Summary: There is a great contrast between the Prostitute and the Bride, the City of God and Babylon, this world, where we feel so distant from God, and the New Jerusalem, where we will be the habitation of God.
1. And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth are gone, and the sea no longer exists.
2. And the holy city, New Jerusalem, I saw coming down out of heaven from God, having been prepared as a bride clothed for her husband.
The Entrance of the Bride
Recently there was a royal wedding, and many of those who followed the event were aware of the extensive preparations the bride went through-from a six-figure cost (but elegantly simple) gown, to simple manicure, to elocution lessons, to workout regiments, the soon-to-be duchess was prepared for her big day.
The Bride of Christ (us) has gone through a process of preparation for her wedding.
I like the way Jerry Shirley put it:
We need to prepare for this marriage, and go thru 4 beauty treatments before the big day!
1. Justification: inner beauty [at salvation]
2. Sanctification by:
• Scriptures = “washing of water by the Word”
• Supplication = prayers of repentance
• Suffering = we don’t like this one as much, but He uses suffering to knock off the rough edges sometimes, conform us to image of Christ, it is on the fires of suffering that the dross is removed!
Moses on backside of desert / David running for his life from king Saul like an animal / Peter being sifted like wheat / Paul being beaten, stoned, imprisoned…anyone used greatly of God has been sanctified by God, partly thru suffering.
3rd treatment: *glorification—a new body! [at rapture]
4th: Then there’s the actual *consummation at the judgment seat of Christ / our one on one interview w/ Jesus Christ, where we will be judged / rewarded, much will be burnt up by fire!
[on the positive side: all our faults and failures will also go up in smoke! The final beauty treatment is over, and we will be presented to the bridegroom without spot or blemish!]
THE BRIDE AND EARTHLY MARRIAGE
There is another side to this-the Wedding Feast of the Bride & the Lamb.
I think the point of this passage is not the Marriage-at this point it is only an invitation. I think the point is to draw a contrast between the Bride of Heaven (that’s us) and the Harlot of Revelation 18. Babylon, the Harlot, was the haunt of every evil creature and demon. She was a prostitute, adulterous-which means she was married, yet was still a prostitute. The Bride is not like that.
At this point it may be helpful to draw out the image a bit more. Paul said it this way:
"Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless . . . This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:24-32
Marriage is an institution which most people in India, I think, still understand (This message is given in India). But it is a city under fire. It is not merely that the definition of marriage is changing all over the world (we allow people to marry who no human society has allowed to be married before), nor is it only a matter of many marriages ending before life ends. The issue is not just divorce rates, but that many more people than any other time since records have been kept are waiting to marry, and many never marry, but only live together.
I think Jeff Strite was right:
Now in the Bible God doesn’t use the term “living together”.
Actually, God calls it fornication, immorality, impurity.
And He doesn’t . . . use statistics or personal testimonies to explain why it’s wrong.
He just tells us – don’t do that! . . . Don’t substitute something that SOUNDS good for something that actually IS good!
Jeff Strite http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/welcome-to-the-wedding-feast-jeff-strite-sermon-on-salvation-132387.asp?page=0
Today, less than a quarter of all children in the US are growing up in a traditional family, with one mother and one father who are their genetic parents. Most Western nations are following the same trend. Asia is following after and will eventually catch up. This means many people in the world can no longer relate to what the Bible means when it refers to marriage. We need to define marriage according to the Bible in order to understand passages like Revelation 21.
Marriage, to make sure we are clear on this, is the joining of one man to one woman for life - a life of emotional relational and sexual fidelity to that one person, of sharing all things, including possessions, family, friends, income, their own bodies, and life itself - becoming truly one in all things. This union makes it possible to bring new life into this world in the context of a loving, united, safe home. This is the biblical definition of marriage. And it is on the basis of this definition that God reveals His plan for our future.