His Wife Has Made Herself Ready
We are told in scripture that there will be a marriage of the Lamb. The day will come when Messiah will take for Himself a bride. The Bride of Messiah has betrothed herself to Him with her born again experience at the time she accepted Him as Lord and Savior. It was at that time that she accepted the New Covenant spoken of in Jeremiah, and the finger of God began to write His ordinances upon her heart. 1 She now looks forward to a life with Him throughout all eternity. She longs for the day when He will return for her as He promised.
While the bride waits for her bridegroom to return she spends her time making herself ready for the wedding. Her life on earth is preparing her to take her place as Queen. She is being prepared to rule and reign with her Bridegroom the King of Kings. Let’s look at the following scripture about the fact that according to John the Revelator, she has made herself ready.
Rev. 19:7-8 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
We see in scripture that it says that “His wife has made herself ready. So the question remains, how does she make herself ready? In the previous study we looked at twelve steps of the Jewish wedding that set a pattern for the wedding of the Messiah. A review of those steps can be found in the study:
“The Wedding of the Messiah” that is on our website. For this study we are going to be looking at the bride’s betrothal period. As the Bride of Messiah we have accepted Yeshua’s proposal by drinking from the cup of His covenant, we have agreed to the marriage contract by accepting the Word of God with all its covenants and promises, we have entered the mikvah in our baptism, we have filled our lamps with oil when we received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and now we are in the state of being consecrated and waiting patiently for our bridegroom to return for us. During the Jewish betrothal period the bride was considered to be the groom’s wife. Therefore during this study the words bride and wife will be used interchangeable. As the Bride waits during her betrothal for the return of her Bridegroom, we want to explore how she makes herself ready.
There are four pillars of strength that I believe the Lord uses to train us for the task of ruling and reigning. Those pillars are in my opinion: Prayer, Worship, Obedience, and Suffering. I think of these as the pillars that hold up the chupah, which is the canopy that the bride and groom are married under. In the case of the Wedding of the Messiah, the chupah or covering, are the heavens above us. These four pillars, prayer, worship, obedience and suffering are the school masters for the Bride’s sanctification that will propel her to be standing under that canopy in the heavens on Her Wedding Day. After the honeymoon period the wife of Messiah will return with Messiah who will be recognized upon his return as King of Kings and she as His Queen. Together they shall judge the nations, and rule and reign upon this earth for a thousand years.
I believe that there is a prerequisite to ruling and reigning with Christ. That prerequisite is to learn how to LOVE. We must learn that unconditional self sacrificing kind of love that the Greeks call Agape. That kind of agape love that is willing to lay down its life for another. As imitators of Christ, we must learn to love as He did, if we are to rule and reign with Him. A word study from the New King James Bible of the word agape says this: Agape denotes an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of another person, no matter what he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking any thing in return. It is more of a love by choice that than “philos” which is love by change; and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the Love that God has for mankind. I must say here that this definition of the Agape Love that God Is and showers on mankind is insufficient and a feeble attempt at trying to define a Love that is unsearchable. Yet, within the limit of English words that are understandable to us “we try” to define it.
In the Hebrew there are many words for love they are equally inadequate to describe something so benevolent. Of them, we have the word “ahab” which means to have affection for. This word is used when God promises to show mercy for a thousand generations to those who love (ahab) Him and keep His commandments; and again when God commands us to love (ahab) Him with all of our hearts. However, in the Hebrew text when God is referring to His Love toward His people the word used is “hashaq”. This word “hashaq” has a different connotation; it has the sense of “being in love with,” or “clinging to in delight,” Therefore, I have chosen to use the word “agape” to express unconditional love that expects nothing in return for this study.
I believe that every situation and circumstance, every relationship, every decision made, every deed good or bad, every prayer prayed, every word spoken, every joy experienced, and every pain suffered are schoolmasters that propel the bride toward that ultimate goal and destiny as Queen, ruling and reigning with her King. This temporal life span of 70 plus years on planet earth is designed to train His wife for ruling and reigning with Him. I believe that every life experience has been designed by God for the sole purpose of teaching us how to rule and reign and in order to do that we must first learn to love, agape style.
Learning to Love in the way that love is personified in Jesus is our sole purpose in life. If you have ever asked yourself, “Why was I born?" This is the answer that you have been searching for. You were born to learn how to love unconditionally without expecting anything in return. You were born to learn “agape love”. Every relationship, every family member, every friend, every neighbor, every enemy, has been put in our lives to train us how to love in this manner. Oh how easy it is to love someone who loves us back, but loving those that mistreat us and hate us, or those that takes advantage of us, or deceive us, or those that use us for their own gain, to love these, requires supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit. It takes agape love that must be learned, agape love becomes a choice, and agape love imitates Jesus. When we have learned to Love as Jesus does, we will be able to love even the unlovable and to say like Him, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Paul E. Billheimer in his book, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, says this, and I quote because I could not say it better. This love (agape) is even now, this present throbbing moment, the supreme law of the universe and will survive and outlast all its rivals. Because this is true, learning agape love as personified in Christ is the supreme purpose of life on earth…God’s primary occupation in this age is not regulating the universe by the mighty power of His command, but it is teaching the members of His Bride-elect the lessons of agape love in preparation for the throne…Thus the supreme purpose of life on earth is not pleasure, fame, wealth, or any other form of worldly success, but learning agape love. In the ultimate social order of the universe, the kingdom of God, rank will be determined, not by talent, magnetic personality, intellectual acumen, earthly success and affluence, but by one thing and one thing alone…agape love.
Since learning agape is our sole purpose in life, let’s take a brief look at the pillars of strength that I believe are designed to be our school masters for this end. Time or space does not permit a thorough examination of each on of these pillars of strength. For each one deserves a book of its own. Each one of these pillars is also related to the other and unable to stand alone. Nor am I suggesting that these four school masters are the only teachers of agape.
Prayer is communicating with our God. It brings us into intimacy with God our Father, and with our Brother, our Lord, our Savior, our Bridegroom, and soon coming King. It brings us into intimacy with the Holy Spirit who intercedes through us. Prayer trains us to hear His voice. His Bride will not respond to another voice, except for the voice of her Beloved. As the Holy Spirit sanctifies our prayer life, we become more and more involved in praying for others. Our prayers become petitions of Love for a wounded and hurting world. We learn to lay down our offences, our prejudices disappear, and our judgments vanish, when our hearts are broken over sin in prayer. Unconditional love that is learned in prayer conforms us into His image during our time with Him in our prayer closets. In prayer we bring heaven to earth just like Jesus taught us to do in the prayer “Our Father”. It is in prayer that we learn how to use our authority and to overcome and rule Satan and the hierarchy of his kingdom. Prayer trains us to love God and our brother unconditionally. Loving unconditionally trains us to rule and reign with our Bridegroom, Yeshua, who taught us to pray and who is the personification of Agape. Prayer is an intrigue part of our worship.
Worship like prayer brings us into intimacy with our God. It is during times of worship that we are touched by His Love for us, and it is that Love from God that teaches us how to love Him. Worship is a time of adoration, praise and thanksgiving. It is a time when our focus should be totally and completely on who He is. It is in worship when we are touched by His Glory. It is during our time in worship that the many battles of our lives are won. For those moments in time, we lose ourselves, and the selfish concern that we have for ourselves is replaced with the Love that we have for our God. Our Love for God is then extended for love of our brother. Scripture tells us that love for God whom we can not see, is not in us, if we can not love our brother whom we can see. 2 We are perfected in love during worship because one can not be in the presence of a Holy God without that Holy presence changing us into His image to love as He Loves.
A crucial part of our worship is the study of God’s Word. A study of the scriptures was considered the highest form of worship by the sages. In fact in ancient times, one was not allowed to leave the house of study to go to the house of worship. However just the opposite was true of the house of worship. One could leave the house of worship to go to the house of study. The thought behind this was that leaving the house of worship to go to the house of study was a higher piety because the study the Word of God would lead someone into obedience.
Knowledge of the word of God helps us to better understand the character of our God. In worship we experience the essence and character of our God which is unconditional agape love. It is this same said character and essence that we are destined to be conformed into. An awesome transformation takes place when we part take in the study of God’s Word; supernaturally we are washed and cleansed and conformed into His image. Worship like prayer teach us to be imitators of Yeshua and it trains us to love unconditionally as He does so that we are made ready to rule and reign with Yeshua who is the personification of Love. Worship releases within us a desire to please God and to be obedient.
Obedience to the Lord and to His ways promises us a blessed life. Scripture says it very plainly, “Blessings follow obedience." 3 From the beginning to the end of our record in the history of man we see that obedience to God is what will decide our destiny. Disobedience removed Adam and Eve from the garden and the tree of life, changing their destiny. The Obedience of Jesus on the cross restored to us the privilege to the tree of life. 4 John the revelator assures us of this, if we will obey God. He wrote this: 'Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life. Jesus himself issues the command to obey when He said: “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love." There is no greater blessing, than to abide in His Love. It is only our obedience to God that gives us access to the tree of life and the favor of God. 5
With the study of the scriptures we learn to obey His “logo’s” word, that which is His written word. Many of us are disobedient out of ignorance to what is actually contained in the word. We must read and study the scripture to have any understanding what is required of us. In prayer we learn to obey His “rhema” word, which is that small still voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us personally. Obedience to the Lord opens up a door that leads to an exchange of Love. We love Him because He first Loved us. We obey the commands of the Lord because we love Him and He in turn blesses us because He loves us. As Jesus said this exchange is abiding in His love. There is no greater manifestation of our love for God than to obey Him and to submit to His will. Disobedience leads us to a sinful life. A sinful life leads to pain and unnecessary suffering; for us and for others. We never sin alone, our sin always touches others. To continue in disobedience will manifest into hatred toward God, hatred toward ourselves and certainly hatred toward our brother. Obedience has just the opposite affect on us, it teaches us to love God and to love unconditionally and to care about our fellow man.
All of what is written in the Bible with all of its commands and instructions, all of it can be reduced to two simple commands. They are: to love the Lord with all of our hearts and to love our brother as we love ourselves. This love for God and love for our brother will manifest itself into “righteous acts of obedience”. When we are obedient to the Word of God, righteous deeds or acts will follow us where ever we go. In the end it will be our righteous acts that clothe us in our wedding garments of fine linen, clean and bright. Obedience leads to righteous deeds, and righteous deeds that are motivated by unconditional love, train us to rule and reign with our Bridegroom Yeshua who is the personification and the essence of Love.
Obedience is the bi-product of suffering. Scripture tells us that Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. 6 The Lord has set the pattern for us to learn obedience. If it was necessary for our Lord to suffer in order to learn obedience, then we can expect nothing less for ourselves. I have kept the teaching on the first three pillars of strength brief because it is the pillar of suffering the holds the most weight and strengthens every other pillar.
Suffering is the final pillar that holds up the chupah. Suffering is not a topic that we like to think of as a school master for ruling and reigning with Christ, and it is very seldom ever taught in the church. However, suffering is the preeminent tutor that prepares the Bride to take her position on the throne. Suffering is the quintessential ingredient that transforms us from self indulgent narcissistic individuals to self sacrificing saints. Whether we like it or not, the very essence of Love is suffering. It is virtually impossible to love deeply, to love unconditionally without pain and suffering. C. S. Lewis says this: “The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
I want to clarify something before we look any further into this necessary entity called suffering. Our sin will cause a great deal of suffering in our lives. Even when we have repented and have been forgiven for our sin, there are still the consequences of sin that result in suffering. Our sin however is not the only source of suffering, and as the body of Messiah we must be very careful that we do not assume that when someone is suffering it is because of their own personal sin. However, having said that, we do know that God does chasten those that He loves. 7 Also we live in a fallen world and some suffering is due to that fallen state. Many of us suffer because the consequences of someone else’s sin has deeply hurt and affected our lives with grievous suffering. Suffering enters our lives from many different directions.
A study of the scriptures reveals many things about suffering that we must understand in order to be qualified to rule and reign with Messiah. We all love the idea of ruling and reigning, however we are for the most part resistant when it comes to accepting the element of suffering that will qualify us for that position. So let’s look further into the subject in order to help us understand and embrace the mysterious hand of God working for our good through this universal law of suffering that will compel us to keep another law, “The Supreme Law of Love.”
God himself is unable to Love without accepting the price of suffering. Our Father suffered the pain of sacrificing His beloved Son on our behalf. Yeshua suffered greatly having to bare the sin of the entire human race on the cross. The Godhead suffers daily as men and women all over the world reject His Love. How then do we think that we can escape from suffering ourselves? As imitators of Christ it is an impossibility to escape from suffering! So let’s learn how to embrace this truth that is designed by our creator to sanctify us and set us apart for royalty.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians expounds on love. Although he spends much time extolling the virtues of love, the very first thing that he says about it is that love is long suffering and kind. 8 To love is a decision of the heart, and when we make that decision to love we are at the same time voluntarily accepting the inevitable long suffering that is the essence of love. We can not have one without the other. With this decision to love; the Holy Spirit begins the process of dethroning us from the centralization of self. Decentralization of self is the birthplace of Agape and the beginning of long suffering.
Later in his letter to the Corinthians Paul speaks about his hardships and his suffering and ends by saying that…”our light affliction which is but for a moment, is working for us a far exceeding and eternal weight and glory." 9 Paul understood the mystery of suffering. He understood that life on this earth is our training ground and that suffering in this life is the element that produces agape. He understood the necessity for learning agape, that is to love unconditionally expecting nothing in return, because its manifest glory qualifies us for various eternal positions and ranks when we rule and reign with Christ.
As I said earlier suffering comes to us from many directions. Affliction is among the many ways that suffering is presented to us. Affliction being difficult to endure has its purpose in perfecting us. Many of us have been brought back to God by affliction; after we have wondered from the path of righteousness we can now say with the psalmist, “Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I have kept thy word. It is good for me that I was afflicted that I might learn your statutes. 10 And who of us does not know someone, a family member perhaps, who after suffering cancer, heart attack, or some tragic occurrence or accident has not become gentler and kinder and more loving?
In his letter to the Romans Paul says that, “If we are children of God, then we are also heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be gloried together.” He goes on to say that, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us." Paul makes it very clear that: “if we suffer with Christ, we will also reign with him." 11 Suffering develops our character and will conform us into His image like no other school master can.
Suffering is the necessary vehicle that propels us into the highest realm of His Glory, that of Agape. Sharing in the sufferings of Christ requires decentralization of self and crucifixion of the ego. This is so contrary to the natural man that we find ourselves in a constant war of fleshly desires that war against the work of the Holy Spirit who is about the business of breaking our wills. This, I find to be a great paradox because He wants us to lovingly submit our wills to him, yet when we do not, He goes about the business of creating just the right kind of pressure cooker; that finally when we are exhausted, limp, and fading, we capitulate in sweet surrender. Brokenness is the fruit of suffering. Genuine brokenness usually takes years of heartache, sorrow, pain, suffering, and many varied trials and losses before we are able to surrender and yield our self-will in total submission to the high call of Agape.
We are unbroken when we join the ranks of those that complain and are resentful and rebellious toward God and man. We are unbroken when we want to retaliate against opposition. When criticism and lack of appreciation offends us and we find ourselves standing in a mode of self defense and self justification, we are not broken. When we are discontented with our circumstances and when we are irritated by the short comings and failure of others, we are not broken. When we seek forgiveness rather than permission, we are not broken. Brokenness requires a complete emptying of ourselves in order to make room for more of God. It is a daily dying to self that will accomplish an open and empty vessel that will allow God to fill us with Himself, who is the personification of Agape. We know that agape is having its intended result within us when we become indifferent toward the various things that use to ignite a fiery response.
Do not assume that suffering comes to slay your sinful nature, that is not necessarily so, although there is merit in suffering that accomplishes that goal. Take a look at Job he was a man that was dead to sin, a man that stood righteous before the Lord. His great suffering did not come to slay his sin. No it came to slay his self conceived concepts, his theology, and his religious belief about God. Suffering changed his affections, it changed his opinions, and it removed the hindrances that were preventing Job from experiencing God in the intimacy of the bridal chamber. Suffering came to Job to fashion him and prepare him for that eternal weight of glory, and unfathomable union with his creator. In Job’s suffering he met with agape and was humbled and changed by it.
We like Job have a destiny with agape, and the road that will lead us to that destiny is suffering. Suffering will come to crucify our lofty reasoning, our worldly wisdom, our religious concepts, our feeble opinions, our sacred ideals, our secret yearnings, our comfortable status, our quest for accolades, our golden calves and all hopes and all dreams and all affections that are outside of God’s will for perfecting a bride qualified to rule and reign with his Son.
When we accepted Yeshua’s proposal, we drank from his cup and we accepted the terms of our Ketubah, the marriage contract. That Ketubah is our Bible with all of its conditions and promises. This book from cover to cover is our marriage contract with our bridegroom. As with all ancient Ketubah's it identifies all the many provisions that the groom promises the bride. Among the many promises we find that He promised to love us, to guide us, to provide for our needs, to heal us, to prosper us, and to never leave us. There is however one promise contained in His covenant that rises above all others. It is the promise that He, Yeshua, would make His Bride holy by washing her with the water and the word, and that He would present her to Himself in all her glory, without spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind, but holy and without fault. 12 This is the ultimate goal and business of the Holy Spirit and from the day we accepted our position to be His bride, He has been about the business of preparing His bride to rule and reign with Him. Author Paul Bilheimer says it this way, “Suffering is God’s grand strategy for creating rank in the Bridehood for His eternal enterprise.”
We that comprise the Bridehood are on an undeniable journey of suffering. There is no way of accepting Paul’s exhortation that to suffer with Christ is an equal privilege as is our salvation, 13. unless of course we can view it with eternal eyes. Only when we recognized suffering from the view point of a loving God, are we able to put a value on the pain and suffering that each one of has endured and can expect to withstand in the days ahead of us. Only when we understand this process of being mentored by Love Himself, can we understand there can be no co-regency without agape and no agape without suffering. When we look with temporal vision we see the goal is the co-regency, that is, partnership with the divine to rule and reign. Once our eyes are opened to the process we can understand why Paul so assuredly makes the statement that it is a privilege to suffer with Christ.
These four school masters train us on this earth during the period of our betrothal; they are Prayer, Worship, Obedience and Suffering. Each pillar is related to the other and neither one of them can stand alone. Each one of these pillars of strength leaves an imprint of the Master’s face upon our lives; but none as sure as the pillar of suffering. I can tell you from my own personal experience, that in those times of suffering, “it was the worst of times and the best of times,” because those times were the times when my Beloved was ever so near. It was during those periods of suffering that every thing else paled compared to the glory that was being revealed. In addition, I found that my desire was for Him only.
When at last we understand the exalted position that the Bride of Messiah is destined to inherit, and the glorious image that she is to mirror, we may be inclined to tremble at the unlikelihood of ever obtaining such a status. For we know that there is nothing in us that is worthy to receive so grand a reward as this. We know that even with the noblest of effort we can not accomplish such a feat, try as we may, we will fail. With great relief our concerns are put to rest as we remember our Ketubah, our marriage contract that says: as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Oh precious and dear saints, Our God has made a way where there seems to be no way. He will take us to those heights that we can not climb alone. He is doing the very thing that seems impossible to man, because nothing is impossible with our God. That impossible task of conforming us into His image is the work of a master craftsman, and that which is impossible for us to do for ourselves, He is doing for us. He is fashioning us for our destiny, the seed of Agape has all ready been planted and the fruit of His labor may not yet to be seen in all of its glory, because agape love is growing invisibly. We are not who we were yesterday, and we cannot yet see who we will be tomorrow.
All that His Wife is and all that she ever will hope to be is left in the hands of Love Himself. He asks nothing of her in return accept that as a loving wife, she love Him with all her heart, with all her soul, and with all her strength, and that she voluntarily submit her will to Him in sweet surrender. In so doing she fulfills her side of the marriage contract and in this; the Wife of the Lamb has made herself ready!
1 Jeremiah 31:31-33
2 1John. 4:20
3 Deut. 28:2
4 Rev. 22:14
5 Andrew Murray, School of Obedience
6 Heb. 5:8
7 Heb. 12:6
8 1 Cor. 13:4
9 2 Cor. 4:17
10 Ps. 119:67,71
11 2Tim. 2:12
12 Eph. 5:25-27
13 Phil. 1:29
In His Service,
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