Day 365

The Bride

Wisdom Proverbs 31:21-31
New Testament Revelation 21:1-27
Old Testament Nehemiah 11:22-12:47


I often get very emotional at weddings. When I was conducting the marriage of my goddaughter, as the vicar, tears were pouring down my face. My great friend, her father, said in his speech afterwards that when you are taking your daughter down the aisle, you expect the vicar to be ‘a rock’, but instead he found that I was ‘a wreck’!

When it came to my own daughter’s wedding, I was determined to hold it together. I was doing well until half-an-hour before the wedding! Then I went upstairs and saw her in her wedding dress. At that point, I lost it.

This powerful and beautiful metaphor of ‘the bride’ is one that is used to describe the church in the New Testament (Ephesians 5:22–32). It is used in today’s New Testament passage of the church of the future, which comes down out of heaven from God, ‘prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (Revelation 21:2). This picture of the bride, the new Jerusalem, is prefigured in different ways in both our Old and New Testament passages.


Proverbs 31:21-31

  21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
  22 She makes coverings for her bed;
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
  23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
  24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
   and supplies the merchants with sashes.
  25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
  26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
  27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
  28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
  29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
  30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
  31 Honour her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


The bride to be proud of

As you read the characteristics of ‘a good wife’ (MSG), realise that much of this applies not only to wives, nor even only to women. As we are the bride of Christ, it applies to us all; men and women, married and unmarried. This is what the church should be like – and through Jesus, one day, will be like.

This description of ‘the wife of noble character’ is the model human bride. She keeps her family warm (v.21); she is well dressed (v.22b). Her husband is respected because of her (v.23a). Her business flourishes (v.24). She is clothed with strength and dignity (v.25a). She can face the future with confidence and joy (v.25b).

Her words are full of wisdom (v.26). ‘When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say and she always says it kindly’ (v.26, MSG). What a great model! Avoid words that are full of hatred, anger, resentment and distrust. Only speak kind words.

She watches over the affairs of her household and ‘does not eat the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity)’ (v.27, AMP).

Her children ‘arise and call her blessed’ (v.28a). Abraham Lincoln said, ‘No man is poor who has had a godly mother.’ Not only is she appreciated by her children, her husband also praises her and says, ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all’ (vv.28b–29).

The last verses focus on all women: ‘Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!’ (vv.30–31, MSG).


Father, thank you for this picture of what the church should be like – the bride of Christ. Help us to be the kind of church in which Jesus can take pride.

New Testament

Revelation 21:1-27

A New Heaven and a New Earth

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars —they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb

9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.


The bride prepared

What does the future hold? What will ‘heaven’ be like? The New Testament answer is that it will not just be ‘heaven’ but ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (v.1a). The new heaven and the new earth are very real and solid.

This passage has within it a paradox concerning the new creation. There will be ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, but Christ says, ‘I make all things new’ (v.5, NKJV) – not, ‘I make all new things’. This is an indication of the continuity with this creation. That is why Martin Luther said, ‘If I knew the world was ending tomorrow, I would plant a tree today.’ This has huge implications for our understanding of the resurrection (and also for how we treat the environment now).

In this new heaven and the new earth, John sees the church – us – as we will be. He sees the ‘Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (v.2). One of the angels says, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb’ (v.9).

Jesus will satisfy your thirst for God: ‘He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To those who are thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”’ (v.6).

There will be a new relationship with God. You experience a foretaste of this today through the indwelling presence of God in the church by his Spirit. On this great day, you will be brought into a place of complete intimacy with Jesus. Take the most beautiful relationship you have ever seen, multiply it a million times, and you will get some idea of the sheer beauty of the relationship you will experience with God in eternity.

The church will not just be in a perfect relationship with God, she will be made perfect. The description of this ‘bride’ is dazzlingly beautiful: ‘It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, as clear as crystal’ (v.11).

This is the place for the completed church (the ‘twelve apostles of the Lamb’), with its roots in the Old Testament (the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’, vv.12–14). The city is a perfect cube (vv.15–16). It is absolutely beautiful, peaceful and totally secure (vv.17–21).

There are six notable absences:

  1. No suffering

    God himself will be with you and he will wipe away every tear from your eyes (vv.3b–4a). There will be no more suffering, sickness or sadness.

  2. No death

    There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain (v.4b). There will be no more hospitals, no walking sticks, no funerals and no cemeteries.

  3. No temple

    There is no sign of a temple, ‘because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple’ (v.22).

  4. No sun

    It does not need the sun or moon to shine, ‘for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp’ (v.23). The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it.

  5. No night

    There is no night there: ‘On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there’ (v.25).

  6. No impurity

    Those who choose to carry on living lives that destroy others have no place in this inheritance (vv.7–8): ‘Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (v.27). Nothing will be ruined by sin. It will be totally perfect.

Are you going through a difficult time right now? One day your troubles will come to an end. In the meantime, God is with you and will give you a foretaste of the future – his strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

This hope is a comfort and strength to those going through hardship and difficulty in the present (for instance, Romans 8:18), and an inspiration to live holy lives in anticipation of what is to come (for instance, 1 John 2:28).

St Augustine explains how you should respond to this hope for the future: ‘He who loves the coming of the Lord is not he who affirms that it is far off, nor is it he who says it is near, but rather he who, whether it be far off or near, awaits it with sincere faith, steadfast hope, and fervent love.’


Lord, thank you for the amazing hope for the future. Help me to wait for it with sincere faith, steadfast hope and fervent love.

Old Testament

Nehemiah 11:22-12:47

22 The chief officer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mika. Uzzi was one of Asaph’s descendants, who were the musicians responsible for the service of the house of God. 23 The musicians were under the king’s orders, which regulated their daily activity.

24 Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, one of the descendants of Zerah son of Judah, was the king’s agent in all affairs relating to the people.

25 As for the villages with their fields, some of the people of Judah lived in Kiriath Arba and its surrounding settlements, in Dibon and its settlements, in Jekabzeel and its villages, 26 in Jeshua, in Moladah, in Beth Pelet, 27 in Hazar Shual, in Beersheba and its settlements, 28 in Ziklag, in Mekonah and its settlements, 29 in En Rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam and their villages, in Lachish and its fields, and in Azekah and its settlements. So they were living all the way from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom.

31 The descendants of the Benjamites from Geba lived in Mikmash, Aija, Bethel and its settlements, 32 in Anathoth, Nob and Ananiah, 33 in Hazor, Ramah and Gittaim, 34 in Hadid, Zeboim and Neballat, 35 in Lod and Ono, and in Ge Harashim.

36 Some of the divisions of the Levites of Judah settled in Benjamin.

Priests and Levites

12 These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Joshua:

  Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

  2 Amariah, Malluk, Hattush,

  3 Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,

  4 Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah,

  5 Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah,

  6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,

  7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah.

These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Joshua.

8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 Bakbukiah and Unni, their associates, stood opposite them in the services.

10 Joshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua.

12 In the days of Joiakim, these were the heads of the priestly families:

  of Seraiah’s family, Meraiah;

  of Jeremiah’s, Hananiah;

  13 of Ezra’s, Meshullam;

  of Amariah’s, Jehohanan;

  14 of Malluk’s, Jonathan;

  of Shekaniah’s, Joseph;

  15 of Harim’s, Adna;

  of Meremoth’s, Helkai;

  16 of Iddo’s, Zechariah;

  of Ginnethon’s, Meshullam;

  17 of Abijah’s, Zikri;

  of Miniamin’s and of Moadiah’s, Piltai;

  18 of Bilgah’s, Shammua;

  of Shemaiah’s, Jehonathan;

  19 of Joiarib’s, Mattenai;

  of Jedaiah’s, Uzzi;

  20 of Sallu’s, Kallai;

  of Amok’s, Eber;

  21 of Hilkiah’s, Hashabiah;

  of Jedaiah’s, Nethanel.

22 The family heads of the Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, as well as those of the priests, were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The family heads among the descendants of Levi up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib were recorded in the book of the annals. 24 And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their associates, who stood opposite them to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.

25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates. 26 They served in the days of Joiakim son of Joshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law.

Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem

27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.

31 I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zakkur, the son of Asaph, 36 and his associates—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hanani—with musical instruments prescribed by David the man of God. Ezra the teacher of the Law led the procession. 37 At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the site of David’s palace to the Water Gate on the east.

38 The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people—past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At the Gate of the Guard they stopped.

40 The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, 41 as well as the priests—Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah with their trumpets— 42 and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. 43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

44 At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, firstfruits and tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites. 45 They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the musicians and gatekeepers, according to the commands of David and his son Solomon. 46 For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the musicians and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the musicians and the gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.


The bride prefigured

Celebrations are important. One day there will be a massive eternal celebration. When the church comes together, our celebration is an anticipation of the great celebration that is to come. All this is prefigured in the Old Testament.

The city of Jerusalem anticipates and prefigures what is to come. The new Jerusalem is the church, glorified and triumphant; ‘The bride, the wife of the Lamb’ (Revelation 21:9–10).

Much attention is given to Jerusalem in the Old Testament. This is why there was such joy and celebration when Jerusalem was rebuilt. A great celebration took place, with ‘thanksgiving hymns, songs, cymbals, harps, and lutes’ (Nehemiah 12:27, MSG).

The joy of the new Jerusalem is also anticipated in the great celebratory worship led by two large choirs (Nehemiah 12:31 onwards): ‘an exuberant celebration because God had filled them with great joy. The women and children raised their happy voices with all the rest. Jerusalem’s jubilation was heard far and wide’ (v.43, MSG).


Lord, thank you for the great joy, worship and celebration that we will enjoy into all eternity in the new Jerusalem, that will come down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:2).

Pippa adds

Proverbs 31:23

The ‘wife of noble character’ is extraordinarily busy doing everything. I am less impressed by her husband who ‘takes his seat among the elders of the land’. It sounds like all talk and no action to me!



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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

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Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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