[reaction to OYB’s Dec. 28-31 readings]
A fairly common metaphor throughout the prophets, including Revelation, is that of the people being the bride of Christ or YHWH. From today’s readings, Malachi offers, this in noting Israel’s failing, “Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god.” And of course, the glorious conclusion to John’s Revelation prominently features the church as the bride of Christ.
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. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. . . . 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.” 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. . . . “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
There is much wrapped up in this idea. Committment, fidelity, mutual support, consideration. Of course, that is just my modern idea of marriage, right? Well, not so fast. Proverbs ends with a list of characteristics of a good wife. It begins, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” And, she is not just kept in the kitchen: “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” It closes with, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Entire poem here.
This is a good place to end my reading. The end of Revelation completes the notion that the early Christians had. Yes, their world was full of torment, but they had faith in what Jesus taught them that it would be better some day. Likewise, the ending of Proverbs reminds me us of the role Judaism was to play in everyday life, no just theological and abstract questions.