Growing up, I had the opportunity to live with my widowed Grandfather near Summit, Mississippi for a short (too short) season. He was a fine Southern Baptist Deacon at Mars’ Hill Baptist Church, and indeed had always been a Baptist, Southern. Every Sunday morning, as we prepared ourselves for the Sunday service at Mars’ Hill, the local country station would play nothing but Southern Gospel music, not what passes today for Southern Gospel, but generally leaning to more traditional sounds. This song would play and I remember that my grandfather would put down his newspaper, or bible, and mediate upon the words that so softly called him away. And since then, I have loved this song, but not so much as when I learned what Beulahland meant.
The Prophet Isaiah records these words
For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
(Isa 62:1-4 KJVA)
Here, in the midst of Israel forsaken, God still holds a promise of compassion. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, we see that the relationship between God and Israel is cast in the light of marriage. So many times did God speak to Israel as a husband to a bride. The Prophet Hosea used marriage, and indeed the spouse, to illustrate to all of Israel, the strain of the marriage. The Prophet Jeremiah cloaked himself the images of divorce (Jeremiah 8.18-9.22) where many times the LORD is seen as suffering through a divorce. We know that divorce should be granted for only one reason, and that of adultery, which Israel had committed time and time again but worshiping other gods.
But, Isaiah prophesied a time when Zion would have a land of marriage, and filled, no longer desolate. In the New Testament, we see Paul speaking of the mystery of marriage that represents the relationship between Christ and the Church.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord 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. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
(Eph 5:25-33 KJVA)
In John’s Revealing, we again see the marriage motif,
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
(Rev 21:1-2 KJVA)
One of the great tragedies of Christendom is that we have left the Hebraic roots of the Apostles. Suddenly, upon conversion, they did not give up their Jewishness (not to be confused with Judaism), as one who is converted today does not give up his culture. John, writing in the Revealing, uses seemingly countless Jewish expressions in the prophetic utterances to describe what he is seeing. One of those that needs to be looked at is the Jewish wedding. In several parables, Christ uses the wedding feast as a setting. Paul used it to describe the relationship between Christ and the Church, and yet, we cast their words in the mold of the Western Wedding traditions, and loose great insight into what is actually being said.
One of many beautiful things of the Jewish wedding traditions is that the Bride and Groom are considered husband and wife long before the actual wedding date. They sign an agreement that is to be redeemed at some time later. For one week before the wedding, traditionally, the bride and groom do not see each other. Then, at a somewhat unknown time the groom will depart and gather his bride. In this tradition, and there is much more, we have the full story of the Church and the expectation of the Groom.
Christ gave us warning that we must be ready for the coming of the bride’s groom, in order that we may not be caught unaware.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
(Mat 25:1-13 KJVA)
In focusing in on the land of Beulah, I want to make it there, but in doing so, I have to be found chaste in Doctrine, and to be presentable. I have to have the oil (Spirit) and to have been washed clean (Mikveh/Baptism) in order to meet the Lord.
Returning to the song, indeed I am looking forward to a country which I have never seen.