The Bride, the Lamb's Wife: Who Will Be Married to the Heavenly Bridegroom Forever?

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The Revelation of the Names and Titles God Has Given His People

"Then one of the seven angels ... talked with me saying, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev. 21:9, NKJV, emphasis added).

After the angel invited John to behold the Lord's "bride," a stunning vision unfolded before him.

"And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light like a most precious jewel, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Rev. 21:10-11).

What an enigma! The angel told John he would see a bride, and instead he saw a city—but it wasn't just any city. It was "New Jerusalem," the capital city of the new creation, "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2b).

Of course it's not really the city, but the inhabitants of that city who will be married to the heavenly bridegroom. However, the city and the bride are one. Because of this, certain details about the city are powerfully symbolic, prophetic unveilings about the nature of those "lovers of God" who will be eternally joined to the heavenly bridegroom, the Lamb of God who took away our sins.

The Gates and Foundations Symbol

For hundreds of years, students of the Word have pondered the mystery of who is in the bride. Is it comprised of the whole body of Christ or just those who walk in intimacy with the Lord? Is it made up of just New Covenant saints or are Old Covenant Israelites included? Symbolism is the language of God, and through the symbolism of verses 12 and 14, God gives a simple answer to that profound question. In describing the eternal city, John said:

"She had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel" (Rev. 21:12).

"Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev. 21:14).

So the 12 gates are named after the 12 tribes of Israel (God's people under the Old Covenant) and the 12 foundations are named after the 12 apostles of the Lamb (those used of God to lay the foundation of the New Covenant). This indicates that there is a mixture of both covenants in the city of God. All its citizens ultimately enter the city through the gates of the Law (that revelation from the former era that reveals our guiltiness in the sight of God) but are established on the foundation of that grace that came through the New Covenant (by the crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God). All the redeemed of both covenants are married to God eternally and will ever be a part of His bridal company.

The Pearl Symbol

"The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each individual gate was of one pearl" (Rev. 21:21).

Pearls are produced when a parasite or a grain of sand becomes lodged in the folds of an oyster's flesh. Unable to rid itself of this uninvited guest, the oyster will secrete a milky-like substance called nacre and coat the intruder over and over—until finally something valuable and beautiful is created out of that which initially seemed only worthless and painful.

And so it is with our lives. We learn to respond to all the negative things we face in this world by covering them—over and over again—with the "pure milk" of God's Word (1 Pet. 2:2). This process will teach us lessons here in this world that are valuable and beautiful and will ultimately become a gate to an eternal heavenly dwelling place.

The Gold Symbol

"The city was pure gold, like clear glass" (Rev. 21:18).

Because it is one of the most valuable metals, gold is a fitting, biblical symbol of the divine nature. During his great trial, Job said, "I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). In other words, he knew God would use all of his adversities to mature him spiritually and to develop godlike character in him. He knew he would be better off in the end than he was in the beginning. When gold is heated and liquefied, the dross floats to the surface so the goldsmith can scoop it away. So it is for the bride. We may face fiery trials in life, but it is so "the genuineness" of our faith, being "much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried by fire, may be found to result in praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:7).

The Name Symbol

The name of the eternal city of God is "New Jerusalem." Because "Jerusalem" means "possession of peace," "New Jerusalem" implies a new depth of peace far beyond anything we have ever experienced. This was foretold in the beloved prophecy Isaiah gave concerning the coming Messiah:

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end" (Isa. 9:6-7).

After passing through this world with all its danger, stress, confusion and strife, the bride will finally possess "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Phil. 4:7a) —ever abounding and ever increasing for all eternity.

To explore this wonderful subject more deeply, listen to two past episodes of Mike Shreve's weekly podcast called Discover Your Spiritual Identity: The Mystery of the Bride of Christ (Ep. 3) and Our Role as The Lamb's Wife (Ep. 4).

A product of the Jesus Movement Era, Mike Shreve has traveled evangelistically in the United States and overseas since 1970 with an emphasis on healing and the prophetic. His primary biblical teaching for over 35 years has been the spiritual identity of believers. This powerful insight is featured on his weekly podcast on cpnshows.com and his TV program—both titled Discover Your Spiritual Identity. It is also the theme of his Charisma House book titled WHO AM I? Dynamic Declarations of Who You Are in Christ. The first three categories on his YouTube website expand on this amazing revelation: YouTube.com/mikeshreveministries.

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