The Old Testament Scriptures bring up something else that is foreign to many, but is definitely a factor in God’s relationship with mankind. The Old Testament speaks quite often of the “adultery” of Israel. He not only speaks of the adultery, but also says that, He, God, is “married” to Israel! Let’s look at a few Scriptures to show this. Jeremiah 2:2-3 says this:
“The word of the Lord came to me; ‘Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.” (NIV)
Jeremiah 3:6-10 has God pouring His heart out with these words:
“During the reign of Josiah, the Lord said to me (Jeremiah), “have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear, she also went out and committed adultery. Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense, declares the Lord.” (NIV)
Here is what Hosea 2:19-20 has to say:
“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.”
Throughout the Old Testament we find God making comments about Israel’s spiritual adultery. He didn’t just hint at a special relationship with Israel (and Judah after the nation split into two), but spoke of her as his betrothed. In fact, God spoke of divorcing Israel as an unfaithful wife.
One thing this proves to us is that there is a contrast between the relationship Jesus the Bridegroom has with the Church, the Bride, and the relationship God the Father has with His beloved Israel. You ask if this isn’t symbolic? Of course it is, yet it is very real. The days of the Gentiles are nearly over. God has made the Jewish nation a special promise through the prophet Daniel thousands of years ago. God promised them 70 weeks of years of direct dealings with them as a nation from the time of the order being given to rebuild the city of Jerusalem in 445 BC and the advent of the Messianic Kingdom. 69 of these weeks of years (483) were completed at the crucifixion of Jesus, just as prophesied by Daniel. Since the Romans destroyed the city again after Jesus death, and 1948, the Jewish people had been scattered all over the world. That’s nearly 2,000 years. Yet, God had promised them another block of time to deal specifically with them as a nation. It happens that this seven year block of time is directly during the time of the Great Tribulation, and today is very, very close to beginning.
During the Tribulation, the Church will be gone from this earth, experiencing the Wedding of the Lamb of God to the true Church. God the Father will deal directly with the Israelite nation during those terrible seven years, and He will win the nation back. Scripture tells us that ⅔ of the Jewish nation will perish during the Tribulation but ⅓ will survive and finally recognize who their Messiah is. The Bible tells us, for the sake of these “elect” ones, God will intervene in the Great Tribulation. If He would not intervene, all flesh would be destroyed–including the remnant of the Jewish nation that will have recognized Him.
The Bible tells us in Zechariah 13:1 that God will cleanse the nation. He also tells us in Hosea 14:1-4 that He will love it freely. According to Hosea 2:19-20, God will betroth it to Himself forever through the establishment of an everlasting covenant, (Isaiah 55:3; 61:8; Jeremiah 32:40; 50:4-5; Ezekiel 16:60-62; 37:21-28). Isaiah also tells us that Israel will be adorned like a bride (Isaiah 61:10); and God will delight in and rejoice over Jerusalem as a groom rejoices over his bride. It also tells us that the land of Israel will be married to God in Isaiah 62:1-5. At the Second Coming, God and Israel will go through betrothal and marriage a second time, and then their marriage supper will take place during the Millennium after the Second Coming of Christ. I believe this Marriage Supper will be a very big and elaborate affair. All of God’s people, including both Jews and Gentiles will have the opportunity to take part in this Great Supper. There are of course requirements as Jesus’ parables teach us. It will be the celebration of the ages, for sure.
This whole concept may be difficult for many of us to comprehend. One thing it shows us is God’s enormous love for us, His people, Jew or Gentile. God has given everything possible, paying the highest price possible in order to set us free of sin–which is inbred within each human being’s bloodline. All we have to do is admit we need Him, Salvation as He has prescribed it and accept His complete forgiveness.
What I find in Scripture is two distinct marriages. Some people scoff at the idea of God being married to the Israelite nation, but it is impossible to ignore considering how specifically the Bible speaks of this. It’s also hard for many people to understand the concept of Jesus as Bridegroom and being “married” to the Bride, the true Church. Yet, God’s Word is full of the language describing it.
Not only are there two distinct marriages, but there are also two different brides. There are no Scriptures in the Old Testament describing Jesus as the Bridegroom to the nation Israel. God (the Father) is described as the Groom. Yet, Jesus is described as the Bridegroom to the true Church, as Bride. We have two separate marriages, two separate Grooms, two Brides, and of course there would be two marriage suppers!
The celebration, according to Jewish tradition would be one week. Since we are dealing with weeks of years, this would equal seven years–the same seven years that the world is going through the Great Tribulation. Since the Church is experiencing seven years of celebration, they cannot possibly be on the earth. The Rapture of the Church and marriage of the Lamb will occur before the 70th week of Daniel, and the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place in Heaven during the 70th week. One must conclude that the Bride is in the Lord’s Presence in Heaven for these events.
Another question that gets asked; in fact, it becomes a point of contention has to do with the future Holy City of Jerusalem. Let’s look at Revelation 21:1-11:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’
“He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the end. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.’
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal…” (NIV)
A natural question gets asked after reading this passage: “Who is the Bride? Is it the Church or is it the Holy City, Jerusalem?” Obviously the text labels the Holy City as the wife of the Lamb. Some of the things to keep in mind in figuring this out are these. although the marriage of the Lamb takes place in heaven before the actual literal Second Coming and the Millennial Kingdom, there is an aspect of the marriage which involves the New Jerusalem which extends into the eternal state we will find ourselves in. It is bigger and broader than the initial consummation in Revelation 19 and seems to include the redeemed of all the ages. The relationship of the New Jerusalem as the “wife” of the Lamb is founded on these Old Testament promises which describe God in a marriage relationship with Jerusalem.
The passage in Revelation 21 above, shows us that in the new heavens and new earth, the bride concept will be expanded to include not only the church, but also the redeemed of all ages as the New Jerusalem becomes the “Bridal City”. The New Jerusalem is called the Bride because it has included within it, the entire Bride, and because it is the Bride’s everlasting home and residence. Because it is the home and everlasting residence of the “Lamb’s wife”, it must include everything about her, and her attendants, and her companions, who all share the glory with her, but are not strictly the bride herself.
When I think of the magnificence of all these things we’ve been looking at in God’s Word, I am reminded of Isaiah 55. God has done everything necessary in His reaching out to mankind. There is not a soul on earth that will have an excuse for not connecting with the love of God. We read of God’s love for the Jewish nation–which was only considered the chosen nation because it would become the vehicle for the Messiah and Savior of mankind. When Jesus came, lived, and died, He did it for the entire world, not just the Jewish nation.
We have discussed things that are foreign to the human mind, but God is much greater than we imagine. We as mortals, have a tendency to put our human limits on God, limiting Him to what makes sense to us. This applies to the Marriage of the Lamb. It also applies to God’s betrothal to the nation Israel. It also applies to the many harvests God has arranged for the salvation of man. There is the Jewish harvest and there is the Gentile harvest. God will complete His promises to each as He has vowed to do. There are also those who will be raptured before the Great Tribulation. Then there are those that find salvation during the Tribulation. God has also arranged for 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will preach God’s Word with great power and authority during the first part of the Great Tribulation, bringing a massive harvest of souls. Then there are the two witnesses who will fulfill a powerful ministry during the first part of the Tribulation and will also be responsible for many souls finding the Messiah, Jesus. Religiously, we as humans try as “theologians” to figure God out and limit Him to our pea-brain understanding. Big mistake! God will get the job done, whether we understand what He is doing or not. We just need to obey Him and His leading. If we do, we will be honored to be part of what He is doing on this earth. If not, we will not be part of it. What a tragedy.
Here is how Isaiah 55 reads:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.
“Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth, and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.” (NIV)
God has designed a place for everyone. God’s Word tells us that God is not willing that any perish. The decision belongs to every human being. Here in this psalm, we find that God has provided life for us–at a cost that none of us can pay. This is why it is freely given to us–on one condition. We must make the choice to bow ourselves before the KING of Kings. He paid with His life, giving it through the worst means known to man at the time, just so that you and I could live–eternally. But, we must take the free gift of salvation, acknowledging our need for His intervention in our lives, and giving our lives into His sovereign hands. We must make Him Lord of our lives. Too many stop short of that.
This psalm says to seek Him while He may be found. There is a time coming very soon when it will be too late! We must make the decision while it can still be made. I pray that every reader will make sure that all is well between you and the One that gave His life for us all. It doesn’t come to us by osmosis, it must be a decision made by us as we bow ourselves before the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords.