To appreciate this theme, it is important to remember that the book of Revelation—and the whole of Scripture, for that matter—views the history of redemption as a protracted period during which the heavenly Bridegroom is gathering and protecting His bride. The “mother promise” of Genesis 3:15 lies behind the imagery of the book. The “seed of the woman”—Christ and all those whom He purchased with His precious blood—is opposed by the dragon and his minions (the “beasts” of Revelation 13 and 17, the “harlot” Babylon or the false church, the false prophet). The closing visions of Revelation provide a striking picture of what will occur at the end of this history: all whose names are written in “the Lamb’s book of life” will finally be gathered to Christ (Rev. 21:27). The heavenly Son of Man will triumph in the day when He receives His bride, beautifully adorned and dressed in white apparel. The bride of the Lamb will celebrate her husband, who gave His life for her and jealously protected her for Himself throughout a long season of preparation and trial. On no wedding day throughout history will there ever be a husband whose love for his wife compares to Christ’s love for His church. Nor will there ever be a wife who has marveled in the presence of her husband as will the church in the day of Christ’s coming.
a new creation temple
The third theme woven throughout the visions of Revelation 21 and 22 is that the bride of Christ will dwell with Him in the presence of the throne of God in a new creation temple. John’s vision of the bride of Christ, the new Jerusalem, is saturated with temple symbolism. John doesn’t simply see a bride adorned for her husband; he also sees the home where Christ and His bride will live together.
All who have witnessed a wedding know that it marks the commencement of life together on the part of husband and wife. They also know that this life together requires a home in which to dwell together in intimate communion. After all, even in an earthly marriage, there is a familiar custom: the bridegroom carries his bride across the threshold into their new home. If this is true for an earthly couple, how much more is it true for the heavenly Bridegroom and His beautifully adorned bride, the church?
In the visions of Revelation 21 and 22, there are numerous allusions to the original garden sanctuary, Eden, to the Old Testament temple, and to the promises in Ezekiel regarding an eschatological temple (chs. 40–48). However, the temple sanctuary that John sees in these visions surpasses anything seen before. The whole of the new creation is filled with the glory-presence of God and of the Lamb. All who dwell in the new creation temple live in the immediate presence of God. No one lives “east of Eden” (Rev. 22:3–5). The prophecy of Zechariah finds fulfillment: even the “bells of the horses” and the “pots in the house of the LORD” will be inscribed with the words “holy to the LORD” (Zech. 14:20).
the bride’s prayers
When the bride of Christ lives out of an eschatological hope that looks forward to the new heaven and earth, to her long-awaited wedding day, and to her home in a new creation temple, she prays. Strikingly, this is where the book of Revelation ends. In Revelation 22, we find two distinct prayers of Christ’s bride.
The first prayer is recorded in Revelation 22:17: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” In this penultimate prayer, the bride of Christ prays that all those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life but who have not yet received from Him “water of life without payment” (Rev. 21:6; see also Isa. 55:1) would come and join His bride as she awaits His coming.
However, the first prayer of the bride of Christ is not her ultimate prayer. The prayer of the church in this present age focuses finally on her hopeful expectancy for the coming of Christ. That prayer is short, born out of a living hope: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).