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