Perhaps no other event has so much joy, happiness and excitement wrapped up into it as a wedding. It is a destination of sorts because of all the hard work, effort and preparation that occurs beforehand. It is also a beginning—a springboard. It is a time to enter into a covenant both with your spouse and, most of all, with God.
There are many moments which stand out in each wedding. But by far, the most anticipated moment, the one that stands out more than any other, the moment everyone in the room stands and turns to make sure they do not miss, at the climactic point in the processional music, is the entrance of the bride. This glorious day hinges upon this brief, dramatic entrance. All the hard work, all the planning, all the praying culminates in this grand, glorious arrival of the bride.
That is the way it should be, since physical marriages are patterned after the marriage between Christ and the Church. At that wedding, God will also draw attention to the bride’s arrival. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and hiswife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints”(Rev. 19:7-8).
What an exalted calling this will be. No one else for all eternity will have the opportunity to be Christ’s one and only bride. That is what is impressed upon the groom as he stands there watching his bride enter. No one else will ever replace her. No one else will ever enter into that kind of relationship—this “one flesh” relationship. That’s what makes it so special, so distinct and unique. That’s what makes it stand out as you stand there and watch the bride enter the room. And as this bride enters in Revelation 19, what an event that will be! It will never happen again. We will be the bride of Jesus Christ.
This role—the bride’s role and responsibility—is one that Jesus Christ and the Father continually exalt. They continually draw attention to that role. They give it great honor and glory.
The “Modern Woman”
Do we highly esteem the position and the role of the wife as Jesus Christ and God the Father do? Do we give it the glory and honor our Husband does? Or has society’s twisted definition of the woman’s role rubbed off on us?
Israel in the end time is most noted for it’s upside-down families. God specifically draws attention to this fact. “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths”(Isa. 3:12).
This verse can be taken literally, as there are women in high positions in business and politics. But it can also mean—as the first part of the chapter points out—that the men are leading in a way such as this—as little children or as women. The JFB Commentary states, “They who ought to be protectors are exacters as unqualified for rule as children and as effeminate as women.” So if you look at this passage either literally or figuratively, you can see that a great tragedy, a great sickness in Israel in the end time, is that our leadership has descended to this.
Verse 16: “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet.” The women are just plain vain. Moffatt says, “They hold their heads high as they walk.” Mr. Armstrong explained the wanton eyes to mean that they were falsely set off with paint. He spoke strongly against that. That might seem like a little thing, but it’s significant when you consider the spirit and attitude at work and how diametrically opposite it is from the specific roles God intended for each of us to fulfill.
“Modern women” through the last four to five decades, dissatisfied with the way God organized His creation, have rejected their role and have been living contrary to their God-ordained purpose as revealed in the Scriptures. And the result of that movement has been devastating!
Certainly the men have their part of the blame as well. We could say they should bear most of the blame. The reason Isaiah 3:12 happened was because all the leaders in verses 1-3 disappeared. So something had to come along and fill the void—and something did.
Movie after movie, television program after television program, glorifies day-care and the working mother. It use to be that women were fighting for a choice between homemaking and working outside of the home. Today, it is to the point where they believe they have no choice but to work outside of the home. As far as homemaking, motherhood and true womanhood are concerned, because of the media and modern education, most women have come to view their God-ordained role as beneath their intellectual station in life.
If any of that kind of thinking has rubbed off on us, then we must be honest with ourselves and look for ways, whether men or women, to better fulfill our purpose for existence. Because it all leads to marrying Jesus Christ!
“Bone of My Bones”
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:15-18). It was insufficient; it was not quite right. The man needed more—a helper. He needed more inspiration; he needed warmth; he needed balance added to his life; he needed support, encouragement, someone to talk to.
As Adam was naming all the animals that passed before him, he noticed that none of them could suffice in helping him fulfill his responsibility. And as they passed two-by-two, no doubt, Adam probably wondered, What about me? Where’s my companion?
So God took a rib right out of the man’s body, and he used it as the basic substance to create the woman. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh ” (vv. 23-24).
“Bone of my bones,” or “one flesh,” is the way God designed it from the start. He didn’t intend that each partner have a set of independent beliefs, different ways to operate their lives. The two are different in certain respects, but they were created to be one—like two puzzle pieces fastening together making up the one complete piece. If you examine those puzzle pieces separately prior to marriage, they are two very different beings. Their roles within marriage are very different as well, as different as the sun is from the moon. You can see that by just examining biological differences between men and women—not to mention mental and emotional differences.
But when those two are together, as God designed it, they become one. Nothing illustrates that better than a newborn child. Neither man nor woman can procreate alone. Yet when those two come together, out of both comes one flesh: one little baby.
Equal in Importance
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28). God delivered these instructions to both man and woman. It was to be a joint venture. They were to work together in this—co-equals in that sense, yet organized according to God’s government. And the woman would play a vitally significant role. The man simply could not carry out God’s instructions without her.
The one depends on the other, and to realize their highest potential, they have to come together. There are some exceptions, as Paul said, with those who stay single for the their entire physical life. Those individuals, however, still have the opportunity to marry Christ! The firstfruits are not complete without Christ.
The ultimate success of any marriage depends upon how each sex fulfills the role that God intended them to fulfill. That’s how God designed it.
Some women still think, when you mention the different roles, Yeah, my role is to just get married, obey my husband, clean his house and bear his children. In other words, to be a mother and a wife means physical work only.
Of course, the intellectual elite of this world would like us to believe that it is all about just washing clothes and cooking. But let’s look at what God has to say, and see why He places such a high value and great honor upon the wife.
“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine…. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed”(Titus 2:1, 3-5). Those physical jobs are certainly a part of it, but there is so much more.
Christ and the Church
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). Paul understood that to qualify to be Christ’s wife, he had to learn to follow the Groom. Then he admonished the brethren to follow him as he followed Christ. Now notice how God has organized His plan.
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (v. 3).
Everyone reports to someone; and everyone has a position of responsibility. And then, if carried out properly, everything gets done in the most efficient, productive way. That’s how God has organized His creation—a way that will prepare us for our eternal destiny, if we lay hold on it and apply it.
Aside from these clear scriptures, there’s proof even in nature which further substantiates this point about organization within the union. There’s a reason that men were created bigger and stronger. Peter even referred to the woman as the weaker vessel (I Pet. 3:7), giving that as another reason for which she should be honored.
Paul goes on to talk about how women should have the longer hair of the two. “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” Notice how the words glory and honor keep showing up in verses referring to the bride: “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering” (v. 15). Nature teaches this principle. The woman has longer hair because it demonstrates this humility and subjection.
“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (vv. 8-9). Paul refers back to Genesis 2 here; the woman was created for the man— to fill a great void existing in his life. What does that mean for women? What does that mean for us as the wife of Christ? Is it just attending to a certain few physical duties from time to time?
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man” (v. 7). Here is the crux of the woman’s role. She is the man’s glory—reflecting his magnificence. She reflects the excellence, the preeminence of his position. She reflects the dignity, the grace and the honor. She looks upon the dreams and the hopes and the desires of her man as her own. She realizes that her husband’s success is her own success. She shares in his delights, his triumphs, his sorrows and disappointments. She understands that the directive in Genesis 1:28 was given to both the man and the woman jointly. Yet, she also realizes that within the equal union , so far as potential is concerned, there must be organization so that God’s plan might be carried out for all mankind. She is a deeply converted woman who understands God’s will and wants to be ruled over in gentleness and in love.
The Sun and the Moon
The bride was created by God to reflect the husband’s glory, just as the moon reflects the brilliance of the sun. Joseph had a dream where his father and mother were the sun and the moon (Gen. 37). It is a huge responsibility for the man to ensure that he as a leader has the drive, energy, power and heat that you’d expect from the sun.
But what about the bride’s responsibility? Consider the sun, producing all of this heat, energy and power; then consider the moon reflecting it in a beautiful, peaceful, meek manner. What radiance and what beauty emanates from a full moon. People don’t usually say, Wow, did you see that sun today? It was beautiful! Yet, on a black night where a full moon illuminates the sky, there is nothing quite like it.
Consider the sun and moon as separate entities. The sun’s brightness blinds anyone who stares at it. Its unbridled heat and energy would be destructive and overbearing if we got too close or if it always stood high in the sky. And the moon, of itself, without the sun, would be a cold, dark, bitter, depressing entity. But taken together—what a sight! Is it any wonder then that nature itself teaches us that in men there ought to be strength, power and heat, while in women, beauty and meekness?
A woman, as God created her, truly is the glory of a man. What an asset, what a help, what a co-worker, what a companion, what an intellectual giant she is if she realizes her God-given role and develops those abilities.
Why did God create a helpmeet for the man? And why is she the glory of the man? And why is so much honor and respect given her when she enters this union with her husband?
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1). By the time of the new heaven and new earth, man’s way of doing things will have passed away. Try to envision it: all of the upside-down roles turned back to the way they should have been in the first place.
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And there came unto me one of the seven angels…saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (vv. 2, 9). Everyone will want to see the bride!
“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (vv. 10-11). Such light emanating from this bride! And it is most precious, most beautiful and exquisite—not blinding or scorching.
There is a reason it is this way.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (vv. 22-23).
Psalm 84:11 states, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield….” At this stage, there will be no more need for the sun or the moon because both will be replaced.
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it…”(Rev. 21:24). At the end of God’s plan of salvation, billions will finally walk in the light. No more darkness!
Continuing in verse 24: “…And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” God exalts those who have qualified for these top positions as they bring honor and glory unto this the most beautiful place.
“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail”(Rev. 11:19). This leads right into chapter 12:“And there appeared a great wonder [sign] in heaven…” (v. 1). A sign points to something. It tells you where to go or how to get to it. The great sign is “…a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The sun is her garment! She is a great signpointing to her Husband, and here she is clothed by Him—clothed by the sun.
Consider our responsibility. The only light we have to offer this dark, cold, deceived world is the light that comes directly from the sun and that reflects off us.
“The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). Those are the garments this woman will wear upon her grand entrance.
Who adorns us in those beautiful garments? “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Christ saves us. He washes us. He makes us holy. Christ adorns us in His righteousness because, as God says elsewhere, our own righteousness is as filthy rags. All of the righteousness we have, we attribute to our Husband. We want to reflect His glory; we want to reflect His righteousness.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). We have an opportunity to inherit this light! “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son ” (v. 13). God is interested in the marriage that is about to take place between His son—who represents the light—and the bride.
By itself, the Church is ugly, dark and barren—just another piece of dirt. That’s the condition we’ll arrive at should we ever separate ourselves from the light.
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him [the Husband] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (vv. 15-16). That is the awesome might and power of God. That is the dominion that this Husband has! And He has never once—not once—abused that power with His wife. To our Husband, the wife’s role is the most noble, honorable, respectable and beautiful role there is.
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (v. 17). Consist means “to hold together”—just as the sun does to everything else that orbits it. How unproductive we would be if we didn’t have this single unifying force to orbit around. Take that away, and we become a dark lonely piece of dirt so many thousands of miles away. Meditate upon this potential: to be unified and in orbit around the “sun”—to be able to reflect His glory. It is no wonder our adversary has subtly deceived so many women to spin out of orbit and into darkness where they think they can produce their own light and energy, in competition with the sun. But God says there is only one sun.
“And he is the head of the body, the church [the bride]: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (v. 18). In all things the Head has preeminence. The bride reports to Him in everything.
We are preparing for our grand entrance. We are preparing to enter God’s family on the bride level—an opportunity no one else will have forever.
How do we do it? By never ever letting go of the Head. By never spinning out of orbit away from our only source of light. By constantly reflecting, not our own righteousness, but Jesus Christ’s.
Realizing the potential for this little Church, as the bride of Christ, speaks volumes about how we should organize our families on the physical level. They must be patterned after the marriage between Christ and the Church. And in no way is it about one who lords it over the other—suffocating her individual expression or her creativity. It is about two different and distinct beings with different roles coming together for one ultimate purpose.
We must pattern our families after this perfect model, with government and organization, with one as the head over the other, but submitting one to another as co-equals—in love—with both husband and wife aiming to realize the same incredible purpose—to be a WIFE!
Both men and women are in training to be wives. And as far as the specific responsibilities we’re carrying out in our families go, the wives may have a head start in preparing for the future potential of the firstfruits.
In the November/December 1998 Royal Vision, Gerald Flurry wrote concerning the new heavens and the new earth: “At this point, all will be holding the Head. Every human, animal and insect will be in harmony with God. We will all be singing a new song about looking to God the Father and our Husband. The whole world is going to be a part of God’s family—unity and harmony like never before. Today, we have to qualify for that. We have to work to bring this harmony into the Church. [And certainly into our own families.] And then we will be ready to teach it to the entire world and will, indeed, have them all singing a new song. It will be one song that everybody sings, not just a few…. God is preparing us, doing everything He can to get His bride ready—because He really does need help dealing with all those billions and billions of people” (p. 8).
That is what lies ahead. The only way anyone could ever get to the point of looking down on the wife’s role—the role God gave women—is by not realizing our role as the wife of Christ! And how awesome and huge that is. Not just to help Him, but with Him to do something that He would be unable to do by Himself, and that we would be unable to do by ourselves. By bringing the two together—what a match! How productive and efficient we will be as the sun and the moon—no longer having need of those physical objects.
The traditional female role of “helpmeet” and teacher of the children is what we must aim for as Christ’s wife, because that will be our job for all eternity! We will teach the multiple millions and eventually billions of children who come into God’s family as a result of our marriage to Christ.
From our Husband’s viewpoint, when the wife has made herself ready for this kind of submission and responsibility—this commitment—you can see why on that wedding day, all the attention, all of the honor, all of the glory, will be given to this beautiful bride when she enters the room. That is why Jesus Christ gives her such honor and glory: She will be His bride for all eternity. He exalts this role, praises it, honors it. We should too, whether it be with our role as the bride of Christ or within our own physical family. It is a role that should be praised, honored and glorified. We must rid ourselves of the spots and the blemishes and let the sun—Jesus Christ—build His righteousness in us, to fully cleanse us and clothe us in preparation for that wedding day.