Forerunner, June 2004

God Almighty has been planning an indescribable wedding and wedding supper for His Son, scheduled "from the foundation of the world." This will be the grandest affair the universe has ever seen! Many believers understand the elect have been invited to the wedding ceremony—not as mere guests—but as the very Bride of the Christ (II Corinthians 11:2)!

Do we realize how priceless God's proposal is? Do we get more excited about it as each day passes? If we do not cherish the magnitude of God's personal invitation to us, we will waste this indescribable calling and opportunity. We have heard the phrase "opportunity of a lifetime" so often that, if we are not careful, we can fail to recognize this "opportunity of all eternity."

Some might ask, "Why does it matter?" If we can grasp the big picture of what God is offering us, we may experience the same motivation that Jesus had when He endured the shame of the cross "for the joy that was set before Him" (Hebrews 12:2). Like Him, we can receive incentive from the anticipation and joy of what lies in our future as the Bride of the Son of God—if we endure to the end.

Sometimes men in particular find it hard to feel motivated by the idea of being a bride—even the Bride of Christ. Men need to remember that this means being His confidante, His eternal assistant, the desire of His heart. We will be His companion, helper, and the apple of His eye forever. Moreover, He is and will always be our reason to live and the joy of our lives, and His purposes and projects will be our everlasting occupation. Together, Jesus and His Bride will bring the whole world into the Kingdom of God until every knee will bow in humble adoration and worship of God the Father.

The Father has summoned each one of us to be part of this awesome, life-changing enterprise. A just-ended, reality TV show revolved around young business people vying to be the newest apprentice to mogul Donald Trump. The contestants want to win this position more than anything in the world. But their aspiration is nothing compared to what God has offered us! We are being called to be "one body" with Christ, to be His eternal helpmeet. Once Christ is married, this offer will never be offered again to others. He will marry only one Bride, and that exulted position is being offered to us.

Have we really allowed that truth to sink in? Have we heard King Jesus propose? Have we received His engagement ring? Whether we realize it or not, these things have already happened!

Adamic Types

Biblical themes are woven throughout God's Word from its earliest to its last words. The theme of God preparing a Bride for His Son is no exception. It leaps from the earliest pages of the Bible and reappears constantly, including the Book's final chapters.

In the days when Jesus and His chosen disciples walked the streets of Jerusalem, it was customary for a young man's father to choose a bride for his son. Once the father selected the bride, he talked to her father, and together they decided on the bride price. The son's father paid the price, and the woman was then free to meet the son.

We can see this theme several times in the Bible's first book, Genesis. On the sixth day of creation, the first man Adam is fashioned outside the Garden of Eden and then placed into God's garden, a type of God's presence (Genesis 2:7-8). At this point, Adam, a type of Jesus the "second Adam" (I Corinthians 15:45; Romans 5:14), has no wife. God brings the animals of the garden to Adam to name them and highlight his solitude (Genesis 2:18-20).

After each day of creation, God looks on His handiwork and pronounces it "good." In Genesis 2:18, we read for the first time that something is "not good," as God announces, "It is not good that man should be alone." This is a type illustrating that Jesus, the second Adam, also needs a wife. The animals, not of the same kind as Adam, are unthinkable as potential mates, and in the same way, God must have a wife for His Son who is the "same kind" as He. At the resurrection, the saints will be changed to be like Him (I John 3:2), composed of spirit and at that time incorruptible and perfect, just as Jesus is (I Corinthians 15:42-54; Jude 24). Human, fleshly bodies will be transformed into radiant spirit bodies just as Jesus has, as bright as the sun itself in glory (Daniel 12:2-3). The Bride of Christ will be of the same kind as He is.

In Genesis 2:21, God puts Adam into a deep sleep, a type of death. Only in his "death" does he find the answer to his loneliness. The Eternal opens up Adam's side and uses part of his body, a rib, to "build" (the literal Hebrew word) him a wife, a companion and intimate (Genesis 2:21-24).

In the same way, Jesus, the second Adam, teaches us He must die like a seed of wheat (John 12:24) before He can build His church, His future wife (Matthew 16:18). On the stake, Jesus literally dies, His side is opened with a spear (John 19:34), and part of His body—blood and water—opens the way to provide Him a Bride and a Family for God. His blood cleanses His future Bride of all sin (I John 1:7) and pays the ransom price for her release (I Peter 1:18-19). Paul also mentions in Ephesians 5:26 that the church is cleansed "with the washing of water by the word."

In addition, when He died, "the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Matthew 27:51), opening the way into the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God in heaven (Hebrews 10:19-22). We can now come boldly before the throne of God because of what our Savior did for His Bride and ultimately for all mankind who accept Him.

His giving of Himself in sacrifice also pays the ancient "bride price." We are "bought at a price" (I Corinthians 6:20), redeemed from the wages of sin, with His own blood shed in our behalf, and we become His.

God, considered to be Adam's father (Luke 3:38), builds a wife for Adam taken from his body, yet a separate personality (Genesis 2:22). This happens late at the end of the sixth day. Likewise, the Father will present the second Adam with His bride at the end of man's sixth thousand-year day on earth. Currently, we are betrothed to Christ (II Corinthians 11:2).

Then, in Genesis 2:24, Moses writes, ". . . and they shall become one flesh." These same words, as pointing to Jesus and the church, are called a "great mystery" (Ephesians 5:30-32). Adam and Eve were to be "one"—the same Hebrew word Moses uses to describe God, though more than one personality, as being perfectly "one" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Jesus sees the church as one body (I Corinthians 12:12-13, 20). He prays that His one body of believers be one with each other and with Him in the same way that Jesus and God the Father are inseparably one (John 17:20-23).

Old Testament Parallels

There are other parallels of the marriage of Jesus and the church woven throughout the Old Testament.

Jesus' betrothal to the church is pictured in the covenant between God and the nation of Israel (Exodus 24:1-8), forming what we now call the "Old Covenant." Israel agreed to this covenant on the Feast of Pentecost after the giving of God's law on Mount Sinai. Sadly, she does not take long to prove herself unfaithful as the Israelites worship a Golden Calf—a different god—just days after committing themselves to God. Yet, God proves faithful repeatedly, in spite of the Israelites' infidelity to Him. In the end, however, God has no choice but to divorce Israel (Jeremiah 3:8), who seems unable to stop her spiritual adultery with other gods and nations, as well as many other sins.

With the death of Jesus, there could be no claim of any ties left in the union between God and Israel (Romans 7:1-6). After three days and three nights in the grave, Jesus is resurrected and then ascends to be accepted as the spiritual Wavesheaf, the first of the firstfruits. His ascension on Sunday after the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread, starts the count to the Feast of Weeks—Pentecost—in which seven Sabbaths are completed. After His death and resurrection, Jesus is totally free to marry—and He will be!

The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, found in Genesis 24, is very enlightening about our upcoming marriage to Jesus Christ. First, we must review the connection to Abraham and Isaac. Earlier, in Genesis 22, Abraham is willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Isaac is widely viewed as a type of Christ, as God offers His greatest gift to mankind—His only Son Jesus (Genesis 22:2; John 3:16).

Isaac, a grown man at the time, does not resist but is willing to be sacrificed, like Christ (John 10:17-18), before God provides a substitute for Isaac. All this takes place on Mount Moriah, the future site of the Temple (II Chronicles 3:1). The site is named "The-Lord-Will-Provide." The ram caught in the thicket by its horns is also a type of Jesus Christ, who indeed was sacrificed.

When Isaac turns 40, Abraham arranges for a wife to be found from among his family (Genesis 24:1-4, 37-38). God is also looking for a bride for Christ from the household of God (I Timothy 3:15). Jesus must marry a wife who is of the same kind and of the same Family as He is. Therefore, because we are all children of God, and since we are of the same Family, Jesus can actually call us His brethren. We "are all of one" (Hebrews 2:11).

Entrusted with this task, Abraham's servant goes to Nahor in northern Mesopotamia, where Abraham's family still lives. Upon arriving, the servant "happens upon" Rebekah, Abraham's brother's granddaughter, as she goes to draw water from the well (Genesis 24:10-21). Some versions of the Bible say she was at "a well," but the Hebrew word clearly denotes a spring. Notice the potential bride is found actively working just as God's church must be "found so doing" when Christ returns (Matthew 24:44-47). The Bride of Christ will also be found drawing from pools of living water.

These events occur at the time of day called ereb—just as evening begins, the time around sunset. Biblically, it is the beginning of a new day—certainly a momentous day for Rebekah and Isaac. Likewise, when God arranges for us to marry His Son, it is a wonderful new day. Remember it is Jesus' Father—God the Highest—who selects the Bride of Christ (John 6:44), just as surely as Abraham, through his servant, was the one selecting Isaac's wife. We are handpicked by none other than the highest Being in the universe, and our names have been written in the Book of Life from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 4:4). Our calling cannot be any higher or more exciting.

Abraham's servant finds out that Rebekah is the daughter of Bethuel, whose name means, of course, "house of God." Remember Jesus' Bride also must come from the "house of God." Rebekah is a virgin, just as the bride of Christ is seen spiritually as a virgin (II Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 14:4). As High Priest, Jesus can only marry a virgin (Leviticus 21:14).

Rebekah responds positively to the servant's inquiry and welcomes him to stay with her family, whereupon Abraham's servant recounts the story and offers Rebekah some jewels and new clothing (Genesis 24:53). She is invited to leave immediately and to commit to marry a man she has never seen, just as we commit to loving Jesus, whom we have not seen (I Peter 1:8). Without hesitation, she responds, "I will go" (verse 58). Abraham's servants then take her to the groom's father's home. In the same way, God's angelic servants will find us and gather us up to meet Jesus in the air after the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:30-31).

We often fail to realize how momentous Rebekah's decision was—to leave her family, home, and her ties to the culture in Nahor. Naturally, she did not know she would become the mother of so many illustrious people—all the Israelitish people, including Moses, David, and Christ Himself. She could not grasp the full picture, but she realized enough to value the proposal and respond.

In the same way, our "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, the things which God has prepared" for us (I Corinthians 2:9), but we have similarly responded to our high calling. Rebekah goes the distance, leaving the idolatrous culture of her day just as we must (Revelation 18:4). She seeks a different homeland, looks for a different city, just as we of faith are doing also (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Isaac sees Rebekah coming in the early evening and moves quickly to meet her, just as Jesus descends to meet us at His coming. He weds Rebekah by taking her into his mother's tent to consummate the marriage (Genesis 24:65-67). Isaac loves her dearly. This is a type of our marriage to Christ. Paul tells us our mother is "Jerusalem above" (Galatians 4:22, 26), of which Sarah is the type.

Believers have been called to be one with Christ, "bone of His bones, flesh of His flesh," members of His body—His very Bride, eternal companion, helper, and confidante. There will never be another Bride of Christ, just as there was only one Eve or one Rebekah. He longs to be with us always. He invites us to sit with Him on His throne. There is no higher calling.

The Virtuous Wife

Another marriage parallel may be found in Proverbs 31:10-31, a passage known as "The Virtuous Wife." Most have assumed this passage describes the ideal wife, but it is probably so much more than that—a description of the Bride of Christ. In this virtuous woman can be found many parallels with the church:

» Her husband trusts her (verse 11).

» She is a woman of good works (verse 13).

» She actively feeds her children (verse 15).

» She plants a vineyard, a type of Jesus' relationship with believers (John 15:1-8).

» She stands strong and does not let her lamp—a symbol of the Holy Spirit—go out (verse 18). The five wise virgins of Matthew 25 have enough oil to keep their lamps aflame too.

» She makes quality garments, a type of being dressed in righteousness (verse 24).

» She is wise, showing she understands the connection between wisdom and the fear of God (verse 30; Psalm 111:10)

One can find many more parallels to the church by studying the passage. How well do we, as members of the betrothed Bride of Christ, fit this description? Perhaps we can use Proverbs 31 to evaluate our spiritual progress.

Next time, we will examine more biblical types of the marriage of Christ and the church, along with its connection to the Day of Pentecost.