Monday, 4 January 2010

5. you are invited to a wedding

It is almost lost in the fullness of the details of the Sinai event, but God has taken care to ensure we understand what is happening at this point in the history of 'the church of Israel'. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Ex 19:17. What an amazing scene.

Now that they are no longer the 'servants of another' God brings them to a secret trysting place in the desert of Sinai. This event created 'the church of Israel' and it takes the form of a solemn contract. Speaking of these events some centuries later Ezekiel described it in daring language; ... I swore to you, and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Ezek 16:8. It is important to notice that God records a change in his relationship with the nation of Israel from this time; and you became mine. Were they not 'his' before this event? Yes, but not in the unique relationship of a marriage covenant.

This distinction is recorded in the opening stages of the making of the Sinai covenant. So far as I know God had made no promise to enter into such a relationship with them while they were slaves in Egypt but now, set free, they were 'eligible' and God begins his courtship; Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. Ex 19:5 The whole earth is 'his', all the nations are 'his', the whole creation is 'his' but the nation of Israel were going to become 'his' in a unique and exclusive way.

Although this covenant it initiated by a sovereign God of overwhelming power the covenant is not imposed upon Israel, it is submitted to them for their full hearted consent. It is only 'if' they 'obey his voice and keep his covenant' that Jehovah will take them as his bride.

If we read the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament we will see a pattern emerging here, the church is also a bride. The 'church of Israel' was also the 'bride of Jehovah'. The 'church of Jesus Christ' is also the 'bride of Christ'. Now that we have established that link let's ask the question again; 'what is a church?' It is a bride. What is the purpose of a bride? Procreation? Faithful witness? The effectual change of a society? A bride might fulfil all these tasks but none of them does justice to the question "what is the purpose of a bride"? and although a church may excel in all these areas these are not the purpose of its existence. To discover its purpose we shall need to see God's view of it when it fails in its purpose.

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