Come Spirit Bride
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87. Come Spirit Bride
Revelation 22.17-18

"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 gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll." (Revelation 22.17-18)

Deepest Spiritual Needs

There are two different interpretations of this passage. H. B. Swete (1835-1917) takes the first two parts as an appeal to Christ to fulfill his promise and come quickly back to this world, and he takes the third part as an invitation to the thirsty soul to come to Christ. The second interpretation of this verse is that the whole passage is a great invitation to all to come to Christ. There is the invitation "Come Spirit and Bride." The bride, we know is the church. But what are we to understand by the Spirit? The Holy Spirit is operative in all the prophets and who is always calling us back to God to take the gift of the water of life! The spirit and the bride are telling the seven churches how to fulfill their deepest spiritual needs and offering them 'come to Christ' invitations. The ending of each of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2.7 contains an invitation to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying and offering a 'come to Christ' invitation. John of Patmos writes, "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victorious one, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." The speaker to the seven churches is the risen Christ himself. The Holy Spirit and the Bride issue an invitation to receive the gift of the water of life. This church is encouraged to join in the invitation to accept all that the Holy Spirit and the Bride have to offer. They encourage them saying, "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 gift of the water of life." This acknowledges the great truth that every Christian is to become a missionary. He or she who has been found by Christ must find others for Christ too!

Isaiah's Great Invitation

Invitation CardThe "invitation to come" is issued to all thirsty souls so that their deepest spiritual needs can be satisfied. Jesus repeats this call in John 6.35, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Isaiah's great invitation in Isaiah 55.1 also says, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and cost." We are all invited to come to Christ!

Changing Word Warning

The Book of Revelation issues a warning to all against changing the words concerning the Bible. Those who twist, add to or delete Scripture will find themselves under God's curse. There are certain things to note in this solemn warning against changing the words of scripture. It warns against distorting the teaching which the book contains by altering even a single word. It is very much what Saint Paul means, when he writes in Galatians 1.8-9, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!" To alter the wording of the truth is such a serious offense that Saint Paul repeats this warning twice. Altering the words and therefore the truth itself must not happen. The ending of this ancient book with a warning is far from being unique. It is, in fact, the kind of warning that ancient writers commonly finish their books with. We find similar warnings in the Bible in other places. Deuteronomy 4.2 orders, "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you." Proverbs 30.5-6 says, "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar." Finally, in the Book of Enoch 104.10 which is an ancient religious work ascribed to the great-grandfather of Noah dating from BC 300 and included in the biblical canon by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the writer demands that no one should "change or diminish any of my words."

Solemn Appeal

John the ScribeA Revelation curse and solemn appeal are issued against anyone who adds or omits words or changes the meaning of scripture. The Letter of Aristeas 310, 311 tells how the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, called the Septuagint, is translated by seventy Jewish scholars in the 2nd century BC at the request of the King of Egypt. When the task is completed "they bade them pronounce a curse following their custom upon any who should make any alteration either by adding anything or changing in any way whatever any of the words which had been written or making an omission!" In the preface to his book "On Origins," Tyrannius Rufinus (340-410 AD) a monk, historian and theologian adds a similar solemn appeal. "In the sight of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit," he writes, "anyone who read or copied this book is not to add, subtract, insert, or alter anything!" Eusebius (263-339 AD) the Bishop of the church of Caesarea writes in "Ecclesiastical History 5.20.2" and quotes how Irenaeus (130-202 AD), the great second-century Christian scholar, ends one of his books. "I make a solemn appeal to thee who mayest copy this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by his glorious advent, when he comes to judge the quick and the dead, to compare what you shall write, and correct it carefully by this manuscript, and also write this earnest solemn appeal, and place it on your copy!"

The Wicked Bible Error

The wicked Bible omission is a terrible error. The writer is instructed to add a warning against change as well as a blessing to his manuscript. In ancient days, since all books are hand-copied by scribes and everyone knows how easy it is for a scribe to make even a single mistake in the copying, it is a regular custom to insert at the end of a book a solemn warning against change. In the Middle Ages, if a manuscript which may have taken months to copy is found to have even one error, it is destroyed, such was the importance of adhering precisely to the original text. In the printing press era, what is called the "Wicked Bible", the "Adulterers Bible" or the "Sinners' Bible" is published in 1631 AD. A thousand copies are printed by the Royal Printers in London. A year later, it is found to contain a mistake in verse fourteen of the Seventh Commandment omitting the "not" and reading, "thou shalt commit adultery." The Archbishop of Canterbury in response writes, "I knew the time when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the best, but now the paper is naught, the composers boys, and the correctors unlearned." A furious King Charles 1 orders that every wicked Bible is burned. Only a few escape and there are estimated to be only nine copies of the "Wicked Bible" known to exist today. One of these was auctioned by Bonhams in London in 2015 and sold. As of 2008, a copy of the Wicked Bible went for sale online, priced at $89,500. The displayed book was later priced at $99,500 in 2015. A single error like this results in what is then a huge fine of $600 or the equivalent of $60,000 in today's money on the publishers Robert Barker and Martin Lewis. Their licenses are taken away, the entire publishing run is withdrawn and every known copy burned. King Charles the First and the Archbishop of Canterbury make a joint statement condemning the wicked Bible omission. "His Majesties printers, at or about this time, had committed a scandalous mistake in our English Bibles, by leaving out the word "Not" in the Seventh Commandment. His Majesty being made acquainted with it by the Bishop of London, an order was given for calling the Printers into the High-Commission, whereupon Evidence of the Fact, the whole Impression was called in, and the Printers deeply fined, as they justly merited. With some part of this Fine Laud caused a fair Greek Character to be provided, for publishing such Manuscripts as Time and Industry should make ready for the Public view." The omission of "not" is not, however, a rare thing. For this reason, the Associated Press advises the press to use "innocent" instead of "not guilty" to prevent misunderstanding in court proceedings.

Come Jesus Christ

The Holy Spirit and the bride, the church, say 'Come Jesus Christ.' Jesus is coming soon says many Biblical passages. John of Patmos writes several times, "Come Jesus Christ." Indeed, Christ may come at any moment and that is clear from several Biblical passages including Revelation 22.7, "Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll." Revelation 22.10 adds, "Then he told me, 'Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.'" Revelation 22.12, says, "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." and Revelation 22.20 "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." "Behold, I am coming soon" is the repeated refrain of this chapter. In Jesus Christ alone the longing of the soul can be satisfied. The Old hymn by Emma Francis Shuttleworth Bevan (1827-1909) reflects this longing, "O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found, And found in Thee alone, The peace, the joy I sought so long, The bliss till now unknown. Now, none but Christ can satisfy, No other name for me. There's love and life and lasting joy, Lord Jesus, found in Thee."

"Come Spirit Bride"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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