In the word of God the very close and intimate union between Christ and His people is often illustrated by the marriage relationship. This is true in both the Old and the New Testament. Through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord declared to His people, "I am married unto you" (Jer. 3:14), and through Isaiah, "For thy Maker is thine husband" (Isa. 54:5). Paul, writing to the Ephesian church, said: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:23, 30-32).
Idol worship and flirtation with the world on the part of the children of Israel were regarded by the Lord as spiritual adultery. This thought is expressed again and again in the Old Testament.
Of late some have fallen into the error of believing that the marriage of Christ to His people is not fully consummated until the judgment. They base their mistaken conclusion on a short sentence of five words appearing in a paragraph in Early Writings dealing with the investigative judgment. The sentence reads: "The marriage of the Lamb was consummated."—Page 280.
In this passage Ellen G. White is not talking about the marriage covenant between Christ and His church. She is referring here to the marriage of Christ to "the bride, the Lamb's wife" which is said to be "that great city, the holy Jerusalem." (Rev. 21:9, 10.)
In The Great Controversy this event is described more fully:
The coming of Christ as our high priest to the most holy place, for the cleansing of the sanctuary, brought to view in Dan. 8:14; the coming of the Son of man to the Ancient of days, as presented in Dan. 7:13; and the coming of the Lord to His temple, foretold by Malachi, are descriptions of the same event; and this is also represented by the coming of the bridegroom to the marriage, described by Christ in the parable of the ten virgins, of Matthew 25. . . .
The coming of the bridegroom, here brought to view, takes place before the marriage. The marriage represents the reception by Christ of His kingdom. The holy city, the New Jerusalem, which is the capital and representative of the kingdom, is called "the bride, the Lamb's wife." Said the angel to John, "Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." "He carried me away in the spirit," says the prophet, "and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God." Clearly, then, the bride represents the holy city, and the virgins that go out to meet the bridegroom are a symbol of the church. In the Revelation the people of God are said to be the guests at the marriage supper. If guests, they cannot be represented also as the bride. Christ, as stated by the prophet Daniel, will receive from the Ancient of days in heaven, "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom;" He will receive the New Jerusalem, the capital of His kingdom, "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Having received the kingdom, He will come in His glory, as King of kings and Lord of lords, for the redemption of His people, who are to "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob," at His table in His kingdom, to partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb. Pages 426, 427.
The comments by Uriah Smith on Revelation 21:9-14 are well worth careful reading. We can quote only a few extracts here:
The Bride the Lamb's Wife.—This testimony is positive that the New Jerusalem is the bride, the Lamb's wife. The angel told John distinctly that he would show him the bride, the Lamb's wife. We may be sure that he did not deceive him, but fulfilled his promise to the very letter. All that he did show him was the New Jerusalem, which must therefore be the Lamb's wife. . . .
In writing to the Galatians, Paul speaks of the same city and says that it is the mother of us all, referring to the church. . . .
The view that the marriage of the Lamb is the inauguration of Christ as King upon the throne of David, and that the parables of Matthew 22:1-14; 25:1-13; Luke 12:35-37; 19:12-27, apply to that event, is further confirmed by a well-known ancient custom. It is said that when a person took his position as ruler over the people, and was invested with that power, it was called a marriage, and the usually accompanying feast was called a marriage supper. Adam Clarke, in his note on Matthew 22:2, thus speaks of it:
"A Marriage for His Son.—A marriage feast, so the word ?allow; [gamous] properly means. Or a feast of inauguration, when his son was put in possession of the government, and thus he and his new subjects became married together. (See 1 Kings 1:5-9, 19, 25, etc. . . ." Many eminent critics understand this parable as indicating the Father's induction of His Son into His Messianic kingdom.—Daniel and the Revelation (1954 ed.), pp. 760, 763.
It is this marriage of Christ to the New Jerusalem, and not His marriage to the church, that is consummated at the close of the judgment when Christ takes over His kingdom.