Friday 21 January 2011

Bridegroom / Husband

The Old Testament prophets, especially Isaiah, Ezekial and Hosea, often used the relationship between husband and wife as a metaphor for the relationship between God and His people.  For example:
  • Isaiah 54:4-6: For your Maker is your husband... The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit - a wife who married young, only to be rejected.
  • Isaiah 62:5: 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.
  • Ezekiel 16:8: When I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love... I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
  • Hosea 1:2: Like an adulterous wife, this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.
The New Testament takes this further, by referring to Jesus as a Bridegroom or Husband.  For example:
  • Matt 22:2-3: The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
  • Matt 25:1: At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom....
  • Mk 2:19-20: Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  They cannot, so long as they have him with them.  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast."
  • John 3:29: [John the Baptist said:] The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
  • Ephesians 5:25-32: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless... For we are members of His body, of his flesh and of his bones. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
  • 2 Cor 11:2: 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.
  • Rev 19:7-9: “The wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)  Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
  • Rev 21:2: I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Verses like this have led some Christians to use the term "Bride of Christ" to refer to the church.  The use of this term has however been somewhat controversial.  Regardless, we can speculate as to which attributes of Jesus the terms Bridegroom and Husband refer to.  Personally, I suspect it means that we can rely on Jesus to love, provide for and protect us. It also means that we are to remain absolutely faithful to Him, putting Him first, and not allowing other people or things to take first place in our hearts.  Moreover, when one becomes a Christian, one enters into an eternal covenant with Him, just as a wife enters into a lifelong covenant with her husband when she marries.