Many of the metaphors of the church we’ve looked at this fall have roots in the Old Testament, but none perhaps so deep as the metaphor of the Bride. The church’s true birthday is not Pentecost but the Abrahamic covenant, when God first initiates relationship with Abraham and his descendants. "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you” (Gen. 17:7). This is the wedding ceremony between God and his people, in which he binds himself in a permanent love relationship with them. The whole of the Scriptures is one big story of this rocky marriage. The people of God stray from their spouse repeatedly but God again and again seeks to restore his people as his own. His pursuing love culminates in the person of Jesus who is called “The Bridegroom” (Matthew 9:14-17), the One who gives himself up for his Bride, the church. Even at the end of the Bible, we are called to look forward to the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb,” when the church of God is permanently united to the Bridegroom forever (Rev. 19:7-9).
What does all this mean for us? This Sunday we’ll explore what this metaphor says about us, the church, and what it means for our work and mission in the world. We’ll look at first what this says about our dignity, that we belong to Jesus the bridegroom and have tremendous worth because of it. We’ll also see that this requires our fidelity to our bridegroom, that we strive for “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” as his betrothed people (2 Cor. 11:1). Finally, we’ll look at what this says about our mission, as we look forward to Wedding Feast of the Lamb and invite many others to join us in the celebration.
As you prepare this Sunday, read through some of the passages we've listed here and mediate on this theme. How does this metaphor speak to you? Is there anything that makes you uncomfortable about it? Pray that the Lord will help us finish this series with a great sense of his everlasting, unstoppable love for us.
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For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,[a]
and your land Beulah[b];
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[a] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”