Blessed: The Marriage Imagery of Revelation with Jonathan Gibson (Episode 5)

This article is part of the Blessed: Conversations on the Book of Revelation with Nancy Guthrie series.

Being Prepared as a Bride for Jesus

Join Nancy Guthrie as she talks with professor and author Jonathan Gibson about God’s people being prepared as a bride throughout Scripture in anticipation of the marriage supper of the Lamb and an eternal marriage in Revelation.

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Blessed

Nancy Guthrie

Blessed, by bestselling author and speaker Nancy Guthrie, gives individuals and small groups a friendly, theologically reliable, and robust guide to understanding the book of Revelation.

Topics Addressed in This Interview:

01:20 - Using Liturgy for Our Personal Worship

Nancy Guthrie
My guest today is Johnny Gibson. Or, I should probably call you Reverend Doctor Jonathan Gibson, PhD, shouldn’t I?

Jonathan Gibson
Johnny is fine.

Nancy Guthrie
Johnny is associate professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, and I’m delighted to be here at Westminster today talking to him. You may be familiar with Jonathan—he has a lot of book credits to his name. One of his biggest books—and by “big” I mean you could use it as a doorstop, but you wouldn’t want to waste it on that because of the wisdom in it—a book called From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. A couple of years ago he wrote another really big book called Reformation Worship where he went back and he presents a lot of liturgies for worship from the past. He has also written a number of children’s books lately. He wrote a beautiful little book called The Moon Is Always Round, and then he’s got this new series he’s doing with Timothy Brindle called The Acrostic of God. But I’m really excited about this brand new book he has, and I told him that when I saw this book was coming that I looked at it and thought, That is a book I have been looking for! It’s called Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship. Johnny, tell us a little bit about that book.

Jonathan Gibson
During COVID in 2020 when we were all in lock-down, I was thinking a bit more about my daily devotions and becoming a bit dissatisfied with them. I had this rather bland liturgy of saying a quick prayer, read my Bible, and then giving some petitions to God. I thought, I need to enrich this a bit more, so I started thinking about how I could use prayers from church history and order a daily liturgy that was a bit richer than just prayer and Bible reading. I’ve put together a thirty-one day daily liturgy where each day has the same fixed order of liturgy. It basically goes call to worship, an Old or New Testament text calling us to worship, then a prayer of adoration, a reading of the law (seven different readings of the law), a confession of sin, an assurance of pardon, a creed, a catechism question, a prayer for illumination, and then you read a chapter of the Bible (or whatever your reading plan is). Then, a prayer of intercession followed by your own prayers, and then you end with the Lord’s Prayer. All the prayers—adoration, confession, illumination, and intercession—are all prayers culled from church history, so it’s being led in prayer with Augustine and Anselm and Luther and Calvin and Spurgeon.

Nancy Guthrie
Okay, Johnny, I grew up in a tradition that would say to use something like somebody else’s written prayers or creeds—I was kind of led to believe that nobody who said those really meant them, that there was something cold and rote about that. What would you say to my former self and attitude about that?

Jonathan Gibson
The Lord of the church gave us a rote prayer with the Lord’s Prayer, and one that I think he expected us to say together as a church each Lord’s day. Rote prayers in themselves are not wrong; it’s all about the heart, isn’t it really? I was brought up in a tradition that was very much against rote prayers or written prayers, and it was all about extemporaneous prayers. But I could have told you what the person was going to pray before they prayed it.

Nancy Guthrie
So there was a liturgy to it.

Jonathan Gibson
It was a learned prayer and learned patterns of prayer, and they were quite repetitive, actually. I find for myself that in reading and praying other prayers that have been written, I find myself more engaged sometimes than if I’m just trying to pray on my own. It’s not that I want people not to be praying using their own words. I have a section in the liturgy where they do their own personal prayers for personal, church, and world matters. I definitely want people to be praying their own heart to God on various matters that are a burden to them. But at the same time, I think it’s helpful to be led in prayer by others. The fact that Paul tells us what his prayers are in his epistles, I think, in and of itself shows us that he expected prayers to be read, thought upon, and meditated upon. Then, if you read church history you have this great tradition of people writing down their prayers—Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Calvin would say a prayer at the end of each of his sermons, and in his commentaries those prayers are written there and he knew they would be written down. So, even the great likes of Calvin weren’t against written prayers being read out.

Nancy Guthrie
Alright. You made a believer of me.

Jonathan Gibson
Okay, good.

06:27 - Genesis as a Seed

Nancy Guthrie
Let’s dive into talking about Revelation, except we’re actually not going to start in Revelation. I would actually like to start in Genesis. You’ve done a lot of teaching on Genesis 1–3. I suppose there’s a sense in which we can’t understand what’s happening in Revelation—we certainly can’t feel the joy and relief and anticipation of what transpires in Revelation—unless we understand how things began in Genesis, what God had in mind and where that was headed, and then, therefore, the catastrophe of what happened in the fall. Talk to us a little bit about Genesis 1–3. When you’re teaching this, what is it you’re trying to get across to people in terms of what’s happening there?

Jonathan Gibson
The illustration I use, and I get this from Geerhardus Vos, is that the first couple of chapters of Genesis are like a seed that develops throughout the rest of Scripture into a tree in full blossom. A seed is actually a small plant encased in a hard shell, and all the DNA for that little seed to grow into a full tree and full blossom is actually contained in the seed. Nothing new is ever added. I think Genesis 1–3 is a bit like that—all the DNA of biblical revelation is contained in that seed of those first three chapters. The rest of the Bible is really just watching that organically grow, develop, and come to full blossom in the New Testament, and ultimately in Revelation as a book and especially the last chapters. How does the Bible begin? What is the seed of God’s revelation? I use a one-sentence summary that has been informed from others that I’ve learned from, and I say that the whole story of the Bible can be condensed into one sentence: God’s kingdom in a new creation, under his Son and bride, awaiting the sabbath rest.

Nancy Guthrie
Say it again so that people can really think through every little part of that phrase.

Jonathan Gibson
God’s kingdom in a new creation, under his Son and bride, awaiting a sabbath rest. Perhaps I can unpack that. God’s kingdom: Broadly speaking, God’s kingdom rules over all the world. It’s his rule, his reign, and it’s across the whole world. And yet in the Bible, God’s kingdom is also narrowly focused on a holy people and a holy place. That holy people in the beginning is Adam and Eve—a couple set apart. Adam is presented to us made in the image of God, so he’s like God his Father. He is a son of God, and we know that from Luke 3. In the genealogy of Jesus it goes all the way back to “Adam, the son of God.” So, Adam is a son of God. In technical terms in class I call him a protological typological son. Protology, just meaning first things—the study of first things. Typology, meaning type and antitype. So, Adam is the first type of a son of God. You get other types: Israel as a son of God (a national typological son); David and Solomon (royal typological sons of God). But the Bible begins with Adam as a son of God, and then we see in the second part of chapter two of Genesis that God gives him a bride. He makes a woman from his side and brings him to Adam and they’re married. What we have at the very beginning is God the King ruling over the world, but also ruling over the special place called Eden. It’s set apart; it’s a holy place. He puts this couple in the garden. He puts Adam in, and then he makes the woman from Adam. They are a holy couple in holy matrimony. So, it’s God’s kingdom in a new creation, under his Son and bride. That is, Adam is to administer the kingdom on earth. Awaiting a sabbath rest—that’s connected to their creation on day six. Adam is created on day six, Eve is made on day six, they marry on day six, and then day seven is the sabbath. The Bible begins with God’s holy couple in a holy place, under his holy law of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, administered by Adam—God’s holy son and representative—and they’re waiting for the sabbath to come. The sabbath itself was a type of that eschatological rest—the rest that we read about in Revelation—and Adam, through his obedience to the covenant of works in relation to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, was to bring humanity into that final rest that Revelation speaks about. Now, we know that because of the fall he never brought mankind into that rest.

Nancy Guthrie
I think what you are saying is that Adam, had he obeyed regarding that forbidden tree, that he as that first son would have been able to bring all of his progeny into the sabbath rest that God intended.

Jonathan Gibson
Yes. The way I put it is that Adam was asked to fast from one tree so that he could feast at another tree. He was to fast from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and having obeyed the test and passed the probation, he would have been given access to that Tree of Life, which was a symbol and sacrament of eschatological life—eternal life. He would have brought his wife with him and all their posterity into that state of confirmed righteousness—eternal life that was unchangeable and could not—

Nancy Guthrie
Greater glory?

Jonathan Gibson
Yes.

Nancy Guthrie
That of greater satisfaction.

Jonathan Gibson
Yes. Adam was made in a state of innocence. He was perfect, but he was not yet fully matured into the state of glorification. He was to move from innocence to glory, but we know that he fell into sin and then God makes another covenant about another Son who is to come who will take us from sin into the state of grace, and on into the state of glory.

Nancy Guthrie
I suppose we could say that’s what most of the Bible is from then on, isn’t it? From Genesis 3 until we get to these last three chapters, it is God working out his plan. It’s not a new plan because it’s really what you stated as his original plan.

Jonathan Gibson
Yes. He’s just basically trying to restore it and consummate it. When God makes the promise in Genesis 3:15 of a seed of the woman, it’s interesting it’s a son he is promising. It’s the promise of a son, and in a sense, the rest of the Old Testament, to borrow a phrase from Sinclair Ferguson, the rest of the Old Testament is a footnote to Genesis 3:15. You have this anticipation of a son coming who is going to crush the serpent. Yes, the rest of the Bible is about waiting to see God restore what he created in Eden, but not just restore it. Going back to that point of moving from innocence to glory, he’s going to restore it and then consummate it. The way I put it to my students is that the trajectory of the Bible is not an arc on a horizontal line from creation to new creation. It’s an arc on an elevated line from creation to new creation. We move from a garden to a garden city. Herman Bavinck puts it really well: “Paradise was not heaven. Adam was not Christ.” So, Adam is a man of the dust, made of the dust; Christ is a man of heaven; he’s a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15). Through Christ we get advanced into a different realm, into a different level of quality of life than what Adam was created into. He was supposed to take us to that realm; he didn’t. So, God sent the second and last Adam to take us into that realm. The picture of marriage actually plays all the way through. It’s a son and a bride. You see it with Isaac. He’s the promised son and he needs a bride in order to keep the promise and to bring the nation into existence.

14:57 - Old Testament Imagery

Nancy Guthrie
But then, as we move through the rest of the Old Testament, it seems to be that the nation of Israel as a whole becomes both that imagery of son and bride. I’m thinking about when Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh and they say, Let my people go because Israel is my firstborn son. Of course, this son is going to prove to be just as disobedient as the first son, Adam. But then also throughout the Old Testament, the Lord speaks of the nation of Israel as his bride. I think about in Isaiah when he says, “Your Maker is your husband.” And yet, this marriage in the Old Testament is a really bad marriage.

Jonathan Gibson
You’ve got two images there in the Old Testament. You’ve got father and son; God is the father and Israel is the son. You also have God as the husband and Israel as the bride. It’s not so much mixing the metaphors as just respecting them in each book that deals with it. Exodus is very much father/son, but the Prophets then pick up on the relationship in the image of husband/wife—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Malachi. They all refer to the relationship as a husband and wife.

Nancy Guthrie
I think about Jeremiah 2:2. When I read it, I just picture God as a husband looking at the wedding pictures from the wedding, longingly remembering. Here’s what he says, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the first fruits of his harvest.’” He’s remembering back when their marriage was new, when this nation came out of Egypt and they’re in the wilderness. But at this point, the marriage has gone so bad because Israel is always running off to the high places, having liaisons with other gods. Which God, as a jealous God, he’s offended by this because he intends for this to be a love relationship.

Jonathan Gibson
Exactly. God’s the faithful husband, and Israel is the adulterous wife who is always being lured away by the nations to worship their gods and, in a sense, marry their gods. That’s the sort of imagery through which we are to understand Israel’s unfaithfulness in the Old Testament. It gets to the point with Hosea—

Nancy Guthrie
Yes, talk to us about Hosea.

Jonathan Gibson
It gets so bad that God says, in a sense, It’s time for a divorce. It’s time for the marriage to end because you’ve been so unfaithful. Hosea is given the task of enacting it in his own life, having to live out what it’s been like for God in relationship with Israel. I think the marriage metaphor is very powerful because at the heart of marriage is faithfulness; it’s about a covenant faithfulness. God has never broken his side of the bargain or the commitment, but Israel keeps breaking her side. I think that’s a really helpful way to understand the ministry of the prophets—calling Israel back to marital faithfulness to her God.

Nancy Guthrie
I think it’s a beautiful thing, too, that in the Old Testament God, as a faithful husband, has given his people a whole book of love poetry that seems as if it’s intended to say, You know what, Israel, my wife, this is the kind of relationship I want to have with you. I want it to be intimate and joyful for us to love each other. This whole book Song of Solomon is a beautiful picture of the love relationship he wants to have with his people.

Jonathan Gibson
I love the line, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” I think that really captures the heart of the book of the Song of Solomon. It’s really a picture that human marriage is a picture of God’s marriage with his people, just as human marriage is a picture of Christ and his bride (which we’ll come to, I’m sure). In the Old Testament, human marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with his people, Israel, and the Song of Songs just speaks about that in very intimate terms.

Nancy Guthrie
That infuses our human marriages with a lot of meaning and purpose. I think we can tend to think that God was maybe just looking around his created world asking, Let me see if I can find something that might say something about the relationship that I want to have with my people. Oh! There’s marriage. I’ll use that. That kind of gets it in the opposite order, doesn’t it? Instead it’s, I’ve created marriage for the very purpose that it would speak to the kind of relationship I want to have with my people.

Jonathan Gibson
Exactly. It goes back to Genesis and those early seeds of God’s revelation. It’s all typological; it’s all in preparation for a greater marriage to come. Paul picks this up in Ephesians 5:29–31 where he says that the marriage that took place in Eden, and all subsequent human marriages since, are actually pointing us to the great mystery of Christ and his church. Sometimes we get it the other way around. We think that God’s relationship with Israel is an illustration of our marriages, but it’s the other way around, which really does change your marriage. It really impacts how your faithfulness in marriage and love and devotion to each other.

20:59 - A Faithful Bridegroom

Nancy Guthrie
To want to be a beautiful reflection of God’s faithfulness towards his bride. It serves as a proper motivator to our own marital faithfulness. It shows why marriage matters and shows why a break in marriage vows would break the heart of God, because it’s so against who he is—his very nature and character. Let’s move into the New Testament. We’re talking about Revelation on this podcast series, and you’ve got the Gospel of John, which I think this whole picture of Christ as bridegroom and the church as bride, it’s not only in Revelation. I think it’s also here in his Gospel. I think it’s also in his epistles when you think about “God is love.” There it is. I love it in the Gospel of John that he’s the one who begins his Gospel (in chapter two) with a wedding in Cana. But there’s a crisis at the wedding. They’ve run out of wine. If you read the story and you get who gets the credit for actually supplying the wine at the end of the story, then you realize whose responsibility it was to provide the wine at the beginning—it was the bridegroom’s responsibility. So, the crisis in this story is an unfaithful bridegroom, a failed bridegroom. He’s failed in his task of supplying this wine, but it’s not a problem because the true and faithful bridegroom is on the scene. It seems as if John is immediately wanting us to begin to see Jesus as this true and faithful bridegroom.

Jonathan Gibson
It’s a beautiful story. It’s his first miracle, and I think the fact that it’s his first miracle introduces us to one of the metaphors and images that we are to view Christ through, and that is the bridegroom. Here is a bridegroom from heaven. He has come to seek for himself a bride.

Nancy Guthrie
Yes, it tells us something about his purpose for coming into the world.

Jonathan Gibson
Yes, and I think it helps structure the whole Bible back to Genesis. You have a bridegroom and his bride at the beginning. In the middle of the Bible, the New Testament, you have the first miracle—the bridegroom and his bride. At the end of the Bible, you have a bridegroom and his bride. Marriage is central to the whole story of the Bible.

Nancy Guthrie
In John 3, John the Baptist is having an interaction in which he says, “I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom”—and I can see him pointing to himself like, I’m just the best man, people!—“who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete” (John 3:28–29). Here he is, pointing to Jesus as the bridegroom. And then you move from there in chapter 4 of John and you’ve got this picture, once again, of failed bridegrooms. Here’s this woman who comes to the well—which by the way, throughout the Old Testament God has often presented a bride at the well. I think we could say that even at Eden you’ve got this picture of this garden paradise—this water flowing through it.

Jonathan Gibson
Yes, Isaac.

Nancy Guthrie
With Isaac he brings a bride at the well. Jacob meets his bride at the well. Moses goes and out comes Zipporah, one of the daughters of the priest of Midian. So, here’s a picture of Jesus and he goes through Samaria and he goes to a well, and out comes the most unlikely prospect for him to join himself to in marriage. And yet isn’t this what he’s wanting the world to see about what he’s looking for in a bride? She comes from the wrong family, she’s got this shameful sexual history, and she’s been married five times. That’s five failed bridegrooms there. She’s living with someone who she is not married to, so that’s another failed bridegroom. And here’s bridegroom number seven. There he is, offering himself to her. I think he’s also showing his disciples and showing us now as we read this who he is looking for to be a part of his bride, and it’s not going to be simply limited to the children of Israel and to the Jewish people. He wants a bride that is made up of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. I think the hope that I see in this, too, is that the bride is not going to supply her own purity. That’s going to be a result of becoming joined to this bridegroom.

Jonathan Gibson
Here’s the bridegroom she’s been looking for all her life—she’s been searching for someone—and now here he is standing before her and offering her water and life and eternal life. But also, it’s the connection with wedding and worship, marriage and worship. I think here you have the joining of the two metaphors of husband/wife but also a faithful son leading his bride in true worship. You have Adam as the son of God, and he allows his wife to be led astray into false worship through the serpent. Then, you have Israel, a son of God, who is, in a sense, to marry the nations by bringing them to come and worship the true God. Instead, through intermarriage, they’re led into false idolatrous worship. Then, you have Solomon who marries Pharaoh’s daughter. In a sense, he should convert her and bring her to true worship of Yahweh on Mt. Zion. Instead, she and his other wives lead him into idolatry and he makes worship centers for them east of Jerusalem, like east of Eden. So, what we’re waiting for by the end of the Old Testament is a son of God who will lead his bride in true worship of the one true and living God and not be led astray into idolatrous worship. I think that’s what we have here. We have the combination of the son image and the faithful husband image where Christ is the son who is marrying a bride, and he’s leading her in true worship. He begins with a Samaritan woman, an unclean woman. He begins with her and leads her in true worship of God. I think that’s where you get the two images of son, marriage, and husband coming together here in John 4.

27:37 - A Glorious Bride

Nancy Guthrie
That’s beautiful, Johnny. I’ve never seen that before. Thank you for that. As we look at this theme, working our way to get to Revelation, I do think you have to stop in Ephesians 5. You were talking about some later verses about this “mystery.” He goes back to Genesis, but before that he says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word”—and this purpose statement that really corresponds to the purpose statement you gave us from Genesis 1—“so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Jonathan Gibson
It’s a beautiful picture of why Christ came down from heaven. From heaven he came and sought her to be his glorious bride. With his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died. Christ has come to win a bride for himself and to present her on that last day to himself. I think what this helps us with as well is it helps us with the now/not yet aspect of this marriage relationship between Christ and his church. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:2, says that he betrothed the church to Christ as a pure virgin. We are not yet married to Christ; we’re betrothed to Christ, and we’re awaiting that marriage supper of the Lamb. Here in Ephesians 5 it’s giving us that intentionality. He came down, he died, he sacrificed, and he’s, in a sense, presented us with a dress and said, Here’s a clean dress to put on. Come and marry me on this last day. I think Ephesians 5 helps us with that now/not yet tension that there is in relation to our relationship as the church to Christ, our husband to be.

Nancy Guthrie
A purification process. It’s in process in terms of the Spirit being at work in us, even now, sanctifying us, making us holy. That’s the direction we’re headed in. But we are awaiting that to come to its full consummation. We’re engaged, but it’s been a long engagement.

Jonathan Gibson
Yes, and as you say, it’s the now/not yet. We’re betrothed, we’re being sanctified. We are united to Christ now, and yet we are waiting for that final consummation where it will all come to fruition.

Nancy Guthrie
When I think about the book of Revelation and this imagery, before we hear about the bride it seems to me—and I’m looking in Revelation 17, 18, and 19—we get the picture of the anti-bride, or this one who is out to seduce us so that we don’t enter, so that we don’t become purified, so that we don’t finally enter into this marriage with the bridegroom. It’s the picture of this great prostitute who is so seductive, and it seems to me that it’s really a picture of trying to seduce us away so that we don’t actually end up in this divine, holy marriage forever.

Jonathan Gibson
I think you see it in Psalm 45, if you don’t mind me going back there for a moment. You’ve got this beautiful progression of the bridegroom: the beauty of his words, the beauty of his war, he is a single man who has won victory, he’s seated on his throne waiting for his wedding. And then it shifts to the daughter, the bride, and it says, “Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty.” It interrupts the procession of this wedding song. It’s like the bride is having second thoughts and doubts: Should I go? To go and marry this groom will involve me leaving my father’s house and my people. I think it’s a really nice picture of conversion to Christ that actually, when you get betrothed to Christ, you are leaving the world and the flesh and the devil. You are forsaking your father, the devil, and his people and saying, I am going to change my allegiance here. So, you’ve got that in Psalm 45. The world is always luring us away from our betrothed husband. You have it in 2 Corinthians 11 where Paul speaks about betrothing the church to Christ as a pure virgin. Then he says in verse 3, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” He’s talking about false teachers coming into the church and trying to lure people away from a pure devotion to Christ. I think that fits with Revelation. In Revelation you have Babylon and the beast, and their sole purpose and intent is to basically lure the bride away.

Nancy Guthrie
Then you get this call in Revelation 18: “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped as high as heaven” (Rev. 18:4–5). So I hear in what you’re saying that calling away from the world and calling away from the seduction.

Jonathan Gibson
We see it in our own wedding vows: “forsaking all others, do I give myself to you, as long as we both shall live.” It’s actually a beautiful statement. It’s an exclusive commitment. I think that can be captured in these parts of Revelation: “Come out of her”, “forsaking all others”—give yourself to Christ alone as your husband.

33:36 - The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Nancy Guthrie
In chapter 19 of Revelation we read about the marriage supper of the Lamb. Finally, the wedding has happened. You and I and all of us, right now, are betrothed to him, it’s this long engagement, and we’re longing for this day, for this marriage supper. It tells us in Revelation 19:7, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.” I think the wording here is so interesting because we think about how we are the bride of Christ, and he is the one who is purifying us. Yet, we kind of see both sides here. “It was granted to her”—it sounds like the work of God—“to clothe herself.”

Jonathan Gibson
He gives us the dress, and we willingly put it on. It’s by faith. It’s his righteousness, but we receive it by faith.

Nancy Guthrie
When we get to Revelation 21, it seems like this is what this story of marriage has always been headed toward. It’s this final resolution when we read in Revelation 21:2: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” That is somewhat reiterated a few verses later. There is a voice saying, “‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city” (Rev. 21:9–10). It’s so interesting to me here in Revelation 21 that both times he’s combining this imagery of a city with a bride, which I think reveals to us that he is talking about a people.

Nancy Guthrie
I want you to close us, Jonathan, by going back to your statement that you started out with in Genesis 1. How do you relate that to what we read here in Revelation 21 and 22?

Jonathan Gibson
I think what we have here is the consummation of what Genesis 1 and 2 pointed towards. I said that the whole Bible could be summarized in Genesis 1 and 2 as God’s kingdom in a new creation, under his Son and bride, awaiting a sabbath rest. I think what we have in Revelation 21 and 22 is God’s kingdom in a new creation, under his Son and bride, enjoying the sabbath rest. We have reached the consummation in Revelation 21 and 22. If I may just throw in a hymn, because I know you love to sing, as I do. Do you know the hymn “The Sands of Time Are Sinking”?

Nancy Guthrie
It’s not one I grew up singing, but I am familiar with the words. It was written by . . .

Jonathan Gibson
Anne R. Cousin. She wrote a hymn based on Samuel Rutherford’s letters, and it is an absolutely beautiful hymn.

Nancy Guthrie
Sing it!

Jonathan Gibson
Well, I’m tone deaf. I’m a jailhouse singer. I’m behind a few bars looking for a key. Every verse is connected to this central theme of marriage, but the last verse is:

The Bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace;
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.

We will rejoice in the dress that we’re given, Christ’s righteousness as Revelation 19 says, but really, we will be fixated and in awe of his face. I think that hymn by Anne R. Cousin, The Times of Sand Are Sinking, really captures the beauty of this marriage between Christ and his church, as seen in the book of Revelation.

Nancy Guthrie
And here it is at the end of the Bible, and yet it’s really a new beginning.

Jonathan Gibson
It reminds me of C. S. Lewis and how he ends The Last Battle: “This was only the beginning of another story.” I think you’re right. It is the end of the Bible, but it’s the beginning of our marriage to Christ in a new heavens and a new earth.

Nancy Guthrie
A marriage in which death will not do us part, the happiest marriage of all time, the marriage we were always intended for, with the most beautiful groom—the most loving and most faithful groom. And we, as the bride, will have been made pure and holy.

Jonathan Gibson
I think then the Song of Songs will become even more true for us. “He is the fairest of 10,000.” That song, in a sense, also points us to the consummation of all things, that we will be in love with our bridegroom.

Nancy Guthrie
“I am my beloved’s—”

Jonathan Gibson
“—and my beloved is mine.”

Nancy Guthrie
Well Jonathan, thank you so much for shining some light on this story of God’s intention. I want to be able to say your line and remember it in terms of what God is doing in the world: The history of the world is God’s kingdom in a new creation, under his Son and his bride, awaiting a sabbath rest. Thank you so much, Jonathan.

Jonathan Gibson
Thank you.



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In this new podcast, Nancy Guthrie—author, Bible teacher, and podcast host—leads listeners to a deeper understanding of the book of Revelation through conversations with respected Bible scholars, pastors, and other Bible teachers.


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