Accession of the Bride
Last time in this study of “THE BRIDE HAS COME OF AGE” I shared that coming of age, means reaching the age of majority when certain rights and privileges are bestowed that were previously held on trust by a legally recognised guardian. There are two initial implications we can draw from this: first the Bride is now recognised as of legal age where her decisions and choices are upheld in a court of law, and secondly the tenure of her guardians has legally ended and she is now entitled to leave. The problem is that despite reaching this threshold there is still necessary the appropriation or activation of the rights granted. Just because a right may be provided for within a legal framework (e.g. of a nation), it still needs to be claimed or exercised. I call this the accession of the Bride. The dictionary defines accession as the time when someone starts a position of authority, especially a king or queen. It is the act of coming into the possession of a right, title or office, as in accession to the throne. Now although the accession of the Bride was inaugurated when she came of age, it still requires more on her part. It is necessary for a fearlessness to come upon her. She must not harbour passivity but instead a relentless determination should arise within for accession to her rights bestowed the moment she came of age. The impetus is upon the Bride to forcibly appropriate these rights rather than any misplaced hope or expectation her guardians will acknowledge them willingly. In other words, the Bride cannot rely upon her guardians to either recognise who she truly is or that she has come of age but must be pro-active is ascending to her rightful place alongside Yeshua even when her guardians oppose her.
“(8) [The Shulamite’s Brothers] We have a little sister, And she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister In the day when she is spoken for? (9) If she [is] a wall, We will build upon her A battlement of silver; And if she [is] a door, We will enclose her With boards of cedar. (10) [The Shulamite] I [am] a wall, And my breasts like towers; Then I became in his eyes As one who found peace.” – Song of Songs 8:8-10 NKJV
These fascinating few verses from the last chapter in the wonderful Song of Songs present us with a unique insight into the relational dynamic at work between the Bride and her guardians. Let’s take a look at what’s happening here. First of all note the position assumed by the Shulamite’s brothers as her guardians. The narrative catches a conversation they held when considering how they might best protect her since they regarded her as vulnerable and physically immature without breasts. At first glance we might consider the intentions of the young woman’s siblings to be thoughtful and caring. There is a suggestion of genuine concern here and the protective older brothers seem resolved on how best to shield their little sister. Yet on closer study, I suspect something else is taking place other than a loving concern. The language used is revealing. If she was a wall a Biblical precedent existed (Deuteronomy 22:8) for building a defence upon the roof of a new house to protect anyone from falling, is this what they had in mind when they considered building a battlement of silver? Or, if not a wall perhaps a door? In which case their solution is a little less obscure, “we will enclose her with boards of cedar”. To me it seems pretty clear, leaving little room for doubt; the determination by the brothers to protect their sister meant restraining her from venturing beyond the boundaries of home. If this seems controlling there are other scripture to suggest an unfavourable attitude of her brothers towards her earlier in the Song of Songs.
“(6) Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I had to neglect.” – Song of Songs 1:6 NIV
The implication here is that these vineyards to which she had been assigned did not belong to her since she informs of her woe in having neglected her own. Interesting isn’t it? The Shulamite proved very useful to her brothers by tending their vineyards, I wonder if this influenced their attitude towards her and decision to keep her boarded up. This key point reveals how guardians can sometimes exploit the Bride for their own purpose or gain as evident in Pharoah’s attitude towards Israel. Enslaved in Egypt Israel proved extremely useful in the expansion and development of the Egyptian empire. In Pharoah’s eyes they were slaves, but not so in the eyes of Yahweh who saw Israel as His Bride and waited for her to come of age. You see, being a guardian does not equate to being righteous or holy. It does not mean they will be gracious or kind towards the Bride. In many cases this is far from the truth, history is filled with many dark chapters when the Bride had suffered greatly at the hands of those she should have been able to trust for her care and protection. It is not about moral qualification but stewardship and ward over the Bride on behalf of the Bridegroom until she comes of age even when the guardians do not act in the best interest of those entrusted to them. In this regard, a guardian can be a ruler as in Pharoah, a monarchy or government administration operating within a nation, it can be family as it was for Esther and Mordecai, or the Shulamite and her brothers, but I believe it can also be applied to church denominations.
I hope you can hear my heart about denominations, because I’m deeply grateful for the way the Lord has accommodated our diversity, though not our division, through different expressions of His church, but make no mistake, denominations have no part of the Bride. In fact, recently I was in prayer contemplating Ephesians 5:27 NKJV “(27) that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” I asked the Lord about the wrinkles and He answered, “denominations are wrinkles”. The word wrinkle is rhytis (who teece) (G4512) and means “bunched up, drawing together, contracted, a wrinkle from ageing”. Normally when we think of the Bride without wrinkle we think of her eternal youth, ageless and beautiful. But what causes the wrinkle is the bunching up which is what denominations inevitably do, by their very definition they draw people together and when they do a wrinkle is created. But denominations are ageing, even when new groups form there can be a youthful attractiveness about them which gathers people together, but it cannot escape the ageing process inherent within its DNA. In one form or another, denominationalism has been evident in the church since the days of the first apostles and church fathers, but certainly the Reformation spawned a multiplicity of denominations not seen before that has continued ever since. Now my point is not to argue for or against their inception or creed, merely to highlight their role has been to provide a haven in which the Bride could mature. Denominations have a guardian’s role to foster the Bride until she comes of age, but once the Holy Spirit comes for her, as did Abraham’s chief servant for Rebekah, then the guardians must co-operate and not oppose that which is ordained and decreed in Heaven of what shall be.
One reason guardians may oppose is because the notion and acceptance of her bridal identity directly confronts their governance over her and reliance upon her. If we accept denominations can be considered a type of guardian, to a degree, the concept and doctrine of the Bride may be tolerated even celebrated providing it fits within the existing paradigm, but herein lies the heart of the matter: The accession of the Bride demands a fundamental paradigmatic shift for she cannot be contained within the administration, systems and structures the guardians have implemented around her. She has to be free from such impositions in order to make her final preparations and journey towards the Bridegroom. Consequently a tension exists between the guardians and the Bride, which will sooner or later lead to confrontation but the guardians will not concede or release her easily. However, although enigmatic it is no less true: in the unfathomable wisdom and foresight of God, the need for an anointing to break her free had always been understood and provided for. We will explore this breaker anointing later.
I believe this is why the Shulamite responded so defiantly as she did in Song of Songs 8:10. When it came to tending her brother’s vineyards she had neglected her own and suffered as a consequence. Though not desirable, her situation was at least tolerable, but that was before love had been awakened within her heart and love changes everything! Now her subjection to labour in her guardians’ vineyards under a tanning sun was no longer acceptable, and she would come to risk everything for the one her soul loved. Her brothers said she had no breasts, but as we learn this is not the case at all, because in her own words, “I am a wall and I have breasts like towers”. She then finishes her admonishment by another very insightful affirmation “Then I was in his eyes like one who found shalom.” HNV. The use of the word ‘shalom’ here adds impact and depth to her statement. Its root meaning is peace with God especially in covenant relationship, and also means completeness, fulness, health and prosperity. In other words she was without need of them, because she had found absolute acceptance and peace in the love of another. She knew this was how her beloved saw her. “I was in his eyes like one who found shalom.” When he looked at her, he saw fulness and maturity, far from how her brothers looked upon her with disdain and belittlement.
May this be our testimony also, to be in His eyes like one who has found peace. To know with certainty the deep love He has for us, and that when He looks at us He sees what our guardians will never be able to fully see or understand, the awakening of a Bridal love within our hearts that can never be quenched or contained. It is time to arise, it is time for the accession of the Bride into her destiny.
“(6) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. (7) Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.” – Song of Songs 8:6-7 ESV