The Bible is not a story about us. It is a story about God. However, that is not to say that the Bible doesn’t reveal truths about our human hearts and lives in its pages. Precisely, the Bible is a story about God that teaches us about both Him and ourselves.
My fiancé and I recently finished up a study on the book of Revelation and were surprised to find profound truths about engagement in this book that is too often caricatured as a wacky narrative filled with too many numbers and too much judgment. During our study, the Lord granted us a new perspective on our season of engagement, and that’s what I hope to provide you with through this post.
Now please don’t feel like this post doesn’t apply to you if you’re still single or already married…read on, and you’ll see that these insights are of value regardless of your season of life.
THE GRAND METANARRATIVE OF REVELATION
The book of Revelation is composed of seven cycles (chapters 1-3, 4-7, 8-11, 12-14, 15-16, 17-19, 20-22), each of which describes the inter-advent period (the time before Christ’s second coming). Each cycle presents encouragement for the faithful and warnings of impending judgment for those outside of Christ. Revelation is full of beautiful symbols and vivid imagery (see Rev. 5:1-6, Rev. 6:1-8, and Rev. 22:1-5, to name a few) and a single blog post couldn’t even begin to tap into the richness of this book. That’s not my goal here. Instead, I’ll simply be focusing on Revelation 19:6-9, and its reference to the wedding of the Lamb.
THE LAMB AND HIS BRIDE
All throughout Scripture, the Lord’s relationship with His people is portrayed as a marriage. In the Old Testament, this is seen in God’s faithfulness to the often whoring Israel (Ezekiel 16 describes the nation of Israel as a prostitute because the Israelites turned their backs on Yahweh and ran after other gods so often) and in the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes that marriage represents Christ’s relationship with and love for His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).
I am currently reading John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence and have been so encouraged by his insights regarding the profundity of marriage. He unpacks the analogous nature of marriage and shows how it gives deeper meaning to every aspect of marriage, from servant leadership to sex. My fiancé is also reading This Momentary Marriage and lately, we’ve been finding ourselves even more eager to get married and begin pointing to Christ and the church through our relationship.
Revelation, however, gave us a deeper understanding and a new perspective. While the relationship between Christ and the church is most fully portrayed through marriage, engagement is not a mere holding pattern in which couples cannot display Christ’s love for His church and His church’s love for Him. Consider these words from Quest scholars at Zondervan: “Through the Bible, weddings and marriages are used to picture spiritual truths…There were two important steps to a Jewish marriage: the betrothal (the promised agreement to marry) and the actual wedding ceremony. These two events were often separated by an extended period of time during which the couple remained faithful to one another as they waited until the wedding ceremony would be finalized. Our betrothal to Christ takes place at the point of salvation. But the wedding ceremony occurs when Jesus, the bridegroom, comes to take His bride. In [Revelation 19:7] the church is described as finally ready to enter into the long-awaited union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A WORD ON WAITING
As a church, we wait for Christ. As an engaged Christian couple, we wait for marriage. We wait to live together. We wait to have sex. We wait to spend the night at each other’s houses. In each of these roles, we display the worth of the thing we’re waiting for. If the church is faithful and heeds the warnings in Revelation and lives according to God’s statutes, repenting when they fall short, it will be a glorious day when Christ comes again. He will take His bride for Himself and they will rejoice forevermore. As engaged Christians, this is the grand reality we point to when we wait for marriage. By being faithful throughout engagement and conducting ourselves in purity and holiness, we point to the joy set before us.
A Christian couple’s season of engagement should be different from the average. When every other engaged couple is experimenting sexually and moving in together, our engagements should be marked by waiting…not because we’re prudes stifled by a mile-long list of can’s and cannot’s, but because by our waiting, we reveal the worth of Christ. Our engagements should be marked by waiting…not because we think that we’ll be punished if we don’t wait, but because we know that the consummation that’s coming is something worth waiting for.