THE BRIDE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST (2)
Yahweh has set down guidelines by which we can order our lives. If we abide by those guidelines, such as brethren looking for a partner like the Virtuous Woman as described in Proverbs, (maybe not the most physically attractive, or the wealthiest, or the girl from the most influential family within the ecclesia), there would be a lot more healthy marriages around.
Marriage is a very serious matter, Brethren and Sisters, it means either help or hindrance in the fight for eternal life.
Brother Roberts is recorded as saying of his marriage;
“I always felt that marriage was something that lay in my path before I could enter upon the work of life. And, now I see how serviceable it has been in every way for the work that has been done.”
May we all be able to say that we are to be helps meet to our Lord and Master, as we become part of his glorious Bride in the near future.
This all relates to our relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ, especially as we intend to be of His Bride.
What therefore are the essentials to a sound marriage?
Paul wrote to the Hebrews in Ch 13:4:
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers Yahweh will judge.”
The word he uses here for ‘honourable’ has been translated, ‘had in reputation’ (Acts 5:34), ‘dear’ (Acts 20:24), ‘precious’ (1 Cor. 3:12), and ‘most precious’ (Rev 21:11). We gather from these references that Paul held the sanctity of the marriage state in high esteem. He expressly commands young women to marry in 1 Tim 5:14, thus emphasizing the point. Therefore, we can safely assume that marriage and all it signifies in our spiritual life is a divine institution.
We previously mentioned that Yahweh intended that every marriage should be a happy and contented union between male and female, and that He has left on record rules that ensure this desirable end.
Those rules are outlined in Eph 5:22-25.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Ecclesia: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the Ecclesia is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Ecclesia, and gave himself for it”
Husbands please note; because a wife is to submit herself to you does not mean she is an inferior being or a slave, but it does mean that you have a great responsibility for her and your family’s welfare, both spiritual and physical.
The word submit here is from a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. If we cannot see the lesson from that, we have a problem.
In Ephesians 5:22-23 Paul gives us the reason we have such a divine order, (such as we should read in 1Cor 11:3 every Sunday).
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Ecclesia: and he is the saviour of the body”
Brethren, what a responsibility that places upon us, we are to always, in our married lives, be the express example of Our Lord as he leads the Ecclesia to salvation.
If a sister is an intelligent, active, useful, noble servant of The Lord Jesus Christ, her being a woman is no disqualification or barrier for service unto Yahweh except: 1 Timothy 2:11-14
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression”
It does not shut her up to babies, pots and pans and constant cleaning, although no doubt a true sister will, if needed, involve herself with these duties with as much zeal as she will her other more glamorous duties. She is a partner, a helper and a fellow heir in all things pertaining to The Lord Jesus Christ and Yahweh’s Kingdom to come.
When the guidelines in Ephesians are followed, a state of unity, of oneness, resulting in joy, happiness and contentedness with each other will develop. Submission, love and unity are the divine order and formula for a happy marriage. We must note that a successful marriage will only be so if both parties are bound together not only by law but also by love, a love that is long suffering, kind, slow to anger, merciful, thinks no evil, and forgiving.
Paul goes on further in Ephesians 5 to lift our thoughts to a higher plain; he makes a comparison of the marriage of a man and wife to the glorious mystical union between The Lord Jesus Christ and the Ecclesia:
“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Ecclesia. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
In expounding the relationship between natural and spiritual marriage, Paul quoted from Gen 2:20-24 where we have the reason for, and the process involved, in the formation of the woman, who was named Eve.
“And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And Yahweh Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Yahweh Elohim had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh”
Let us consider his reasoning;
To provide a bride adequate in all aspects for his needs, Yahweh Elohim put Adam into a deep sleep, pierced his side and from his body, bone and flesh took a rib and made a helpmeet for him.
This foreshadows a greater and more glorious event – the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ; the piercing of His side, that in the sleep of death, the shedding of His blood on Calvary he brought into existence, through faith and obedience, through baptism into him, his own glorious, multitudinous Bride — the Ecclesia. These through faith and obedience become one flesh with The Lord Jesus Christ; one united body, bone of his bone, and flesh of His flesh, sharing one hope, one common salvation.
A unity that is eternal as shown in John 17:11,21,23, and let us have a look at Gal 3:27-28:
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
From this we see, that the ordinance of marriage, the union between Adam and Eve in the very beginning of the world, undoubtedly fore-shadowed Yahweh’s ultimate purpose with creation – even the final unity and oneness of all flesh, with Yahweh, – through The Lord Jesus Christ; our Lord.
The institution of marriage, therefore, with all its love, faithfulness, integrity, sacrifice and forgiveness is given by Yahweh to man that he might keep constantly before himself that glorious hope of the Divine Purpose with creation. The hope that all men will become ONE SPIRIT with Yahweh. That they will partake of the divine nature – which is their eternal salvation.
The sanctity of marriage is elevated, Brethren and Sisters, when we remember that the husband is a figure of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the wife — his Ecclesia. Their relationship, the practice of submission and love, the constant striving for unity, serves as necessary training and instruction in higher things; therefore, every act of infidelity, unfaithfulness, every argument, show of anger, all railing, complaining and bitterness, every desertion and divorce, darkens and destroys the glorious hope that marriage is designed to keep before all mankind.
We do well to remember that marriage is Yahweh’s constant witness on earth as to His eternal purpose.
Therefore, would Yahweh accept as His witness to His purpose, a marriage within which one of its partners is a member who has previously been married and has revoked their vows for another, especially whilst also bound by their baptismal obligations?
How should we then present ourselves to the Bridegroom?
Our Bridegroom is he who is represented before us on the Table of Remembrance, through the emblems of which we partake weekly.
We need to present ourselves to the Bridegroom by showing the intense affection for him that we hold. This is shown to us by the bride in the Song of Solomon, verse 2 of chapter 1, where she opens with the desire to associate fully with her loved one, to have a communication from his mouth, to be kissed. – She does not wish to be kissed with the kiss of Judas, as he gave in Luke 22:48 – the kiss of betrayal.
In this, the first song we are portrayed as individual spiritual virgins, and also as part of the composite Bride. The virgins are preparing themselves as the Bride for the arrival of their betrothed and are going through the preparation phase of life as we are in relation to our Lord. The things dwelt upon are many more than can be dealt with in the limits of this article, but let us quickly browse through the first song and pick out a few salient points.
We have in Verse 1, of The Song of Solomon, the words of love and the brides desire for her relationship to succeed.
Verse 2, the brides fragrance, her attraction, – the Spirit Word; it should be attracting us as represented by the attendant virgins to the Bride, (thus joining the composite Bride – being identified with her).
The word should have cleansed us from past defilements and removed diseases caused by sinfulness.
In verse 3 she identifies herself with His name – she declares her espousal to him, as we should declare identity to our Bridegroom. The virgins – the individual members of the Ecclesia who have separated themselves from the world and cleansed themselves with the fragrance of the spirit word, declare their love as well in verse 3.
Verse 4 shows the virgins declaring that the Brides love is a long-term love. Longer than the pleasure given by wine, showing us that the bonds of Ecclesial life, in The Lord Jesus Christ, with sound doctrine and pure standards, are a beneficial love for all members. We cannot forget that the Ecclesia, throughout history, has suffered greatly in order to bring her members to a full maturity in the Word.
Verse 5 shows the Bride considering her low estate before her Lord, showing humility, being conscious of her imperfections – “I am black”. She thinks she is not worthy of the glory and honour of her great King, whom she desires to grace.
But her virgins hasten to reassure her – “but comely” they say, seeing the ultimate glory of the Bride, seeing past the present times of weakness and trouble.
They show us that we must see our Ecclesia as an object to be treated with our utmost respect, especially as there are others to be considered.
In the following verses through to chapter 2:14 the song depicts a series of exchanges between the Bride and her absent groom, relating to her strong desire and her loving affection for him. In chapter 2:15 they, the virgins or individual members of the composite Bride, express concern about their readiness, “take us the foxes”. They are troubled by the foxes (better described as Jackals or Wolves) who abound, and allow the pernicious and evil doctrines and declining standards to permeate the Ecclesia. Such wolves destroy the foundations of our faith, as we are shown very forcefully in Acts 20:29 & 30.
With that short summary of the first Song of Solomon, we should be able to see how Our Lord, when He comes looking for His Bride, will be looking for a Bride like she who is as described in Proverbs as the Virtuous Woman.
- Have we the qualities he is looking for?
- Are we one of the virgins of the song?
- One who is attracted by the fragrance of the Spirit Word, attracted to the Bride, thus becoming one of the multitudinous Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Paul wrote to the Ecclesia at Corinth, telling the members in 2 Cor 11:2:
“For I am jealous over you with righteous jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”.
When a young lady becomes betrothed, she busies herself with great vigour preparing herself for the big day of her life and she is also expected to remain faithful to her espousal and remain pure and undefiled, with her chastity inviolate, having no other associations other than with her espoused.
Paul also appeals to the betrothed of the pure Lord in Ephesians 5:1-7. Let us here read verses 1 & 2, and you can contemplate the rest through to verse seven when you at some time, subject yourself to an inward inspection of your walk.
“Be ye therefore followers of Yahweh, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to Yahweh for a sweet-smelling savour”
Those who have been faithful to their promise, the faithful virgins, have been busy preparing for the marriage. Their trousseau is filled with a well-developed character, with good works towards all, with chastity maintained and all associations with others refused.
This allows The Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes to claim His Bride, to say, “His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev 19:7, 21:2).
By the union of the Bride and Bridegroom as described in chapter 19:7, they shall be made one, and the espoused Bride will be clothed with her house from heaven.
That is promised to the faithful, those desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven in 2 Cor 5:1-4.
As we consider the marvellous joys being held in store for the faithful amongst the Ecclesia, can we be anything but inspired to greater purity of faith in our lives.
The responsibilities of the espoused Bride of The Lord Jesus Christ are clear Brethren and Sisters. We must surely ask, is our chastity – (both individual and collective), preserved?
Compare the description of the unfaithful, described in the day of her glory – arrayed in purple and scarlet, gilded with gold and precious stones and pearls. That is all paid for with a great price, — that of the lives of many who could have been faithful but were lured away with soft words of love and mercy which were not appropriate words in the eyes of Yahweh. In her hand is a cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornications. That brethren and sisters is the description of her on her day of glory.
Do we wish to be described so?
Should it not be our aim to be pictured as the faithful in the day of HER glory as described in Rev 19:7 & 8:
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Brethren and Sisters, Our Wedding Day Approacheth!