Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.(John 14:1-3)
I have been told that the words above, spoken by Jesus on the eve of his crucifixion, are almost word for word the typical engagement speech to a young bride to be, in First century Israel. Here speaks the ultimate groom, to all of those who have heard his voice and have left this world in spirit, to put their trust in him.
The engagement is binding, for He will never leave us or forsake us. In first century Judaism, betrothal was as binding as marriage, which is why Joseph almost divorced Mary when he found her with child before the marriage occurred.
From the very beginning, the true body of believers, redeemed and saved, have been likened unto a virtuous woman, a daughter, a fiancé, or a wife. We hear of the ‘daughter of Zion’, or the Wife of Jahweh in the Law and the Prophets. In the New Testament, we are presented with the Bride of Christ, and the prospect of participation in the marriage of the Lamb!
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for 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. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.(Revelation 19:6-9)
The bride makes herself ready for the great day. She knows it is coming, and is oriented towards that day, come what may.
But scripture presents another feminine metaphor, the Bride is rivaled by the Harlot. What is a harlot , but an obscene parody of a bride?
The book of Revelation and the book pf Proverbs both have the Bride and the Harlot as a running theme. We hope that the Son of the King, in Proverbs, will chose the right woman, lady Wisdom, who sets a fine table, (bread and Wine) and has a teaching for the simple wayfarers of life.
But the spiritual reader of Proverbs holds his/her breath, hoping that David’s Son will not fall for the beautiful seductress, whose lips drip with honey, and who flatters and even impudently kisses the inexperienced one, speaking of her devotion to God, yet describing the sights and sounds and sensuality of her bed!
So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.(Proverbs 7:13-17)
Who is this mysterious woman? What cognitive dissonance! She assures him she is “Saved, sanctified, and right with God”, then goes on to describe the potential pleasures of her bed!
This woman is none less than the false Christian church. She doesn’t really love Jesus, but she pretends to, and she seduces many by her ways. She loves self supremely, and imagines that she can have it all, Jesus and the world. She is sensual, not spiritual, but is deceived into thinking that sensual is spiritual.
But the Proverbs warn us, that in the end,
Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.(Proverbs 7:27)
By the time we get to the end of Proverbs, we are relieved to see that the son of the King has chosen the right woman, the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. (Proverbs 31 is a heavy trip to put upon a real live woman, for few can ever live up to her. Actually she is a metaphor for the true worshippers of God, whose“Light never goes out at night…” and who glorifies her husband.)
The Revelation of John is similar. We see the true and good woman, suffering long as she awaits her husband to be, the true groom, the coming King. The whole world hates her, and falsely accuses her, and there is no one on earth zealous to set the record straight, for she has no earthly resources. She suffers for the truth that she witnesses to, and because she won’t just bow down to the great LIE being foisted on the world.
Yet She remains faithful, ready to “have and to hold”, awaiting the glorious wedding, through the long night.
The Groom gives her words of comfort such as;
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.(Revelation 2:8-11)
But the Revelation warns of another woman, a horrifying, gaudy harlot, dripping with wealth and worldly influence. She holds a chalice (as if she provides the sacramental meal ), but She herself is drunk on the blood of the Saints of God!
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.(Revelation 17:3-5)
The great Harlot is not simply false religion. She is not Hinduism, Bhuddism or Islam, all of which are expressions of Demon worship and easily detected by Christians as false.
Instead the Harlot is an imposter, an obscene parody of the only true religion, she says she is Christian and speaks of Jesus, but has long ago sold out to the god of this age and is seducing many.
To those who are impressed by numbers and power she has great appeal for the false church is exploding in popularity and worldly influence. She has cast down many wounded…there are many back slidden pastors and christians, for whom her charms are almost irresistible because she can appear to sooth their troubled consciences in ways other than repentance and faith.