Recently we have been contemplating the identity of Bride. I marvel that throughout the Scriptures the remnant of true believers are called the Bride of the Messiah. The beauty and power in this imagery so vivid and personal. This is something each of us can understand, as we have all been impacted by marriage in some way.
This post is short and sweet, mostly referencing a few passages of Scripture and pondering a question. An essential question, though, and our response to it greatly impacts how we view ourselves, the relevance of Scripture, and our relationship with God’s people, as well as with YHWH, Himself.
Back to the Bride…
Love, devotion, sacrifice, enjoyment, communion, and even jealousy are aspects of this image that many of us have experienced. A number of YHWH’s prophets have used this analogy in their messages to Israel. John, the baptizer, uses it to describe his position as the groomsman who goes before the Messiah. Paul alludes to it in several letters to congregations in the diaspora. Probably the most noted passages, though, are referenced in Revelation, foretelling the wedding feast, the beauty of the Bride and the time in which the Groom and Bride will dwell together.
Starting back with the prophet Hosea, the following passage demonstrates how YHWH has tenderly loved Israel from the beginning. Just as when she was first redeemed from Egypt, Israel will again respond to the tenderness of YHWH. She will be the Bride and will call YHWH “My Husband”. Being betrothed forever in righteousness, justice, love, mercy and faithfulness Israel will finally be with YHWH and know Him.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
“And in that day, declares YHWH, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know YHWH.
As we see in the next passage, the believers in Corinth were betrothed to the Messiah, as well. There is only one Husband, and he is Yeshua of Nazareth that Paul has been proclaiming. Paul also warned that they may be lead astray and devote themselves to “another Jesus”, someone very different than the one Paul preached.
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
2 Corinthians 11:1-4
Then we have the prophecies of Revelation. The use of the marriage imagery in this book is so exhilarating! All of heaven rejoices at the long awaited marriage of the Bride and the Lamb. The Bride has readied herself by dressing in the pure white linen of righteous deeds of the devoted ones. This garment was given to her, but she actively prepared for the day of marriage.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
This is truly beautiful! The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the Bride adorned for her husband. And then, just as was always intended, God dwells with his people as their God.
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
Again, the holy city of Jerusalem, having the glory of God, is the wife of the Lamb. The Bride is radiant like rare jewels. It is obvious that the Groom, also, is greatly anticipating his Bride.
So here’s the question to ponder: who specifically is the Bride?
The prophesies make it clear that Israel, Jerusalem, is the Bride. But, even so, we have a clear connection being made by the apostles that the Bride is also comprised of devout Gentiles. All too often separation is made between the Jews and Gentiles, Israel and the Church, and we interpret everything else accordingly. We do not want to be subject to the covenant made with the sons of Israel. We claim that the terms of the covenant were not intended for Gentiles. We reason that YHWH’s grace through the Messiah means we don’t have to keep the old laws, so we claim to be the “new” body, the “new” bride apart from Israel.
Even if we theoretically understand that the one Bride is comprised of the devoted ones of every generation, like Abraham and Jacob, do we live like this is true?
If we live as if the covenants made by YHWH are to Israel only, we are not living as if we are truly a part of the Bride of the Messiah. Essentially, in rejecting that we are fully joined to Israel and fully bound to the same covenant, we are claiming that there are, either two brides, or that the Church apart from Israel has become the Bride.
There can only be one Bride. I find it inconsistent that YHWH would covenant himself to a people, prophesy their betrothal and oneness, only to divorce her for another. YHWH has covenanted himself to one people. Israel is the Bride.
There is no Scripture to suggest that YHWH will forget the covenant He has made with Israel and take a different people. Or that He would not care any longer about the terms of that covenant He made with his people. That would be inconsistent with His character, as well. What we do see is concept that the true sons and daughters of Israel, the true Bride, is a small remnant of people in every generation who respond in faith and live out their obedience according to the covenant. Only by YHWH’s grace, the remnant of Gentiles from the nations have been joined to Israel as the true Bride. Those who have readied themselves for the Lamb are now full partakers of the blessings of the covenant.
- So, who is the Bride of the Messiah?
- How does this impact your view of Israel?
- How does this impact your understanding of the participants of the covenant?
- How does this impact you as you prepare yourself for the Groom?
- Are we even waiting for the right Groom? Or, as Paul warned, have we readily been deceived into believing a different gospel?
“Behold, the days are coming, declares YHWH, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares YHWH. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares YHWH: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know YHWH,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares YHWH. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Thus says YHWH,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
YHWH of hosts is his name:
“If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares YHWH,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”
Thus says YHWH:
“If the heavens above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
for all that they have done,
Jeremiah 31:31-37 (quoted in Hebrews 8)