by John R Ecob
It is important to understand what the Christian’s relationship is with God and also the relationship that God has with Jews and Gentiles.
God is a Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and there are specific relationships for Jews, Gentiles and the Church.
Jehovah God in the Old Testament is the Father who sent the Son at the incarnation, and the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
“Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the FATHER SENT THE SON to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:13-14).
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever…But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom THE FATHER WILL SEND in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:16,26).
“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER, which, saith he, ye have heard of me” (Acts 1:4).
Let’s summarize the relationships indicated in Scripture before we discuss what the Bible says and as we do, we will find that marriage and family relationships are fundamental to God’s ways with man. When God established the institution of marriage between a man and a woman He foreshadowed the relationship between Himself and Israel and Christ and His Church.
Jehovah God is the husband of Israel and the Father of Israel. He is also the Father of the sons of God from all ages. Sixteen times Paul refers to “God our Father”. e.g. Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2 etc.
The Lord Jesus is the uncreated, eternal, Son of God who is the King of Israel, the King of kings to Gentile nations, and the Bridegroom of the Church. The Church has a unique position as the bride of Christ.
Israel, the Wife of Jehovah Israel is the wife of the Father (Jehovah God) (Jeremiah 2:2-3, 32; 3:1,8-9,14,20; Ezekiel 16:8,15,; Hosea 2:1,16-20; 3:1-3).
Biblical marriage begins with espousal when a man and woman are bound to each other BEFORE they come together. The world does it differently. They “shack up” together and if children come along they may get married.
Men often make no preparation for their bride and rush into a “relationship” blinded by passion, but God intended that a man should provide for his wife so long as they both shall live.
Jesus said that He was going away to prepare a place of many mansions in His Father’s house for His Bride (John 14:2). During Christ’s absence the Holy Spirit is seeking those who will forsake sin and be engaged to Jesus Christ. The absence of the Lord is the time of the Christian’s espousal. The marriage takes place in heaven after the Rapture and the Marriage supper is celebrated on earth after Christ returns in glory.
John was invited to see the Bride the Lamb’s wife and when he looked he saw the New Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven to the earth, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets. It is the place Jesus is preparing for His Bride (Revelation 21:9- 10; Ephesians 2:18-20).
Israel’s Day of Espousals God the Father prepared a place for Israel in the land of Canaan to be an everlasting inheritance for His chosen people. The time of trial in the wilderness was their time of espousal and they were married to Jehovah in the land (Isaiah 62:4- 5). Marriage for Israel involved possession of the land.
The Palestinian Covenant just before Israel entered the land, made it clear that their relationship with Jehovah was linked to possession of the land. While Israel walked with God they enjoyed the land but if they turned away from God He would divorce them and put them away out of the land until they repented.
If, after Israel was divorced and scattered out of the land, she repented and turned back to Jehovah, then she would be restored to the land: “Married”.
Hosea’s message emphasizes this truth. He lived at a time when Israel had turned to idolatry and had become a spiritual whore. He was told to marry a wife of whoredoms and he married Gomer who played the harlot.
Gomer was put away for her whoredoms but eventually returned and was restored. God said:
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi (my husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (my lord). And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD (Hosea 2:16,19-20).
During the Tribulation, Israel will again be betroth to Jehovah and then:
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah (my delight is in her), and thy land Beulah (married): for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee (Isaiah 62:4-5).
Israel is God’s earthly people and their home is an earthly home in the land promised to Abraham as an everlasting possession but the Church is a heavenly people and our home is a heavenly home.
In the eternal state Israel will occupy the land in the renovated earth surrounding the New Jerusalem, and the names of the twelve tribes will be inscribed on the twelve gates of the wall around the city.
The time of espousal is a beautiful time when a young man and woman have sealed their commitment to each other with an engagement ring and they prepare for marriage. It is a time of longing to be with each other, then to enjoy unbroken fellowship with each other never again be separated in space or time. It is also a time when faithfulness is tested.
I look back to that time when I watched for the postman and read my fiance’s letters. The day of our marriage could not come quick enough.
When God reminded Israel of the time of espousals He said:
I REMEMBER THEE, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD (Jeremiah 2:2-3).
The land of Egypt was a land of plenty where Israel enjoyed the “leeks and garlick” but were in bondage to the Egyptians. When Israel turned from Egypt’s idolatry and cried unto the Lord, God said that was
the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the LORD your God. (Ezekiel 20:5).
That was the day when Israel was espoused to Jehovah. Her love for the Lord was great for she was prepared to leave the fertile land of rivers for a wilderness, “a land that was not sown”. No sacrifice was too great when Israel fell in love with her God.
Israel was far from perfect and it took forty years to get to the promised land through many trials that tested her loyalty but eventually Joshua led them into the land flowing with milk and honey. Finally Israel was married to the land and to the Lord.
The Church’s Day of Espousals The Church differs from Israel and is blessed with all
spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).
Our inheritance is “reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4) and will come down from God out of heaven to the renovated earth in the future eternal state.
Today, in this age of grace, the Church of Jesus Christ is espoused to her heavenly bridegroom. Paul wrote:
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).
The moment we believed we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise which was the guarantee, the engagement ring, constantly reminding us that we belong to Christ (Ephesians 1:14).
Each day we long for our heavenly Bridegroom in this period of separation. In His absence, we pour over His letters in His Word and our hearts burn with love for Him. “Though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Day by day we are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
We live in anticipation that our beloved may come at any time with the sound of a trumpet to call us to the marriage in the Father’s home of many mansions. There we shall be for ever with the Lord. The days of testing, the days of longing, will be over and faith will give place to sight as we shall see Him “face to face” and “be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”(1 John 3:2).
Eternity will not dim the memory of our love in the time of espousals. Just as God looked back to the day when He chose Israel and said, “I remember the kindness of thy youth and the love of thy espousals,” so we will look back in eternity and remember the joy, the anticipation, when we lived in constant expectation that our beloved would appear and rapture us into His presence.
We will recall our stand against the world and its allurements, and how we stood against the apostate false church in order to be a faithful and chaste virgin ready to be presented to our Bridegroom.
Marriage is at the heart of God’s dealings with mankind and the marriage of a man and woman is a constant reminder of God’s plan for Israel and the Church. It explains why Satan is attacking the institution of marriage with the push for “gay marriage”.