we said that we should be dealing with the Bride more
fully later. We come now to a consideration of this matter.)
thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his
name: and the Holy One of Israel is thy redeemer" (Isaiah
"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
"Return, O backsliding children, saith the Lord;
for I am a husband unto you" (Jeremiah 3:14).
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I
will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and
with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant
that I made with their fathers in the day that I took
them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband
unto them, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 31:31,32).
"Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an
abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for
Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he
loveth, and hath married the daughter of a strange
god" (Malachi 2:11).
how the Old Testament finishes. Now we will see how the
New Testament finishes.
us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the
glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and
his wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation
"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming
down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride
adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2).
Revelation 21:9 - 22:21.
been seeing what God is doing particularly in the
dispensation in which we live. He is constituting a new,
heavenly, spiritual Israel. We have seen the failure of
the old Israel and the necessity for God to set it aside,
but, at the same time, the bringing in of His new
heavenly Israel. This is what is called the 'heavenly
calling', and we are told that we are called to be
'companions of the heavenly calling', and 'companions of
Christ in the heavenly calling'.
seen how the New Testament takes over the ideas of the
Old Testament and translates them into spiritual meaning.
The tides of the old Israel are redeemed and brought over
to the new, because, although God may have to give up an
instrument that He raises up, He never gives up His
thought. He will never give up His intention, and if He
cannot realize His purpose in one instrument, He will do
so in another.
seen that the old Israel was called 'God's family', the
'Lord's house', 'God's heir for His inheritance', 'God's
flock' - they were God's sheep - and all these titles are
taken up and brought into the New Testament Church. The
new heavenly Israel is God's family, God's children,
God's house - "Whose house are we"
(Hebrews 3:6) - "Heirs of God and joint-heirs
with Christ" (Romans 8:17), God's flock
- "I am the good shepherd" (John
now we come to a little fuller consideration of the
as we have seen from those various Scriptures, was called
God's bride. It says that He was a husband to Israel. You
will notice that although Israel was a man literally, it
is very often spoken of in the feminine. It is not 'he'
but 'she', and it was 'she' who failed God as a wife. He
purchased Israel with precious blood to be His bride. We
have seen that the Passover was a marriage covenant, and
Jeremiah, in chapter 31, says that when God brought
Israel out of Egypt, He took her by the hand and became a
husband to her. The blood of the Passover lamb was the
blood of a covenant of marriage between the Lord and
Israel. He betrothed Israel unto Himself that night, and
thus she was purchased with His blood.
little need be said to those who know the Old Testament
about God's love for Israel. It is the most amazing thing
in history. When you think of what Israel was, and read
the history of those people from their own side, it is
the most wonderful thing to hear the Lord saying: "I
have loved thee with an everlasting love"
(Jeremiah 31:3). God has never given up that love - it is
still an everlasting love, but there is a sob in the
heart of God. It is a disappointed love.
the Old Testament is a wonderful revelation of God's love
for Israel: the love of the whole heart of God for a
bride. How that love was expressed! See the wonderful
protection that the Lord provided for Israel! He
protected her all the way along. He provided food and
raiment and it says that He led her safely. The tender,
providing, protecting love of God is everywhere in the
God's thought and intention in betrothing Israel unto Himself?
It was that she might be to His pleasure. The Lord took
pleasure in Israel, had brought her into being for His
own pleasure, to bring satisfaction to His own heart.
course, it is a deep mystery why the all-sufficient God
should want something for His pleasure. He who possessed
all things and really had need of nothing is nevertheless
revealed as One who created a people for His pleasure.
You see, He created all things for His pleasure. He
created the world for His pleasure. He created all that
is good in the world for His pleasure. He created man for
His pleasure. And all that went away from Him. He was
disappointed in it all, so He said: 'I will begin again',
and He raised up Israel. His idea was that Israel would
satisfy Him where everything else had disappointed Him.
The bride was for the Bridegroom's pleasure.
again, Israel was raised up to be the self-revelation of
the Lord. God intended to reveal Himself to the whole
universe through Israel, to show what kind of a husband
He is. Of course, we cannot bring this down to everyday
life now, but sometimes you are able to see by the wife
herself what kind of husband she has. As you look at her,
see how she is provided for and cared for, you are able
to say: 'She must have a wonderful husband!' Well, that
is what a wife is for!
divine thought is just that. God wanted to reveal to this
whole universe what a wonderful God He is in terms of a
husband to Israel. Israel has been raised up, in New
Testament language, to "show forth the
excellencies of him who called (her) out of darkness into
his marvellous light" (I Peter 2:9).
Israel was brought into this relationship of the wife of
the Lord for the purpose of His increase, His expansion.
So to speak, many others outside Israel were to be born
unto the Lord through Israel. His family was to expand by
means of Israel: "Nations shall come to thy
light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isaiah
60:3). Nations were to be born unto the Lord, and the
bride was to be for the Lord's own expansion. These were
the things that the prophets said.
last of all - mystery of mysteries! - it was a matter of
companionship. None of us can understand why the Lord
wanted a companion. It is possible to be a wife and not
be a companion. Many a wife is not a real companion to
her husband. He does not find her a companion. She is a
lot of things, but just that one thing is lacking - real
companionship. Perhaps that is the reason for the tragedy
of so many broken marriages today. (Of course, it works
the other way as well, but companionship is the highest
thought in this relationship.) The Lord raised up Israel
to be His companion.
easy to see how Israel faded in all these matters. The
time came when the Lord could no longer take pleasure in
her, when she no longer revealed to the world what kind
of God He is but turned to other gods, and refused to
fulfil the world mission for which she had been brought
into union with God. All this resulted in God losing His
companion, and the Old Testament closes on that painful
note. A horrible thing has happened in Israel. She has
left the Lord, her Husband, and gone after 'other
the Lord, Israel died. As a nation she is dead to the
Lord, "dead while she liveth". The Lord could
never marry another while she was alive; that was
contrary to His own law. She died, so He could take
another wife. You will remember Paul's own words about
this: that we are married to the Lord. When this former
bride died, God brought in another, a new bride.
Testament has a lot to say, as you know, about this new
bride. The Lord Jesus in the Gospels calls Himself the
Bridegroom. You will remember the parable of the virgins,
when the cry went forth: "Behold, the
bridegroom!" (Matthew 25:6). Then we have read
these passages in the Book of Revelation about the bride,
the Lamb's wife. Some of you are recalling Paul's words
in his Letter to the Ephesians: "Christ also loved
the church and gave himself up for her, that he
might sanctify her... that he might present the church to
himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or
any such thing" (Ephesians 5:25,27), and that
follows this: "Husbands, love your wives, even as
Christ also loved the church...".
think the fact is established, but we have to bring back
all those features of this relationship. Why are we
joined to the Lord? Why are we what are called
Christians? For if we are New Testament Christians we are
joined to the Lord in a covenant of marriage. It is
"the Church of God, which he purchased with his
own Blood" (Acts 20:28).
of you go to the Lord's Table at any time? It goes by
different names - the Lord's Table, the Lord's Supper,
the Holy Communion, and so on. It does not matter so much
what you call it, but what you mean by it. Do you know
that every time you go to the Lord's Table, His meaning
in that is that you are putting your hand to the covenant
again and are saying: 'I stand by my marriage
relationship to the Lord. This loaf means that I am one
flesh with Christ.' We are one body in Him, and His very
Body is represented by that loaf. The marriage ordinance
of God at the beginning was: "They shall be one
flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Jesus said: "This
(loaf) is my body" (Matthew 26:2,6).
When we take the loaf we are meant to be saying:
'I am one body with Christ.' It is the marriage
take the cup, symbolic of His Blood, we say two things:
'I share one life with Him. His life is my life, and that
was made by a covenant in His Blood.' That is the deep
meaning of the Table of the Lord. Is that what we mean
every time we go to it? It is the bride saying: 'I stand
by the covenant, I am one with my Lord.'
sing: "Jesus, my Shepherd, Husband, Friend",
and that is the nature of our union with Him. That is
really what it means to be a Christian. May our
Christianity be redeemed from anything less than that!
the relationship has been established in His Blood, then
its purpose begins. We are His for His Pleasure and not
our own. He has made us for His pleasure: "Working
in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight" (Hebrews
13:21) ... "To the end that we should be
unto the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:12)
... "that ye may shew forth the
excellencies of him" (I Peter 2:9).
compasses the Christian life. This is why He has drawn us
with the bands of love and the reason for our union with
Christ: that we should be unto His pleasure, that He may
take pleasure in us. The time is coming when He will look
at His bride and then He will say 'She is a glorious
bride'. He has brought us to Himself for that very
purpose: to reveal Himself by means of us.
our heads and our hearts are going down now. What a poor
revelation we are of our Lord! We are making a terrible
mess of this business of revealing Christ, but He is
taking great pains with us. Truly it is not easy, and He
does not make it so. It seems that so often He puts us
into difficult positions in order that we may show forth
given "a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan
to buffet me" (II Corinthians 12:7).
Do you know what it is to have a thorn in the flesh and a
messenger of Satan always buffeting you? Paul says that
he went to the Lord three times about this. I do not know
whether he meant literally three times, but I think he
meant: 'I went to the Lord again, and again, and again!
I asked the Lord to remove this thorn and to destroy
this messenger of Satan, but He said unto me: "My
grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made
perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians
strange sovereignty and providence of God! It seems that
He sometimes puts difficulties into our lives, and makes
it hard for us, and then, in the grace that He shows, we
magnify Him. No one knows what Paul's 'thorn' was. A lot
of people have had a guess at it, and some think they
know what it was, but I do not think anyone really does
know. It was evidently something that people could see,
and they would say: 'My word, Paul has a hard time with
that. I am very glad the Lord has not called me to go
that way! That poor man does know what suffering means,
but how marvellous is the grace of God in him! Look at
his victorious spirit! My, the grace of God in that man
is a wonderful thing!' And Paul says: "And they
glorified God in me" (Galatians 1:24). Yes, for
the self-revelation of the Lord the Church is a suffering
Church. This wife of the Lord is a suffering wife, but
the revelation of His grace is a wonderful thing.
what about His increase through the Church? We have
already said much about this. The Lord, through His
Church, wants to bring many, many into the Kingdom. Paul
said: "The gospel... which was preached in all
creation under heaven" (Colossians 1:23), and
Peter said: "The Lord... not wishing that any
should perish, but that all should come to
repentance" (II Peter 3:9). The Lord
would have all men saved, and He has never told
His Church to go and pick out one here and one there and
say: 'You are the elect. Come out and leave the others.'
No, He said: 'Preach the Gospel in all the nations'.
Leave the rest with Him!
the world mission of the new Israel. But do not just view
it in a general way. Get down to it tomorrow morning and
make this your personal business: to see if by any means
you may be able to bring souls into the Kingdom.
have said all that, we come to this supreme thing: He has
joined us to Himself to be His companions. That has been
our note right through. "We are become
companions of Christ" ... "Wherefore, holy
brethren, companions of a heavenly calling."
confess that I do not understand this: that the Lord
should want us as His friends, not just officially
related to Him, but related to Him as friends. To be a
friend of the Lord! I can only say to you: Let us take
that word and continually ask ourselves 'How would a
friend act in this matter? How would a friend decide? I
am called to be the Lord's friend. I must not fail Him in
friendship. I must not let Him down. He counts upon me to
be His friend.' That is the highest and most sacred part
of the whole relationship.
despair of ever getting over to you what I see in this
matter! After all this time, I have not yet touched upon
the new Jerusalem! It is a very significant thing that
the new Jerusalem is called 'a bride'. The angel said to
John: "Come hither, I will shew thee the bride,
the wife of the Lamb", and John might have said:
'Now, let us go and see this wonderful woman.' ... "And
(he) shewed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming
down out of heaven from God." The bride is the
city, and the city is the bride. And then you have to
read the whole description of the city in Revelation 21
and 22 in order to know what the bride is going to be
like. See all the precious stones! This is the
preciousness of the Lord Jesus in manifold expression.
Peter said: "For you therefore which believe is
the preciousness" (I Peter 2:7). There
are "all manner of precious stones." It
is what Jesus is in His real character revealed in the
bride, the city.
thinking about a literal city. This is all a symbolic
representation of Christ's bride. All these glories of
the city are only the glories of Christ expressed at last
in His bride. "He shewed me the holy city
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the
glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most
precious." It was shining through all these
is what was meant by the Apostle when he said: "That
he might present the church to himself a glorious church"
... "a glorious church". The city is
the revelation of His manifold glories, and the city is
have only to close with this final word. These are all
very beautiful and wonderful ideas. They are glorious
thoughts, but it is just unto this that the Lord has
called us. This is the heavenly calling. It is unto this
that He wants us to be companions: 'Companions of a
heavenly calling' because 'Companions of Christ'.
hesitates to strike a note that might sound a bit
depressing, but be reminded that this great Letter to the
Hebrews has many 'ifs' in it. "Whose house
are we, if we hold fast our boldness" (Hebrews
3:6) ... "We are become companions of
Christ if we hold fast". This Letter is
just full of warnings and strong exhortations, and I do
not believe that it was written to non-Christians. All
the evidences in it are that it was written to true Christians.
Therefore, it was saying to them: 'Don't miss your
inheritance. Don't fail of your heavenly calling. Do not
fail to be true companions of Christ. Do not accept
anything less than God's best and His highest.' You can
be Christians having much less than God intended. You
notice that when the description of the city has been
given, it says: "Blessed are they... that may
have the right to come in" (Revelation 22:14).
There are nations that will not get in. They will walk in
the light thereof, but will not be inside. Make sure that
you are of this bride. Do not fail the Lord as Israel
us... press on to full growth" (Hebrews
6:1 - R.V. margin).