1. Revelation 21:9–14 (ESV)
  2. Application

Encouragement for the Bride of Christ in the last days

Revelation 21:9–14 (ESV)

9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Jesus’ revelation to John had begun (after Jesus’ introduction to himself in chapter 1) with seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 2:1 – 3:22). Though redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and renewed by his Holy Spirit, none of these seven churches had achieved perfection in any way; in fact, all struggled (or maybe did not…) with the abiding brokenness of life. Yet these were the Lord’s churches and so he in his care sent them all a letter of encouragement or rebuke or comfort and set before each of them the reward that would follow on obedience and trust. The subsequent chapters of the book of Revelation laid out some of the enormous challenges the churches would experience during the new dispensation, challenges so daunting as to demoralize altogether churches already struggling with so many weaknesses were it not for the triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Lord comes to the end of his Revelation for his people, he encourages the churches with a picture of what he is busy making of churches presently still struggling with their brokenness. They must, in other words, not give up on being church nor focus on failures. Nor must they assume that they must perfect or beautify or glorify themselves; the perfection of the church is the Lord’s (ongoing) work.

The first of the seven churches Jesus had addressed was Ephesus, a church the Lord faults for having abandoned the love you had a first (Revelation 2:4). Through the apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit had once sent this church a letter reminding it of the privileged relation it enjoyed with its Head, a relation soaked in the imagery of marriage (Ephesians 5:22–33). The implication was that the church was to see itself as a Bride. (See also how the prophet Ezekiel uses bridal and marriage imagery as he depicts the Lord’s relation with Israel and her response in Israel’s early history, Ezekiel 16:1–22.) This is the imagery the Lord now uses to encourage his weak churches. The church is his Bride, and he is graciously and sovereignly ensuring her that she will be glorious, her present sins and weaknesses notwithstanding.