THE WIFE AND THE BRIDE OF REVELATION
The question that I will address in this paper is whether the wife of Rev. 19 and the bride of Rev. 21 are two different groups in the same dispensation. This question is part of the broader question of whether there are two callings in the dispensation of the mystery. (The broader question is addressed in the paper on this web-site Are There Two Callings In The Dispensation Of The Mystery?.) If the wife and the bride are two different groups, called to two different callings in one dispensation, this sets a precedence for two callings in the dispensation of the mystery.
In his book The Bride And The Body, Charles Welch writes, “In Matthew 13 we have two parables, both dealing with a treasure, but differing from one another as the nation of Israel differs from the faithful overcoming remnant, as a restored wife differs from the Bride“.
Let me try to clarify the teachings of the section quoted above from Welch’s book. Mr. Welch suggests that the wife is “restored Israel” and the bride is the “faithful overcoming remnant”. “Restored Israel” refers to those of Israel who were not faithful, but were taken back by God as His wife. The wife is called to the earthly, millennial Jerusalem. On the other hand, the faithful remnant is His bride and Her calling is to the New Jerusalem on the new earth. That suggests that there is an elect remnant (the bride) within an elect nation (the wife) with two different callings in the same dispensation.
This paper will discuss the following questions:
1) Are the wife and the bride two different groups of people in one dispensation?
2) Will unfaithful Israel be restored?
ARE THE WIFE AND THE BRIDE TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS?
ABRAHAM IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Matthew 8:11 reads, “And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven”. The note in the Companion Bible on the word translated “with” takes us to the definition of that Greek preposition. “denotes among, amid, …….or in company with”.
The term “kingdom of Heaven” is the limited term of Christ’s millennial rule over Israel in the land, and does not include His reign over the nations (please see the paper on this web-site The Kingdom Of Heaven for proof of that statement). We learn from Matt. 8:11 that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be on earth (i.e. the kingdom of Heaven is on earth) for the millennium.
As we all know, Abraham was commended several times in the Bible for his faithfulness, and Isaac and Jacob are also commended in Hebrews 11 for their faithfulness (see Heb. 11:20-21). But according to the passage from Mr. Welch’s book quoted above, those on earth for the millennial reign are those who make up the wife, and the wife is the unfaithful of Israel, “restored”. Because Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be on earth for the millennium, that puts them in the category, according to Mr. Welch, of unfaithful. We will come back to this contradiction, but for the moment, let us continue our study.
We are told that Abraham, along with all the other faithful mentioned in Hebrews 11 “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb.11:10). This city is, of course, the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is referred to as the “bride adorned for her husband” in Rev. 21:2. That would make Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as those who were commended for looking for a “better country”, (the new Jerusalem) part of the bride.
Let us try to put all this together. 1) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will partake in the millennial blessings on earth and are therefore, according to Mr. Welch, included in the “wife”. But, he writes that the wife is the unfaithful, but “restored Israel“. 2) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be in the new Jerusalem and will, therefore, be included in the bride. But according to Mr. Welch, the bride is the faithful remnant. 3) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can not be counted as both faithful and unfaithful. There obviously must be a better explanation as to who is the wife of Rev. 19 and who is the bride of Rev. 21.
I suggest that the wife and the bride are the same group of faithful believers of Israel. The paper on this web-site on the marriage of Israel to Christ gives my reasons from Scripture for the belief that the wedding supper will begin at the second coming of Christ, i.e. before the millennium, and will culminate with Israel becoming the bride after the millennium. This wedding supper is obviously going to culminate in the marriage to the same Israel as the Israel with whom it began. So the millennial Jerusalem on earth is for the wife, i.e. the faithful of Israel, and the New Jerusalem, which comes down from heaven after the millennium is also for the faithful of Israel after the marriage of the Lamb and therefore called “the bride”.
There are not two callings in one dispensation. There is one calling to earth for one dispensation, (the millennium) and a different calling for the same group for a different dispensation, (the New Heavens and New Earth).
Therefore, there is no precedence for two callings in one dispensation, i.e. the dispensation of the mystery.
WHEN WILL THE NEW JERUSALEM BE PREPARED?
If, as Mr. Welch suggests, the bride is a different group than the wife, and both are raised at the second coming of Christ, then to where is the bride called? As mentioned above, some believe that the bride is called to the heavenly Jerusalem, i.e. the new Jerusalem. But that means that the new Jerusalem must be built 1,000 years before it comes down to earth at the end of the millennium.
As mentioned above, Matt. 8:11 tells us that faithful Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be on earth for the millennial reign, which, in my opinion, proves the suggestion of the occupation of the new Jerusalem before it comes to earth to be in error. that is to say, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob cannot oocupy two different places at the same time. But those who believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be in the new Jerusalem during the millennium point to Heb. 11:16 which speaks of the new Jerusalem being “prepared”. Let us consider that verse.
We read in Heb. 11:16, “……for He hath prepared for them a city”, i.e. the new Jerusalem. Does this mean that the new Jerusalem was built 1,000 years before it came down from heaven after the millennium? I believe that a correct understanding of the Greek word translated “prepared” will give us our answer to that question.
The Greek word translated “prepared” is “hetoimazo”. The first occurrence is in Matt. 3:3, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”. The way of the Lord was not being built, it was being prepared. How was it being prepared? By events. More specifically by John the Baptist’s message to repent. I do not mean to suggest that the Greek word is always used in the sense of events preparing something, but the fact is that it is used in this way several times, and could, and in my opinion, is used this way in Heb. 11:16.
The second occurrence of the word is found in Matt. 20:23, “…… ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father”. The note in the Companion Bible on the word “prepared” reads, “prepared or destined“. This makes perfect sense in this context. That is to say, to sit on Christ’s right or His left is obviously a place of honor. That place is not built, it is “destined”.
Matt. 25:34 reads, “Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. This is obviously the kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom of Heaven has been prepared by all the events that have, and will, lead up to its being established.
What events prepared the new Jerusalem? Because the new Jerusalem will be on the new earth, obviously, one of the events that prepared the city was the creation of the new earth. That is to say, the new earth was one of those events that prepared for the new Jerusalem. That being the case, I believe that the new Jerusalem was not built before the new earth came into existence. And that in turn tells us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could not occupy the new Jerusalem during the millennium.
WHO ARE THEY WHO WASHED THEIR ROBES AND MADE THEM WHITE?
Let us examine more closely the verse in Revelation that refers to the wife as we continue our search for the truth about Her.
Rev. 19:7-8, “…..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”.
We see in Rev. 19:7-8 that the wife is arrayed in “fine linen, clean and white”. Mr. Welch believes that the wife was arrayed in those linens because she had been “restored”. As the reader shall see as we continue in this study, the unfaithful of Israel will not be restored, they will not even be allowed entrance into the land for the millennial reign of Christ. I believe there is another explanation as to why the wife would be arrayed in fine linen, white and clean.
The phrase in verse 8, arrayed in fine linen “clean and white” takes us back to Rev. 7:13-14, “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes-who are they, and where did they come from? I answered, ‘Sir, you know’. And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Using the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture, let us examine the question: to whom does the phrase “wife” of Rev. 19:7 refer? Rev. 7:13-14 tells us that the over-comers of the tribulation were in white robes, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Those in white robes are not unbelievers “restored”, they are the martyrs of the tribulation who gave up their lives rather than worship the beast. Therefore, the wife is made up, at least in part, of the faithful martyrs of the tribulation, not the unfaithful who needed to be restored.
If both the wife and the bride are made up of the faithful, they are not two different groups. They are, as stated above, two different titles for the same group. Again, this does not set a precedence for two callings in one dispensation, the dispensation of the mystery.
WILL UNFAITHFUL ISRAEL BE RESTORED?
Mr. Welch wrote that the bride is made up of the faithful of Israel, and the wife is made up of the unfaithful of Israel, but “restored”. As stated above, I believe that the wife and the bride are composed of the same faithful of Israel. Furthermore, I do not agree that the unfaithful of Israel will be “restored”. This section of our study will address the question: will unfaithful Israel be restored?
That question will be answered as we examine the question of who will be allowed entrance into the land of Israel for the millennial reign of Christ. If unfaithful Israel is restored, i.e. taken back as the Lamb’s wife, they certainly would be allowed entrance into the land of Israel for the millennial reign of Christ. As we shall see, however, the unfaithful are not allowed entrance.
We read in Matthew 8:11-12, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
The “subjects of the kingdom” of verse 12 refers to Israel. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is limited in its geographic boundary and refers to Christ’s 1,000 year reign over Israel in the land. Those “thrown out” of the kingdom of Heaven will be thrown out of the land of Israel to live in the Gentile nations. (For proof of these statements please see the paper on this web-site The Kingdom of Heaven.)
We see that some of Israel will be “thrown out” of the kingdom of Heaven. If the unfaithful of Israel are taken back as the restored wife, would they not be allowed entrance into the kingdom of Heaven? I believe they would. Let us continue.
Matthew 13:37-43 explains the parable of the weeds and the prophecy which completes it. Verse 38b, “the weeds are the sons of the evil one”. Verse 39b, “The harvest is at the end of the age”. Verse 41, “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil”. What will happen to those being weeded out? Verse 42, They will be thrown into the “fiery furnace…”, that is, outside the land of Israel, while those in the land will be enjoying millennial blessings.
The “weeding out” of this parable is what Ezekiel refers to in 20:35-38. “I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will take note of you as you pass under my staff, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel….”.
Again, if the unfaithful of Israel were restored as the wife, they would certainly be allowed entrance into the land of Israel for the millennial reign. But they are not allowed entrance, therefore I believe that the unfaithful of Israel will not be restored.
A word of clarification of Ezek. 20:40 is in order. The NIV has, “…..the entire house of Israel will serve me there”. That would suggest that all Israel, including unbelievers will be allowed into the land. But the Hebrew-English Interlinear has, “The entire house of Israel, all of them in the land will serve me there”. The KJV also includes this phrase. This is consistent with all the other scriptures that concern the gathering of Israel for the millennial blessings, i.e. only the faithful are allowed into the land and therefore, only the faithful will serve Him there.
In order not to create any confusion, we should consider Ezek 36 in this discussion of who is allowed entrance into the land. Ezek. 36:24-27, “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. ……..You will live in the land I gave your forefathers, you will be my people and I will be your God”. Here we read that Israel will be in the land, but in Ezek. 20 we read that some would not be allowed entrance into the land. Let us consider this apparent contradiction.
We have seen in two passages in Matthew that some of Israel will be “thrown out” of the land; they will not be allowed entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. We have also seen in Ezek. 20, the unfaithful will be brought out from where they had been scattered, but they will not be allowed entrance into the land. We must conclude therefore, that the promises of Ezek. 36 are not given to unfaithful Israel, they are given to faithful Israel only. If we do not recognize that truth we are faced with the unthinkable conclusion that there is a contradiction in God’s perfect Word.
Let us also consider the following scriptures.
Psalms 37:9, “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land“.
Ps. 37:22, “those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those He curses will be cut off”.
Ps. 37:34, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to possess the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.”
Prov. 2:21-22, “but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.”
It is clear that the unfaithful of Israel will not be allowed entrance into the land for the millennial reign of Christ. If these unfaithful had been “restored” as the wife of the Lamb, they would have been allowed entrance. Obviously, the unfaithful are not restored.
There is one more passage to consider which will shed some light on our question as to whether Israel will be “restored”. Ezek. 11:12-21, “Therefore say: this is what the Sovereign Lord says; ‘I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again. They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols, I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord”.
Ezekiel makes a distinction between the faithful and those who were “devoted to their vile images” etc. The latter will be punished. If they were restored and taken back as God’s wife, they would not be in a position of suffering punishment. I believe therefore, that the unfaithful are not restored as the wife.
“AND ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED”
Many believe that all Israel will be saved, both the faithful and the unfaithful. They reason that the unfaithful will be saved, and that they are the group that are “restored” and become the wife of Rev. 19. Let us examine that thought.
Romans 11:26 reads, “And so all Israel will be saved as it is written, ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.”
This verse leads to several questions. For example, to whom does the phrase, “all Israel” refer? Another question is; what is meant, in this particular context, by the word “saved”? Does it mean saved unto resurrection life, or does it mean something else?
Verse 23 is absolutely crucial in understanding this entire portion of Romans. “And if they (Israelites) do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again”. Unbelieving Israelites were cut off from their nation because of their unbelief. “Cut off” can mean to be killed, but it also means to be cast away from one’s nation. Consider, for example, Numbers 19:13. “That person must be cut off from Israel“. In the next sentence we are told that his “uncleanness remains on him”. Obviously, he must remain alive if his uncleanness remains on him. There are numerous occurrence of this phrase in which it means to be cut off from the nation of Israel. See, for example, Lev. 17:14, Numbers 15:31 and Zech.14:2.
In Romans 11, Paul is saying that some Israelites were cut off from their own nation because of their unbelief, but if they do not persist in their unbelief, they may be returned to their nation. By being cut off they will not be able to participate in the blessings God has promised His chosen people; but if they do not continue in their unbelief they may be “grafted in again” to the nation and thereby partake in Her blessings. At the time of Paul’s writing of this letter believers were looking for the immediate return of Christ to set up His millennial reign. Being cut off from Israel would mean not being allowed to participate in all the millennial blessings prophesied in the Old Testament.
Verse 23 concerns Israelites. In verses 24 and 25 Paul reminds the Gentiles that they are grafted in to Israel, “contrary to nature”. His remarks in these two verses are addressed to and concern Gentile believers, so verses 24-25 are parenthetical in nature. Then in verse 26 where Paul writes, “And so all Israel will be saved….”, his focus is returning to Israel. The phrase “and so” tells us that the statement of this verse did not come out of thin air. It came as a natural progression of what was written in the context. If we, for the moment, leave out Paul’s parenthetical comments to the Gentiles in verses 24-25 we read, “And if they (Israel) do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again…..And so all Israel will be saved…”. Paul is saying here that unbelievers are not included in Israel, they were cut off. They were cut off because of their unbelief; therefore, they are not part of the nation of Israel.
It is clear that because unbelieving Israel has been cut off from their nation and the national blessings promised Her, that it is believing Israel only that is included in the phrase “all Israel will be saved”. This is consistent with Matthew 13, and Ezekiel 11, 20 and 36 all of which tells us that some of Israel will not be allowed entrance into the land for the millennial reign of Christ. Also consider that “they are not all Israel that are of Israel”.
But the reader may be thinking, “but we already know that only believers are saved from death unto resurrection life, what is the meaning of this verse?” This brings us to our second question posed earlier, i.e. what is meant in this context by the word “saved”? That is to say, from what will believing Israel be saved?
There are two things that will help answer this question. 1) The context and 2) an examination of the Old Testament prophesy from which Romans 11:26b was quoted.
First let us look at the context. It is clear that Paul was not writing primarily about salvation from death in Romans 11. Consider for example, “Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either” (Rom. 11:20b-21). If we believe that Paul is writing about salvation from death then we are led to the extremely erroneous conclusion that he was writing that some could lose their salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth as Rom. 8:37-39 proves.
What Paul was saying is that if Israelites, because of their unbelief could be cut off from the nation and therefore not partake of the blessings for which they were looking, so also could the Gentiles be cut off.
Next let us look at the original prophecy to see if we can learn what this salvation was, to which Paul was referring. The prophecy comes from Isaiah 59:20, “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins”. Note first of all, that the Redeemer does not come to all of Israel, He comes to those “who repent of their sins”. I think we can say that in New Testament language, that means believers in Christ. This fact helps to substantiate the point that “all Israel” in Rom. 11:26 refers to all believing Israel.
The context of this verse will show that the Redeemer, in this particular prophecy, was coming to save Israel from the wrath of God against His enemies. Who, in this context, are His enemies? Verse 18 reads, “According to what they have done, so will He repay wrath to His enemies and retribution to His foes; He will repay the Islands their due.” The “islands” refer to the nations.
Note verse 19b, “For He will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along”. Verse 21 goes on to speak of “My covenant with them” and is reminiscent of the language of the New Covenant. This is helpful because it sets the time of when this prophecy will take place, i.e. the second coming of Christ. Just prior to the second coming is the day of God’s wrath (see Rev. 6:17). I believe, therefore that the “wrath” spoken of in Is. 59 is the day of God’s wrath meted out to the nations just before the second coming of Christ.
To bring this all together: I believe that when Paul writes that “all Israel will be saved” he is saying that all believing Israelites will be saved from the coming wrath of God in the day of God’s wrath. This will be accomplished by the rapture. So Romans 11:26 refers to believers and furthermore, has nothing to do with salvation from death.
A word about the new covenant may be in order at this point in our study. There are those who believe that the new covenant will save all Israel, and that is based largely on Rom.11:26. As we have seen, Romans 11:26 has nothing to do with salvation from death, or the restoration of the unfaithful of Israel.
Also, if all Israel will be saved by the new covenant there would be no reason to deny any entrance into the land for the millennial reign of Christ. (The New Covenant in relation to the “restored” wife will be discussed in more detail in the section titled “Other Helpful Passages”.)
THE WIFE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Let us look at several Old Testament passages that speak of the wife so that we may determine if any of these passages speak of the restoration of unfaithful Israel.
Jer. 3:14 reads, “Turn O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion”. There are several things to note in the verse:
1) the Lord addresses His “backsliding children”. This might suggest to some that He is speaking of all Israel and that He will restore the unfaithful of Israel as His wife. But:
2) Note the phrase, ” I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion”. Here we read that He will not bring everyone to Zion, but only some. That tells us that not all Israel will be brought into the land.
I think this verse is helpful in understanding the other passages that speak of Israel as the wife in the Old Testament. That is to say, even the faithful of Israel, who will be allowed entrance into the land, had been “backsliders”. But because some will not be allowed entrance into the land, we must conclude that we may not assume that all Israel will be restored.
Hosea 2:16-17, “‘In that day’, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’. I will remove the names of the Baals (lords) from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.” This verse also seems to suggest that those who called on the name of Baals will be restored to the position of wife. However, as we go to verse 23 we read, “I will plant her for myself in the land…..”. As we discovered, the unfaithful will not be allowed entrance into the land. We must conclude therefore, that this passage in Hosea speaks of the faithful of Israel only. “But”, one might object, “it is not clear that it is only the faithful that are to call Him my Husband”. Let us examine that objection.
When we speak of entrance into the land we are, of course, speaking of entrance into the land for the millennial reign of Christ. As mentioned above, the paper on this site The Kingdom of Heaven will show that the term “kingdom of Heaven” is the term that limits Christ’s millennial reign to His rule over Israel in the land, and does not include His reign over the nations. This is an important fact because the parables of our Lord dealt with the kingdom of Heaven. These parables taught secrets concerning the kingdom of Heaven. “The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables’? He replied, ‘The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them” (Matt. 13:2).
I believe that one of the “secrets of the kingdom of Heaven” was that some of the “children of the kingdom” (Matt. 8:12) will be thrown into the “fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew13:42). It is clear that our Lord considered that to be one of the secrets about the kingdom of Heaven, as it was the subject of many of the parables. I do not know why it was a secret that Christ taught only to His disciples, but it does explain why Hosea did not expressly limit the wife to the faithful of Israel.
Isaiah 54:5-7, “For your Maker is your husband- the Lord Almighty is His name- …..The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit- a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God. ‘For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.”
The context will help once again to determine whether the unfaithful are included in this prophecy, i.e. whether they will be called back as His wife. Note verse14, “In righteousness you will be established….. you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.” The millennial blessings within the land of Israel will not be in evidence outside of the land of Israel (the truth of that statement is proved in the paper The Kingdom of Heaven). The question is then, who will “have nothing to fear”? That question is answered in Is. 60:18, “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls salvation and your gates Praise.” Only those in the land of Israel will have nothing to fear in the millennial reign.
Going back to Isaiah 54 we read that “terror will be far removed”. It will be far removed from those in the land of Israel. We know that because Isaiah is more specific in 60:18 where we read, that “violence” will no longer be heard of “in your land”, “within your borders”. Because the near and far context of Is. 54 tells us that the prophecy concerning the wife is for those in the land, and because only the faithful are in the land, we see that the wife includes only the faithful. This is consistent with all the other scriptures concerning the wife being composed of the faithful of Israel.
The fact that the truth of the unfaithful not being allowed into the land was one of the secrets of the kingdom of Heaven explains why Isaiah was not more specific in chapter 54. Again, because all Israel will not be allowed entrance into the kingdom of Heaven, we are led to the conclusion that the unfaithful of Israel will not be restored.
OTHER HELPFUL PASSAGES
Ezek. 37:1-14. This passage speaks of the resurrection of Israel. We read in verse 11, “Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. ….Therefore prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘O My people, I am going to open your graves and bring them up from them”. If we take the phrase, the “whole house of Israel” out of context we may be drawn to the erroneous conclusion that it refers to the unfaithful as well as the faithful. But let us continue with verse 12 where we read, “I will bring you back to the land of Israel”.
We already know that the unfaithful will not be brought back to the land. That limits this passage to those who will be brought back to the land, i.e. the faithful of Israel. Let us continue with verse 14, “I will put my spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.” Again, this verse limits this entire passage to the faithful of Israel. May I remind the reader that “they are not all Israel that are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6).
Because it is only the faithful of Israel that will be brought back to the land of Israel, we may conclude that the unfaithful will not be restored to the position of wife.
Ezek. 16:60 and Jer. 31:31 speak of the new covenant that God will make with Israel. The question is: is the new covenant made with all Israel, or is it made with only the faithful of Israel?
In our efforts to answer that question let us reconsider Ezek. 20 and compare it with Ezek.36. Ezek .20:34 tells us of the gathering of Israel for the millennium. “I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered…”. But then in verse 38 of this passage we read, “I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel“.
Ezek. 36 also speaks of the gathering of Israel and of the New Covenant. Ezek. 36:24-27, “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; …..I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. …..and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws, You will live in the land I gave your forefathers, you will be my people and I will be your God”.
To whom are the promises of Ezek. 36 given? They are not given to unfaithful Israel, they are given to believing Israel. How do we know that? Because we read in Ezek. 36 that they will be brought back to their land. “I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land”. And, “You will live in the land I gave your forefathers”. The unfaithful are brought out from where they had been scattered, but they are not allowed entrance into the land.
The promises of Ezek. 36 are given to faithful Israel. What are those promises that are given only to the faithful of Israel? They will be brought back to their land (verse 24). They will be sprinkled with clean water and will be made clean (verse 25). They will be given a new heart and a new spirit (verse 26). They will be given a spirit from God so that they will be careful to follow His laws (verse 27). They will be God’s people (verse 28). They will be blessed with great prosperity (verse 30). It is clear that verses 26 and 27 explain the New Covenant (compare Jer. 31:33).
Because the promise of the New Covenant is not given to the unfaithful of Israel, we can not say that those unfaithful will be restored by the New Covenant.
The question of who is the wife of Rev. 19 and who is the bride of Rev. 21 impacts on the greater question of two callings in the dispensation of the mystery. That is to say, if the wife and the bride are two different callings for the same dispensation, we would have an elect nation called to the earthly Jerusalem, and an elect remnant within that elect nation called to the New Jerusalem from above. That would set the precedence for two callings in the dispensation of the mystery. (Please see the paper on this web-site Are There Two Callings In The Dispensation of the Mystery? for a more complete discussion of that subject.)
But, as we have seen, the wife and the bride are both composed of the same group of faithful Israel. Furthermore, that group is called to two different callings in two different dispensations. The wife is faithful Israel called to the earthly Jerusalem during the millennium; the bride is faithful Israel called to the new Jerusalem for the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Matt. 8:11 tells us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are commended for their faithfulness in Hebrews 11, will be part of the earthly Jerusalem and therefore they will be part of the wife. Hebrews 11 tells us that they will be part of the new Jerusalem and therefore they are part of the bride. Therefore, we must conclude that the wife and the bride are composed of the same group of people.
The wife is described as wearing fine linen, clean and white. The martyrs of the tribulation are described as being dressed in white robes, washed in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, the wife is made up, in part, of faithful martyrs, not the unfaithful “restored” and taken back.
The wife, which includes Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be in the land for the millennial reign. The unfaithful of Israel will not be allowed entrance into the land for the millennial reign. Therefore, the wife is not the unfaithful, but the faithful of Israel. That means that she is made up of the same group of people as the bride. They are different titles for the same group for different dispensations.
The wife and the bride do not represent two different callings in one dispensation, therefore, there is no precedence for two callings in the dispensation of the mystery.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org