Part 4 – The Gospel According to the Bride

Dear God and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways. Help us to understand and apprehend all that you have created us to be by the working of your Spirit within us. May we truly be crucified with our Bridegroom Jesus, so that we no longer live but that He lives in us by the Holy Spirit. As we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, may we be transformed into a new body by the renewing of our mind, into the body of the Bride which is the body of Christ.

The reason I’m teaching this series “The Gospel According to the Bride”, is the same as with all things that we teach in Call2Come. Our mandate is to help prepare the Bride, and our vision is for the Bride to get ready and that she will call upon her Bridegroom to Come in agreement with the Spirit as in Rev 22:17. Indeed, it is important to note that a key part of our teaching is how calling upon Jesus to come isn’t the end of our preparation journey, but the beginning of it, because for the Bride to get ready, she must position herself into her Bridal identity and that means agreeing with the Holy Spirit who has always been saying “Come”.

So far, we have been looking at what it means to be in Christ. Being in Christ is the result of baptism. And when I talk of baptism I am talking of the spiritual immersion and inclusion into Christ, for which we do have the outward physical act of water baptism, but it is the spiritual dynamic that is our focus here. Through the Eternal Spirit we are able to be incorporated into Christ, and the necessity is that we are included in Him before His crucifixion, death and burial, so that we can, in some way, participate in His crucifixion, death and burial, and actually make it our own. For the reality is that we do need to die. I need to die. My old adamic nature, and this body of sin, in which I still dwell whilst I wait to clothed with my heavenly form, needs to be continually crucified with Christ, so that I, like Paul, can confess “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ who lives in me”.  Gal 2:20 Notice how Paul declares with a tone of triumph, “I no longer live, but Christ who lives in me”. O how we need to enter into this reality, that we should no longer live, but the life we live to be an outworking of Christ’s life in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because in this exchange, our selfishness is crucified, our pride put to death, our ideas, thoughts, plans and ambitions are all surrendered at the Cross, and instead the resurrection power of His life now living and working through every member of His Body, His Bride. If it is truly Christ who lives in me, then the life that I am now living is the life of the Bride. For the Bride is the life which is in Christ and in which you and I are to participate. I will say that again, the life which is in Christ, and in which you and I are to participate is the life of the Bride. We are not saved as individuals to become members of a church on some street, we are saved corporately as a spiritual body which is His Bride. Where then is the place for strife and division, fracture and denominationalism? Is Christ divided? Does His life in us lead us to independence and separatism? Or to oneness and the expression of a corporate body who in love are preferring one another? Resurrection life is Bridal life, because it’s His life, and the life He gives is for His Bride.

When the bride sees her bridegroom upon the Cross, she must see herself there also with him crucified together. The bride upon the Cross! The corporate mind, the bridal thought is that she must be in Christ totally and existentially. She must identify herself with the Cross, to be crucified with her bridegroom. For she is not a bride until she has been crucified with Christ, for until she has been crucified with him, she cannot be raised with Him. This raises a fundamental question: How is it that we can be crucified with Christ? Paul gives us the answer here, as we read in our key text from Rom 6, this time looking at verse 11 “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Notice Paul’s instruction, that we should reckon ourselves. What does it mean to reckon? One use of the word reckoning is as an accounting term, in which a calculation is made, and the sum credit or debit is applied to an account. In this sense it can be used to “settle accounts”. It is in the reckoning that we apply what is true to our account. Reckoning is a process of calculation or reasoning and deduction. To come to a conclusion or judgement about something once the facts of the case have been presented and considered. In this sense we are in gross debt because of sin, and we acknowledge this debt and apply the debt and sentencing to ourselves. I should point out of course, that this ability to reckon sin, is only because of the grace of God, and not initiated by us. It is by His sovereign grace, through the inner working of the Holy Spirit in which we are able to comprehend our condition, for “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s laws, nor can it do so” Rom 8:7 So in reckoning we must apply what is true to our account, and that we agree with the Holy Spirit’s conviction and revelation of truth, and consciously apply this truth, declaring to our old adamic nature that it is dead to sin, and therefore will not be given the freedom to rule us any longer, for he who has died has been freed from sin, and instead through belief in the heart and confession of the mouth, we declare that we are made alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, amen!

To be clear, this reckoning is not a mental persuasion or mystic feat of the mind in some sort or mental transcendence, but it is the application and appropriation of truth into the inner man. Such a reckoning requires that the vehicle by which meaningful transformation can take place remains present, available and retains its power. This is the nature of the Cross. The enduring and eternal work of God. At that time, Jesus completely triumphed over sin, death and all the power of the enemy, and never needs to be repeated. I am not suggesting that we travel back in time to the time and place of Jesus crucifixion, that would be foolish to suggest and impossible in the natural realm. How is it then, that the Cross remains present and available today? For as I have mentioned, this consideration of being crucified with Christ is not a mental persuasion or thought process only, but in a very real sense a literal participation in what Jesus accomplished upon the Cross 2000 years ago. In answer to that question, the natural or visible realm exists within the framework of linear time and three-dimensional space. When Jesus was crucified it was located and visible in the natural realm at a particular time and place, 2000 years ago at Golgotha, and in the natural realm we cannot go back. But that would be looking at the Cross as something that only took place in the natural or visible realm, but the Cross was much more! The Cross was an enduring work of God. Though Jesus crucifixion was visible or manifest in the natural realm and therefore can be located in time and space, the Cross is an eternal reality, because God is eternal. What was visible was only that which occurred in the physical realm, and it needed to happen in the physical realm because that’s where we were held captive by sin, in the fallen state, physical yes, but spiritually dead in trespasses and sin. But the Cross did not only happen in the physical visible realm but also in the spiritual realm, and in the Eternal dimension of God. God’s Word is eternal Isa 40:8, 1 Pet 1:23, Ps 119:89 and his works are eternal. As the writer in Ecclesiastes 3:14 says, “everything that God does endures for ever, nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it.” And Peter writes “A day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” 2 Pet 3:8.  There is no direct and linear correlation between eternity time and our time or between the natural visible realm and the spiritual realm. What God does endures forever, and nothing can be taken or added to it. The Cross remains today, hallelujah! Yes, Jesus died on the Cross and rose again, but in the eternal realm the Cross has just happened, and will remain in the eternal present until the new dispensation.

Therefore, the Cross remains as powerful and existent today as it did back then. It is by faith that we may access and appropriate the realities of the unseen realm. By faith given as a gift from God that we may indeed consider ourselves crucified with Christ. But not for punishment but for the One New Man, for the Bride to rise up with resurrection life and power.

Until next time, may you know His resurrection life in you, the life of the Bride

The Gospel According to the Bride – Part 3

To the elect of God throughout the world, the glorious Bride, hidden now in Christ but soon to appear with Him when He comes again in great glory, bringing salvation to those who have been waiting and preparing for His return. May you be strengthened and continue to grow in your inner man, as you abide in Him, knowing the infallibility of His purpose and plan for us, and that from now until that Day, nothing can separate us from Him.

There is much that I am eager to share from the Gospel according to the Bride, looking at scripture and the Gospel message through the lens of the bridal paradigm. Indeed, if we are to no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed, then our minds must be renewed. They must be renewed by the Spirit of God, but if we believe that a primary role of the Holy Spirit is to enable to bride to get ready, then the mind to be renewed will develop a corporate mindset, because the Bride is corporate, and therefore we need a bridal consciousness.

The writer of Hebrews writes “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Heb 6:1,2 The suggestion here is to go beyond the basic foundational doctrines so that we can mature. And that is what I want to do. To go beyond the elementary doctrine, not forsaking them or changing them in any way, for the foundation stones our faith must be upheld, guarded and understood at all costs. Remove the foundation and you remove the very tenets of our faith, let us not be among those who distort the Word of God. But instead I am saying to build upon them, as the writer says “to go on to maturity”. But before we leave the elementary it will serve us well to remind ourselves the foundations upon which we build. In this section of the Gospel according to the Bride, I am focussed particularly on Baptism. As Christ is so also we must be. As Jesus was baptised, so also the Bride must be baptised. But before we go deeper into this area of bridal baptism, let us be encouraged to revisit the very core of our salvation experience.

Following on from last time, I made a distinction between the unregenerate and regenerate mind, or between the old mind and the renewed mind. The unregenerate mind will fail to comprehend the deeper more profound mysteries of the Cross, that of the New Creation, and consider only how Jesus died alone upon the Cross, bearing their sin so that they might be forgiven, escape judgement and receive eternal life. One problem with this, as we saw, is that guilt is not transferable, and the old man remains condemned, because in reality Jesus didn’t die so that the adamic man could continue to live, but that the new man might be brought forth as a New Creation. Since guilt then is not transferrable the life of the old man and unregenerate mind is one of a continual guilty conscious and endless endeavour to find justification through works. But guilt is a merciless task master and relentless accuser that gives no rest. That is why we must come to the place in our spiritual journey and realisation that this is exactly why Jesus did die, so that we may put to death our old man because he who has died has been freed from sin. And by this process of dying there is “therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Rom 8:1

Our old man, our adamic man, will die whether we are in Christ or not, the question is not whether we shall die but whether we shall live, for in Adam all died, and all shall die because of sin, but all those in Christ shall live because He lives. So how can we face death alone, separate from Christ and not die? Herein is the majestic beauty and unfathomable mercies of God’s grace and eternal wisdom. That before Creation (Rev 13:8  1 Pet 1:19,20), God had provided the means for which we might pass through the veil, from judgement to justification, and from condemnation to new life. Like the ark of Noah which saved all eight of his family and required that they be within the ark for their salvation, in the same way, the body of Christ has become to us the ark of God for our salvation. It is necessary therefore that we enter fully into Christ, and this is through the act of baptism. To be plunged into Christ, immersed into His glorious state. And if we have been baptised into Christ, then we have been baptised into His death. We were in Him therefore when He was crucified.

The regenerate mind, the renewed mind, understands it was not just Christ who died for them but that they died with him because they were in Him. His crucifixion was our crucifixion, his death was our death. Does that mean then that I was still punished for my sin? Absolutely not, his punishment was our punishment. Isaiah writes “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isa 53:5. The scriptures clearly point out that upon Him was the punishment that brought us peace. Let us understand with certainty, that it was Christ alone who bore our sins, As Peter writes “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Pet 2:24, also in Hebrews it reads “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Heb 9:28. Let us also be clear that when we died with Christ, it was in answer to, and the passing of judgement in response to the written code, law and regulations in which we stood condemned and sentenced guilty. In that sense the law was carried out, judgement was passed, and the penalty of sin paid for. But is was Jesus our Bridegroom King, come to redeem His bride, who demonstrated His complete and immeasurable love for us, that whilst we were still sinners, He died for us. Rom 5:8 And one final scripture from Colossians. “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Col 2:12-15

This is what it means to be born again. That through baptism, the spiritual act of being immersed, fully covered over by Christ, we enter into His death and burial so that the old man of sin is crucified, fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law. But had we not been in Christ, then we would surely not be raised again into new life. But because we are in Christ, we are also raised with him, leaving the adamic nature and body of sin buried, and rising into new life we are now freed from sin, and walk in newness of life as born again children of God, as a New Creation.

Hopefully all that I have shared here is not new but a reminder and encouragement to us of our salvation experience and all that we are in Christ. Hopefully we have been enlightened over the elementary foundations of salvation and baptism as it applies to us individually. Herein lies our challenge, to go beyond a singular mindset, and not see the New Creation as singular, but as corporate, because the Bride is corporate, she is the New Creation, the One New Man. We must be renewed utterly and throughout, to be rid of all notions of independence and separatism. Individualism yes, but only as part of the greater corporate reality of the Bride. Salvation is not complete without the Bride, salvation is about the Bride, and for the Bride. Salvation may begin with us as individuals, but salvation ultimately is corporate and Bridal. So we must be saved corporately, and therefore be baptised corporately. Here’s an example of corporate salvation in the book of Acts. As the crowd responded to the Pentecost sermon: “What must we do to? And Peter said to them “Repent and be baptized every one of you” Acts 2:37,38. Notice the we in “what must we do?” This was corporate repentance, corporate salvation and corporate baptism.

We shall continue next time, until then, Maranatha

The Gospel According to the Bride – Part 2

Dear beloved of our Glorious Father who lives in Eternity, together in Oneness with our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, let us rejoice that our hope is steadfast and our salvation secure. For though we have not yet seen Him who is to come, we believe now and are saved, we shall see then and be changed.

We are beginning a new series in what we shall call “The Gospel According to the Bride”. There are two underlying foundational principles in our study. The first principle is that: As Christ is, so also we must be. And the second principle is that the Bride has a corporate mind and thinks about everything from a corporate mindset, not an individual one. This being so, she will therefore, by the very nature of who she is, think differently to the way that we think as individuals. We are so conditioned to read and interpret the Bible from a singular mindset, and how the Gospel applies to us individually, but if we are to understand that the eternal purpose of God is for us to be included into Him, and this by being the Royal Bride for His Son the Bridegroom King, then it is of paramount importance that we change the way we think. That we think like the Bride!

We are transformed by the renewing of our minds, yes, but to be transformed into the Bride requires that our minds be renewed or even reprogrammed with a bridal mindset or put another way we need to develop a bridal consciousness.  To migrate away from having only a singular mindset, and to adopt the higher nature of our corporate bridal identity and begin to think like the Bride that we are. That means not thinking in the singular but thinking in the plural. Not seeing the interpretation and application of scripture to us only as individuals, but how it applies to us corporately. For it is written to us corporately. It is with this understanding of the corporate mind, that we shall look again at the essential Gospel message, this time not as individuals, but through the lens of the Bridal paradigm, and therefore this is the Gospel According to the Bride.

Last time, I shared that for the Bride to get ready and prepare for her marriage with Jesus the Bridegroom King, she must participate in the same stages as He did whilst upon the earth. As His, so also we must be. I suggested last time, that the Bride must be baptised, and how strange a concept that is to our normal way of thinking. But over the next few sessions I’ll unpack that idea a lot more and see how baptism for the Bride is an absolute requirement for her. She must be baptised before she can do anything else. Indeed, we shall see that without baptism there is no Bride, for when the Bride is baptised, she is immersed into Christ, and unless she is fully in Him, she cannot come from Him, and therefore has no form of which to cleave back to Him as in a marriage relationship. Wow, that was deep but don’t worry we’ll come back to that thought later on.

On discussing baptism, here is a key passage that we shall refer back to a few times.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:3-11

The word baptism is a transliteration from the Greek word “baptizō” and means to immerse, or to be submerged, to cleanse by being immersed. Though the root word “baptô” means to dip, the word “baptizō” is more than just being dipped as a one off momentary event, but is a continual dipping or immersion until the state of that which has been dipped has been changed. As is the case when Naaman was instructed by Elisha to “wash in the Jordan seven times” the Bible says in 2 Kings 5:14 “So he (Naaman) went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.“ The word dipped in this verse, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) is the word “baptizō”.

When Paul says we have been baptised into Christ, he is saying that we have been dipped or immersed into Christ, so that we have fully entered into Christ, submerged, covered over even hidden in Christ. But then Paul develops the thought and says that by being baptised into Christ we are in the same way baptised or immersed into His death. By the process of baptism we are buried with Christ into death, so that just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so also we shall experience resurrection life. Notice here, that before life there is death, before the new man the old man must die. Paul writes that our old man was crucified with Him, and testifies this about himself in Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ who lives in me”.

This fundamental truth is at the heart of the Gospel message. That Jesus Christ our Saviour died because of our sins, was buried and then rose again on the third day, in order that by faith in Him and the redemptive work of the Cross, we might be forgiven of our sins and receive eternal life. But notice a subtle and profound truth here: the unregenerate mind will miss the true depths of the work of the Cross. The unregenerate mind (that which belongs to our old man) will fail to comprehend the New Creation, and instead only consider how grateful they should be since they no longer stand condemned and how Jesus died in their place so that they may live. They may understand that their sins have been taken away, but here is the point that I make, that though sins are taken away, guilt is not transferable! Even though Jesus bore my sin, that didn’t make Him guilty. The guilt remains with me, that is the unregenerate me, and therefore the old man can never be free of a guilty conscience. The old man still stands condemned. No wonder Paul writes “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Rom 7:24

What then of justification? That of acquittal from judgement and the accrediting of righteousness to our account? It is not the old man who is set free but the new man who has been given life. The old man and unregenerate mind will struggle with sin and guilt all their life, (although we could say that they are already dead), but the new man, the regenerate mind will not see Jesus crucified on the cross alone, but will see themselves there with Him being crucified also, by the Eternal Spirit we are able to identify ourselves with Christ in the act of His crucifixion, death and burial, I will explain this more next time, but here let us understand that Jesus didn’t just die for us, He died with us, so that in His death and in His burial the old man may be crucified and therefore the body of sin put away once and for all, because he who has died has been freed from sin, and guilt has been destroyed through death forever, hallelujah!. Upon Jesus’ resurrection, we too are raised into a new life, born again as a new Creation, where the old has gone and behold all things have become new. What a wonderful Saviour indeed, and a glorious salvation, not salvation of the old man, but the birthing of the new.

 

The Gospel According to the Bride – Part 1

To the chosen of God, the radiant wife of the Lamb, purchased by His blood, and sanctified together with Him in the Heavenly realm, may you know with increasing certainty and assurance of faith, the unfolding mystery now revealed to us through the Eternal Spirit, that which our Father purposed before the foundations of this world, that we should be one with Him through Jesus Christ our Lord and glorious Bridegroom King.

Today I want to begin a new series which I shall call “The Gospel According to the Bride”. In this series I want to once again draw upon the parallels between the Bridegroom and the Bride, for they are indeed to be completely compatible with each other. As Christ is, so also we must be. Jesus’ life and ministry underwent very deliberate, necessary and identifiable stages. We won’t go into all of these today, but these stages will become the focus of our studies, and we’ll take time to discuss them in more detail later, learning in particular, how the stages of Jesus’ life must become the stages of preparation for the Bride to get ready for the Bridegroom’s return. But as a quick peek, some of the things we’ll explore include His baptism, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, glorification and ascension.

As Christ is, so also we must be. All that Jesus went through and all that He accomplished, we are able to be partakers of, to participate in and therefore benefit from such wonderful and glorious blessings exerted through the Eternal Spirit and power of God. We live because He lives, we shall overcome, because He has already defeated all the power of the enemy, we shall rise again because He has conquered death, we shall be glorified because He is glorified, we shall ascend because He has gone before us, ascended now on high, and seated at the right hand of the Father.   We may know these things as applied to the individual believer, but I go beyond talking about that here. I refer not only to the individual believer, but the corporate man, the One New Man, the collective body of Christ incorporated into one new reality, the Bride.

If I were to say the Bride must be baptised, we would most probably find that a strange or even incomprehensible statement. That is because we are conditioned and so used to considering our salvation, experience and relationship with God on an individual level and not with a corporate mind. An individual mind considers only the individual and therefore salvation is singular, and preparation for the wedding is singular. A corporate mind considers itself part of something greater than itself, a collective body, and therefore salvation is plural, and preparation for the wedding is plural. Here’s an important principle for us to grasp and aspire to – the Bride has a corporate mind and not an individual one. The Bride thinks on the basis of corporate oneness, because it is the essence of who she is. She cannot think as an individual, she cannot live as an individual, she cannot do anything as an individual because she is not an individual she is One New Man. I do not mean to undermine our individuality and personal responsibility to be ready, but I point out that ultimate preparation is more than individual but is corporate. There is an essential place for personal intimacy and preparation. When we consider our individual preparation for the Lord’s return and the wedding, we are like the wise virgins in the parable of Matt 25, who interestingly are not referred to as the bride in this parable, the bride is not explicitly mentioned here. But when we consider our corporate preparation for the Lord’s return and the wedding, we are like the New Jerusalem getting beautifully dressed for her husband.

It is with this understanding of the corporate mind, that we shall look again at the essential Gospel message, this time not as individuals, but through the lens of the Bridal paradigm.  This is the Gospel According to the Bride.

Rom 6:5 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection”.

Mobile Phones on the Moon Part 2

To the beloved of God who though originally designed to be in the ‘image of God’ were blighted by the sin of the first Adam. Yet His eternal purpose was and is to not only to restore us by the sacrifice of the second Adam but to transform us so that we are made of His same spiritual nature and glorified physical flesh. For we are being changed…”from one degree of glory to another” so that one day not far away…”in the twinkling of an eye …we shall be like Him and One with Him” and so be married to the Lamb.
In my last Word for Today we reflected on Reuters news that soon there would be a Vodaphone mobile network functioning on the moon allowing earthlings to see picture of lunar landscapes on their mobile phones while their feet still rested firmly on earth. We saw how in Jewish tradition both the Jewish people, their calendar and their theology was so influenced by the moon. The Talmud reflects this when it says “The Jewish people are compared to the moon, and therefore we count according to her cycle.” We saw that the heroin of Purim, Esther, which is being celebrated by our Jewish brothers and sisters right now, actually means in Aramaic…the moon, and that Esther, standing as a type of the Bride of Christ, like the moon receives her glory from her relationship to the King alone, just as the moon receives its light from the sun and the Bride of Christ receives Her glory from Christ Himself.
A return to the story of creation provided us with a further insight as we reminded ourselves that God created the world also to receive His light and become an expression of a far deeper reality…and so we pray “Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. Here we saw evidence of the two realities once again….that of the natural and mortal and corruptible and that of the spiritual and immortal and incorruptible..
The World was meant to reflect God’s glory. However, the physical world was not positioned to fully receive that light through the sin of the first Adam. The world therefore failed to develop into the material manifestation of the spiritual realm that was possible. But one day through the sacrifice of the Second Adam, Jesus, who being properly aligned, is able to bring about the Eternal purpose of God for planet earth so that eventually… ” the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea”. Hab 2:14
The Festival of Purim
With this background, we can return to Esther and the source of her name. We remember that Esther is so called on account of the moon. A closer look at the entire story of Purim shows that it expresses the very message of the union or relationship between the sun and moon, Esther and the King, and Christ our Bridegroom and His Bride.
The story of Purim unfolded through what appeared to be a very natural series of events. No sea split and no plagues fell upon the house of Achashveirosh or Haman as he is better known. Instead, through a dramatic plot replete with paranoia, politics, lust, and greed, Esther rose to power through the most unlikely circumstances and eventually and brilliantly convinced the king to reverse his decree to kill the Jewish people and bring judgement upon Haman.
Yet on a deeper level, there was nothing natural or accidental about Purim. As the Zohar, a Jewish mystical book, notes, the term ‘melech’ or king, in the Megillah is a disguised allusion to God Himself. (See Zohar III p. 109a) so that a reread of the Megillah with that insight reveals that God is behind every turn of events, and that the entire miracle which saved the Jews from annihilation was no accident or an unplanned series of events.
This underlines a truth that is rooted in the very nature of our sovereign God and His Eternal Purposes. That is …that all things in the world, even events that seem unrelated, march toward a higher goal.
We are reminded of these verses…“All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purposes” Rom 8:28 and
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.” Eph2:10
The story of Purim represents the fusion of two systems. Externally, it is a world entirely under the sun with apparently natural rules of cause and effect that plod on without direction. It is the system in which the nations live, that of history, science and secular progress. Yet behind the scenes, every aspect of Purim is, as is every step of our life in Christ, the product of God’s hidden providence, an expression of ‘hachodesh hazeh lachem’? “This month is yours,” a spiritual system of complete novelty positioned to bring us to our specific destiny which is to cause us to be conformed to His image, to become His compatible partner, Wife, Bride, who is and will remain for now ‘hidden in Christ’. Like the moon we are hidden. Our true glory is not yet seen. The Bride is visible now but not yet fully revealed.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” I Jn 3:1 and 2
The festival of Purim about Esther is uniquely associated with the end of time as is the ‘Message of the Bride’. As the Jewish Sages say that it is the only holiday which will be celebrated forever (Midrash Rabba – Mishei 9).
Today’s world abounds with innovation and revolution, bringing political changes almost every hour. Those events of a world under the sun seem to have little connection to us. Purim and Esther and the moon, however, reveal that all of history is part of God’s plan. History past is but prophecy that has come to pass and history future is prophecy yet to be fulfilled.
Thank you Vodafone for your announcement. Our reflections on this development has given us some understanding of the significance between Providence, Purim, the sun, the moon and ourselves…His beloved precious Bride.
Maranatha
Howard@Call2Come

The New Jerusalem Dressed Like A Bride

Glorious Bride Part 10

To the elect of God, who like living stones are being fashioned and joined together to become One New Man; be joyful always, for the Lord is near. Cast off the old nature, and put on the new with garments washed in the blood of the lamb, as you serve one another in love, praying fervently for each other, as we see His glorious day approaching.

Well, what an amazing journey we have been on. The woman in heaven, as seen by John Rev 12:1 and depicted in the heavens above by the sun, moon and stars, has been seen at each stage as the Eternal Purpose of God unfolds and develops here upon the earth. Last time, we came to the end of act 2, in which Jesus had taken centre stage, for it was all about Him, and what He had accomplished on His First Coming in preparation for His Bride at His Second Coming. But then the curtain closed as the clouds hid Him from sight, when He ascended from the Mount of Olives returning back to the Father’s side, where He is received until the restoration of all things. Acts 3:21. John saw this return to Heaven in his vision of the woman, as we read in our central passage for this series:

“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.” Rev 12:3-5

This passage brings a new development in our story, for we have now introduced “the dragon”, and John describes him later in verse 9 “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Rev 12:9 Throughout all history, there has been an adversary, Satan, who opposes God and seeks to frustrate, hinder and prevent the Eternal Purpose of God being fulfilled. There is now a major shift in the story, a repositioning of the main characters. Jesus has returned to Heaven, Satan is cast down to the earth, and where is woman now? Reading further in Rev 12, we will notice that she is now upon the earth, but I will cover these things in another series where we will look at the Great Tribulation and the final preparations of the Bride. But I do want to take a glimpse into the future, for it is indeed glorious. John caught a glimpse, a peek behind the curtain, and saw the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Rev 21:9-11

In this passage we are given a connection between the “Bride, the Lamb’s wife” and “the great city, the holy Jerusalem”. Previously we have seen how the great city Jerusalem is the personification of the wife of God the Father. (see Part 5 of this series), and now John sees the great city of Jerusalem descending out of heaven. Something has happened, the primary reality of things in heaven, the Jerusalem above coming down towards the earth. Deep I know, but let’s continue because there’s more. In with Rev 21:2 John writes “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Notice that the two descriptions of Jerusalem are not quite the same. The phrase here in v2 is “the new Jerusalem”. Almost as if there are two Jerusalems, one is the “Holy Jerusalem, the great city” the other is the “New Jerusalem, prepared as a bride”. There is represented here both Jerusalem as in the ancient and Holy City of God, but also the new Jerusalem the glorious Bride. What are we to make of this? I believe John sees one city, but dual natures combined in one reality coming down out of Heaven but both describing the Bride, the wife of the lamb.

When Jesus was sentenced in Jerusalem and crucified outside her city walls, He had come to the Wife of His Father, through whom He was made incarnate. And when He died upon the cross, His shed blood paid for the sins of His Father’s wife after she had been adulterous. In so doing, provision was made for Jerusalem and Israel to be restored back into the blessing of a new marriage covenant. But there is more, that through His sacrifice, Jesus not only paid for the sins of Jerusalem, His Father’s wife, but also for the sins of the whole world (both Jew and Gentile) to create a New Jerusalem, that would become His, the wife of the lamb!!

There is a profound mystery here. Something that brings all these things together in one new glorious revelation. My understanding is that as the Son is begotten from the Father, so also the Bride is begotten from Jerusalem! As Paul writes to the Galatians “But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all” Gal 4:26 But in the same way that Jesus is also God, so the Bride is also Jerusalem. The Bride is because Jerusalem is. Without Jerusalem, there could be no Bride. The Bride is Jerusalem in the same way that Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being”. Heb 1:3 The Father and the Son together with the Holy Spirit are One, so also the Jew and the Gentile shall be one, and that together shall become the New Jerusalem, the wife of the lamb. This abolishes any notion that Israel is replaced. On the contrary, Israel and Jerusalem are not replaced any more than the Father is replaced by the Son! No, it is through the marriage of the Father and Israel (Jerusalem) that the marriage of the Son and the New Jerusalem can happen. These things are all so wonderfully linked together.

As the reference to Jerusalem in Rev 21 represents the old and the new, I believe there is dual prophetic meaning and fulfilment with the prophecies of Isaiah that refer to Jerusalem. In other words, there is fulfilment for both the wife of the Father, and the wife of the Son!

In closing, I want to read from Isaiah 62. A familiar passage, but instead of seeing this as relating only to Jerusalem, let’s see it also as a prophecy  about the Bride, the New Jerusalem

For Zion’s (Bride) sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s (Bride’s) sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate. You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” and your land, “Married”; For the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so your God will rejoice over you. On your walls, O Jerusalem (Bride), I have appointed watchmen;  All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem (His Bride), a praise in the earth.
Isaiah 62:1-7 (brackets mine)

This concludes our series on the Glorious Bride. I pray you have been quickened in your Spirit, and awakened in Bridal love. May the Lord keep you always, as His Day draws near.

Maranatha

Mike @Call2Come

The True Vine

Glorious Bride 9

To the fruitful woman of God, blessed to increase and multiply, to show forth the glory of God in righteousness and justice throughout the earth: abide in our Lord Jesus Christ, rest in the shadow of the Almighty, take the narrow path of intimacy that leads to eternal life.

Our journey through the scriptures in search of the Woman, I have shared like a play on a stage with different acts, each one developing the story until the final act. And in our story, there are three acts. The first act began with Adam and Eve to Abraham and Sarah and then to God and Israel. The story unfolded in the pages of the Old Testament, which is not really old because God’s Word never ages rather we should see it as the First Testament similarly the New Testament as the Second Testament. but in act 1 our story ended with the failed marriage between God and Israel leaving us with the question as the curtain closed: how is it possible for God and man to be made “one flesh” as in a marriage relationship? Then act 2 begins, and Jesus opened the curtain, just like the curtain in the temple was torn open, Jesus came onto centre stage, and answered the question. Marriage between God and man is possible through the person of Jesus Christ because He is both fully God and fully man. We are nearly at the end of act 2 and the curtain will close again, this time not with a curtain in a temple, but by clouds that hid Him from sight as He ascended from the Mount of Olives.  But before the curtain closes again, there is one more thread in our story that we have yet to explore. Do you remember the vine? The vine together with the Bride are synonymous of one truth, one reality in God.

Adam and Eve were blessed by God to be fruitful. It is the seed of the man, but the womb is of the woman, and through the womb of the woman therefore, that the offspring comes. Then with Abraham and Sarah the promise of fruitfulness was given to them both. It was not only a promise to Abraham but also to Sarah that from her Nations and Kings would be born. But because Sarah was barren, they attempted in their own efforts to facilitate the promise of God. In the flesh through Hagar, and not by “God enabled fertility”. That’s why it had to be Sarah, to demonstrate this point, that the promise of God comes through faith, and not by the slave woman but by the free woman. The Lord reminded them it was through Sarah that their offspring would be reckoned. In other words, it is through the Bride that the promise to the bridegroom shall be fulfilled. Indeed, the glory of the man is the woman. And so, Sarah together with Abraham were very fruitful, from her Isaac was born, from Isaac to Jacob who became Israel and from Jacob to Joseph, a foreshadow of Christ who Jacob prophesied was a fruitful vine.

I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” Jer 2:21 and also in Isaiah we read:

“The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” Isa 5:7

The fruit that God looks for is righteousness and justice. These are characteristics or hallmarks of His Kingdom. Israel was to represent the Kingdom of God upon the Earth. And yet the vine became wild and corrupt, so the Lord broke down its walls and it was ravaged by wild beasts. Ps 80:12,13 That is how the curtain closed on act 1, we are left with the tragedy of the wild vine the uprooted and destroyed vine, yet we are not without hope. Because as the psalmist Asaph was writing Ps 80, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit that flowed through him to write these words:

“Return to us, O God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish. Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, O Lord Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” Ps 80:14-19

What a powerful prophecy. There is a man at the right hand of God, or as the psalmist writes, “the son you have raised up for yourself”. Who is this man at the right hand of God? There is none who fits that description except one – the man Jesus Christ. The psalmist is revealing that there would come one who would restore the vineyard of God, a Messianic promise.

Then on a moonlit night many hundreds of years later, Jesus and his disciples gathered in an upper room within the city walls prepared for them to celebrate the Passover Mk 14:12-17. This was the very night that He was betrayed. With only a few hours remaining before His crucifixion, the wedding betrothal took place that night in the most intimate experience, with words of love and promise of return. Then after the meal was over, we read the final words of John 14 “Come now let us leave”. The question that we might ask is: where was Jesus going? For Jesus did have somewhere to go that night. He was heading out of the city, down the Kidron Valley, and up to the Garden of Gethsemane. This, the last walk Jesus would have with His disciples before the walk with His captors. Being the Passover, there would have been a full moon that night, illuminating the temple and city walls behind. And then He declares “I am the true Vine” John 15:1.

Historians describe that above the massive temple doors was a golden vine and grape clusters that were hanging down from a great height. And here Jesus declares that He is the fulfilment of the psalmist’s prophecy. Jesus made the eighth and last declaration of His divinity, saying “I Am the True Vine”, not the symbolism on the temple doors behind Him, but here, now stood in the flesh, and appealing to His Bride, to abide in Him. For She is to be fruitful through her connection to the Vine. The branches can bear no fruit of themselves except they be in the vine, the lasting fruit comes because the branch is in the vine.  Jesus knew the troubles that awaited His disciples, how they would be persecuted, outcast, beaten and martyred and He gave this word of encouragement to prepare them for what was to come. Do not worry, He was saying, it is not about being connected with a building or religious establishment, but about your relationship in me.

This message of intimacy is as urgent today as it has been at any other time.  For it is not about our buildings, dogma, national religion or pride. Jesus today is calling His Bride today to abide in Him, forsaking all others, be assured that He alone is able to sustain us. There is a flow of life and sustenance that comes through intimacy with Him, not vicariously through anyone or anything else, but directly through Him. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Meditate and feed upon the Word. For even our pulpits and temples will not ultimately supply the sustenance the Bride needs. Like the first disciples, she must come out of the visible into the invisible, from the natural to the spiritual, from men and to her Groom, knowing that no-one can pluck her from his hand.

I pray today you may be drawn deeper in your relationship with Him, for the time is short and the great harlot rides the beast of this world system. Do not drink her wine, do not fall to her seduction, though she might offer much, it will lead only to death, for branches not in the vine shall be cut and thrown into the fire.  The cost is real, and the price is great, for I believe we move towards the end, the climax of history. Grasp onto the vine and never let go. He has made provision for you and I. May our lamps not run dry, and let us sing the song of the bride through the night as we call upon Him to come. Maranatha

Mike @Call2Come

How Many Bride’s Does God Have?

Glorious Bride – Part 8 

To the Glorious Wife of the Lamb, though now kept hidden in Christ in God, be fervent in love for one another, accepting one another, and encouraging one another in the hope of things to come, for we know that He who has begun a good a work in you will complete it, so that together we shall all arise on that Day and be united forever in our Eternal home.

So far in our series on the Glorious Bride, we have taken a whistle stop tour through the scriptures, starting right back in Genesis 1, with the Creation narrative and have seen the Wondrous Sign of the Heavenly Woman Rev 12:1 becoming increasingly apparent or manifest upon the earth. All of the teaching is available on the website, (look for the Glorious Bride series), but as a quick summary, we reached the point of asking the question: How is it possible for God and Man to be united in one flesh as in a marriage relationship? It’s a deep question, but one that must be asked, and answered if we are to truly understand our identity and destiny of who we are in Christ. So we then looked at Jesus, and asked the next question, what did Jesus do on His first coming, that were preparations for His marriage on His Second Coming. The first thing that we saw was how through Jesus Christ, marriage is possible between God and man, because Jesus is both fully God and fully Man. He came as the Second Adam in the same form (flesh) as ourselves, but then through the resurrection and glorification process He has become forever the Mediator of the New Covenant, the God Man in Heaven. Through faith in Him, we also shall be changed to be just like Him, so that we are the same form as Him and therefore compatible to be made one with Him.

In this part 8 of the series, I want to look at the second thing Jesus accomplished for the wedding preparations of His Bride. Our title is: How many Brides does God have? Let’s begin with a look at what happened to Israel and then apply those principles to the Bride that Jesus is coming back for. There is a large debate over whether God divorced Israel, often quoting from Jeremiah 3 or Hosea 1, but great care is needed in our exegesis, and understanding what actually took place. At this point in history, Israel is now divided into two houses, or kingdoms: there is the Northern Kingdom (known as Israel), and the Southern Kingdom (known as Judah). The Lord, through the Prophet Jeremiah is appealing to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Here’s our text:

Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.” Jer 3:8

It would appear at first glance with the simple conclusion that the Lord divorced Israel. Yet if you were to carry on reading the passage to verse 14 you would find, that the Lord considers Himself still married to her, “Return, O backsliding children,” says the LORD; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” Jer 3:14

What are we to make of this? Is God still married or not to Israel at this point in time? When Israel divided into two houses, did He then have two wives? Was the northern Kingdom a wife and the southern Kingdom another wife? How many betrothals took place on Sinai? There was one wedding for the Nation of Israel. Even though Israel divided into two, God’s covenant remained with Israel as a whole, and that covenant was an everlasting covenant. Though the natural form of Israel was divided into two, God didn’t then have two wives. He doesn’t accommodate our divisions and have a separate covenant for each. So I believe the answer is no, God only has one wife, and therefore only one wedding covenant and wedding contract.

The fact is that when the northern tribes had torn themselves away from the south, they were not only divorcing (separating) themselves from Judah, but were also divorcing (separating) themselves from the Lord and from His covenant, and interestingly they then erected statues of Baal (Ba ‘al meaning husband or master) in Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom. In Jewish Marital Law, there are circumstances in which the wife, can demand or obtain a divorce certificate (or a “get”) from the husband. But we read the text in Jeremiah 3, or indeed many other passages, it is clear that God did not want to estrange his wife or be divorced from her. Even though He had grounds to divorce Israel, this was never His heart to do so. Instead He continually called upon her to repent, to come back to Him and not go with other “lovers”. When answering the question, did God divorce Israel? You can see that it’s not quite as simple as it might first appear, but upon further study, we can see the eternal love of the heart of God for His people. It was Israel who distanced herself from God, and the Lord gave her a certificate of divorce or a “get”, but in reality, this didn’t void or nullify His marriage contract with Israel. For the same contract was still in place for the Southern Kingdom of Judah, even though her acts were even more detestable. (Jer 3:11)

We are able to understand this easier when we remember and apply the principle I shared in the beginning of this series about dual realities. For there is a primary and secondary reality, a spiritual and natural truth. And this applies also to Israel. Israel is more than the geo-political nation, more than a physical race of people. Can we say that God’s marriage contract was purely with the natural Israel and not the Spiritual? Like the glorious woman in Heaven, visible not but yet fully revealed. There is a development or formation of one form into the other. But as we looked at last time, the Lord begins His Eternal Purpose with the natural then the spiritual. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. There is a natural Israel and there is also a spiritual Israel. The natural comes first, then the Spiritual, and the Spiritual comes out of that which is the natural. The two are connected, one comes from the other, and one does not replace the other, but both exist together in a union that is only possible and hold together because of Christ.

If we are able to say therefore, that God has only one Bride, and therefore only one marriage covenant or contract (Ketubah) then this has profound implications for our relationship with each other, and more specifically between Jew and Gentile. For there is not a Jewish Bride and a Gentile Bride, God relates to the two as a whole, as One New Man, that is made possible through the blood of Jesus, who abolished in His flesh, the dividing wall of hostility (Eph 2:14).  Let me take this a bit further. If God and Israel were still married, as just discussed then how is it then He can marry another? And if Jew and Gentile are to become One New Man as the Wife of God, then doesn’t it also require that the old marriage contract be transformed into a new one, a new covenant? There is so much that we could say, and the things I’m sharing could be written into a book, but the point I want to make here is that Jesus made it possible for Jew and Gentile to become One New Man through His death and resurrection. How? Well, in Jewish Marriage Law, when the husband dies, the marriage contract is ended, and the wife is free to marry another. “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.” Rom 7:2 also “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” Rom 7:4

There is a beautiful and profound mystery here. In Jesus death, the Bride is released from the law of her husband, in His resurrection, the New Covenant is ratified, and the Bride is free to choose her husband again, not because of Law, but because of Grace.

Until Next time

Maranatha

Mike @Call2Come

Mobile phones on the moon? Whatever next? Word for Today 2/02/18

To you all, of the Bridal Company, born of the seed of Abraham and co-heirs of the Kingdom with Jesus Christ our Bridegroom. You who are the fruit of that prophetic seed that was sown into the ground and died that He might bear much fruit, many compatible sons and daughters ….’spiritual flesh of his spiritual flesh and spiritual bone of His spiritual bone’….a compatible partner, who could be His Precious Bride. We pray for you all and you for us that we may together grow into Him and reflect more and more of His likeness.

The word ‘Reflection’ is a hint about what I want to share today.

Whilst continuing to think on the theme of the two realities introduced by Dr Mike in his recent Word for Today, I was interested to read an article reported by Reuters Tuesday that the moon will get its first ever mobile phone network next year, courtesy of Vodaphone Germany. This will “enable high-definition streaming from the lunar landscape back to earth.”
What, you might be asking, does this have to do with the Bride of Christ, with the Jewish festival of Purim which has just begun or with the Bible or with Esther?
First Reflections
The moon holds a central position in Jewish theology as well as the fact that the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle. The Old testament is full of references to their religious festivals based on Sabbath moons. We also see further ties between the moon and the Jews in tracts of Jewish law. The Talmud puts it this way: “The Jewish people are compared to the moon, and therefore we count according to her cycle.” But this Reuter report is about a connection on the moon itself, not between the Earth and the moon. Its part of a movement toward another self-sustaining planet.
However in line with our Word for Today studies, we also see within this Reuter article a hint of the two realities as Dr Mike has been expounding to us recently…..one in the heavenly realm and the other on the earthly…or one as the primary reality the other within the secondary. Of course, in this case quite literally it’s a celestial connection facilitated by the earthly technology.
But going further, what is most coincidental as far as Judaism and Christianity is concerned is that the news should come as the Jewish holiday of Purim approaches and as you know Purim is a celebration of the sacrifice and intercession of Queen Esther and Queen Esther is a type of the Bride of Christ.
In previous Word for Today’s we have explored the meanings of the different names given to this Jewish heroine like Hadasseh (Hadas) meaning Myrtle as in the Myrtle tree. But in all this we have seen her as a type of the Bride of Christ and it has revealed much to us about the character and authoritative position of the Bride of Christ and of her relation to the Bridegroom King, Yeshua. But the name she is most well-known for is the name Esther… which comes from the Aramaic word sihara meaning moon.
The Talmud says that the nations of the world called the heroine of Purim by the name Esther since she was as beautiful as the moon (Found in Megilla 13a). Yet there are many ways to describe beauty so why is Esther compared specifically to the moon? We hope to see.
Firstly, let us consider the difference between the Lunar and Solar Calendars because they will shed some light on all this for us.
To understand the significance of the moon in our study, it is helpful to explain the prominence of the moon generally in Jewish thought, and specifically in the context of the calendar which is based on the moon. The first commandment in the Torah is “hachodesh hazeh lachem,” literally “this
month is yours,” which is the Torah’s commandment to establish the Jewish lunar calendar. (Exodus 12:2). The word chodesh meaning month is derived from the Hebrew word chadash meaning new. Unlike the solar calendar which is connected to the earth’s annual orbit around the sun, the lunar calendar is based on the waxing and waning moon. From a Jewish perspective, the moon is reborn every single month; it waxes until it is completely full and then wanes into oblivion, while the sun is consistently present. The Gregorian Calendar which is internationally the most widely used civil calendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582 as an attempt to bring alignment between of a holiday and the time of the year when the church was celebrating Easter.
The moon is reborn every month, but as Ecclesiates 1 :9 says “there is nothing new under the sun”, for in contrast the sun represents a system of time which has no observable beginning or end. The adage “there is nothing new under the sun” is a verse from Ecclesiastes which describes a realm of time which has no observable beginning or end, and which does not seem to lead to a particular destination and the Talmud associates this non-Jewish nations’ system of time with the sun, (Sukkah 29a). The Julian or Gregorian calendar in common use today, is based on the sun.
However, the lunar system is replete with renewal and leaves room for providence and flexibility, something that is impossible in a system strictly based on cause and effect. Likewise the Bride of Christ (like the moon) must live perpetually under the sovereignty of the King of Kings (the Son (Sun) of Righteousness with healing in His wings) by whose decree and creation She has her being and in her relationship to Him alone, receives her Glory. Similarly the moon’s glory is but a reflection of the sun’s glory and her position of alignment is crucial to her visibility. The Hebrew word for moon is levana, which comes from the word lavan, white. White reflects all the colours of the visual light spectrum and is the ultimate symbol of reflection. This light she (that is the moon, the Bride) receives from the sun (Son) alone.
Further reflections
A return to the story of creation provides us with a further insight into what the sun and the moon represent on a deeper level. The kabbalists, the ancient Jewish tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible, explain that God created the world also to receive His light which conveys the ultimate good and become a demonstration or expression of a far deeper reality. Here we see the two realities once again and the consequence of the sin of the first Adam denying the Sovereign God His desire to manifest His glory throughout the earth. Our faith invites us to live in these two realities, in these two real dimensions but to seek to merge one with the other and to allow the spiritual dimension to dictate the terms and outcomes of the natural. It was always God will that it should be so. The earth was to be a reflection of the Paradise of God in Heaven, a secondary reality of that which was primary, a manifestation in the natural of that which was perfect and spiritual……and so Jesus, the second Adam, came to restore what had been lost and began the redemptive plan of God which would create not only a new earth but a new species of God men. He not only restored the Adamic race but brought about a metamorphoses (from the word ‘morphe’ or ‘form’), a new race of mankind unlike anything that had gone before, of His kind or form………but enough for today.
We will pick up this theme tomorrow
Matt 6: 9 Jesus taught them to pray saying …
” Our Father who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom Come Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”
Rev 1 : 6 “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
Maranatha
Howard@Call2Come

Now You See Me Now You Don’t

Glorious Bride Part 7

To the beloved of God, who are hidden in Christ in God. Be patient as you prepare for His appearing, and joyful as you serve one another in love, showing kindness to each other as the Lord himself taught us.

In telling the story of the Woman in Heaven as seen by John in Rev 12:1, we followed the story of three marriages and the vine in the Old Testament. As in a play or stage production, this was Act 1 of our story, and the curtain closed with the question: how is it possible for God and Man to become one as in a marriage relationship? Then last time, we opened the curtain to begin Act 2 of the story of the Woman. In Heaven, (our primary or celestial reality) John saw the woman “Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” Rev 12:2, and upon the Earth (the secondary or natural reality) the Virgin Mary highly favored of God conceived of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to a son, whose name is Jesus, the Son of God. Our eyes are now firmly on centre stage, for Jesus has come into view, and the question that was asked two thousand years ago is the same question that is still being asked today – who is this man that claims to be the Son of God? That’s what we began to look at last time, answering the question who is Jesus, and what did He accomplish in His First Coming that made wedding preparations for His Second Coming?

In talking of marriage, we have seen how there must be compatibility between the Husband and the Wife for union to be possible, and for the two to become one flesh, they must not only be like one another, but they must also be of the same form or kind as each other. That’s why it was always necessary for Father to have a wife Israel, so that a legitimate Son could be born who would exist fully in both forms, fully God and fully Man in one person, Jesus Christ. This was unsurpassable, radical and a blatant demonstration of God’s love and commitment to the marriage covenant. Since “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and forever” Heb 13:8 God has forever united himself with mankind, Jesus has become a man (whilst keeping His deity and equality within the Godhead), and will always be a man, since He will never change. He holds a unique position that no one else could fill. He has become the Mediator between God and Man. He is “the Mediator of the New Covenant by means of His death” Heb 9:15, “For there is One God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” 1 Tim 2:5

Now let’s look a bit deeper into what actually took place when Jesus came on His First Coming. Philippians records that Jesus was in the same form (or morphē) as God “who, being in the form (morphē) of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God” Php 2:6, but then “emptied himself (kenoō, meaning to make void), by taking the form (morphē) of a bondservant, being born in the likeness of men.” Php 2:7 This world morphē is connected with the word metamorphosis, which means the changing of one form into another, and it’s the word used by Matthew and Mark when describing the transfiguration of Jesus, that He changed form. We also see morphē used when after His resurrection Jesus appeared again. “After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.” Mark 16:12

There is another word that is also used when describing the nature or form in which Jesus came, and this word is “schēma” and means shape or “plan”. When we think about schemes this is normally in the context of an architectural drawing known as a schematic as in a design for a house. The “schēma” is the blueprint of the architect’s design, featuring dimensions and materials in which to be used in the construction of the house. Paul used this word “schēma” as he pens the letter to the Philippians “And being found in human form (“schēma”), he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Php 2:8

This is an important point, and is a source of heresy today, in which the Bride must be aware. That some will say Jesus was not fully man, this strikes at the very foundation of our faith, for it is not only because Jesus was fully man that He is able to be the atonement sacrifice and propitiation for all sin, but He is also able as both fully man and fully God, to be the only Bridegroom to open the way for the two to become “one flesh”.

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Heb 2:17

Let’s look at another important aspect of the Creative process of God. Paul writes “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” 1 Cor 15:46. He writes to show that there is a sequence, an order of bringing something to completion, and states that the natural order of things precedes the spiritual order of things. When God creates, He begins by giving natural form to something. This is what happened in the Creation account in Genesis 1. “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Gen 1:2 Did you notice that the earth already existed? But not in the way that we know it now, for scripture says that the earth was without form and void and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. God gave the earth form in the natural scheme, and He also gave Adam form in the natural scheme, for He made Adam from the dust. But this was not the end but the beginning. Yes, in Genesis 1, Creation was complete in the form God made it which was the natural form, but God foreknew and destined that the natural would be overshadowed by the spiritual, that the spiritual form would one day be manifest in the natural form.

Adam was God’s finest Creation, but the best was yet to come! For there would be a Second Adam who would bring many “many sons to glory” Heb 2:8. That we shall be changed to be like Him, and in being changed, we shall be compatible to be made one with Him forever. When Jesus died so did the Adamic form, the natural form of man. This was necessary for glorification to take place. When the body is sown in weakness, it is raised in power, it is sown in dishonour it is raised in glory. 1 Cor 15:43. The body which is sown is not the same as the body which is raised 1 Cor 15:37. The body is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body 1 Cor 15:44. When Jesus rose again, He did not arise with the same body, the Second Adam did not rise again not in the same form, but was the seed that was sown to bring forth much fruit John 12:24. Jesus is now glorified with a glorified body, a spiritual body, that looks like the natural body, but it is not the same, it is fundamentally different. This is our hope and our faith, that our lowly bodies will be transformed to be like His glorious body Php 3:21.

We began by asking what preparations Jesus made for His wedding, and the answer I have tried to give as the first preparation, was how both the Bridegroom and the Bride are capable by the power of God, to be transformed into a new and glorious body.  The body began in the natural form but ends in the spiritual form, and therefore makes compatibility between God and Man for union and oneness possible.

Until next time, I will finish with one final scripture.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” 2 Cor 5:1,2

Maranatha

Mike @Call2Come