A BRIDE BETROTHED TO MESSIAH
And I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, then you will know the Lord.
(Hos 2:19-20 NASB)
The picture of a woman set apart for God in holy matrimony is not a new image occurring in the New Testament writings of the Apostles. The first occurrence of a bride set apart for her husband emerges when Abraham sent his servant to seek out a wife for his son, Isaac, the seed of promise (Gen 24). At first, Abraham was tested in obedience when Almighty God called him to sacrifice his ‘seed of promise,’ and in response to his obedient faith, God provided a ram, (Gen 22; Rom 9:6-8; Gal 4:28-29). The author of Hebrews clarifies that Isaac is indeed, in typology, a shadow of Messiah, saying, ‘By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” He (Abraham) considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him (Isaac) back as a type,’ (Heb 11:17-19). [Insertion added by the author.] Now, if Isaac is a clear type of Messiah who would be born from a woman to redeem sinners, then Isaac’s sought out wife, Rebekah, is a clear type of the Bride our heavenly Father is seeking for His only begotten Son, Messiah, the Seed of Promise, (Gal 3:16).
Israel, the covenant people set apart for Almighty God as a holy nation, is portrayed throughout Scripture as woman betrothed to God. Almighty God called her, Israel, to be ‘a set apart people,’ as stated by Moses, ‘For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth,’ (Deut 7:6). The image of Israel as a woman betrothed to God emerges throughout the prophets. Her unfaithfulness to God is reflected in the image of ‘an adulterous wife,’ as explained by the prophet Jeremiah, ‘God says, “If a husband divorces his wife, and she goes to another man, will he still return to Her? Will not the land be completely polluted? But you (Israel) are a harlot with many lovers; yet you turn to Me,” declares the Lord,’ (Jer 3:1). Finally, in the latter days, Israel will be restored in her covenant relationship as God’s wife. The prophet Hosea prophesies, ‘Therefore, behold, I will allure her (Israel), bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her’ (Hos 2:14), ‘and I will betroth you (Israel) to Me forever,’ (Hos 2:19). [Insertions added by the author.] Her (wedding-) dress, white and pure, is the garment of salvation, as explained by the prophet Isaiah, ‘I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels,’ (Is 61:10). This picture of a purified Israel clearly resembles ‘a Bride.’
The same image emerges in the New Covenant writings. It is clear that every individual Believer in Messiah (Jew or Gentile) is betrothed to Him. The apostle Paul stated, ‘For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I have betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin,’ (2 Cor 11:2). Moreover, in Ephesians 5, we have Paul explaining a mystery in the relationship between every Believer and Christ Jesus, the Messiah – a devotional relationship akin to that of a husband and his wife. In this passage, the individual Believer is called to a simplicity of devotion to Messiah. [Just as Israel is called, on a national level, to be devoted to Almighty God.] Messiah will LEAD, PROVIDE, PROTECT, and NOURISH His Bride in order to prepare her for a glorious matrimony, the only requirement, on the Believer’s part, is to SUBMIT and OBEY, (Eph 5:22-33). [Just as God promise to lead, provide, protect, and nourish Israel if she submits to Him in obedient trust. See Deuteronomy 28 & 30.]
The apostle Paul established the image of the Olive Tree in Romans 11. If this Olive Tree is a picture of the Kingdom of God, then the Kingdom will be founded by the root of the tree, the corner stone, Christ Jesus, (1 Peter 2:4-10). The natural branches of the tree is Israel and Gentile Believers will be grafted in to the Kingdom, rendering one kingdom established by the redemptive work of Messiah, (Rom 11:17-24). This principle of one Kingdom under the rulership of one King is confirmed by Messiah in the gospel of John, ‘And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold (Israel); I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd,’ (John 10:16). Paul also taught on a one new man in Ephesians, ‘that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,’ (Eph 2:15). [See Ephesians 2 to gain full understanding of the Gentile Believer partaking in the commonwealth of Israel.]
In the light of these Scriptural principles we have to conclude that the Bride is the whole household of God; namely, those in the House of Israel who believed unto salvation, as well as the Gentile Believers who are grafted into Israel’s inheritance. This Bride, ‘a people of God’s own possession,’ will be cleansed from all unrighteousness and will be clothed in a bridal garment of salvation, namely the righteousness of Christ Jesus the Messiah, (Rev 19:7-9).
And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.