Bread for the Bride: THE TEARS OF THE BRIDE
May 17, 2005
PART ONE OF A TWO PART ARTICLE
In the early hours of May 7, 2005, I experienced a night vision in the realm of the Spirit that I believe carries sobering relevance for the elect bridal company now being matured by the Holy Spirit into the fullness of Christ's stature. Scripturally, seven (the day), speaks of completeness and perfection and five (the month), speaks of grace. I believe, therefore, that the date of this vision prophetically reinforces its message, which I will share below.
The Lord Jesus Christ and I were walking side by side along what appeared to be a straight road, talking and fellowshipping together. Please understand this was not a dream in which I watched and observed, but something in which I was actively involved in the realm of the Spirit. I have no recollection of our conversation - I only know that the Lord was on my left and we were enjoying each other's company as we walked this road and conversed. We approached what looked like a low, solidly built brick wall, no more than three or four bricks high, not reaching even to the Lord's knees. It did not seem unnatural to me for this structure to be where it was, and the two of us very casually walked either side of it as we continued fellowshipping and talking.
My attention was then drawn to a shallow pool of clear liquid, lying parallel to the brick structure on the side where the Lord was walking. My first thought was that it must be a puddle of water, though there was no sign of recent rain, and the side of the wall that I was walking on was completely dry. I half expected the Lord to walk around the liquid, but He deliberately stepped straight into it with no comment. The liquid was shallow and only covered His feet, but as soon as He stepped into it I began to experience within my "inner man" or spirit, an intense awareness of the Lord's suffering at the Cross. As He took a second step, the intensity of the "knowing" of this suffering grew even stronger. However, the Lord's face remained perfectly peaceful as He stepped through the liquid pool, and though He did not speak, it was clear that His intention and will was to be standing right in the midst of it.
Now before proceeding, I want to make two things very clear. Firstly, I was NOT experiencing any physical sensation in my body at all. This was not a suffering in the physical sense. Rather, it was as if I had entered into a most intimate spiritual awareness of the Lord's OWN suffering at Calvary. Secondly, I am NOT in any way inferring that the Lord Himself was experiencing the suffering of the Cross all over again. The scriptures clearly state that the Lord offering of Himself as the sacrificial Lamb was once for all, and that His redemptive work on the Cross is finished (John 19:30; Heb. 10:10 )
As Jesus then took His third step further into the pool of liquid, the intense inner knowledge of His suffering became so deeply unbearable for me that I turned towards Him, and threw my arms around His neck in an effort to stop Him walking further into the liquid. Weeping, and with my face close to His right ear, I dared to whisper "Lord, sometimes the knowledge of Your suffering is more than we can bear....." . I struggle to find the words to describe what then happened. The Lord and I stood holding one another closely, wordlessly, as if to comfort one another. Perhaps the nearest thing I can compare this part of the vision to would be the silent embrace of two close friends who have together experienced some cataclysmic event that is known so deeply within them that words need not be spoken. A profound sense of deep communion and one-ness was between us as we simply stood with our arms wrapped around each other. No words were spoken verbally, and yet the Lord's response filled my entire being as I heard Him repeating softly "I know, I know, I know..............". These words were conveyed in the deepest sense of sorrow and empathy imaginable, yet at the same time I knew beyond doubt that He was revealing something that could not, and would not, be averted. So we simply stood and held each other, together in the knowledge of His suffering - old for Him and new for me.
End of Vision.
Immediately after the vision I was drawn by the Spirit to Colossians 1:24: I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.... (NKJV). I will return to this verse later.
It has been quite a struggle to bring the message of this prophetic vision into an expressible form. It was, and remains for me, something that was revealed through an encounter with the risen Lord in the realm of the Spirit, and interpreting such things into the limitations of human language without losing the depth of the message can be difficult. I am relying heavily on the Holy Spirit to give me the words and phrases that will bring the message of this vision clearly to those who are to receive it.
The Holy Spirit has made it clear to me that this vision was not solely for my personal edification, but for the Bride's edification. My own part in it was representative of the corporate Bride of Christ, which is why I used the word "we" and not "I" when I spoke to the Lord. I will therefore share here the vision's interpretation and the accompanying word I later received from the Lord to His Bride.
The Brick Wall:
The brick wall is not a wall of separation. At no time did I feel separated from the Lord by this structure, even though He walked on one side of it and I on the other. I had the sense that the brick structure was familiar and something with which we were both quite comfortable. There were no cracks in these bricks, and they were laid in straight lines, with thick layers of mortar holding them well together. Yet, the structure did not look new. This brick structure actually represents the foundations of the church. The Lord is stripping His church right back to the ancient foundations. That which has been built cannot remain because it is more of man than it is of Christ, more of flesh than it is of the Spirit. However, the Lord has been preparing and is now raising up His end of days company of apostles and prophets, repairers of the breach who have mourned in Zion, who will tear down the religion of man and doctrines of demons and restore the church to her Christ-foundations. "They shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations." (Isaiah 61:4) These are already among us but rarely recognised by the church because they do not look or sound like what the church is expecting - but that is another discussion.
The Liquid Pool
As I waited on the Lord seeking fuller understanding, the Holy Spirit revealed that the clear liquid pool the Lord stepped into represents the tears of His Bride, the elect company of those who are called, chosen and faithful. Those tears of the Bride are "seasoned with salt." I was reminded that on the Lord's feet are two everlasting wounds - the wounds of Calvary - and was shown that as He stepped into the pool of the Bride's tears, so the salt of her tears mingled with the wounds of His Cross. It was this coming together of the Lord's Calvary wounds and the Bride's salt-filled tears that caused the great sense of sorrow and suffering I, representing the Bride, experienced so intensely in the vision.
The Salt Covenant
In the Bible salt is symbolic of endurance, preservation and freedom from corruption. Jesus called His followers the "salt of the earth" but warned them that salt that has lost its seasoning power has no use in the Kingdom (Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34-35). To the Jews of His day, salt that had lost its savour typified disloyalty and barrenness. To the ancient Hebrews salt sometimes represented purification, but was also symbolic of enduring friendship and loyalty. (2 Kings 2:19 -21; 2 Chronicles 13:5). Traditionally salt was shared to seal a truce between former enemies or as a symbol of alliance between close friends. Treaties were often formalised by the partaking of a covenant meal together which included salted bread. A vessel of salt would also be present at the meal as a reminder that the covenant was binding forever. Entering into a Covenant of Salt meant binding oneself to another in utmost loyalty and faithfulness, even suffering death rather than breaking covenant). God instructed the Israelites that every sacrifice, including grain offerings, was to be seasoned with salt as a sign of their Covenant with Him (Lev. 2:13, Ezek. 43:23-24). Even the holy ingredients used for the incense offering were to have salt added. "You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure and holy" (Ex. 30:34-35). This Salt Covenant, (Hebrew, b'rith melah), prophetically demonstrated by the salting of the sacrifices, was to perpetually remind Israel of her solemn responsibility of faithfulness to the Lord (Numbers 18:19)
The Bridal Company
The Bride was brought forth from Christ's own body when blood and water poured forth from His side at Calvary (John 19:34). A friend recently reminded me that even then salt was present in the water that flowed from the Lord's wounded flesh, as salt is always present in the human body. In the vision, the pool of clear liquid represents the Bride's salt-tears, not only from our present day, but also throughout the centuries. From the birth of the church until now there has been a bridal company of believers who have taken up their crosses and followed the Lamb. This elect company continues to grow. Indeed, agencies representing the persecuted church such as Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors testify daily of increasing persecution for Christians worldwide. This vision, however, was not given for the persecuted church alone. It has been given for ALL followers of Christ everywhere who know what it means to suffer loss for the sake of gaining Christ.
The Bride Has the King's Ear
In the vision I was able to speak intimately and directly into the Lord's ear. The Lord wants His Bride to know that she has His ear in this hour. His sceptre is extended towards her and His favour is upon her. In this day more than any former time in the history of the church, the Bridegroom King is longing to behold a Bride worthy of Him, who will enter boldly into His Presence in full assurance of her acceptance. The Bride must mature from self-consciousness to Kingdom consciousness. A bridal company must arise whose security is rooted only in the all sufficiency of Christ's Blood and who therefore know their worth. When the Bride knows her worth there is nothing in hell or on earth that will be able to hold her back from fulfilling the Bridegroom's purposes.
The Fullness of Christ
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.... (Colossians 1:24)
This passage of scripture is often misunderstood. Paul wrote these words from prison to the Colossian church, a community of believers he had never seen and only heard about (Col. 2:1). He could just as well have been writing directly to you and me. He was not inferring that there was anything lacking in the afflictions of Christ. Rather he was stating that there is a measure of affliction that must be born by the Bride-church so that she will mature into the fullness of Christ. Further, he was rejoicing in the opportunity to help fill up that measure through his own suffering for Christ, because it would hasten the Bride's coming maturity.
I believe Paul had a unique revelation of suffering that caused him to be able to look forward through time to a day when there would be a company of believers on the earth reflecting the fullness of Christ. "Till we ALL come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13). The ALL Paul spoke of is not simply you and I and the believers alive on the earth today - it is the entire bridal company that came forth from the Lord's side at Calvary and that has walked on the earth through past history to this present time. It is the Bride who has been maturing into the very image of Christ since the birth of the church.
To know and reflect Christ in fullness the Bride must know Him as the Lamb who suffered, as well as the Lamb who rose. She must embrace the fellowship of His sufferings as well as the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:10). When we speak of "filling up" something in the natural, we understand that there is a pre-determined measure that must be met, or filled. So it is in the spiritual. There is a measure of affliction that must be filled by the corporate Bride of Christ in order that she will know Christ in all His fullness and reflect Him in all His glory. This measure includes all the suffering for His Name endured by the Bride from His resurrection to His return, and it is through this bearing of His Cross that the Bride will be perfected - made complete, holy, blameless and devoid of blemish. In the fullness of time, when the measure appointed by Heaven is filled, then shall the Bride's afflictions be complete.
THE TEARS OF THE BRIDE, Part Two
May 17, 2005
PART TWO OF A TWO PART ARTICLE
The Blood and the Salt
Let us now return to the vision and bring all of this together. What is the message that the Lord wants to convey to us through this prophetic revelation? I believe the key is found in the coming together of the wounds of Calvary on the Lord's feet with the salt-filled tears of the Bride. Both of these represent different yet complementary covenants foreshadowed in the Old Testament sacrifices.
Jesus, as the holy, sacrificial Lamb of God, established an everlasting Covenant of Blood with His Bride whereby, in Him, His righteousness forever became her righteousness, His Name and His inheritance is shared with her, and all the riches of His glory are available to her. That Covenant of Blood is wholly complete and perfect and can have nothing added or taken away from it. The Bride of Christ has been fully reconciled to the Father because the Blood with which she is marked is totally sufficient to satisfy the code of law by which she was condemned (Col. 2:14). The Bridegroom, Jesus, has left the Bride with the emblems of His covenant, the wine and bread, which remind her of His spilled Blood and His broken Body until His return.
For her part, the Bride's faithfulness will be established through her tears of affliction. Her salt tears are emblems of her faithfulness to keep covenant with Him, even in the face of tribulation and hardship. Through those tears she says to Him "I will remember You and remain faithful to You above all others. Though temptation and trials come, I will not grow lukewarm. And when you beckon me there, I will enter even into Your sufferings, that I may know You in all Your fullness." And through the testing of her faithfulness the corporate Bride is going to be matured unto perfection. As the Bridegroom has already brought absolute redemption to her through His Blood Covenant, in the fullness of time she will fulfil her salt covenant of absolute faithfulness to Him, proving herself incorruptible, without spot or wrinkle - salted, pure and holy.
The Lamb's Reward
It is certain that the Bride can earn no greater salvation than has already been established through the Blood of Christ. Nothing she can do or suffer can add anything at all to the total sufficiency of His Blood Covenant to redeem her and reconcile her to the Father. We need to understand that the righteousness of the Bride needs no testing because it is already established through the Lamb's Blood. It is her faithfulness, however, that has been and will continue to be tested until she reaches the full measure of the stature of Christ. We can understand this only by changing our focus from the Bride to the Bridegroom. It is about Him and not about us, because the Bride is destined to be the Lamb's reward. It's that simple. She is flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones (Eph. 5:30).).
The scriptures tell us that Christ will "see the travail of His soul and be satisfied" (Is. 53:11). The travail of His soul took place in the Gethsemane Garden, "in the days of His flesh", when He "offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death...." (Heb. 5:7). The natural mind of man cannot comprehend what that travail cost the Lord as His Blood, His sweat and His tears mingled together on that terrible night. The Father has determined that His Son will see the reward of His Gethsemane travail and be fully satisfied. That reward is the Bride fully reflecting His image and His glory (Rev. 21:9-27). The Bride is the "joy that was set before Him", for which He endured the Cross (Heb. 12:2).
The Bible also tells us that "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" and that through that suffering He was perfected (Heb. 5:8 &9a). When the scriptures speak of being "perfected" they mean "made complete - to the full measure". If the Bridegroom, in the days of His flesh, was made complete by suffering, so shall the Bride who follows Him be also. I realise this is going to upset some peoples' theology, but the Lord wants His Bride to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings. He wants her to expect and be ready for tribulation. The good news is that because He has overcome, so is she destined to overcome (Rev. 3:21; Rev. 12:11).
Is the whole Christian church, as we know it today, in all its denominations, sects and man-made religion, this bridal company the scriptures speak of? I don't believe so, for the Bride of Christ will be revealed through tears of affliction and endurance. The Bride is hidden within the church and shall emerge through the fire of testing , for "everyone shall be salted with fire." (Mark 9:49). I believe that the entire church is called by the Lord to be His Bride. However, many are called, but few are chosen. And those who will be by the side of the Lamb in the end will be called, chosen AND FAITHFUL (Rev. 17:14). The Lord knows His own, and clearly warned that His own would be identified not by what they do in His Name, but by the depth to which they have known Him (Mat. 7:21-23). The early church rejoiced in their suffering for the Name of Christ because it proved their worthiness (Acts 5:41). Not all of us will suffer persecution or martyrdom, but if we belong to Christ, we must expect the Cross to be worked into the framework of our lives again and again, because we must decrease and He must increase.
In the fullness of time, at the hour of the Father's choosing, when the measure is filled, the Lamb of God shall indeed receive to Himself a Bride, holy, blameless, without blemish and perfected in His image. As the Spirit conforms her to the very image of Christ, she is the Bride who is becoming the Wife (Rev. 21:9). This is what I hear the Lord saying to His Bride:
"Know of a certainty that not one tear, anguished sigh or prayer from the Bride is wasted. With every one of these you move closer to perfection, and the time of the Bride's suffering will soon come to its appointed fullness. Your joy shall know no end and will be full, as mine will be. Through suffering My Bride is being perfected, for she must bear My own image. On earth the shadow of the Cross is always close for you, as it was for Me. But because I have gone before and I have overcome, so you will overcome in Me. That is why even in times of tribulation My joy will rise up in you, flooding you in the face of hardship. This is the joy unspeakable, for who can speak of it? It is full of glory, not of this world, and beyond the understanding of natural men. I will meet with you in your places of tribulation for I cannot but come to you. If you seek Me you will find Me, for I have already trodden the winepress and I have conquered fear for you. The deepest places of our communion, the strongest bonds of our fellowship and the heights of our love will be found and proven there in the fellowship of suffering. Then you will know, even as you are known. Then our joy shall be sealed. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither be afraid, for in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, Beloved, for I have overcome the world."
You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? (Ps. 56:8)
They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore, the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Rev. 7:16-17)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, not things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35--39)
Copyright 2004 Cheryl McGrath, Great South Land Ministries, Australia. This article may be copied or reproduced freely providing copyright notice and contact details remain intact.
Great South Land Ministries, Australia
Great South Land Ministries,
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