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The Ultimate Purpose of God

3) The Bride of Christ

When talking about the bride of Christ we must be sure to allow the scriptures to define what is and isn’t meant. Even the term “Bride of Christ” can seem to limit the very meaning and influence our understanding. The idea of God being married to Jerusalem and or Israel is more prominent than the church and yet we confidently declare the church “the bride.”

A) The bride in the Old Testament

In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 16 starting at the first verse, we read how God saw Jerusalem and made her His wife. EZE 16:1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 "Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, 3 and say,' Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem, "Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 "As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. 5 "No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. 6 ¶ "When I passed by you and saw you  squirming in your blood, I said to you {while you were} in your blood, 'Live!' I said to you while you were in your blood, 'Live!'  7 "I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall, and reached the age for fine ornaments; {your} breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare. 8 "Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine," declares the Lord God.

Ezekiel declares that she (Jerusalem) was unwanted until God passed by and showed concern for her. God views this city as a person. She is not seen as a collection of individuals but as a young woman who actually matures over time. Then after some time God noticed she was at marrying age and decided to enter into a covenant with her in order to make Jerusalem His. God, from this time on, saw Jerusalem as His wife. God enters into a covenant relationship with this city even as we enter the covenant of marriage with our wives or husbands. Being a good husband, God adorns her and blesses her with all the wealth He possesses.

EZE 16:9 "Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. 10 "I also clothed you with embroidered cloth, and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 "And I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands, and a necklace around your neck. 12 "I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 "Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14 "Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares the Lord God. God’s favor had covered Jerusalem to such an extent that it made her beautiful and famous among the nations. Her beauty and fame was not the only thing this city attained, but verse 13 says she advanced to “royalty.” This people who had less than notable ancestry, who was an outcast, now has international acceptance because of God’s splendor. Jerusalem would not have reached this point if not for the love and favor of God. This love and favor is bestowed upon Jerusalem by a husband that loves his wife. God is displaying the general behavior of a man in love with his wife. Unfortunately life doesn’t always follow the fairy tale life of happily ever after. Jerusalem was not content with all that God gave her and began to play the harlot.

EZE 16:15 ¶ "But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. 16 "And you took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors, and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. 17 "You also took your beautiful jewels {made} of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. 18 "Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. 19 "Also My  bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil, and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened," declares the Lord God. 20 "Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me, and you sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? 21 "You slaughtered My children, and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through {the fire.} 22 "And besides all your abominations and harlotries you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood. 23 ¶ "Then it came about after all your wickedness ( 'Woe, woe to you!' declares the Lord God), 24 that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square. 25 "You built yourself a high place at the top of every street, and made your beauty abominable; and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry. 26 "You also played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and multiplied your harlotry to make Me angry. 27 "Behold now, I have stretched out My hand against you and diminished your rations. And I delivered you up to the desire of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who are ashamed of your lewd conduct. 28 "Moreover, you played the harlot with the Assyrians because you were not satisfied; you even played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. 29 "You also multiplied your harlotry with the land of merchants, Chaldea, yet  even with this you were not satisfied."'  30 ¶ "How languishing is your heart," declares the Lord God, "while you do all these things, the actions of a bold-faced harlot. 31 "When you built your shrine at the beginning of every street and made your high place in every square, in disdaining money, you were not like a harlot. 32 "You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband! 33 "Men give gifts to all harlots, but you give your gifts to all your lovers to bribe them to come to you from every direction for your harlotries. 34 "Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays the harlot as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different.

The truths that we want to get out of these scriptures are: 1) When God married Jerusalem He did not marry one individual but a city (which represented the nation of Israel) 2) God treated this city/nation as one individual 3) This individual city/nation over time was viewed by God as maturing and growing up 4) The city/nation as a whole shared in God’s blessing and cursing.

Now you may be saying that this is pretty obvious and not something new, but in order for us to understand some of the things that will be dealt with later we must have a firm grasp on this principle and idea. We need to see that God looks at a city and or nations as we do an individual person. While a city/nation can exist for many generations, the people within the city/nation live only 120 years or one generation. Humans throughout a lifetime go through many transformations even as a city/nation will through its life. We have seen in the above scriptures how Jerusalem was an outcast as an infant and not cared for. We also saw how Jerusalem became of age, her breasts having developed and she became tall and ready for ornaments (EZE 16:7). How many years are we talking about from the birth of Jerusalem to this time when God made a covenant with Jerusalem? It could have been many generations from the birth of Jerusalem to this time of being ready for marriage. We may see a man’s life in terms of decades but God views the life of a city/nation in terms of generations.

Did God only see Jerusalem as an individual or is this extended to other cities? Ezekiel wrote further in the 16th chapter about Jerusalem’s sisters. EZE 16:44 ¶ "Behold, everyone who quotes proverbs will quote {this} proverb concerning you, saying, 'Like mother, like daughter.' 45 "You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and children. You are also the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. 46 "Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives  north of you with her daughters; and your  younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. 47 "Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they. 48 "As I live," declares the Lord God, "Sodom, your sister, and her daughters, have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. 50 "Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw {it.} 51 "Furthermore, Samaria did not commit half of your sins, for you have multiplied your abominations more than they. Thus you have made your sisters appear righteous by all your abominations which you have committed. 52 "Also bear your disgrace in that you have made judgment favorable for your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. Yes, be also ashamed and bear your disgrace, in that you made your sisters appear righteous.

God declares that not only does Jerusalem have sisters from this common father and mother but that she also has daughters of her own (Eze 16:48). God does not see a city as a static thing but a living entity with the ability of reproduction. A city may be moral or immoral and be judged as such. We must  see cities as God sees them, as a living entity. If we allow our cities and nations to be corrupt and immoral we will suffer for it. Some may be wondering what I mean about us suffering because the city or nation we live in is corrupt. This suffering is not about our individual salvation nor is it about individual reward but we have to live inside these cities and nations and will share in their prosperity as well as their judgment. The health of a city is not about an individual part (one person in the city) but the whole. If we study the book of Hosea we will see this same principle. In this case instead of God addressing Jerusalem He addresses Judah and Israel. HOS 1:2  When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry, and {have} children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord."

God is angry that His people are being a spiritual whore. Hosea as well as Ezekiel has to contend with God’s anger because of this unfaithfulness. Many may try diminishing this by the fact that it is spiritual and not physical harlotry. We need to remember that the scripture declares JOH 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." We must accept the fact that any unfaithfulness toward God is viewed as harlotry. Everything that we do is spiritual whether it is against our body, soul or spirit or someone else. We must also understand that while God is interested in the individual He looks at the whole (nation or city) as an individual and orders blessings and curses appropriate to their overall actions.

If you read Hosea chapter 1:1 to chapter 2:19 you will notice that God declares judgment upon the land of Israel because of their actions and yet promises to again renew His love toward them. His love is not renewed in unfaithfulness but in purity and righteousness. HOS 2:19 "And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In loving kindness and in compassion, 20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.

God promises to betroth His people forever! God is not looking at His people as billions of individuals (though we are) but as a corporate individual. We know that God is not at this point in history talking about “the church” but His people Israel. God however does not leave out the Christian part of His people for Hosea states in the second chapter the end of verse 23: “... I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, '{Thou art} my God!" Jew, gentile and Christian alike will be included into this category called God’s betrothed.

Isaiah also writes about God being married to His people. ISA 54:4 ¶ "Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; Neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. 5 "For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. 6 "For the Lord has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of {one's} youth when she is rejected," Says your God.


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