to Him — a bride! Can you not see the mystery? To accomplish this God has devised a very special plan that revolves around His firstborn Son, Jesus the Christ. That plan is revealed again and again through the various dynamics of scripture, but ultimately it is no more beautifully portrayed anywhere than in the mystery of this divine romance between the “Shulamite” and her “Beloved.” For in this drama we have a clear representation of how the invisible, holy God is pursuing us, awakening us, and wooing us to Himself by bringing us into His own high places where we may experience Him as He is.

The Song of Solomon begins for you when you find your personal love for God not merely as Saviour, Healer, Baptizer, and Blesser, but as the Lover of your soul, your Beloved, your Bridegroom. The Song of Solomon begins for you when you have experienced Christ enough to know that’s what I want to explore and experience in the most personal, intimate, complete, and powerful way! “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord…to behold the beauty of the Lord…when Thou saidest, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord will I seek” (Ps. 27:4,8). You aren’t in the Song of Solomon until you have zeroed in on THE ONE. If you’re still skipping about from revival to revival, from preacher to preacher, from movement to movement, from group to group, from church to church looking for “the One” — that’s not the Song! But the day will come when you, too, will exclaim, “Oh! the Song of Songs! Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth: for Thy love is better than wine — I’ve found Him! Now that I’ve found Him I can’t live without Him — I want Him!” I don’t know where you are today, my friend, but He’s calling you to come out of that place and “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away with me!” Oh, yes!

Do you know what the Song of Solomon is all about? It is called “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.” Just as the “holy of holies” was the holiest of all places, just as the “heaven of heavens” is the highest heaven of all the heavens, so the “Song of Songs” is above and beyond all the songs that have ever poured from the human heart and human lips. This is the Song that is above all other songs, a Song sent down from the courts of heaven, from the throne of God and of the Lamb, a strain from the celestial choir. “Song” in the symbology of scripture means “a message.” So the Song of Songs is the Message of Messages, the Word of Words, indeed, the Revelation of Revelations! Yet, I could teach you every single verse in this Song and if your soul is not awakened you would miss the point. The awakening of the soul is your most precious experience in life! The only time the Song of Songs can become the Message of Messages is in your heart of hearts. “The voice of my Beloved! behold, He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (S. of S. 2:8).

Ah, the voice of my Beloved upon the mountains and upon the hills, out of the high places of God in the spirit! “My Beloved is like a roe or a young hart” (S. of S. 2:9). He is like a warrior, powerful, quick, strong, fast, and furious. The voice was leaping, the voice was skipping, experiences were occurring, remembrances of previous blessings and dealings, of past revelations and unfoldings of Himself, the voice of the Lord coming and breaking through — ah, and suddenly she hears a new sound, a fresh word, “My beloved spake, and said unto me…” As you learn to remember your experiences in God, with all His divine interventions in your life, and the levels of growth and development He has led you through, the voice of the Lord will come leaping and skipping upon the hills, and suddenly the voice of the Beloved will speak, and say, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away!” Have you reached a plateau, have you been in a place where nothing much is happening in your experience? The word of the Lord is for you today, “Come away my love, come on…I want to lift you up, I want to take you away, I want to bring you into new and greater and higher dimensions in me!” Release yourself, trust the word of God, and take a journey. For those of us who have walked with God for a while the voice of the Lord still comes leaping upon the mountains and skipping upon the hills, entreating, “Come away, my love!”

“My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come…” The winter is past, the season when the heavens appeared as brass and the voice of the Lord seemed a million miles away, is ending, the dark ages are over, and a new season has dawned. Sure, you have problems and face challenges and difficulties, but the real winter is past, the real night of darkness when you could not sense His presence or His unfailing love, is gone, and His love has appeared and remains and abides still and shall shine brighter and brighter with radiant beauty unto the ages of the ages in a people whom He has called unto Himself, unto union with Him in the high places of His Spirit; yes, rise up and come away, for the winter is truly past, saith the Lord!

“The rain is over and gone…” The seasons of showers of blessings have ended, and the great “Latter Rain” of the Spirit has also come to an end. Looking back at the “glory days” of the great movings of the Spirit of the Lord, there is no need to mourn their departure, nor any need to pray, “Lord, do it again!” because God is not going to repeat the former visitations — THE RAIN IS OVER AND GONE. “The flowers appear on the earth.” Don’t you see the flowers appearing? There have been flowers for ages and ages. Peter the apostle was a flower. Paul was a flower. All through history the flowers do appear — these new manifestations of His life, these fresh forms of His beauty, these pristine expressions of the indwelling Christ do appear. His Spirit, His life is in the earth, and now His voice is heard, saying, “Rise up my love and come away, for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone: the flowers appear on the earth!” We have seen flowers appear, we have seen saints of the most high, we have seen the goodness of God, we have beheld the beauty of the Lord, He has shined the glory of His grace and power through many vessels down through the ages, but now the winter is past, the seasons of refreshing have gone, the voice of the Lord is heard anew from out of the high places of the spirit, the virgin bride is called to arise and ascend into the deepest and fullest union with her Beloved, proclaiming that this marriage of the Lamb unfolds THE SEASON OF THE FLOWERS; the earth shall break forth with beauty and glory everywhere as the glorious company of God’s sons appear in the earth! Oh, yes! The sons of God are the flowers appearing on the earth, appearing out of our union with Christ! Great is the mystery!

The following words from Joyce Morris give precious insight into God’s great purpose in our union with the Lamb.

She writes, “The Father has shown me in glimpses that He has an order in which the marriage of the Lamb must take place. He also spoke very clearly and said, ‘My sons must become the Lamb.’ To become the Lamb, you must first marry and have a union with the Lamb! As God swallows up your soul to where all that is left is Him, you become the Lamb because you are one. In order for you to become the Lamb, you must also eat ALL the parts of the Lamb. Just as with Israel before leaving Egypt, they had to consume the whole lamb and nothing could remain uneaten. You have to eat the hind parts. You have to eat the head. You have to eat the inward parts. You have to eat all the uncomely parts of the Lamb. In other words, you have to eat the Word, and the Word is the Lamb!

“John 1:14 says, ‘And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…’ Then in chapter six we read, ‘Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by my Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is the bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever…it is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: THE WORDS THAT I SPEAK UNTO YOU, THEY ARE SPIRIT, AND THEY ARE LIFE.’

“‘These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth…’ (Rev. 14:4). In other words, THEY LIVE BY THE WORD! But there are many parts of the Word that your flesh doesn’t want to eat — so your self-will pops up its head and says, ‘Well, that part is not for me. I don’t need to walk that out. That part isn’t for me, it’s for that person over there — look at what they’re doing. I don’t have to eat that. I can do what I want, say what I want, and think what I want. Nobody is going to tell me what I can or can’t do. I don’t want to love that person. I don’t want to forgive that person. God, I’ll give you this part of my life, but I want to keep that part for myself.’ The reason so many parts of the Word are uncomely and displeasing to the flesh, is because if you eat and digest those parts of the Word, then your soul will have to change and die out to its self-will! The more you eat of the Lamb, the more your soul will be swallowed up. And when God has swallowed up everything in you that is not like Him, you will have become the Lamb. You will be totally one! You will have entered into a place in Him where you will go out no more, and He will be all-in-all in every area of your life. There will be no more temple within, because God will have filled the whole house, ‘…for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.’

“The marriage of the Lamb is all about God’s sons (and eventually all creation) becoming the Lamb, or taking on the nature of the Lamb through union with Christ. It is all about two becoming one, and as you continue to go deeper and deeper in your relationship with Christ — your union is producing a Son. As you walk in oneness with the Lamb, He is causing you to BECOME THE LAMB. In Isaiah 4:2 we read, ‘In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious.’ Why shall the branch be beautiful and glorious? Because the branch abides in the vine and from their union they bear the nature of God! The branch has been thoroughly purged, or pruned, and now yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. In this way the bride of the Lamb has been clothed in the glory of the Son. She has been arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. She has put on the new man which is Christ and has come into the nature of the Lamb! This is the way it is when you are married to the Lord! When you keep your relationship with Him first, and take time each day to go within and commune with Him, people actually see the glory of the Lord upon you!” — end quote.

It is a great blessing to our hearts to understand the true order of union in the kingdom of God. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:27-28). My reader will observe the change from “him” to “them.” We are not presented with the actual fact of the formation of the woman until chapter two; but even here we find God blessing “them,” and giving “them” JOINTLY THE POSITION OF UNIVERSAL GOVERNMENT. All the inferior orders of creation were set under their JOINT DOMINION. As Andrew Jukes has somewhere pointed out, Eve received all her blessings in Adam: in him, too, she got her dignity and position and power. Though not yet called into her individual identity, she was, in the purpose of God, looked at as part of the man. Universal dominion was not given to the male characteristics of Adam alone; it was not said, “let him have dominion,” but “let them have dominion!” There was no other creature so near to Adam and Eve, because no other creature was part of himself. What affection Eve had for Adam! What nearness she enjoyed! What intimacy of communion! What full participation in his thoughts and in all his powers! In all his dignity, and in all his glory, wisdom, and authority, she was entirely one! He did not rule over her, but with her. He was lord of the whole creation, and she was ONE WITH HIM! They were the king and queen of the universe!

There is neither time nor space to consider the myriad ghastly consequences of the fall of man, but I would draw your attention to one disastrous result. The curses reaped caused the inequality between the sexes so prominent in the human family. “Unto the woman He said…thy desire shall be (subject to) thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). Can we not see by this that the headship of man over woman was not God’s intention for them, but is an integral part of the curse of sin and death! The primeval beauty and equality of man and woman in the garden of Eden disappeared in their sense of separation. Strife, guilt, shame, discord, competition, and pain took over — the way of the flesh held sway! This bespeaks of the separation of soul and spirit within ourselves, making every man indeed bi-polar! And this is the re-union God is effecting through redemption and restoration in the experience of every son of God! The wonderful goal is not just our mind, our will, our emotions, and our desires submitted to Christ in our Spirit, but for our mind, our will, our emotions, and our desires to be so MADE ONE IN HIM until there is only ONE MIND, ONE WILL, ONE EMOTION, ONE DESIRE — the marriage union of the Lamb and His wife restoring one new creature — Christ and us, spirit and soul — UNITED IN ONE! It is not His mind “controlling” our mind, but just ONE NEW MIND! It is more than a “fill me” with more of God, but a being swallowed up into Him, that henceforth it is only the GOD-MAN! This is perfect man, the image of God, male and female, spirit and soul dwelling in unity and oneness in the Garden of a redeemed body, united in one, given dominion over all things. “Let us be glad and rejoice…for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.” Oh, the mystery of it!

To be continued…