Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
THE QUEEN IN GOLD ATTIRE
"Hearken, O daughter, and consider, incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so
shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for He is thy
Lord and worship thou Him."
The beautiful imagery of our text and context relates to the Elect Church of this Gospel Age, which is here pictured as a Bride, the Spouse, and ultimately the Wife of the great King, Immanuel. The Scriptures abound with this view of the Church. Notice, for instance, the Apostle’s words to the Church of his day: "I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste Virgin to Christ." (
.) Note again the words of John the Baptist, "He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice; this my joy, therefore, is fulfilled." (
.) The speaker does not identify himself with the Bride class and this with propriety; for, as our Lord declares, John the Baptist was the last of the Prophets; he belonged to and was faithful as a member of the House of Servants, but did not come in under the Gospel privilege of the Pentecostal blessing following our Lord’s redemptive work. Of him our Lord says, "There has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, and yet I say unto you, the least one in the Kingdom of God is greater than he." (
.) In other words, our Lord assures us that to have the humblest position in the Church class, in the Bride class being selected during this age, is an higher honor than that which belongs to the very noblest of the previous dispensations.
Failure to notice God’s dispensational dealings with the patriarchs in the Jewish nation and with the Gospel Church has hindered many of the Lord’s people from
making good progress in the study of the Word; and it is time that all awake to this fact and realize that various features of the Divine Plan belong to various dispensations or epochs, and that all these are working together for the grand fulfilment of God’s glorious purposes, of which the Apostle writes, "He will gather together in one all these things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth." (
.) This great work is not yet accomplished. The angelic hosts do indeed give reverence and obedience to the glorified Son of God. A "little flock" of footstep followers of the Lord Jesus from amongst men so glorify and honor Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. But as for the masses of mankind, living and dead, they have never even heard His name, or known of the grace of God in Him.
But according to the Lord’s Word these all must hear and know and have an opportunity for salvation through Christ—"in due time." That due time is the coming Age or new epoch called the Millennium, the great thousand-year Day which God has appointed for the world’s trial or judgment; as we read, "God hath appointed a Day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness." (
) But prior to that appointed Day He called out of the world a special class of those who have the hearing of faith and the eye of faith, that He may thus select the Bride of Christ to be His joint-heir in that Kingdom and His joint-associate in that glorious work of blessing all the families of the earth and granting to all of them a trial or judgment—a knowledge of the Truth and an opportunity to show their willingness to obey it.
THE BRIDAL ROBES
The context declares (V. 13), "Her clothing is inwrought with gold." But this pictures her as the Bride when all the trials, difficulties and testings shall have been successfully passed and she shall be accepted as the Very Elect, to be forever associated with her Lord and a sharer
of His glory. In the Scripture symbology gold is used to represent the Divine nature. Hence the picture as a whole teaches us that when the King of kings shall present His Bride before the Heavenly Father at the close of this Age, after she shall have been glorified by the First Resurrection, she will be possessed of the Divine nature—"glory, honor and immortality."—
This is what the Apostle Peter assures us will be the outcome. Speaking of the promises of God’s Word to this Bride class he says that God "hath given unto us exceeding great and precious promises whereby we might be partakers of the Divine nature." (
.) We do not get this Divine nature or this gold raiment in the present life; our immortality is a hope and not an actuality.
As the Apostle says, "we seek for glory, honor and immortality."
How difficult it is for us to grasp the thought that the great Creator, desiring that the elect "little flock" should be associated with His Son in the great work of the Millennial Age, the blessing of all the families of the earth, did not invite the holy angels, but instead has sent the invitation to our fallen race, to such of its members as would have the ears to hear and the hearts to respond to the call of this Gospel Age—to walk the narrow way in the footsteps of our Redeemer!
No wonder the Apostle declares that although we have God’s assurance that we are sons of God, and although this signifies that we shall be heirs of God, yet it does not appear what we shall be, how great we shall be. It is too wonderful a matter for us to comprehend; too wonderful to even be described in the Scriptures. Hence, the only information granted to us is that when our Lord Jesus shall be manifested at His Second Advent in power and great glory, then the First Resurrection change shall make His faithful "little flock" like Him, that they may see Him as He is—not as He was—and share His glory; for flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God—though all flesh shall see the salvation of God, shall experience
the blessings that will flow from that Millennial Kingdom and be recipients of the Divine favors which will then be poured out upon all flesh with lavish hand and blessed results.—
But the context says more respecting this raiment.
Note (V. 14) "She shall be led unto the King in raiment of needlework." This word "led" properly enough applies to the present life. All through this Gospel Age, from Pentecost until now, the Lord has used various instrumentalities to call out from the world this peculiar people; and by various instrumentalities He has led them from grace to grace, from knowledge to knowledge, and changed them from glory to glory, to prepare them for their final acceptance, in the First Resurrection, of the clothing of gold—glory, honor and immortality.
It is in full accord with all this that the Scriptures represent that all accepted of the Lord throughout this Gospel Age have been granted a wedding garment clean and white, "pure linen which is the righteousness of the saints." (
.) That robe figuratively represents justification, the covering of our blemishes; and it is a wedding garment because it constitutes a basis of our ultimate acceptance by the Lord in the end of this Age, when the marriage of the Lamb shall come. These espoused ones are cautioned that their treatment of the robe will determine whether or not they will ultimately be of the Bride class: (1) They must keep their garments unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27), and (2) must embroider them with fine needlework. Painstakingly they must endeavor to fix and establish in their robes the glorious pattern outlined for them by the word and example of their Bridegroom and His mouthpieces, the Apostles.
REMOVING SPOTS AND WRINKLES
If any of those "called to be saints," on accepting that invitation and receiving the robe, supposed it would be an easy matter to keep it without spot or wrinkle or
any such thing he was soon undeceived. Each one of this class has found out that it requires great circumspection, great care, to live in a world in which sin abounds and, as a New Creature, to act through a body the imperfections of which are continually coming to light as growth is made in grace and knowledge. The great Apostle acknowledges the impossibility of perfection under present conditions—except that our hearts, our intentions, our wills, might be perfect, should be perfect, must be perfect, thoroughly loyal to God and to righteousness. He says, "When I would do good evil is present with me"; and again, "We cannot do the things that we would."
The Scriptures declare that "There is none righteous, no not one" (
); and when the thought of our own imperfections and the sin abounding all about us would make us fearful, convincing us of the impossibility of preventing our garments from receiving spots or wrinkles, what then? Ah, they tell us how these are to be gotten rid of; they tell us that the merit of our Lord’s sacrifice not only cancelled for us our past sins and covered us with His robe of righteousness, but that all subsequent imperfections, resulting from original sin, weakness and ignorance, may all be forgiven us and not remain as spots upon our robes. The Apostle says, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin." (
.) The thought of this text is not the original justification which we received when we received the robe, but a cleansing which may be ours after we are the Lord’s and have the robe. The word cleanseth here refers not to something already past but to that which is now at our disposal, which is now in progress, a cleansing or forgiveness which all of the Lord’s people need to pray for and to accept, as in the Lord’s prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Thus through the Age from Pentecost down, those who have been called, accepted and robed with the wedding garment have been obliged to strive to keep their garments
unspotted, and oft with tears to apply for the cleansing when a spot would be seen. Their consciences are so tender on the subject that their neighbors and friends of the world and nominal Christendom think them strange, peculiar people. They are more distressed to see one spot upon their robe than are many whose garments are filthy. But the effect upon them is a blessed one, as it develops in them more and more love for righteousness and greater zeal and strength in overcoming.
They are making progress, even though to themselves it may appear slow; they are becoming fortified, strengthened and built up in character—in their love for whatsoever things are just, true, lovely and of good report.
.) We are now referring merely to that class of the called ones who will ultimately be accepted as the Bride. We are not referring to all who make a consecration and are accepted of the Lord, but who fail to be thus particular about the spots and wrinkles on their robes. These we will consider later.
"IF YE DO THESE THINGS"
When the Apostle Peter said, "If ye do these things ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (
), he is referring to the same things that are represented by the embroidering, the needlework upon the wedding garment.
All the espoused ones are shown the pattern on the robe. They are all informed of the necessity of working out their own salvation, of cooperating with the Lord in the matter of making their calling and election sure to the glorious station to which they have been invited. They are informed that through much tribulation shall they enter the Kingdom. (
.) This tribulation is the painstaking "fine needlework" of our context.
Not all tribulation that may come to mankind is a part of this embroidery. The Apostle speaks of some in these
words, "But let no man suffer as an evil-doer or as a busybody in other men’s matters." (
.) The intimation is that such sufferings are not incidental to the embroidering we are to do, but the result of our not being engaged in our embroidering work and having time to meddle with sin or with other matters and affairs. Such tribulations add nothing to our embroidering on the robe, except as they might awaken us to a sense of our neglect of the important work which must be done in our own characters if we would be fit for a share with our Lord in His Kingdom, fit to be accepted as members of the Very Elect, the Bride, the Church in glory.
The baneful experiences which come to us as a result of our faithfulness to the Lord, to the Truth, to the brethren—these constitute parts of the embroidering. These help us to fix in our hearts and characters the principles of righteousness and of love divine. How tedious the work appears to us sometimes! At the close of each day we are astonished at how little we have accomplished; and the weeks and months go by with similar experiences.
With the close of the year, when we give our robes particular attention we behold the comparatively little that has been accomplished since the examination of the year before.
But how does the Lord view this matter? Is He expecting that you and I and all of His followers will be able in every detail to follow the glorious pattern that is stamped upon our robes? Will He require of us as a condition of our acceptance as His Bride that not a feature or detail shall be lacking? Oh, no! Such a view would swerve and at once discourage us from further effort.
The entire tenor of Scripture is to the contrary. As, for instance, in the parable of the talents, our Lord represents some as having less ability and some more, and indicates that His approval will be in proportion as we have endeavored to accomplish His will. The one who had faithfully used the two talents heard the same words of approval as the one who had five talents and used
them—"Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."—
And so with the robe: If the Lord, who takes cognizance of our endeavors, sees persistency and the right intention He counts it unto us as being perfect. We shall not be married in these robes. These are merely the ones in which we are being led to the marriage. More and more they should show our love, our zeal and patient endurance. As the Master examines the work will He not expect to find the last better than the first, even though none of it be perfect? Will not this be the basis of His approval of our endeavors and on account of which He will be willing to give us the new robe of gold?
Some of us, perhaps, remember that when we were children at school we had writing copy-books with perfect copper-plate engravings at the top of each page as copy. Alas! and do we not remember also that in many instances the first few lines were the best on the page and that carelessness and indifference to the copy and to the necessity for the lesson became more and more marked as we proceeded to the bottom of the page? We remember that we copied our own instead of looking to the engraving at the top. So it is with this matter of the embroidering of our robes. If we become heedless, careless, indifferent, overcharged with the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches and the affairs of this world, our robes will show it. Little embroidering will be done and it will be of poor quality. Spots will get on; and we shall neglect to have them cleansed away. Soon our robes will be entirely unfit for the Inspection of the Lord or for the marriage. It is time, dear friends, that we awake to the responsibilities of the hour, that we realize that the Bridegroom is nigh, even at the door; that the last of the wise virgins will soon enter into the marriage and the door will be shut; and that the choicest blessings of all time will soon be won or lost as far as we are concerned. —
LOVE FULFILS THE LAW
Let us make no mistake as respects what constitutes this needlework, this embroidery. It is not knowledge, though knowledge is very necessary to its proper in-working.
It represents not natural talents, though these may be utilized in connection with it. It represents not merely laborious works, though these may be very proper and perhaps necessary to it if conditions are favorable. This embroidery represents love; for "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." (
.) This is the new commandment which our Lord has given, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." (
.) Love for the Lord, and His Truth He places on a parity when He says, "Me and My Word." One of course, comes first. To our Lord and His Word we must be true at all hazards. Then comes love for the brethren—because they are His—because they have His spirit—because they are seeking to walk in His footsteps. "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"—
This is the forceful argument of the Apostle. The love must continue and extend to neighbors, friends, yea, to enemies, so that those who would have the full pattern on their robes must have in their characters a true, genuine, staunch love for all these. And if, perchance, the enemy should be a brother, the testing to love might be all the more severe. But that this feature of the embroidery be worked is our Lord’s requirement. Whoever does not love even his enemies is not fit for the Kingdom—whatever he may be fit for. Love as brethren, be pitiful, be sympathetic, be generous, be helpful, be self-sacrificing, do unto others as you would they should do to you. Let the Golden Rule measure your thoughts, words and deeds—measure the length of the stitches in your embroidery and assure yourself that it is "fine needlework."
Our context declares that when the Bride class shall be the Queen and shall be presented before the Father,
the virgins, her companions, shall follow after. Who are these virgins? They are those represented in the parable as the foolish virgins. They were as truly virgins as the wise ones, as truly justified and as truly consecrated to the Lord. They also got the wedding garment. Theirs also was stamped with the pattern for embroidery. But they neglected the work. They became overcharged with cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches. The first spot upon their robe distressed them; but subsequently they became accustomed to seeing it spotted, and thought less and less of the matter. They were themselves free to admit not only their consecration and their possession of the robe, but also its disfigurement by the spots and wrinkles which they did not approve, but which they had given up the thought of removing as too great a task to perform.—
What they should do is to apply to the Bridegroom for the cleansing fluid, the precious blood—that He would take away these spots and blemishes, giving such chastisements as His wisdom would see best for the inattention, carelessness—and to entreat that they might no longer be of the foolish virgin class but of the wise—wise toward God, wise to appreciate the fact that the great blessing now being proffered to the Very Elect is valuable beyond all estimate. But the more spots and wrinkles that get upon the robe the more likely is the wearer to be careless. Noting that the majority of even the consecrated have spots and wrinkles, he is apt to conclude that he is no worse than others, and not nearly so bad as many.
How we would like to awaken some of these to a realization of their proper position and need of prompt action and redoubled energy not only in securing the cleansing of the robe but also in the work of embroidering it with the fruits and graces of the Spirit which they have so sadly neglected!—
Our father’s house is the world; for as the Apostle declares, "We were children of wrath, even as others."
.) In accepting our Lord’s invitation to be His Bride we are joining a new family, a new house.
We are exhorted to show our appreciation of our espousal by forgetting the house and family to which we formerly belonged and held allegiance. This is in harmony with the Apostle’s exhortation, "Forgetting the things which are behind, I press on to those things which are before"; and again, "the things that I once loved, now I hate"—things highly esteemed amongst men I now see to be unworthy of those called to be heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.—
"FORGET THY FATHER’S HOUSE"
Here, dear friends, is the gist of the entire question: Our Lord declares that we and the entire world are either for Him and His cause or against the same. There is no neutral ground; and hence in leaving the father’s house, the world, and our own people, and in becoming members of the New Creation, the Church, the Body of Christ, begotten of the Holy Spirit, we should understand that the change is a radical one and not any longer seek for our fellowships and joys from the worldly sources but only amongst those who with ourselves are consecrated to the Lord and waiting for His return, and for the marriage and for membership in the elect class, the Bride. The more we attempt to mix worldly things and prospects and aims with our high calling the more it will be shown that we are at the very most foolish virgins; for we cannot serve God and Mammon. This, of course, does not signify unkindness toward friends or neighbors or kindred. The Lord’s saints are exhorted to do good unto all men as they have opportunity but especially unto the Household of Faith. And with the latter and their aims they must specially identify if they would come off conquerors, and be received by their Lord and King as His Joint-heir and Bride and introduced as such to the Heavenly Father.—
; 2 John 8.