When God created man, He breathed His own breath into this magnificent masterpiece and equipped him with incredible capabilities. But God's thoughts were on the eternal. He set in place a pattern, for man's good, to keep man mindful of his Creator. The most vital of all patterns was that of marriage.
In the beginning all was perfect. The communion between the Creator and Adam and Eve must have been beyond comprehension. One can only imagine the pure interaction between God and man. It had to have been nothing short of blissful euphoria! The Spirit-to-spirit communication would be on such a level that only "adams" and their "eves" can understand as they experience incredible degrees of ecstasy in that spirit-to-spirit connection of the marital relationship. That ecstasy alone should be enough to cause mankind to acknowledge God as "God." But does he?
During those times of intimacy, ordained for marriage by God Himself, there is a unique sense of incredible oneness. As our wonderful Creator said, "they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24b). God had created both male and female as one, taking Eve out of Adam's side and giving her back to him to be his wife. Out of Jesus' side poured water and blood.1 And now His Bride, born of water and the Spirit2 and cleansed by His blood, is given back to Him. She is the wife of the "last Adam."3
Procreation was to be a result of the intimacy between a man and his wife. But most of all, this God-designed relationship was intended as a model in this life of the relationship of Christ and His Bride. Man was created, first and foremost, for intimacy with God. The life in the flesh is merely secondary, yet to self-centered man this life has become everything. The marriage act was intended to be a model of man's intercourse with his Creator--the foreplay symbolizing praise and worship, then consummating in the ultimate ecstasy of His presence. The after-glow would be symbolic of lingering in His presence with all the strength of flesh having been spent in total surrender. (For an even more graphic description of God's desire for man, read the Song of Solomon).
Gross error has blinded man to the reason he was created. It is the same error responsible for almost all deception invading the 'church'--failure to understand that flesh-focused, self-centered man resulted from the knowledge of good and evil. Rather than knowing God's desire for intimacy, man is taken up with himself and he offers to God mere tokens--all in the name of serving Him. What God wants is man! He wants a Bride for His Son. The pattern of this reality was made clear in the Old Testament, with God's constant pleading for Israel to acknowledge Him as the LORD God.
Israel was regarded as the spouse of Jehovah. He required exclusive loyalty, as the word "jealous" means.4 Moses said, ". . . For you shall worship no other god; for the Lord, Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous (impassioned) God, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and one invites you, you eat of his food sacrificed to idols, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters play the harlot after their gods and make your sons play the harlot after their gods." (Exodus 34:14-16 Amplified). It was not the intermarriage of the people that was adulterous: it was their "playing the harlot after" the gods of heathens that provoked the LORD to jealousy. Their idolatry was considered "adultery" as the Hebrew word indicates.5
When the word "Baal" appears in the Old Testament, and is capitalized, it refers to a Phoenician deity.6 In several other references, that same Hebrew word [baal] is translated "husband," which is the true meaning.7 Therefore, when the Israelites turned to trusting in Baal,8 they were unfaithful because they had committed spiritual adultery [Hebrew: apostatizing]9 against God with another "husband." Jeremiah gave further evidence of Israel's adulterous acts against her Husband Jehovah. He told of how the LORD asked him, "Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot." The LORD, in His love for Israel, yearned for her to come back to Him, but she did not return. He told the prophet how, because of Israel's adultery, He had given her a certificate of divorce; then "her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also." The LORD referred to her casual harlotry, saying that she had "defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees." In adulterously turning away from the One who desired a relationship, Israel's new "lovers" were stones and trees. Yet God continued to plead with her to return to Him, to be His wife: "'Return, O backsliding children,' says the LORD; 'for I am married to you.'"10
The Lord will restore his "wife" Israel to Himself. All He had ever wanted was to be their God, their protective Husband. He had made the first covenant with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, but they broke the covenant even though He was a Husband to them. The Lord Himself will bring about His wife's restoration and fulfill His heart's desire for relationship. Jeremiah wrote about the new covenant the LORD will make with the house of Israel. "I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33b).
The words "harlot," "whoredom," "adultery," and "bill of divorcement" had their origin with God. Their application had to do with man's relationship to his Creator, yet mortal man believes life is all about him and his life in the flesh. He can see these words being defined as they relate solely to the sins of man, but this life consists of mere patterns of that which is real--the spiritual. This life is to be the training ground for eternity, with man seeing how God is so intricately involved in every aspect of his life. But man is obsessed with the things of the flesh, while God is forgotten.
God took very drastic measures in His dealings with Israel to draw them back, but they repeatedly forgot Him. He told them they were not mindful of the Rock Who bore them and the God Who travailed in their birth. Out of indignation He rejected them, calling them "perverse and unfaithful." "They have moved me to jealousy with what is not God; they have angered Me with their idols. So I will move them to jealousy with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation." (Deuteronomy 32:21 Amplified). The people who are "not a people" are the Gentiles to whom God offered eternal life through His Son TO PROVOKE ISRAEL TO JEALOUSY. And again we see His great love for His wife when He said, "Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries." (Ezekiel 6:8 NKJV).
The use of the words "a foolish nation" to describe the Gentiles (the non-Jews) tells us we are not nearly as important as we may think we are. God made it clear that He would send the Gospel to all other nations in order to make His wife jealous. I believe the greatest irony in the whole bible can be found in the story of Saul of Tarsus becoming "Paul the Apostle."111 Paul was an Israelite called by God, and transformed by God, to take the message of God to the Gentiles. Paul was the best of the best according to the religion of the Jews,12 yet God chose one of their own to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the heathen. What an amazing account of the marvellous grace of Almighty God! Oh what love that He would come in the likeness of sinful flesh to die for a bunch of foolish "nobodies!"
The transformation making Paul an apostle also put within him the same godly jealousy that caused him to plead with the Gentiles to be faithful to Christ. "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2).
A virgin bride
Jesus was born of a virgin. He was not born of flesh, but only in the "likeness of sinful flesh." He was conceived by the Holy Spirit--not by a creature of flesh! Otherwise, He would have been born of man. But no, He was born of God.
We His Bride must be untouched by flesh. We must be without spot and prepared as a bride to join her Husband. We must be a virgin Bride, a new creature in Christ Jesus, born of the Spirit. An impure bride is not a virgin Bride.
Matthew 25:1-13 tells the parable of the five wise virgins who had the Holy Spirit (oil in their lamps) and were fit for the Bridegroom. But the five foolish virgins who had no Holy Spirit (oil in their lamps) were shut out--the Bridegroom did not know them.
Paul's words bear repeating, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I espoused you to one husband; that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ." Faithfulness demands we keep ourselves only unto Him, as a pure virgin, unspotted by the world and the life of the flesh. Jesus, our Bridegroom, is waiting and longing for a pure virgin Bride without spot or wrinkle.
The Greek word for "apostasy" is closely related to the word for "divorce."13 This shows again how much man's relationship with God is paralleled in the marriage relationship. There is another Greek word meaning "apostate" or "male paramour," which is translated "adulterer."14, 15
In the Hebrew, the words matrimony and rest both come from the same root word, which is also translated "Noah."16 Isaiah used that word when he said, "And it shall come to pass in that day that the root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek; and his resting place shall be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10). Marriage to Jesus will be glorious!
Paul went to great lengths to explain the relationship for which the Bride of Christ is to be prepared. He took the law regarding earthly marriage and compared it with man's marriage to Jesus. Paul explained how they could not be both married to the Law and "married to Christ" at the same time. As long as a woman's husband was alive she was bound by law to her husband--but when he died, she was released from that law. At the same time, if she married another while her husband was still living, she was an adulteress. So it is with Christ. As Paul said, "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another--to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God." (Romans 7:4 NKJV). When they were in the flesh, through the law they brought forth fruit "to death." But now, having been delivered from the Law and having died to that law through Christ, they could serve in newness of the Spirit instead of the letter of the Law.17 If they tried to revive the Law, believing they could still be righteous through the Law, they would be committing adultery against their new Husband. Christ, the new Husband, brought death to the Law in Himself so they could be married to Him.
There are countless lovers vying for the affections of those who believe they are the Bride of Christ. And, as unbelievable as it may seem, these lovers are found within the 'churches' where countless enticements lure people away from their Bridegroom. The most predominant of all lovers is flesh itself. Man loves to do because it makes him feel good. So easily do our affections turn to doing for Jesus and we forsake our first love for Him, thereby becoming unfaithful to Him. We are committing adultery against our Bridegroom and the Father's heart is aching over the condition of His Son's Bride.
If we stop and ponder for a moment, we might hear the Son say, "So many of them think they are my Bride, but they are not prepared for our Wedding Day. The Bride has been told repeatedly to prepare to meet Me. Thousands of scrolls have been written which tell of the required apparel for that day when the heavenly chorus cries out: 'Let 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 19:7).
Maybe it is even possible that we can hear the Father say, "Those who call themselves by My Son's Name, believing they are His Bride, must examine themselves and seek My Spirit for clarity of the Truth. If only they would stop running here and there and would spend time with Me, My Spirit would minister peace and rest to their souls. Then they would know that eternal Life comes through My indwelling Spirit, and by obedience to the only commandment--Love! If only those who say they are a part of the 'church' would stop playing church and become called out. Jesus is My sinless Son and will take as His Bride only those who have been faithful to Him. He cannot accept one person who already has a husband. Whether that "husband" is 'church' attendance, singing, teaching, tithing, preaching, or any other thing that appears holy--if it is rooted in the knowledge of good and evil instead of My Spirit, it matters not."
The phrase "sanctity of marriage" is often heard in reference to earthly marriage. The reason marriage is sacred is that it is to be patterned after the relationship between God and man. In this life we see all kinds of deviations from what is rightfully considered normal. One such deviation of which we hear so often is that of common-law relationships. And in the church there are far too many who are satisfied with a "common-law relationship" with the Lord, and have no true commitment to Him. Are we content to be identified with Jesus for what we can get, without being totally and unreservedly His? Do we, like Cain, offer mere works of our hands18 and expect to receive blessings from Him? All the while, Jesus is waiting and longing for the church to love Him "with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30a NKJV).
We must also remember this: Faithfulness to Jesus means faithfulness to the husband or wife He has given us, or to remain pure as a single person. Paul spoke at length on this subject in 1 Corinthians 7. He also warned us to "flee sexual immorality," saying that this one sin is against our own bodies which are the temples of the Holy Spirit. We are not our own--we belong to the One who puts His Spirit within us at the new birth.19 How many are there in the 'church' today who have violated their own bodies and the bodies of others--all because of lust and a lack of self-control? This is a major problem, even among Christians, and many have been exposed for the entire world to see, bringing shame to the Name of Jesus.
Homosexuality, the most prevalent deviation of all, is diametrically opposed to the pattern God intended for man to follow. The degree to which man has gone in his preoccupation with flesh has been manifested in what the world calls a "gay lifestyle." Paul the Apostle explained the waywardness of man, in spite of the evidence of God in all of His creation. Men did not glorify God as God, and "their foolish hearts were darkened." While professing to be wise, they actually became fools and changed God into the image of carnal man--as well as birds, animals, and creeping things. They worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, so God gave them over to their fleshly lusts and the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.20
How disgusted our Lord must have been, for He "gave them up to vile passions." Both women and men forsook the natural use of their God-created bodies and turned to those of their own sex. Because they ceased to retain God in their knowledge, He gave them over to a "reprobate mind" to do things which are not fitting. They were filled with ALL unrighteousness and other fleshly manifestations, such as maliciousness, murder, strife, backbiting, haughtiness--to name a few. Paul says that these people "who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also consent with those who practice them."21 In essence, God is saying, "If you persist in your obsession with flesh, then flesh is what you will be. I take my hands off--go and do your thing, but the consequences are deadly as in all fleshly pursuits."
What a description of man today! He is taken up with creatures of flesh--both himself and others. God does not hold first place in the hearts of the majority who name His Name. The lusts of their hearts have caused them to exchange the truth of God for a lie and to follow the dictates of mere men who also name His Name. God will not tolerate man being his own god and making "husbands" of other mortals.
Someone told me of a book given to her so that she might understand homosexuals. She learned that they are very self-centered. This self-centeredness is the manifestation of flesh being taken up with flesh. It is the exact opposite of all God ordained for man, because it is the literal living out of man chasing after man. Rather than mankind modelling in this life the relationship of the Bride and Bridegroom, homosexuals exhibit the extent to which man has gone in his unfaithfulness to God.
What kind of example is the 'church' if those who name the Name of Christ are self-centered? Could we even say that some in the 'church', who are taken up with the things of the flesh, have rightfully earned the name "Sodom?" A fleshly Bride cannot attract others to join her in her pursuit if she is obsessed with mankind rather than the pursuit her Bridegroom. The church cannot lead the world to Jesus if He is not resident in her, because only God's Spirit can draw man to Himself. A self [flesh]-centered 'church' can only repel those people who have a real, God-given spiritual hunger.
God will work His purifying process in individuals, to remove those things standing in the way of their relationship with Jesus. Those willing to submit to purification are the ones who belong to Christ's true church--His Ekklesia. The 'church' as a whole will be purified through the separation of the true from the false. Just as it was when the early Ekklesia was purified through the removal of the unfaithful who turned to other gods, so also will it be in the end time. In the early Ekklesia, many denied the Christ whom they had professed to know. And in these last days there are many also who deny Him with self-righteousness, churchianity, and religiosity. Are we more interested in denominational doctrines and following the precepts of men in a feeble attempt to please God? If Jesus is coming for a Bride without spot and wrinkle, I believe all those engrossed in deeds of the flesh are spots and wrinkles--they will not go in to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, but will be left "without." They will not be a part of the Lord's remnant.
David understood about the marriage relationship. Could that be the reason he was the "man after God's own heart?" He asked, "Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26 Amplified). He went on to make a clear statement about those who depart like harlots from the Lord: "For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You will destroy all who are false to You and like [spiritual] harlots depart from You. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works." (Psalm 73:27-28 Amplified).
1. John 19:34
2. John 3:5
3. 1 Corinthians 15:45
4. Webster's New World Dictionary - Simon & Schuster Inc. 1986
5. Hebrews #2181
6. Hebrews #1168
7. Hebrews #1167
8. Judges 2:13
9. Hebrews #5003
10. Jeremiah 3:6-10,14a NKJV
11. Acts 9:3-16
12. Philippians 3:4-6
13. Greek #647
14. Greek #3432
15. Luke 18:11
16. Hebrew #4496, 4495, 4494, 5117
17. Romans 7: 1-6 NKJV
18. Genesis 4:3
19. 1 Corinthians 6: 18-19
20. Romans 1:20-25
21. Romans 1:26-32