The Bridegroom’s Vow
The everlasting covenant between Jesus Christ (the bridegroom) and His Church (the bride)
Kristen Tee (2012)
A Shadow of Eternity
What is your favourite moment when you attend a wedding? What do you remember the most? Is it the face of the groom when he sees his beloved bride walk through the door, accompanied by her father, perfectly dressed in white, stepping ever closer to meet him at the altar? Is it the heartfelt exchange of vows, promises made to last a lifetime? Is it hearing the words of the bride, and the groom say, “I do”? The witnessing of their kiss, a seal on the marriage covenant? Or watching the wedding dance, filled with the anticipation of dancing the rest of their life’s steps together? The venue is perfect, the guests joyous, the décor meticulously arranged and the day, well celebrated. The wedding, with its ceremony, memories and witnessed vows, marks the beginning of a beautiful, though not always easy, journey and intimate relationship which perseveres until “death do us part”.
In our modern society, however, the wedding is one thing, and the marriage something else. Through my schooling years and into my university days, I remember numerous conversations about weddings. I have had so many discussions about what dress, what venue, what proposal, what ceremony we dreamed of having. Discussions about the actual marriage, or even, the future spouse were less common (though Prince Charming and various celebrities were often described as suitable suitors). Much has changed in the way our modern world views marriage and intimate relationship. However, I want to look at marriage stripped bare of all the controversy and political correctness to its origin.
Genesis 1:26-27 – “The God said, “Let us make man-kind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Adam and Eve are universally known as the first married couple, Adam being united to his wife and the two becoming “one flesh” [Genesis 1:24]. From these two verses in Genesis, we see marriage as a shadow of the intimacy the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share in their love, honour and agreement with each other. We also see the authority God gives man-kind over the earth, again a reflection of God’s authority over all things. Our lives on earth are temporary and what we experience here is only a fraction of what God waits to show us when His kingdom is established again on earth.
When Moses asks to see God’s glory in Exodus 33:18, God answers him and causes his goodness to pass in front of Moses. He only allows Moses to see his back, however, for He says, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” [Exodus 33:19-23] There is a day coming when we will not just see the hands, back or cloak of the Lord, but will see Him face to face in all His glory. Revelation 22:3-4 says, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” When does this happen? It happens when the wedding of the Lamb takes place, when Jesus receives His inheritance, His Church and His Bride. On this day, and then for eternity, we will serve Jesus as his obedient and loving Bride, we will see His face and know Him intimately, and His name will be on our foreheads as we receive a new name from Him. Jesus is our eternal bridegroom, whom we are lovesick for. Let the Spirit and the Bride say “Come Lord Jesus.” [Revelation 22:17]
The Bridegroom’s Vow
One day, as I imagined how I might like my future wedding to look like, I had a thought. I thought, “If I am going to get married one day, I want to experience the fullness of Jesus’ emotion for His bride, and the desire of the Bride for Jesus.” I wanted a theme of red and white; red in remembrance of the blood of Jesus, and white to represent the holiness and blamelessness of the Church washed by His blood. It is because of Christ’s example that Paul urges husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle of any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” As I thought more about this, I began to wonder what Jesus might say as a wedding vow. These would be promises lasting for eternity since in Jesus, death has been overcome. From His word, this is what I envision Jesus may say to His bride at the wedding of the Lamb and the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God:
I, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, the Bridegroom and Everlasting King, have come,
To take thee, my Beloved Sister, my Bride, You who believe in my name and who know me,
To be my wife, found in me, and I in you forever and ever, for eternity.
I have given you the glory that the Father gave me
So that you may be brought to complete unity in me,
And to know the perfect love I have for you,
Love that is as strong as death,
Its jealousy unyielding as the grave,
Which burns like a blazing fire,
Which cannot be quenched by many waters.
I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice, the suffering you have endured for my Name’s sake
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey, and tasted the sweetness of your worship
I have drunk my wine and my milk, as you have not withheld your best from me.
Because of your patient endurance, your unwavering faith and trust in me,
You will dwell with me, and I will be with you and make my dwelling place with you,
For by my blood, I have made you ready in garments of righteousness,
to stand holy and blameless before God
And with my blood, I have purchased you from every tribe and language,
People and nations to be a kingdom and priests to serve the Father,
And you will reign on the earth.
I will shelter you with my presence
Never again will you hunger;
Never again will you thirst.
The sun will not beat down on you,
Nor any scorching heat.
For I am the Lamb at the centre of the throne and I will be your shepherd;
I will lead you to springs of living water,
And I will wipe away every tear from your eyes.
All things in heaven and earth have been brought to unity under me,
In accordance to the Father’s good and pleasing will.
Revelation 22:20, John 17:22-24, Song of Songs 8:6-7, Song of Songs 5:1, Revelation 1:9, Hebrews 10:38-39, Revelation 21:3, Ephesians 1:4-5, Revelation 5:9-10, Revelation 7:15-17, Ephesians 1:9-10.
The Bride’s Vow
In Revelation 21:2, John describes the entry of the bride as she comes to meet her husband – “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” On that day, how will the bride respond? Again, from the Word, this is what I envision the end-time church may say:
I, the beloved of the Lord, a rose of Sharon and a lily of the valleys,
Take thee, my Lover, my King, my Saviour, my Lord and my God,
To be my husband, the only one I serve forever and ever, for eternity.
My eyes are like doves for You,
And I give my love to no other, but to You alone.
I place you as a seal over my heart,
Like a seal on my arm,
For love is as strong as death,
Its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like a blazing fire,
Like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
Rivers cannot sweep it away.
If I were to give
All the wealth of my house for love,
It would be utterly scorned.
So I eternally open the garden of my heart to you.
The north wind and the south wind have come,
And the fragrance of Your garden spreads everywhere.
May the wine go straight to my Beloved,
Gently flowing over lips and teeth.
I belong to my beloved
And his desire is for me.
I have considered all things loss
Because of the surpassing worth of knowing You, Christ Jesus my Lord,
I have run the race marked out for me with perseverance,
Fixing my eyes on You, Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of my faith.
I have triumphed over the enemy by the blood of the Lamb
And by the word of my testimony
By not loving my life so much as to shrink from death,
So now I will dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
And to seek him in his temple.
I will sing a new song before you,
And follow you wherever you go,
For you are my head, and my shepherd and I shall not be in want.
I will never again need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for You will give me light.
I will see your face, and your name will be written on my forehead.
Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth
And on the sea, and all that is in them worships You, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
Be praise and honour and glory and power
For ever and ever.”
All things in heaven and earth have been brought to unity under You,
In accordance to the Father’s good and pleasing will.
Song of Songs 2:1, Song of Songs 4:1, Exodus 20:3, Song of Songs 8:6-7, Song of Songs 4:15, Song of Songs 7:9-10, Philippians 3:7-9, Hebrews 12:1-2, Psalm 27:4, Revelation 14:3-4, Psalm 23:1, Revelation 22:4-5, Revelation 5:13, Ephesians 1:9-10