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.
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 (Mt. 12:5). 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.”