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