THE BRIDE OF THE LAMB.
By JOSEPH SLADEN.
events of the last decade of years have shown generally to expositors of
prophetic Scriptures that statements made therein should be taken literally,
where it can be done without producing absurdity - either physical or
which were, in time past, physically impossible, are now, by the rapid progress
of scientific knowledge, made literally true.
example, let us remark on a statement by Sir Isaac Newton, the great
astronomer, who was also a lover of the Word of Prophecy. He stated that the incident named in Rev. 11: 10 - when the armies of all the nations
are to be gathered against Jerusalem
to destroy it - the Beast, ascending out of the bottomless pit, overcoming and
killing the two witness prophets, was physically impossible. In order to show that Resurrection was not
possible, their dead bodies are left unburied, for the people and kindreds and
tongues and nations to see the bodies of these prophets who had tormented the
dwellers on the earth, (verse 10). Gifts are sent from the chief cities of the
different nationalities to Jerusalem
from distances of several thousand miles. There would be only three and a-half days, to
send the gifts to Jerusalem
to congratulate the armies on their victory, before the two prophets are made
alive. Sir Isaac Newton calculated that
from Western Europe men would have to travel at the rate of
100 miles an hour to reach Jerusalem
within the appointed time of three and a-half days, when the two prophets would
come to life and ascend to heaven in the presence of all their enemies. He, therefore, concluded that this incident could
not be taken literally, as it would have been impossible at that
time, and, therefore, an absurdity. But
to-day men have learnt to travel in aeroplanes at a much greater rate, and to
take letters and gifts with them.
present circumstances, the incident related above can no longer be regarded as
physically absurd. So the literal
interpretation of the whole of the incidents referred to must be accepted
in its plain meaning.
can no longer be held that the effects of the Seals and the Trumpets are
figurative of great convulsions of governments and significant of false
doctrine. Most expositors adopted the
figurative view; the only exceptions known to the writer are Seiss and Govett. The
time is rapidly approaching when these prophetic words will be literally
fulfilled. The earthquakes
and famines and pestilences of the present epoch confirm the literalness of
events recorded under the Seals and Trumpets.
SIGNS OR FIGURES
there are signs (or figures) used in the Apocalypse which
cannot be taken literally. In
such cases, the explanation of the sign is given, e.g., the woman
clothed with the sun, etc., is a figure of Jerusalem, spoken of in the preceding
chapter. The second sign mentioned, of a
great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his
head, is explained to be the Old Serpent, called the Devil and Satan. Where an explanation of a sign or figure is
given, it is clear that the figure must not be taken as literal, while it is
evident that the explanation of the figure must be
us apply these principles to the statements made concerning the Holy City,
New Jerusalem, in Rev. 21. Here we have God's literal testimony about the
eternal abode of the saved out of all the dispensations in the eternal City of God. If we compare the two texts which speak of the
Holy City, we find a remarkable coincidence
in the description. In Rev. 2.
(R.V.) "And I saw the Holy City,
new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from
God, made ready as a
bride adorned for her husband." In Rev. 21: 9, 10
(R.V.): "Come hither,
will shew thee the bride, the wife of
the Lamb. And he carried me away in
the Spirit to a mountain, great and high and showed me the Holy City Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of
is remarkable that the statement about the Holy City
"coming down out of heaven from God"
applies to both the notices and joins them both together. In the first notice, the Holy City
is likened to "a Bride adorned for her husband."
The points of resemblance are mentioned
in the description of the City (verse 11);
"her light (or luminary) was like unto stone most precious - clear as crystal"
- the Bride's jewels. The Holy City
is the literal statement, and it is compared with, and likened
to, a "Bride
adorned for her husband."
the second notice of the Holy
City, the interpreting
angel said: "I will show thee the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."
In this statement the order is reversed: the Bride is mentioned first. At once comes John's
explanation of the figurative words of the angel. He showed me the meaning of the figure by
showing me "the Holy City Jerusalem, coming down
out of heaven from God." The
angel's words are figurative, and John's words are the literal explanation,
which he then describes in the context, showing all the parts of a real city - its walls and gates, and foundations and
the notice of the literalness of the Holy City
is given by God. Most commentators have misunderstood the meaning, and have
taken it as if John said the angel showed him the emblematic city which answers
to the Bride of Christ, the Church. This
is to deny the true principles of interpretation, as before mentioned. When a sign, or emblem, and the thing
signified are severally mentioned - the emblem is first named, and afterwards
the explanation of the thing signified by the emblem is to be taken literally -
e.g., Rev. 1: 20; 12: 3, the sign;
the thing signified, verse 9.
LITERAL AND EMBLEMATICAL
The Bride of the Lamb is the symbol of
the Holy City. The City is the literal explanation of that
which is symbolized by the figure, the Bride of the Lamb. This is
the City which God has prepared for His servants (Heb.
11: 16). It is the City that Abraham looked for - "the City which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker
is God" (Heb. 11: 10, R.V.).
figure of the Bride of the Lamb is not, then, identical with the figure of the
Bride of Christ. It differs entirely
from the figure of the Bride of Christ, which represents Christ's elect Church
[i.e., the "church the firstborn," the
Body of which He is the Head. The Lamb
is the mystic name of the Son of God in relation to all the saved in all
the dispensations. It is a name of universal significance,
displaying universal sovereignty. John
the Baptist witnessed: "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world."
In the Apocalypse, after the
standing of the Church has been set aside, and the action of the Throne of
Judgment has commenced in Rev. 4., this
mystic name is applied twenty-eight times to the Son of God; and at the close,
in the new earth, the Throne of God and of the Lamb exercises, throughout
the countless ages of eternity, universal sovereignty (Rev.
That the Bride of the Lamb is not the Church, is shown by the names of the
twelve tribes of the children of Israel written on the twelve gates of
the City. And the wall of the City had
twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names the twelve Apostles of the
Lamb. The City, the eternal abode of the
saints, is the result of God's two dispensations, viz
that of the Law and of the Gospel:- the saints of the
patriarchal age and those of the Law, as well as those of the Church, have
their abode in the City of God.
Detailed information on the above
statements may be seen in the new edition of Govett’s
work recently published. ** -
The Apocalypse Expounded by Scripture.]
is remarkable that the promise to the overcomer in the Church in Philadelphia - in which
the risen Lord finds no fault - includes the writing upon him "the name of the City of my God, the new Jerusalem, which
cometh down out of heaven from my God." This is the third
time the descent from heaven of the Holy
City is mentioned in the Apcalypse. This
triple designation must surely convince us of the
literalness of the City. - Panton.]