Think About It: We are the Bride of Christ!

Wedding BouquetGod does things on purpose. Nothing is haphazard or accidental with God. That’s obvious enough. What, then, was God’s intention in ordaining marriage? What were His goals? Why did He design it as He did? Why headship? Why intimacy? Why pleasure? Have you ever wondered?

The Bible provides those answers. Your mind is probably listing several “Divine Purposes for Marriage” already. We’re considering those purposes at TCBC, and we spent last night’s service studying what I believe is the primary purpose of God in marriage: “God designed marriage to be a picture of his relationship with the redeemed.”

I believe that marriage was ordained by God to help us understand more completely our relationship with Him. In other words, human marriage teaches us about something far more important–our union with Christ. We are prone to reverse the emphasis, I think, and that is a mistake. That’s not to say that we can’t learn to be better husbands (for instance) from Christ’s example; indeed, Ephesians 5 says we must. But we mustn’t think that God’s emphasis with this analogy is on the temporary human relationship. Human marriage is the object lesson, the model; our relationship with Christ is the eternal reality. Geoffrey Bromiley makes this point more succinctly than I:

“As God made man in his own image, so he made marriage in the image of his own eternal marriage with his people” (from God and Marriage, quoted by John Piper in Desiring God, 213).

What an amazing truth to consider: the union that I share with my wife, the intimacy we enjoy, even the pleasure which we derive from one another, is but a small picture of our eternal relationship with Christ. Let your mind meditate on that one for a while. It’s shocking. Honestly, we say that we are Christ’s bride in such a thoughtless, ho-hum manner. What inexcusable flippancy! Friends, we are Christ’s bride! Talk about “marrying up!” The reality of our privileged position as Christ bride–even more than our position as His friends or as God’s children–should drive us to wonder and adoration. It should convict us for our scandalous infidelity against Him. It should motivate us to progress in our sanctification, anticipating the day when we will be presented to our Bridegroom as “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but…holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

We considered the fact that God uses marriage as an illustration of His relationship with both Israel (Ezekiel 16, Hosea, et al) and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33; John 3:29; 14; Matthew 9:15; Revelation 19:8). Ezekiel 16, though addressing Israel in particular, teaches us much about the great privilege the church has of being Christ’s bride. I’m not confusing the two. I am suggesting that God’s description of His marriage with the nation of Israel provides a beautiful description of His marriage to the church.

Ezekiel 16 effectively communicates our helplessness and unworthiness (vv. 4-5), His condescending grace and sovereignty in establishing the relationship (v. 6), His intimate love and provision for us (vv. 7-14). It says much more about the treachery of our spiritual adultery (vv. 15-59), a passage that is scandalous, that reminds me of my own unfaithfulness to the One who has chosen me, loved me and given me unthinkable privileges. It’s a passage that moves me to indignation and sorrow.

Thankfully, the chapter concludes in verses 60-63 by magnifying God’s grace to an even greater degree than the chapter’s beginning: God remains constant to His covenant with His bride despite her unfaithfulness.

What an awe-inspiring truth: the eternal, holy God of creation has chosen us, has pursued us, has cleansed us, that we might be His bride. What could be more amazing?


One Response

  1. The Marriage is a spiritual marriage–not sexual, but a passionate love for God, a seeking of greater closeness and intimacy with God and of a coming to know God through experience.
    Why are people afraid of God’s Love? Why do they think God will be making demands on them to abandon their habitual life? God knows what is in our heart (Deut. 30:11-14) and what we truly want. When we experience God we realize this is what we have always wanted.

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