Because of this gross oversimplification of the word love, our Wednesday night men's group (1,2) decided recently to study together C.S. Lewis's classic book The Four Loves. It's available in audio with Lewis speaking, and also in book form (3,4).
For six weeks (May 2006) we had been listening to Lewis, taking notes and commenting for an hour on what we heard that was fresh and new to us. During the week we have all been reading the book slowly and carefully. So deep and profound is Lewis in this study we decided to continue our weekly discussions for a few more sessions.
In his lectures Lewis examines the classical use of four Greek words for love: storge, philia, éros, and agape. Lewis describes God's love as pure Gift-Love--which should rule over our natural loves. He talks about the natural loves, how they function and how they are all a legitimate part of who we are. He also reminds us that that the natural loves will go bad unless God rules over all of them--they need not be repressed or discarded. Finally, God must transform each one of our natural loves in order for us to enjoy each of the loves in the next life.
Lewis mentions that God has selected only a few different metaphors to describe our relationship with Him. God is our Father (that is, if we have a relationship with Jesus)--and we are His beloved children.
Abraham was called "the friend of God," but otherwise this expression is not found in the Old Testament. At the Last Supper Jesus elevated his eleven disciples from "servants" to "friends." (John 15:13)
The relationship between God the Father and God the Son is frequently referenced throughout the New Testament. But the most common metaphor for our relationship with God is that of husband and wife--Bridegroom and Bride.
Throughout the Old Testament the nation of Israel is described as the wife of Jehovah. The marriage contract between God and Israel was drawn up at Mt. Sinai, but after hundreds years of spiritual adultery God was forced to divorce his wife under the terms of the Old Covenant. Heartbroken, God found a way to take His wife back, remarry her, and restore her fully under the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff). Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum discusses this:
"There is a totally different picture in the Scriptures regarding the Church. What God has to say about the Church and her relationship as the Bride of the Messiah is radically different from what has been said regarding Israel as the Wife of Jehovah. Again, this shows the necessity of maintaining these distinctions.
It might be good at this time to define exactly what we mean by the word "church" when we say the Church is the Bride of the Messiah. The "universal church" is composed of all true believers everywhere, and this universal body of believers is the Bride of the Messiah. By "local church," we mean that portion of the universal Church living in a specific geographical area. But the Bride of the Messiah is not limited to some local church somewhere nor is it limited to any specific denomination. It is composed of all believers regardless of their geographical location and denominational affiliation.
The thrust of all the New Testament passages regarding this relationship of the Church as the Bride of the Messiah is that the Church is a betrothed Bride who is not yet joined to her husband. There are four key passages of the New Testament that speak concerning this relationship of the Church as the Bride of the Messiah. But again, it must always be kept in mind that the Church is pictured today as an engaged Bride who is not yet joined by marriage to her husband.
The relevant New Testament passages about Bridegroom and Bride cited by Dr. Fruchtenbaum include: 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 19:6-9 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 21:9-22:5.
The passage in Ephesians 5 is well-known to most of us since a parallel is drawn between the relationship of a man and wife in marriage and the betrothal Jesus Christ has entered into with His church.
In discussing marriage, C.S. Lewis compares the sexual side aspect of marriage (which he calls Venus) distinguishing it from romantic love (éros),
"Some will think it strange I should find an element of ritual or masquerade in that action (the sexual relationship aspect of marriage) which is often regarded as the most real, the most unmasked and sheerly genuine, we ever do. Are we not our true selves when naked? In a sense, no. The word naked was originally a past participle; the naked man was the man who had undergone a process of naking, that is, of stripping or peeling (you used the verb of nuts and fruit). Time out of mind the naked man has seemed to our ancestors not the natural but the abnormal man; not the man who has abstained from dressing but the man who has been for some reason undressed. And it is a simple fact--anyone can observe it at a men's bathing place-that nudity emphasises common humanity and soft-pedals what is individual. In that way we are "more ourselves" when clothed. By nudity the lovers cease to be solely John and Mary; the universal He and She are emphasised. You could almost say they put on nakedness as a ceremonial robe--or as the costume for a charade. For we must still be aware--and never more than when we thus partake of the Pagan sacrament in our love-passages of being serious in the wrong way. The Sky-Father himself is only a Pagan dream of One far greater than Zeus and far more masculine than the male. And a mortal man is not even the Sky-Father, and cannot really wear his crown. Only a copy of it, done in tinseled paper. I do not call it this in contempt. I like ritual; I like private theatricals; I even like charades. Paper crowns have their legitimate, and (in the proper context) their serious, uses. They are not in the last resort much flimsier ("if imagination mend them") then all earthly dignities.
But I dare not mention this Pagan sacrament without turning aside to guard against any danger of confusing it with an incomparably higher mystery. As nature crowns man in that brief action, so the Christian law has crowned him in the permanent relationship of marriage, bestowing--or should I say, inflicting?--a certain "headship" on him. This is a very different coronation. And as we could easily take the natural mystery too seriously, so we might take the Christian mystery not seriously enough. Christian writers (notably Milton) have sometimes spoken of the husband's headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church--read on--and give his life for her (Eph. 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is--in her own mere nature--least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man's marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs. He is a King Cophetua who after twenty years still hopes that the beggar-girl will one day learn to speak the truth and wash behind her ears.
To say this is not to say that there is any virtue or wisdom in making a marriage that involves such misery. There is no wisdom or virtue in seeking unnecessary martyrdom or deliberately courting persecution; yet it is, none the less, the persecuted or martyred Christian in whom the pattern of the Master is most unambiguously realised. So, in these terrible marriages, once they have come about, the "headship" of the husband, if only he can sustain it, is most Christ-like.
The sternest feminist need not grudge my sex the crown offered to it either in the Pagan or in the Christian mystery. For the one is of paper and the other of thorns. The real danger is not that husbands may grasp the latter too eagerly; but that they will allow or compel their wives to usurp it" (The Four Loves).
C.S. Lewis reveals his delightful sense of humor when he suggests that a man should perhaps marry the most needy woman he can find in order to come closer to the model of Christ and his Bride as portrayed in Ephesians.
A charter member of the Wednesday Brothers, Mike McKenna, called our attention to the fact that men are just as needy as women--more so in fact, because of the headship role men are asked to assume.
After God created the first man, Adam/Eve he separated that one man into Adam and Eve and then presented them to one another. Adam exclaimed, "Here at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Marriage is therefore the oldest of human institutions, valid in every generation and acknowledged by every branch of the human race. Not everyone marries, and God offers wholeness to anyone who comes to Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 15 we are presented the picture of Jesus Christ as the "Second Man," the head of a new race, and as the "Last Adam."
"There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption." (1 Corinthians 15:44-48)
Physical marriage and childbearing are features of life in the old creation which are not perpetuated into the new creation. The Bride Jesus is now courting is all of us--a great number of persons, each one of us receiving healing, wholeness, and intimacy restored on the way there.
"Jesus answered and said to them, 'The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; "nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.'" (Luke 20:34-36)
Heaven is not to be thought of as a place of restricted love or limited intimacies. C.S. Lewis concludes his book on the natural loves by showing how they must first each be subservient to the agape love with is God. And secondly, our natural loves must be transformed or they will be irrelevant in heaven.
"And yet, I believe, the necessity for the conversion is inexorable; at least, if our natural loves are to enter the heavenly life. That they can enter it most of us in fact believe. We may hope that the resurrection of the body means also the resurrection of what may be called our "greater body"; the general fabric of our earthly life with its affections and relationships. But only on a condition; not a condition arbitrarily laid down by God, but one necessarily inherent in the character of Heaven: nothing can enter there which cannot become heavenly. "Flesh and blood," mere nature, cannot inherit that Kingdom. Man can ascend to Heaven only because the Christ, who died and ascended to Heaven, is "formed in him." Must we not suppose that the same is true of a man's loves? Only those into which Love Himself has entered will ascend to Love Himself. And these can be raised with Him only if they have, in some degree and fashion, shared His death; if the natural element in them has submitted--year after year, or in some sudden agony to transmutation. The fashion of this world passes away. The very name of nature implies the transitory. Natural loves can hope for eternity only in so far as they have allowed themselves to be taken into the eternity of Charity; have at least allowed the process to begin here on earth, before the night comes when no man can work. And the process will always involve a kind of death. There is no escape. In my love for wife or friend the only eternal element is the transforming presence of Love Himself. By that presence, if at all, the other elements may hope, as our physical bodies hope, to be raised from the dead. For this only is holy in them, this only is the Lord.
Theologians have sometimes asked whether we shall "know one another" in Heaven, and whether the particular love-relations worked out on earth would then continue to have any significance. It seems reasonable to reply: "It may depend what kind of love it had become, or was becoming, on earth." For, surely, to meet in the eternal world someone for whom your love in this, however strong, had been merely natural, would not be (on that ground) even interesting. Would it not be like meeting in adult life someone who had seemed to be a great friend at your preparatory school solely because of common interests and occupations? If there was nothing more, if he was not a kindred soul, he will now be a total stranger. Neither of you now plays conkers. You no longer want to swap your help with his French exercise for his help with your arithmetic. In Heaven I suspect, a love that had never embodied Love Himself would be equally irrelevant. For Nature has passed away. All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.
But I must not end on this note, I dare not--and all the less because longings and terrors of my own prompt me to do so--leave any bereaved and desolate reader confirmed in the widespread illusion that reunion with the loved dead is the goal of the Christian life. The denial of this may sound harsh and unreal in the ears of the broken hearted, but it must be denied.
"Thou hast made us for thyself," said St. Augustine, "and our heart has no rest till it comes to Thee." This, so easy to believe for a brief moment before the altar or, perhaps, half-praying, half-meditating in an April wood, sounds like mockery beside a deathbed. But we shall he far more truly mocked if, casting this way, we pin our comfort on the hope--perhaps even with the aid of seance and necromancy--of some day, this time forever, enjoying the earthly Beloved again, and no more. It is hard not to imagine that such an endless prolongation of earthly happiness would be completely satisfying.
But, if I may trust my own experience, we get at once a sharp warning that there is something wrong. The moment we attempt to use our faith in the other world for this purpose, that faith weakens. The moments in my life when it was really strong have all been moments when God Himself was central in my thoughts. Believing in Him, I could then believe in Heaven as a corollary. But the reverse process-believing first in reunion with the Beloved, and then, for the sake of that reunion, believing in Heaven, and finally, for the sake of Heaven, believing in God-this will not work. One can of course imagine things. But a self-critical person will soon be increasingly aware that the imagination at work is his own; he knows he is only weaving a fantasy. And simpler souls will find the phantoms they try to feed on void of all comfort and nourishment, only to be stimulated into some semblance of reality by pitiful efforts of self hypnotism, and perhaps by the aid of ignoble pictures and hymns and (what is worse) witches.
We find thus by experience that there is no good applying to Heaven for earthly comfort. Heaven can give heavenly comfort; no other kind. And earth cannot give earthly comfort either. There is no earthly comfort in the long run.
For the dream of finding our end, the thing we were made for, in a Heaven of purely human love could not be true unless our whole Faith were wrong. We were made for God. Only by being in some respect like Him, only by being a manifestation of His beauty, lovingkindness, wisdom or goodness, has any earthly Beloved excited our love. It is not that we have loved them too much, but that we did not quite understand what we were loving. It is not that we shall be asked to turn from them, so dearly familiar, to a Stranger. When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His. In Heaven there will be no anguish and no duty of turning away from our earthly Beloveds. First, because we shall have turned already; from the portraits to the Original, from the rivulets to the Fountain, from the creatures He made lovable to Love Himself. But secondly, because we shall find them all in Him. By loving Him more than them we shall love them more than we now do. (The Four Loves)
Jesus did not marry during His first visit to our planet. That is very clear from the New Testament. The important task of redeeming mankind and breaking the power of evil in the universe was always foremost in mind. On His return trip to earth, Jesus will be taking a Bride.
In weddings today the bride walks slowly down the aisle dressed in a magnificent wedding dress, accompanied by her father and bridesmaids. The groom, on the other hand, stands unnoticed to one side dressed like a penguin.
At the "marriage supper of the Lamb" it would be a poor match if the Bride showed up in shabby clothes showing little interest in Jesus the Bridegroom. Between now and our participation in the marriage supper of the Lamb the Spirit of God must provide us with a wedding dowry worthy of Christ the Groom. This seems like a tall order, but the wedding of Jesus will lack nothing.
"Let us be glad and rejoice and give
for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."
And to her it was granted to be
arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright,
for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me,
"Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'"
And he said to me,
"These are the true sayings of God." (Revelation 19:1-9)
There are certain key distinctions in the Scriptures. If one does not understand these biblical distinctions, the Scriptures become contradictory because one part of the Bible says “you may” and another says “you may not” concerning the very same subject. One of these key biblical distinctions is the one between Israel and the Church. In the Bible, Israel is represented as the “Wife of Jehovah,” whereas the Church is represented as the “Bride of the Christ (Messiah).” A failure to maintain that distinction will only result in a misinterpretation of what the Scriptures teach.
The relationship of Israel as the Wife of Jehovah is viewed throughout the Scriptures in various ways and facets. This relationship can be broken down into six distinct stages.
Stage One - The Marriage Contract:
The entire format of the Book of Deuteronomy is that of both an ancient treaty and an ancient marriage contract. In this book, Moses took all the various facets of the three earlier books and presented them in the form of an ancient marriage contract. In this book we find the marriage contract signed between Israel and God whereby Israel becomes the Wife of Jehovah.
There are key passages that demonstrate how the Book of Deuteronomy fits into the scheme of a marriage contract. The first passage is found in Deuteronomy 5:1-3, which declares that God entered into a covenant with His people Israel at Mount Sinai. As it will be seen later in the study, the Jewish prophets always viewed this covenant-relationship as a marriage contract. In Deuteronomy 6:10-15, God announces His jealousy over His Wife, Israel:
You shall fear Jehovah your God; and him shall you serve, and shall swear by his name. You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples that are round about you; for Jehovah your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of Jehovah your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth (Deut. 6:13-15).
In this passage, Israel is warned against committing adultery through the worship of other gods because God’s burning jealousy will be kindled against her and will eventually cause her expulsion out of the Land.
Ezekiel is one example of the Jewish prophets who viewed this covenant-relationship as a marriage contract:
Now when I passed by you, and looked upon you, behold, your time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I swore unto you, and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord Jehovah, and you became mine (Ezekiel 16:8).
Stage Two - The Great Adultery:
Several Old Testament prophets described Israel’s great adultery. Jeremiah 3:1-5 shows Israel being guilty of playing the harlot with many lovers and in verse 3:20 Israel is compared to a wife who has turned away from her husband. Israel was a wife guilty of adultery:
Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, So have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel, says Jehovah.
According to Jeremiah 31:32, the original marriage contract was broken because of this adultery:
...not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, said Jehovah.
A long passage in chapter 16 of Ezekiel also describes this great adultery (Ezekiel 16:15-34), and Hosea 2:2-5 declares the charge God had against Israel: she was guilty of harlotry.
Stage Three - The Separation:
Because of this adultery, a separation took place between God and Israel in the days of Isaiah. In Isaiah 50:1 God spoke to the prophet stating that God had not yet divorced His Wife. If God had divorced her, He would have given her a bill of divorcement; and since no such bill of divorcement was in hand, it meant that a divorce had not taken place. This separation lasted approximately one hundred years.
Stage Four - The Divorce:
The one hundred years of separation failed to produce repentance in Israel and finally God had no other choice but to issue the bill of divorcement on the grounds of adultery. This bill of divorcement is contained in Jeremiah 3:6-10. To a great extent, almost all of Jeremiah can be declared to be God’s bill of divorcement of Israel, but especially this passage in chapter three.
Stage Five - The Punishment:
Several Old Testament prophecies speak of the punishment of Israel for her unfaithfulness: Ezekiel 16:35-43 and Hosea 2:6-13 are two examples. The aim of this punishment is not simply so that God could be vengeful toward Israel, but rather to cause her to stop sinning and to stop her adulteries (Ezekiel 16:43). Also, the purpose of the punishment is to show Israel her need for her true husband and not for her false lovers (Hosea 2:7b). Although God has a long program of punishment for Israel’s sins, throughout the period of punishment there is a continual call to repentance. This call is presented in Jeremiah 3:11-18.
Stage Six - The Remarriage with Restored Blessings:
The Jewish prophets did not leave things hopeless. They spoke of a coming day when Israel will again become the restored Wife of Jehovah. This will require a brand-new marriage contract, which is found in Jeremiah 31:31-34. What is often known as the new covenant is in many respects a new marriage contract that God will make with both the houses of Israel and Judah. This new covenant of marriage will be necessary because the old marriage covenant was broken. This remarriage contract is also described in Ezekiel 16:60-63. According to Ezekiel, God will enter into an everlasting covenant with Israel in the future.
The restoration of Israel as Jehovah’s Wife is also described in Isaiah 54:1-8, and the remarriage is further described in Isaiah 62:4-5. Hosea, who had much to say about the adulteries of Israel, also spoke of Israel’s reunion with her husband. Hosea 2:14-23 describes the courtship and the wooing in the wilderness and shows the four results of this reunion.
What God has to say about the Church and her relationship as the Bride of the Messiah is radically different from what has been said regarding Israel as the Wife of Jehovah. The Bride of the Messiah is the universal body of true believers. The “local church” is that portion of the universal Church living in a specific geographical area. But the Bride of the Messiah is not limited to some local church somewhere nor is it limited to any specific denomination. It is composed of all believers regardless of their geographical location and denominational affiliation.
There are four key passages of the New Testament that speak concerning the relationship of the Church as the Bride of the Messiah. It must be kept in mind, however, that the Church is pictured today as an engaged Bride who is not yet joined by marriage to her husband.
The Espousal - II Corinthians 11:2:
For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Speaking to the local church found in the city of Corinth, Paul declares that by means of evangelism, they were espoused ... to one husband for the purpose of eventually being presented as a pure virgin to Christ. Unlike Israel, who was guilty of adultery, when the union comes between the Messiah and the Church, the Church will be presented as a pure virgin.
The Process of Sanctification or Maturing of the Bride - Ephesians 5:25-27:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The purpose of the death of the Messiah in His relationship with the Church is that He might sanctify her. This is necessary in order for the Church to be presented as a pure virgin as pictured in II Corinthians 11:2.
The Church is sanctified by a continual washing in the water of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is working in the Church so that the true Church is slowly being conformed to the Word of God. The water in this passage is not water baptism but a description of the Word of God in its cleansing ministry. The aim of this process of sanctification and cleansing of the Church is that the Church might be presented a glorious virgin to the Messiah.
The Marriage - Revelation 19:6-9:
The Jewish wedding system that was common in Yeshua’s day had four distinct stages, which are found in the relationship of the Church as the Bride of Messiah. In the first stage, the father of the groom makes the arrangement for the bride and pays the bride price. In this case, the bride price was the blood of the Messiah. This was described earlier in Ephesians 5:25 27. While the first stage has already been completed, the other three stages are still future.
The second stage is the fetching of the Bride. Just as a long period of time could transpire between the first and second stages in the Jewish system, so it has been with the Church. Two thousand years have passed since the first stage was accomplished. However, someday the second stage will take place when the Messiah will come in order to fetch the Bride to His home. This fetching of the Bride is referred to today as the Rapture of the Church, and is described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The third stage of the Jewish wedding system is the marriage ceremony to which only a few are invited. The marriage ceremony will take place in Heaven just prior to the Second Coming of the Messiah at the end of the Tribulation, and the ones who will be present are only those in Heaven at that time. This is described in Revelation 19:6-8.
The fourth stage is the marriage feast described in Revelation 19:9:
And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said unto me, These are true words of God.
Since many are bidden or invited to come to the marriage feast, this passage indicates that it will be at a different place than the marriage ceremony. We know from the Word of God that the Old Testament saints are not resurrected with the Church before the Tribulation; they are resurrected at the end of the Tribulation (Dan. 12:2). John the Baptist, who was the last of the Old Testament prophets, called himself a friend of the bridegroom and did not consider himself to be a member of the Bride of the Messiah, the Church (Jn. 3:27-30). Hence, the “many” who are bidden [to attend] the marriage supper on earth are all the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation saints resurrected after the Second Coming of Messiah.
While the marriage ceremony will take place in Heaven just before the Second Coming of the Messiah, the marriage feast will take place on earth after the Second Coming of the Messiah. In fact, it would seem that the marriage feast is what begins the Millennium or Messianic Age; the Church’s co-reigning with the Messiah will start with a tremendous marriage feast!
The Eternal Abode of the Bride - Revelation 21:9-22:5:
The final picture that the Scriptures give of the Bride of the Messiah is contained in the closing chapters of the Bible itself. In Revelation 21:9, John states:
And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spoke with me, saying, Come hither, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
In this passage, the bride is now the married wife. In the following verses (Rev. 21:10-22:5), there is a graphic description of the glorious, eternal wife of the Lamb in her eternal abode. While the distinction between Israel and the Church is maintained in various ways throughout the Bible, this is one of the more picturesque. However, if one makes the Wife of Jehovah (Israel) and the Bride of the Messiah (the Church) one and the same thing, he is faced with numerous contradictions because of the different descriptions given. Only when the two separate entities are seen: Israel as the Wife of Jehovah and the Church as the Bride of the Messiah, do all such contradictions vanish. (End of quote from Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Ariel Ministries).
Wife or Bride imagery is about purity of heart and sound doctrine, not merely outward appearance.
King Saul’s incomplete obedience when God reminded him that all of the flesh in us has to be put to death, shows that our motives matter, not merely our outer performance. The “good side” of the flesh must be put to death, not merely the “bad” side. (See I Samuel 15-16).
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Both the wife of Israel and the bride of Christ are a whole group people of men, women and children, not one literal woman.
The path for Adam’s redemption is different for Eve to some extent. Both males and females need to give intellectual assent to Jesus as Lord doctrinally speaking, but women are better at intimacy and relationships. Men are easily seduced away from fidelity to Jesus. But men tend to be better at discerning between truth and error.
The Apostle Paul was obviously more concerned about purity of heart and mind that mere profession of faith:
“Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” ((2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
The future redemption of Israel will mean that that people, the divorced wife of God, will be taken back and remarried under the terms of the New Covenant, not the old.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for a light by day,
The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night,
Who disturbs the sea,
And its waves roar
(The Lord of hosts is His name):
“If those ordinances depart
From before Me, says the Lord,
Then the seed of Israel shall also cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”
Thus says the Lord:
“If heaven above can be measured,
And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
I will also cast off all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the Lord.”
This pattern of healing and fulfillment is what one sees in Hosea:
“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will rend and go away, I will carry off, and none shall rescue. I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress they seek me, saying,
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 5:14-6:6 RSV)
We do not need to come to Jesus by first cleaning up our act and adjusting our lifestyles to some kind of imagined norm. “All who will May come.”
Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come! I come
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt
Fighting and fears within without
O Lamb of God, I come, I come
Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot
O Lamb of God, I come, I come
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind
Sight, riches, healing of the mind
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come
Because Thy promise I believe
O Lamb of God, I come, I come
At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30)
It should be evident today that many who think they are saved probably are not!
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11)
In the traditional Jewish wedding protocol the Bridegroom negotiates the price of a young woman, with her father, then he leaves to his father’s house where he will prepare a room for his bride. He is gone an unspecified length of time. The bride-to-be is spoken for and she renounces all other suitors while living under the protection of her father’s house. She ought to be a virgin from the beginning but cleansing is available for anyone who needs it (that is, for everyone). Jesus is marrying a virgin. (See The Wise and Foolish Virgins, by Ray Stedman)
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house (oikia) are many mansions (mone): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place (topos) for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:1-6)
[NOTE: Mansions, mone, primarily "a staying, abiding" (akin to meno, "to abide"), denotes an "abode" (Eng., "manor," "manse," etc.), translated "mansions" in Jhn 14:2; "abode" in Jhn 14:23. There is nothing in the word to indicate separate compartments in heaven; neither does it suggest temporary resting-places on the road.--W.E. Vine]
The bride and groom return to the house of the groom's father, where the huppah has been prepared.
“The tradition of the huppah is one which has changed and evolved significantly over time, and is still in use in a modern form in contemporary Jewish weddings. Today, the huppah is a canopy under which the bride and groom stand during the wedding ceremony. This form of the huppah appears to have evolved in medieval times. A quaint tradition exists that the poles holding up the corners of the huppah canopy are made from trees planted on behalf of the bride and groom by their parents when they were children; cedar for the groom, pine for the bride. However, the huppah was originally the place to which the groom would take the bride to symbolize her coming under his authority and protection, and in order to have privacy for the consummation of their marriage.” (Risk)
A great marriage feast is held to celebrate.
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, "Write, `Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19:6)
The huppah seems to have replaced the private chamber, a true Holy of Holies, where the couple consummated their wedding in complete privacy. Weddings down through history have kept the marriage bed event strictly private. Mom and dad, friends, brothers and sisters, the best man, the bridesmaids, are not welcome in the innermost place. At modern weddings the Bride and groom flee in a private car and travel for a honeymoon together (the location is not known by outsiders). After the honeymoon the couple takes up residence in the community and they are soon able to entertain families and friends. Still man and wife has embarked on a grand adventure of a life time together.
The huppah (picturing the Holy of Holies of the Temple) symbolizes intimacy between (a) Jesus and the man and (b) Jesus and the woman, and between (c) Jesus and the man and his wife. What each shares with the other, and with Jesus, is strictly private!
Single persons can enjoy at least as much intimacy with Jesus as the married. Small children often know Jesus very intimately and He is their friend from the cradle to the grave. Males and females must each become whole (Holy) persons in Jesus and this changes as we grow up. Each stage of life brings different challenges, different demands on us. But “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) We do not understand intimacy in our culture where everything has been profaned. Nothing is sacred. There are no secrets, no confidants, no one we can trust in today’s banal culture.
The wedding of Jesus to His bride is a time of celebration for all. The main feature is not the ceremony in the huppah but the feast that follows. The wedding of Jesus Christ to the true church will not be a sexual affair. There will be no need for physical, sexual intimacy in New Jerusalem. The Bride of Christ, and the Wife of Jehovah are to a big family, a community of men, women, boys and girls of all ages. (See: Intimacy with Jesus)
Jesus will know each individual in heaven of course and each can enjoy intimacy with Jesus and with others as well. Each individual will have one-one-intimacy with Jesus, during which time Logos-truth and Wisdom-experience will work to bring about glorification—among all those previously justified and sanctified. (In linear time, justification, sanctification and glorification are presented as three stages to becoming a whole person. But in the heavenlies time is no longer one-dimensional).
“And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.” (Leviticus 20:26)
The Wedding and the Marriage Supper
These are two separate events apparently. It is possible the wedding of the Lord Jesus to his church takes place in heaven (i.e., in New Jerusalem), and the actual wedding feast celebration takes place in Jerusalem-below. This seems to be what is suggested in Revelation 19. My ever-alert friend James Fielder suggests this, "...the marriage supper seems to me back on earth, everyone that makes it to kingdom gets to come: the bride, the OT saints, the 144,000, the saved of Israel, the sheep (no goats). It seems like it would a great Feast of Tabernacles kind of event, but I am no expert on this subject.."
Below is what Revelation 19 actually says. The context suggests the false church has been dealt with, and Jesus with His church have returned to earth at the Second Advent. The marriage itself may have happened earlier, but could not have taken place until the Bema Seat evaluation of the Bride was finished. Note that we are dealing here with time in heaven which is not rigid like earth-time. Ray Stedman brings this out frequently in his commentary. (The "supper" mentioned in Verse 18 is entirely different).
"After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” (Revelation 19:1-18)
Prayer in Time of Chastening
A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down. There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
For my loins are full of inflammation, And there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, long. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth is no response. For in You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.” For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me.
For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.
But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.
Those also who render evil for good, They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.
Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
My great friend Melinda Compton once said, “Christians believe the Word of God was made flesh—but only from the waist up.” Melinda also noted that since there was no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven we would all have a “smooth area” in place of the now obsolete genitalia. Makes sense to me. "Our shame makes prudes of us, and we shy away from even considering such an idea, let alone attempting an answer."--Bryce Self. We do not know if resurrection bodies have male and female genitalia or whether we will all have “smooth areas.”
One awkward reality this side of heaven is that we should remember Jesus on the cross as stark naked and not draped with a loin cloth. The Romans wanted maximum shame and public humiliation as they crucified thousands along the roads. In the past few generations marriage has ceased to involve Jesus in the intimate way God intended from the beginning. The default is unbridled paganism everywhere! (See Made in the Image of God).
Jesus is still an unmarried man. He is betrothed and the wedding in heaven will soon take place. The grand celebration will likely pass unnoticed by the world!
By Ethan Renie
"A couple years ago at my college, a student group put on an event to educate students about pornography and the sex industry. I paced through it, thinking I had already seen all this before. The exhibit opened with scientific facts about the chemical effects of pornography on the brain, showing how it rewires our mental pathways to crave porn.
Heard them before.
Then there was a room of testimonies, people shared how porn had damaged their lives and relationships. As sincere and moving as these stories were, I had heard them before too. I mean, these addiction stories were basically my own.
But then we moved to the last room.
Yes, it is! Not really
On the wall was a painting. Eye level. About 4×3 feet. At first glance, it seemed like a typical crucifix painting. There hung Jesus on the cross, bleeding and ashamed.
But then you looked a little lower.
And then you realized that he was not wearing any garment to politely cover the Savior’s genitalia. There was no loincloth to protect the Lord from disgrace.
It was jarring to realize I was looking at Jesus’ penis.
In many ways, the fact that artists have typically covered Jesus up while hanging on the cross has done a disservice to our perception of His scope of atonement. We are used to seeing Him, battered and bloody, yes, but at least with a shred of decency left and a towel wrapped around his midsection.
One of my theology professors would always say we postmodern people do theology like this: And then he would crouch and cover up his crotch, like an embarrassed child who had jumped out of the bath and been caught by the babysitter. We will talk about God in relation to anything but our genitals.
We try to ‘clean up’ the crucifixion.
Today I got curious and checked for myself. Sure enough, all four gospels tell the same story:
Matthew 27:35, “When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”
Mark 15:24, “And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.”
Luke 23:34, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
John 19:23, “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.”
Historians have pointed out that a crucifixion was not only a torturous execution, but also a shameful humiliation. That’s why victims would always be crucified naked: One last insult to injury.
Now, why is it so important that Jesus was crucified naked?
Throughout the millennia, artists have tried to restore to Jesus His dignity by covering up the shameful bits. They have censored the truth of scripture in order to protect young eyes.
The reason my school displayed the painting was to remind us that, while Jesus has absorbed all our sin and wrongdoing, He has also absorbed all of our shame. He was not covered up in order to maintain His dignity while dying on the tree; He was stripped and exposed, so that even until the end His atoning work would be seen as victorious, even over our sexuality and shame.
J. Vernon McGee writes:
“He was crucified naked. It is difficult for us in this age of nudity and pornography to comprehend the great humiliation He suffered by hanging nude on the cross. They had taken His garments and gambled for ownership. My friend, He went through it all, crucified naked, that you might be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and so be able to stand before God throughout the endless ages of eternity.”
Something I have been thinking through recently is how I too have dichotomized my sexuality from my spirituality. As American Christians, I feel like this is the norm. We go to church over here and think and talk about sex over here. And if I looked at porn, I hid it from God until enough time had passed that I could go and safely confess.
But what I have realized recently is that this is wrong. When I begin to see my sexual desires as something good, something given to me by God, it is easier to align them with His will. When I realize that I don’t have to hide my desires from Him, but rather give them over to Him, it becomes easier to escape temptation and have peace that I can trust Him with my desires. I can trust Him to bring me a wife in His timing, and I don’t have to fear that He’ll never give me one because I have these bad desires.
I think many of my struggles with pornography came from this thought that ‘sex is bad, dirty, and shameful. I need to hide these thoughts from God.’ A lot of them came from a fear that my desires for sex were bad, and therefore I was a bad person. But God loves healthy sexuality. In reality, Jesus has taken all of my shame and all my twisted views of sex to the cross and destroyed them when He was crucified naked.
He has redeemed our perverted views of sexuality. He has taken every last centerfold hanging on the walls of our minds and torn them to shreds.
He was crucified naked so we need not be ashamed anymore.
When Church Says, "I Love You, But..." (July 16, 2018)
The image of God in mankind is male/female. Fifty percent of life is represented by a man’s point of view and fifty percent by the feminine. Jesus is called the Logos (M) of God and also the Sophia (F) of God. He is the Second, or Last, Adam for obvious reasons. As noted, the "Bride of Christ" is not an individual female virgin, but she will be several billion men, women and children of all ages from every nation, and from the past 2000 years of history! (As C.S. Lewis said, "God is so masculine we are all feminine in comparison.") This bride will make herself ready, obviously, before the wedding in New Jerusalem. Her previous status in the world may have been very poor. The requisite preparation of the Bride will probably take place at the Bema Seat.
“...So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-49)
All said and done, marriage is not a better state than being single. But sexual purity is difficult for many and marriage down here on the planet models the two great marriages discussed in the Bible: Israel as the Wife of God and the true church as as the Bride of Christ.
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)
“Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:30-32)
Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:5-9)
The Ultimate Wedding
Made in the Image of God
Yin, Yang, the Tao and Wholeness
Love and Relationships: Song of Solomon
Keys to the Song of Solomon
Psalm 45: The Wedding Psalm
The Story of Two Sisters
Jerusalem: An Adulterous Woman
The Excluded Ones
C.S. Lewis says that God does not love us because we are lovable, but because He is love. The love that comes from God seeks the best interest of the beloved regardless of the cost to the Giver. We do not easily receive God's gift love the first time we feel it extended towards us, nor do we readily learn how to love others the same way God loves us--which is what He is seeking.
* I personally believe the Bride of Christ is a unique group of believers called to be a special community of believers during the time interval from Pentecost to the Rapture. Believers before the Flood, believers from Noah to Jesus are two other groups. Believers who came to Yeshua before Pentecost, believing Jews during the Millennium, etc., are yet other groups. Many millions of martyred followers of Jesus who come to Jesus in the Tribulation period through the 144,000 Jewish evangelists after the Rapture are distinguishable. Today there is a Jewish believing remnant in the world who are not part of the Church, Romans 11:5.
The true church Jesus has been calling out of the world since His resurrection was announced ahead of time by Jesus during His Galilean ministry. Probably this took place just before His transfiguration near Caesarea Philippi:
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
“Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:13-27)
Jesus knew full well what lay ahead for Him in the months to come after this announcement though the disciples were incongruous until after His resurrection. Does any grateful Christ today doubt that Jesus would build His church (ekklesia) and the Gates of Hades would not be able to withstand the assaults of His church. *
“Jesus is the Last Adam, and was the prototype for the first Adam created in His image. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians that Christ and the Church are the reality of which Adam and Eve’s union in Genesis was the preliminary and partial foreshadowing. That is the entire reason our first parents were created in the manner they were, why the inspired record describes it just so, and why humankind was designed to reproduce in the way that it does (it did not have to be the way it is). Consider the variety of modes God gave various creatures for reproduction! The word used for God’s making Eve means “to build” like a brick or masonry wall, layer on layer, course on course. this well suits a kind of additive construction from an initial sample of Adam's DNA, just as the Church is built on the model of Jesus century after century..
As Paul said, this is a mystery. It is revealed, but we could not find it out on our own, or ever plumb the full depths of the revealed truth.” (Bryce Self email@example.com)
If is often said the church is the “second Eve” taken from the pierced side of Jesus. The statement makes perfect sense to me theologically since Jesus was not married.
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. (John 19:34)
Various doctors have written on the death of Jesus including the piercing of His side after Jesus dismissed His spirit and stopped breathing. The fact that blood and water gushed forth seems to be proof that clinical death had occurred. Others have commented that the pericardium surrounding the heart may have been pierced as blood has probably been collecting there during the ordeal of severe beating and humiliation the night before. Jesus carried His cross to the execution site though already weak. The ordeal of death by crucifixion is difficult to contemplate. It was a horrific form of execution to say the least.
Many Bible commentators have described the piercing of the body of Jesus as the birth of the church, the Second Eve. Just as Eve was taken out of the original Adam, so there is a Second Eve, a blood-bought Bride for Christ.
Theologically this model is excellent. The first Adam was a whole individual, Adam/Eve, as Bryce Self has noted above. The original man is an Antitype. The Type is Jesus as the Second Adam/Eve.
The man Jesus was male, not female.
C.S. Lewis remarked that God is so masculine that we are all feminine in comparison to Him. Considering the Second Eve as the true church should not be a problem for all of us who know and follow Jesus and call Him “Lord.”
If the Second Eve (the church) is not one woman but a vast number of men, women and children of every generation since Pentecost we can immediately take note of the way Jesus treated small children, His disciples, women and enemies. His ability to know and relate to each of us intimately is astounding!
In all this the mystery of the church is made clear as last:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:22-32)
Made in the Image of God
The man Adam had a unified genome evidently but half his genetic endowment was evidently given to Eve when she taken out of Eve.
Jesus Death: Six Hours of Eternity on the Cross
* The subject of the “Church Militant and Triumphant” is a separate study considered by many in the professing church for centuries.
After writing the above I discovered a great classic message by Chuck Missler that is far better than anything I can write. Here is what Chuck wrote back in 2003:
The Wedding Model
Pattern is Prologue: The Rapture, Part 2
by Chuck Missler • January 1, 2003
In this second article in our series on the Rapture, we will explore another reason why we favor a "pre-tribulation" view of the Harpazo, the "snatching up" of the Church.
All through the Gospels, Jesus relied on the ancient Jewish wedding pattern for many of His parables, climaxing in His promise in the Upper Room in John 14 (as reviewed in our previous article). Many of us miss the full import of these allusions if we aren't familiar with the model of ancient Jewish wedding practices.
The first step, the Ketubah, or Betrothal, was the establishment of the marriage covenant, usually when the prospective bridegroom took the initiative and negotiated the price (mohair) he must pay to purchase her.
Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified - set apart - exclusively for her bridegroom. As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the groom and bride drank from a cup of wine over which the betrothal had been pronounced.
After the marriage covenant was established, the groom left his bride at her home and returned to his father's house, where he remained separated from his bride for approximately 12 months. This afforded the bride time to gather her trousseau and prepare for married life.
During this period of separation, the groom prepared a dwelling place in his father's house to which he would later bring his bride. At the end of the period of separation, the bridegroom came - usually at night - to take his bride to live with him. The groom, the best man, and other male escorts left the father's house and conducted a torch-light procession to the home of the bride. Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the time of his coming. As a result, the groom's arrival was preceded by a shout, which announced her imminent departure to be gathered with him.
After the groom received his bride, together with her female attendants, the enlarged wedding party returned from the bride's home to the groom's father's house, where the wedding guests had assembled.
Shortly after their arrival, the bride and groom were escorted by the other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber (huppah). Prior to entering the chamber, the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. 14 While the groomsmen and bridesmaids waited outside, the bride and groom entered the bridal chamber alone. There, in the privacy of that place, they entered into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted approximately one year earlier.
After the marriage was consummated, the groom came out of the bridal chamber and announced the consummation of the marriage to the members of the wedding party waiting outside. Then, as the groom went back to his bride in the chamber, the members of the wedding party returned to the wedding guests and announced the consummation of the marriage.
Upon receiving the good news, the wedding guests remained in the groom's father's house for the next seven days, celebrating with a great wedding feast.
During the seven days of the wedding feast, the bride and groom remained hidden in the bridal chamber19 (Cf. Genesis 29:21-23, 27-28) for the seven days of the huppah.20 Afterwards, the groom came out of hiding, bringing his bride with him, but with her veil removed so that everyone could see her.
The Ultimate Bride
The New Testament portrays the Church as the Bride of Christ in Ephesians 5:22-33 (Paul even quotes Genesis 2:24 as the union at the Parousia of the Bridegroom in v.31!); cf. Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2; James 4:4. In the opening verses of John 14, the marriage covenant is confirmed. Paul continually reminds us of the purchase price and the covenant by which we, the Bride, are set apart, or sanctified.
Ecclesiology vs. Eschatology
It is this distinctive nature of the Church that is often overlooked by students of prophecy: it is more a matter of ecclesiology than eschatology.
One thing that seems to highlight this distinctiveness is the strange remark Jesus made regarding John the Baptist:
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)
What does that mean? Jesus goes on to explain,
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Matthew 11:13)
It is John the Baptist that closes the Old Testament, not Malachi. A profound distinction appears to be drawn between the saints of the Old Testament and those of the New.
One of the challenges in fully appreciating Paul's epistles is the need to understand the staggering and distinctive advantages afforded the Church, in contrast to those of the Old Testament saints. And it is this role as the Bride of the Bridegroom that is emphasized in the parables and in the Book of Revelation.
The Departure of the Bridegroom
The Bridegroom has departed, and His return to gather His Bride is imminent. He has gone to prepare a place for you and me. (He has been at it for 2,000 years! It must be a spectacular abode!)
This very doctrine of "imminence" is taught throughout the New Testament and is a cornerstone of the "pre-tribulational" view: there is no event which is a prerequisite condition for His gathering of His Bride.
The Great Tribulation
There are those who believe the Church will go through the Great Tribulation. In exploring this issue, it is essential to distinguish between persecution, which clearly has been the lot of the Church for 19 centuries, and "the Great Tribulation" of eschatological significance. The persecution - and tribulation - of the Church was clearly promised to us:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
The source of this tribulation is the world and, of course, Satan. However, "the Great Tribulation" of eschatological significance is quite another matter.
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)
The context here is clearly Israel. Jesus is quoting from the Old Testament:
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book (Daniel 12:1)
Note that "thy people will be delivered": the focus of the "Great Tribulation" is Israel. That is why it is called "the time of Jacob's Trouble":
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:7)
Jesus (in the Old Testament) explains:
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly. (Hosea 5:15).
To "return," He must have left His place! The offence referred to is singular and specific: their rejection of Him. In "their affliction" they will ultimately repent and He will respond.31
The Great Tribulation also involves more than the wrath of the world or the wrath of Satan: it involves the indignation and wrath of God. In contrast, the Church has been promised:
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:9)
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour [time] of temptation [trial], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
Peter also emphasizes,
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: (2 Peter 2:9)
Here, Peter is using the judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah "as an example,"33 as Jesus also did,34 in which the prior removal of Lot was a precondition before the angels could do their work.35
A complete study of this issue involves careful and diligent study of both the Church (ecclesiology) as well as the eschatology (end time aspects) of the Great Tribulation, which, of course, far exceeds the focus of this brief review. It requires precise definitions of the terms used, and great care to understand how each of the elements of the revealed truth relate to each other.
But the fundamental doctrine of imminence has to be forfeited with any view that requires the Great Tribulation - or any other precedent event - to occur prior to the Rapture.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
Are you going to escape these things that shall come to pass? If so, how? Or are you relying on the notion that the Lord is "delaying His coming?" 36 This could be a very dangerous presumption. Do your homework. It is important.
* * *
Note Added: My trusted friend Bryce Self notes that these events go above and beyond symbolism and typology: "A fair bit of this application of the wedding ceremonial is beside the point, since much of the tradition, ritual and elaboration comes from the developments of post-Biblical rebbinical Judaism. Kind alike the 'folded napkin' fable that resurfaces every Easter as an explanation for the face-cloth in Jesus’ tomb." as usual Bryce is very balancing!
May 1, 2019.
Newsletters old and new are on my web site. My main web site is http://ldolphin.org/, with recent articles listed here.
May 26, 2006
March 16, 2019
April 21, 2010
May 1, 2019