Before the return of Christ and His saints to earth in manifested glory, an event will be celebrated within the heavens, in which the heavenly host expresses its unbounded delight by songs and hallelujahs. This event is the Marriage of the Lamb. The bridal relationship is one to which the Scriptures largely testify, in type and teaching. The apostle represents the saints as already "espoused," and his desire was that they might be presented as a "chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). The mystic language of the "Songs of Songs" has long been recognized as expressing the present relationship of Christ and His people. The imagery there is that of an espoused pair, communing together in various scenes. The Scripture brides of early days have all told the typical story of this same relationship, in its various aspects.
Adam slept, while Eve was formed, and she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
Isaac waited within his father's house, while Rebekah, his chosen bride, was won and escorted through the desert by the faithful servant.
Jacob loved and toiled for Rachael, whose beauty and grace had won his heart.
Joseph, during the time of his rejection by his brethren according to the flesh, received Asenath his bride, as Moses in late years received Zipporah, from among the Gentiles. And there are others who fill up their part in telling forth the mystery, which even now is known to faith, and shall yet be manifested in the sight of wondering worlds—the union of Christ and His people.
The announcement of the Lamb's marriage comes from "the throne," and its celebration is in heaven. The full time for earth to see His glory, and the glory of His blood-bought bride, has not yet come, It is rather the day of His peculiar joy, in receiving and presenting before all heaven, the special object of His love, the one pearl of great price, for which He gave up all that He had (Matt. 13:46).
There can be little doubt that the Church [*Note]—the saints of this present age, who have been brought into a close relationship with Christ as the suffering and exalted Lamb—are here represented as it "the Bride," and afterwards described as "the Lamb's wife." Others are "called to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9), and as guests and sharers of His joy, their place is "blessed." As the Baptist, in earlier times, had his joy in being a "friend" of the Bridegroom (John 3:29), so these saints rejoice as they see the long known mystic union made manifest, and the Bride of the Lamb brought forth to view, to be owned by Him before all heaven. Her fitness to fill this honoured place is assuredly to be found in the "Blood of the Lamb," once shed for her redemption. Her form and comeliness have been wrought and fashioned by the Spirit. Yet it is said that the garments of fine linen in which they stand, is "the righteousness," or "the righteous acts of the saints" (Rev. 19:8, R.V.). Thus all that has been of God in the saints—the fruit of His grace, and of the Spirit's work no doubt, yet reckoned as personally and actually their own—will not only be rewarded at the judgment-seat of Christ, but will be manifested and owned before all heaven, in that day of the gladness of Christ's heart, when He shall see in His glorified Bride the fruit of the travail of His soul.
It has been suggested by some, and strongly urged by others, that the Bride of the Lamb is not the Church, or the saints of the heavenly calling, but the restored nation of Israel. But while there is much of the language used in the prophetic Scriptures concerning Israel, which may be typically used of the Bride of the Lamb, the two are not synonymous.
Israel of the past, is spoken of under the figure of a divorced wife (Hosea 1:2;3:1), who will yet be betrothed to Jehovah in righteousness and faithfulness (Hosea 2:19-20), and will be rejoiced over in her restoration, as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride (Isa. 62:5). But while Jehovah will have His earthly people in covenant relationship with Him, dwelling on the earth, and worshipping Him in an earthly temple, in the earthly Jerusalem, the Lamb will have His Bride in the heavens, reigning with Him over a restored Israel, and a renewed earth. Thus the heavenly and the earthly although distinct, will yet be joined: as the heavens and earth of old were by the mystic ladder of Bethel (Gen. 28:12), which Nathaniel, an Israelite indeed (John 1:47), was told would find its antitype in days to come (John 1:51). And that word is immediately followed by the typical marriage in Cana, where the Lord became the provider of their cup of joy, and at the same time "manifested forth His glory" (John 2:11), ere yet He went forth in judgment to cleanse the temple of God in Jerusalem.
It was an ancient law in Israel, that when a man had taken a new wife, he should not go out to war, or be charged with any business for one year (Deut. 24:5). He was to remain free at home and cheer up his wife. After the marriage of the Lamb has taken place in heaven, and before He comes in judgment to "make war" (Rev. 19:11), accompanied by His saints and the armies of heaven, there appears to be a period of repose. With what holy cheer will the heavenly Bridegroom then "cheer" the heart of His glorified Bride! What unfoldings of His love! What unveilings of His glory! Things now hidden will then be revealed! The Lord will justify all His ways with His own, and their hearts will respond, "He hath done all things well."
[*Note: The Bride of the Lamb—Their are those who teach that the Bride is the earthly covenant people of Israel in days to come, and that the city, the New Jerusalem, "prepared as a Bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2), is the Home of the future regenerate Israel of millennial times. This claim is chiefly based on such passages as Isa. 61:10: 62:4, 5, which undoubtedly refer to the earthly people. And they say that the Church, being named the "body of Christ," cannot also be the Bride. We do not see how this follows. The Church is certainly the Body, but this does not cover all its relationships: it is also named a "household" and a "building" and it will yet be a "temple" (see Eph. 2:20-22). The bridal relationship is in no way incongruous with that of the body. Eve, the bride of Adam, was 0 from a rib of his body, and the aggregate of the members of Christ's mystical body, the Church, form the Bride the Lamb's wife...]
From The Second Advent of the Lord Jesus, with Subsequent Events in Heaven and on Earth by John Ritchie. 3rd ed., enl. Kilmarnock, Scotland: John Ritchie, .