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Monday, June 24, 2024

The Splendor of His Queen: How the Church Displays Christ’s Majesty

He grew up a preacher’s son. Which implies he skilled the church’s warts from the within.

We would have anticipated that he would turn into a skeptic, after seeing so many hurts and disappointments, and so painfully up shut. Later in life, he would write publicly, and actually, concerning the challenges the church faces on this age — lots of them of her personal making.

However this preacher’s son additionally turned a pastor himself, one nonetheless remembered not just for his means with phrases but in addition for his hopeful spirit.

Amid the simplistic assumptions and distortions of our instances, we would regular our souls with the wealthy, resilient theology of Samuel Stone (1839–1900). In his most well-known hymn, “The Church’s One Basis” (1866), Stone acknowledged the church’s many trials, from each with out and inside:

. . . with a scornful marvel,
males see her sore oppressed,
by schisms hire asunder,
by heresies distressed . . .

But mingled together with her current troubles is the anticipation of a surprising perfection, a glory, to return:

Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her warfare,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore.

We have a tendency to withstand this complexity and cut back it. With little persistence for the church’s lengthy story of redemption, we default to oversimple assumptions — whether or not of a church immaculate or a church depressing. However the already and not but of the church age just isn’t so easy. On the one hand, each redeemed saint endures indwelling sin; on the opposite, good righteousness is already ours in Christ — and the perfecting Spirit has come to dwell in us.

Quickly sufficient, this embattled age will give option to the church’s perfected magnificence, with out spot or wrinkle or any defect. In that day, says Ephesians 5:27, Christ will “current the church to himself in splendor.”

Majesty and Splendor

In English, “splendor” matches effectively the church’s coming glory — a glory that corresponds to, and enhances, her Groom’s.

This “splendor” to which the church is destined shines out together with divine “majesty,” an usually neglected divine attribute. Israel encountered God’s superior and fearsome majesty on the Purple Sea; King David praised God’s royal majesty over all of the earth (Psalm 8). Climactically, God the Son got here as each long-awaited Christ and as one with no majesty, but by the accomplishment of his mission, he now reigns over all in heavenly majesty. So, the supremely Majestic One, who as soon as veiled his majesty, now shows it — by rescuing an unsplendid folks and remaking them to be his resplendent bride.

The Previous Testomony’s frequent pairing of “majesty” (hôd) and “splendor” (hādār) presents us with overlapping excellencies, usually sure collectively. Psalm 104:1 blesses God in his greatness as “clothed with splendor and majesty.” Such a Lord magnifies the glory of his anointed king, bestowing “splendor and majesty . . . on him” (Psalm 21:5). At a royal wedding ceremony, the regal son, inheritor to the throne, is widely known with the cost, “Gird your sword in your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty!” (Psalm 45:3). So too is God himself worshiped as one whose acts show these twin excellencies:

Nice are the works of the Lord,
     studied by all who enjoyment of them.
Stuffed with splendor and majesty is his work,
     and his righteousness endures ceaselessly. (Psalm 111:2–3)

Majesty and splendor are complementary manifestations of glory that, when paired collectively, convey fullness of glory (Job 40:10; Psalm 111:3; Daniel 4:36). So, Psalm 145 heaps collectively the language of splendor and splendor to disclose layers and richness to the divine glory. Verse 5 says the psalmist will meditate, actually, “on the splendor of the glory of [God’s] majesty” — reward we discover to be rigorously worded as we discover these ideas throughout the canon.

But whereas “majesty and splendor” are sometimes paired with wealthy impact, additionally they show distinct connotations in different texts, and contribute to the distinct glories of Christ and his church.

Energy and Magnificence

The excessive reward of Psalm 96 could include the couplet that finest captures the discrete shades of “majesty” and “splendor”:

Splendor and majesty are earlier than him;
     energy and wonder are in his sanctuary. (Psalm 96:6)

Right here “energy” echoes “majesty,” whereas “magnificence” accents “splendor.” Given how the ESV interprets the Hebrew (hôd and hādār) elsewhere, a extra constant rendering could be “majesty and splendor,” moderately than “splendor and majesty.” The exact phrase seems in a number of different texts, at all times with the extra masculine “majesty” (hôd) first, adopted by the extra female “splendor” (hādār). So too within the parallel praises of 1 Chronicles 16:27, “energy” echoes “majesty,” and this time “pleasure” (female in Hebrew, as in Greek) accents “splendor”:

[Majesty and splendor, hôd and hādār] are earlier than him;
     energy and pleasure are in his place.

To develop this complementary relationship additional, we would say extra, first, about majesty, after which replicate on splendor.

Masculine Majesty

Along with imposing measurement and energy, “majesty” regularly has regal overtones. Its varied contexts discuss with ruling authority (Numbers 27:20; Daniel 11:21), being “above” others (Psalm 8:1; 148:13; 1 Chronicles 29:11), issuing judgments (Isaiah 30:30; Habakkuk 3:3; Zechariah 10:3), and possessing royal honor and the kingly throne (Jeremiah 22:18; Zechariah 6:13). Job 37, a veritable meditation on divine majesty, speaks in warrior-like phrases of God’s “superior majesty” (verse 22). In response to 1 Chronicles 29:25, “The Lord made Solomon very nice within the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king earlier than him in Israel.” In textual content after textual content, the associations are usually not solely royal, however kingly, and masculine.

Considerably, when the regal sage of Proverbs speaks knowledge to his royal son about being grasp of his area, he takes up the language of splendor:

Preserve your means removed from [a forbidden woman],
     and don’t go close to the door of her home,
lest you give your honor [hôd] to others
     and your years to the cruel. (Proverbs 5:8–9)

“Honor” right here just isn’t solely generically human, however kingly and masculine — majesty.

Within the New Testomony, even with fewer thrones and monarchs, the language of splendor endures, with connotations no much less regal, ascribing glory to the King of kings (Luke 9:43; 2 Peter 1:16–17; Jude 25). Most memorably, Hebrews identifies Jesus’s ascension and session on heaven’s throne as his sitting “down on the proper hand of the Majesty on excessive” (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1).

Female Splendor

Splendor, as a helper match for majesty, usually has extra female associations: particularly of magnificence and clothes, but in addition in reference to God’s folks as his daughter or bride (Lamentations 1:6; Micah 2:9). Which brings us again to Christ’s church, God’s new-covenant folks, and why splendor is becoming for her coming glory.

Splendid Clothes

As for beautification by attire and adornment, when God solutions Job out of the whirlwind, he challenges him to “dress your self with glory and splendor” (Job 40:10). In Ezekiel 27:10, “Persia and Lud and Put . . . gave [Tyre] splendor” by making her stunning with the spoils of warfare (verses 4 and 11 say they “made good your magnificence”). Within the New Testomony, one expression of “splendor” (lampros) is tied to stunning adornment within the repeated phrase “splendid clothes” (Luke 23:11; Acts 10:30; James 2:2–3).

Splendid Individuals

Much more pronounced are connections with a king’s folks, metropolis, or kingdom. The king himself is majestic; his kingdom accents his glory with its splendor. Psalm 145:12, a tune of reward, refers to “the glory of the splendor of [God’s] kingdom.” In Daniel 11:20, the ESV mentions “the glory of the dominion,” which is a specific sort of glory (hādār), a female glory, that of magnificence. And in Lamentations 1:6, in grieving the destruction of the metropolis, in a plainly female context (verse 1 refers to Jerusalem as “widow” and “princess”), we discover the language we would now anticipate:

From the daughter of Zion
     all her [splendor, hādār] has departed.

Most important for our focus is the connection between a folks and their splendor. Once more, Proverbs is instructive:

In a mess of individuals is the [splendor, hādār] of a king,
     however with out folks a prince is ruined. (Proverbs 14:28)

“Majesty and splendor are complementary manifestations of glory that, when paired collectively, convey fullness of glory.”

Very important to the majestic glory of a king is the sumptuous glory of his folks. When the king’s folks “provide themselves freely on the day of [his] energy,” they accomplish that, actually, “with the splendor [hādār] of holiness” (Psalm 110:3), which isn’t solely (and at last) holy apparel however good deeds (extra under). They adorn themselves, and their king, with their holy acts and initiatives. So it’s in Psalm 149: for God’s folks, “the godly” (verses 4–5), whilst they take warlike actions underneath his kingly cost (verses 6–8), their glory is that of splendor: “That is [splendor, hādār] for all his godly ones” (verse 9).

Splendid Bride

Given what we’ve seen up to now, we would anticipate that splendor could be the becoming attribution of glory to the spouse of Proverbs 31:

Energy and [splendor, hādār] are her clothes,
     and she or he laughs on the time to return. (Proverbs 31:25)

Now a number of strands come collectively. We discover a splendid girl, together with the picture of clothes, in addition to the complementary pairing with energy, an expression of the fullness of her glory. As in Psalm 96:6, energy and wonder, in our English, holds because the distinguishing connotations of the overlapping majesty and splendor.

But all this now prepares us to freshly recognize the 2 most essential splendor texts in Scripture, one within the Previous Testomony, one within the New, and the 2 are linked: Ezekiel 16:14 and Ephesians 5:27.

Splendor of the Queen

Scripture’s basic textual content on marriage, Ephesians 5:22–33, is commonly rehearsed immediately, and for good purpose, however with little clarification about its Previous Testomony background. One piece is extra apparent, and fewer neglected, as Paul quotes explicitly from Genesis 2:24 in verse 31. However extra delicate is his allusion to Ezekiel 16. We would see his reference to the cross in verse 25, and but discover verses 26–27 to be essentially the most enigmatic within the passage:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ liked the church and gave himself up for her [at the cross], that he would possibly sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the phrase, in order that he would possibly current the church to himself in splendor, with out spot or wrinkle or any such factor, that she is likely to be holy and with out blemish.

Ezekiel 16 is the prophet’s longest and most infamous oracle. Earlier than this metaphorical account of Israel’s historical past turns tragic in verse 15 (“However you trusted in your magnificence and performed the whore . . .”), it tells the shocking story of the folks’s ascent to queenly splendor. The nation was not of noble delivery, or the least bit deserving of God’s favor, however was like an toddler unpitied and abhorred at delivery — twine uncut, unwashed, unclothed, solid into an open area and left for lifeless (verses 1–5). However God handed by and

noticed you wallowing in your blood, [and] I stated to you in your blood, “Dwell!” I stated to you in your blood, “Dwell!” (verse 6)

God raised up Israel, made her to flourish, nurtured her to full adornment (verse 7), and entered into covenant together with her (verse 8). “Then,” says verse 9, “I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil.” He additionally clothed and adorned her (verses 10–11, 13), such that she

grew exceedingly stunning and superior to royalty. And your renown went forth among the many nations due to your magnificence, for it was good by the splendor [hādār] that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. (verses 13–14)

Fittingly, the ESV has splendor in each Ezekiel 16:14 in addition to Ephesians 5:27 (Greek endoxos, which refers to “splendid clothes” in Luke 7:25). Paul’s “washing of water with the phrase,” then, focuses not on baptism, however on the non secular cleaning Christ achieved as soon as for all on the cross and ongoingly applies by his Spirit and phrase.

Placing all of it collectively, then, Ephesians 5 attracts on Ezekiel’s account of God rescuing, beautifying, and elevating as much as royalty his first-covenant folks as a kind of what Christ is now doing, on this age, for his new-covenant folks from amongst all of the nations. He rescues an unloved, unwashed, unclothed bride, left for lifeless, that he would possibly love her, give his personal life for her, make her holy, wash her, and ideal her magnificence even to the heights of royalty — that she, as his queen, in female splendor, would possibly share together with her husband and king within the glory of his majesty.

Clothed in Splendid Deeds

For now, we discover ourselves in the midst of the church’s story. She has been liked and died for. Her Groom has acted definitively to set his folks aside. Now, within the current, he ongoingly works to construct and beautify his bride. She just isn’t but good. Typically her spots and wrinkles and blemishes are all too apparent and embarrassingly public. However a future presentation is coming.

At some point, in the end, she all of a sudden will seem in perfection. Like Adam enduring the lengthy parade of each residing creature earlier than awaking, right away, to the helper match for him, the universe will say, “This finally!” In that day, writes Peter O’Brien,

Not even the smallest spot or pucker that spoils the smoothness of the pores and skin will mar the unsurpassed fantastic thing about Christ’s bride when he presents her to himself. Hers shall be a splendor that’s beautiful, unsurpassed, matchless. For the current the church on earth is “usually in rags and tatters, stained and ugly, despised and rejected.” Christ’s folks could rightly be accused of many shortcomings and failures. However God’s gracious intention is that the church must be holy and innocent, language which speaks of a magnificence which is ethical and non secular. (The Letter to the Ephesians, 425)

This can be a splendor not solely reckoned to the church by union together with her Groom, however realized in her personal physique by his cleaning and beautifying energy. Which implies that the glory of splendor is not going to solely be the garment of Christ’s righteousness protecting her personal unwashed flesh (Isaiah 61:10), however she is going to shine with “the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:8), labored in and thru her by his personal Spirit.

The gorgeous promise of a positive and delightful future awaits Christ’s church. Quickly, “the voice of an ideal multitude, just like the roar of many waters and just like the sound of mighty peals of thunder,” will sound and declare, “The wedding of the Lamb has come” — and with it should come this nice announcement: “and his Bride has made herself prepared” (Revelation 19:6–7). Not solely has she been made prepared. She has. But in addition the King provides her the dignity of rising, together with his assist, into the splendor of cosmic queenship: “It was granted her to dress herself with high-quality linen, shiny and pure,” which verse 8 then explains: “for the high-quality linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

Majestic Christ, Resplendent Church

Such a promise of the church’s coming glory, nearly too good to be true, hopefully will assist us climate the griefs and challenges of our ongoing warts and wrinkles. It additionally provides us, as Christ’s folks, the dignity of holy company, indwelt by his Spirit, washed together with his phrase. He taught us, “Let your gentle shine earlier than others, in order that they could see your good works and provides glory to your Father who’s in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) — and he means to supply in us what he instructions.

These complementary classes of splendor and splendor assist us to grasp, and humbly obtain, and try to embody, the burden of his glory, imparted to us now in levels (2 Corinthians 3:18) and at last on the Supper to return. It helps us acknowledge and goal to stay out the in any other case perplexing parallel within the doxology of Ephesians 3:21: “To [God] be glory within the church and in Christ Jesus.”

“Majesty and splendor” are the glory of king and queen, man and spouse, solar and moon, as Francis of Assisi celebrated these complementary lights, distinct in energy and wonder:

Thou burning solar with golden beam,
thou silver moon with softer gleam . . .

To the bride is the glory of splendor, reflecting the majesty of her King. One is the glory of grandeur, imposing measurement, engaging energy, the golden beam. The opposite gleams softer, although no much less genuinely, and invitations the eyes to linger — a magnificence to behold and revel in, even now, as a mirrored image of the unique gentle and heat.

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