A Bride In War Boots

Our beloved old friend CL Moore, who years ago came up from Oklahoma from time to time to minister in our midst, told us once he’d seen a vision of the bride of Christ.  She was dressed in pure white linen, and her beauty was breathtaking.  But then CL noticed something very incongruous.  She was wearing army boots!

Now, there are several places in Scripture that reveal it is not in the least strange that this bride is prepared for war.   But let us get the emphasis right.  It is the bride who is prepared for war.

First this:

Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honour unto Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His bride hath made herself ready.
And to her was given that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white [or, bright]: for fine linen is the righteousness [that is, righteous acts] of saints (Rev. 19:7,8).

Immediately following this word about the bride of the Lamb is the prophecy of Faithful and True mounted upon a white horse and going forth to war with the armies of heaven following Him (Rev. 19:11-16).  The armies of heaven also ride upon white horses, and are “arrayed in fine linen white and clean.”  Quite the garb for an army, wouldn’t you say?  Fine linen?  Great for a delicate bride, but for an army?

What does fine linen signify?  Fine linen was the material of the garments of the priests of old.  They were not to be arrayed with wool, nor “with anything that causeth sweat” (Ezek. 44:17,18).  Now, those holy ones did a lot of work, even on sabbath days.  But it was not considered work, for they had ceased from their own labours.  That is the significance of the fine linen.  What they did was “no sweat,” was not of their own doing.  Their righteous acts were prepared beforehand by God for them to do, just as Paul says the works of the present-day saints are not to be our own works, but “good works, which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).  They are prepared beforehand; we just put them on like fine linen pure and bright, unsoiled by our own toil and strivings.

And so it is this bride in fine linen who is at the same time an army.  We see her also in Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians to husbands and wives.  He says that their unity speaks a great mystery—of Christ and His church (Eph. 5:32).   This is followed shortly with the call to heavenly warfare (Eph. 6:10-20).  Who is called to this warfare?  The bride of Christ, the Church, whom He presents to Himself “the glorious church not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing…” (Eph. 5:27).

So we have come to “the Song of songs, which is Solomon’s,” for Paul’s words in Ephesians surely reflect Song 4:7, which says, “Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.”  The Song of songs, then, is a love song about Christ and His bride, His church.

And we discover there too that this bride is prepared for war.

The bridegroom says to her:

 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible [fearsome] as an army with banners (Song 6:4).

Tirzah (meaning beautiful) was an ancient Canaanite city that became the royal city of the kings of Israel.  Jerusalem, “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth,” is the city of the great King.  You mean Solomon compares his bride to a city?  Where else do we find this?

 And I John saw the holy city new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:12).

The bride, then, is not one individual, but a city.  And she is an army with banners, which we come upon again a few verses later in the Song of songs.

 Who is she that looketh forth [draweth near] as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Song 6:10).

Are not these astonishing verses?  “Who is she?”  It is beyond astonishing that this is speaking not only of two who are one, a bride and a bridegroom—the moon and the sun, one the reflection of the other—but of a great host who are in perfect harmony with one another—an army… yet spoken of as one person.  “Who is she?”  Would this not inspire utter dread in the enemies of the Lord—to see His bride, His church, completely one with Him… and with one another?  They will yet see this as the dawning of the morning—this bride, this army—and fear.

Again three verses later we have this:

 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee.  What will ye see in the Shulamite?   As it were the company of two armies (Song 6:13).

Who is this Shulamite?  The name more literally is Shulameth, meaning “peaceful.”  Solomon’s name, more literally, is Shelomoh, meaning “peace.”  And so, just as we have Henry and Henrietta, Robert and Roberta, we have Shelomoh and Shulameth.  Here, then, are Mr. and Mrs. Solomon, Mr. and Mrs. Peace, going forth to war together—fair as the moon, clear as the sun—feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and terrible as an army with banners.

Let’s paraphrase this last passage a bit.

Oh, where did she go, this bride of devastating beauty?  Oh, how we mourn for her in this desperate late hour!  We long to see her!  Return, return, O Shulamite!  Return, return, that we may look upon thee!

Why do you want to look upon her?  What do you expect to see in her?

Let me tell you what you shall see.

As it were the company of two armies—literally, the dance of Mahanaim, as other translations have it.  For, “company” is literally, dance, and “two armies” is literally Mahanaim.

Remember Mahanaim?  This was the place where Jacob saw the angels and became aware he was not alone; there were two hosts—the heavenly and the earthly (Gen. 32:1,2).

This, then, is what shall be seen in the Shulamite—the dance, the harmonious movements, of two hosts, the heavenly and the earthly, going forth together to such war as will inflict irrecoverable defeat upon the forces of darkness, just as David received counsel from the Lord that he was not to venture forth in a certain battle till he heard the sound of a marching above the mulberry trees.

 For then shall the LORD go out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines (2 Sam 5:24).

The thing I hope to drive home is this.  The emphasis is so often on the army boots of the bride, and it is responsible for a lot of activity that is a display of carnal bravado that accomplishes absolutely nothing.  Tramping around in our war boots doing our own fighting will accomplish nothing more than sweaty feet… and chronic defeat.  The effectual warfare God has in mind is accomplished by one who is wearing the beautiful fine linen garments of a bride in love.  She is totally absorbed with Her beloved, as He is with her.  They belong to one another.  He is hers, and she is His.  She has eyes for none other than Him, a heart that beats for Him alone.  She wants nothing more—nor less—than to be with Him, to be one with Him, to dance with Him, to respond to His leadings, to move as He moves, to flow with Him, to be His counterpart.

You can’t read the Song of songs and not know that this is all about a love relationship between the Bridegroom and the bride.

It’s because of this love relationship that her prospect strikes utter terror in the hearts of her enemies.

It’s because she is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” that she is prepared for battle.

She has put on her fine linen.

She is “terrible as an army with banners.”

 

15 responses »

  1. Allan, this was very good, my brother! You got so much meaning out of these verses and tied it all together so well. The first thing I noticed in the passage you quoted,

    And to her was given that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white [or, bright]: for fine linen is the righteousness [that is, righteous acts] of saints (Rev. 19:7,8).

    What are the righteous acts of the saints? Jesus said that One is good, and that is His Father… our acts in and out from ourselves will never be righteous. Yes, it is our love relationship with our Lord that leads us to do all things with and of Him alone.

    “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 RSVA)

    Our ONE God is above ALL and IN ALL that HE might alone work THROUGH us ALL. While we rest IN Him and cease from our own labors. ONLY He can do any righteous acts among us. Amen.

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    • Michael, earlier I got thinking about Jesus’ call to the Ephesians who had left their first love. He said to them, “Repent and do the first works…” They go together hand in hand– first love and first works. What are first works? They are works that the bride does “in fine linen,” you might say, works (meaning simply all the things she does) that are the outflow of her love relationship with her bridegroom.

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      • Allan, your article is a worthy read and I prayerfully will do it more than once that it might soak in deeper and become a greater reality in my heart. “The greatest of these is love.” For the Bride to be doing her works without sweat is because “a labor of love is no labor at all.” Along this same topic Susanne Schuberth wrote on your blog back in 2013 something that really hit home and connected the pieces together or me…

        https://amendingfeast.org/2013/11/08/thank-god-for-you/#comment-832

        “Hi Allan,
        One might also say, being drawn in and tied with your heart so that you’re fastened to His Love as a special slave – as a bondslave, exactly 😉 . Isn’t it a miracle that belonging to God makes impossible things possible…and that only this kind of slavery with its easy yoke and those “commandments” which “are not grievous” (1 Jn 5:3) results in present, future, and eventually in eternal freedom?”

        Since she wrote on your blog back then she has put up her own blog and it can be found here: https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/ I am glad you two found each other, for it was through her that i found yours, my brother.

        Love you dearly in Christ,
        Michael

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        • Michael, that is right. Paul talks of “your labour of love…” (1 Thes. 1:3). This, in spite of the “works” the Ephesian church was involved in, is what was missing. They had left their first love, and were no longer doing “the first works.” The Lord was prepared to remove their lampstand from their midst because of it.

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          • Allan, this “Easter” morning, I find myself in deep heart longings for Him to fill me up with His love and restore the heart of His Bride within me. The message to the church at Ephesus is a message which Jesus has be working into my heart. It has been almost 45 years since my first year in which I spent totally in love with Jesus. It did not take long for me to fall under the leadership of well meaning men (who knew nothing about God’s rest) and for them to harness me into the labors of “doing ministry.” In that state I lost sight of THE Greatest Servant of all. Please pray for me, my brother.

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          • Michael, what I find fascinating about the bride of Christ is that she is a corporate reality; scripture never speaks of any one individual as being “the bride of Christ.” Individually, we are her children, as Paul points out in Galatians. “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26). Of course individually (as you are experiencing) our hearts pulse with the love and devotion that is hers. But it is staggering to read the Song of Solomon and bear in mind that when the bride speaks, this is a corporate people speaking with one voice! Impossible, I know. God will yet have the desire of His heart!

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          • Yes, Allan, Bride is corporately made perfect, “the Bride has made herself ready.” As we fellowship in Christ’s love around Him, the Bride is making herself ready. The New Jerusalem which comes down from above is a city which also is the Bride. Paul wrote,

            “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!”
            (Galatians 4:19 RSVA)

            Again, we see that Christ is to be formed in a body of believers, not an individual only. You wrote, ” But it is staggering to read the Song of Solomon and bear in mind that when the bride speaks, this is a corporate people speaking with one voice! Impossible, I know. God will yet have the desire of His heart!” Yes, Allan, this has been a long time coming and all hell is arrayed against it happening, for HERE is the witness that Jesus is the Christ… the unity of the saints focused on Christ and the Father because of their love. Jesus’ final prayer was for this very thing.

            “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:20-24 RSVA)

            Here we see her perfection, “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,” The many becoming one in HIS glory. And they are made perfect in the Love of God, “that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.”

            With all this in mind, Allan, I will read the Song of Songs once again, for it is truly rich and no man has fully seen the depths of its riches, yet. The Shulamite woman has a singleness of focus because of her love for the king and that love continues to mature as this book unfolds. His coming and going and her times of searching and longing for His return sharpens her hunger for more of Him. But in the end we see her coming forth from the wilderness on arm of her Beloved and THIS gives me great hope both individually and for the final glory of the Church, His Bride. Amen.

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          • Amen, Michael. You quoted, “…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” I hadn’t made that connection before– that it is the love wherewith the Father loves the Son that brings into being this “they” who are “perfectly one.” That is, with Him– and with one another.

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  2. Allan, this is wonderful. Beautiful. Thank you!
    Lori

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    • Thank you, Lori. Welcome to A Mending Feast!

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      • Okay, I’ve got to ask: What is so terrible about ‘an army with banners?’

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        • Lori, in the days when the KJV was written, “terrible” meant “fearsome.” The enemies of this bride see her coming, and are terror stricken, for the banners she carries picture not bears and eagles and lions (as the flags of the nations do) but a bleeding Lamb. That turns the knees and the loins of her enemies to jelly.

          Edit to add this: Also the very sight of this bride– a great host in perfect unity– puts her enemies in great fear. I think we see the same thing in Psalm 48, where “the kings” are assembled and see this City (this Bride), and marvel, and haste away in great fear.

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          • A great host in perfect unity — pure and spotless because of the Lamb who gave Himself for us. Sounds like something worth waiting for! Oh . . . and seeing the ‘kings’ beat a hasty retreat!! Too bad (for them) they won’t be able to outrun the terrifying wrath of the Lamb!
            Thanks for explaining it.

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          • It’s worth waiting for, Lori, and some of us have found ourselves waiting for a long time. It’s not just idle waiting, putting in time. True waiting does a deep work within. In fact it’s not something you can do in your own strength. You find yourself in a wilderness, and having to lean on Jesus for all you are worth, otherwise you know you will never make it. No doubt that is why the bride comes up out of the wilderness “leaning upon her beloved” (Song of songs 8:5).

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