Throughout scripture there are several brides who are typical of the bride of Christ, the church. In this series, as we examine each bride and her character it will impress upon the reader the great weight God places upon the marriage bond and, typically, the gravitas with which He views the holy relationship between Christ and His church. It is truth that is being widely undermined today by a sustained attack on the integrity of Genesis.
The truth of the church was a concealed mystery in the Old Testament, Eph. 3. 1-11, but a gloriously revealed truth in the New. John chapter 3 verse 29 identifies Jesus as the Bridegroom and His followers as the friends of the Bridegroom, but those same men were going to enter an even closer relationship at Pentecost which was yet future - they would be part of the bride. The church which is the body of Christ is waiting on her heavenly Bridegroom to come at any moment and present His bride at the marriage ceremony followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb. God’s ‘order of service’ is found in Revelation chapter 19 verse 7, entitled ‘the marriage of the Lamb’, while in chapter 21 verse 9 there is a beautiful wedding picture of the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
The first woman, Eve, in the paradise of Eden was joined to one man by God in a unique ‘holy matrimony’, where death and sickness were unknown on the sixth day of a world teeming with new life. The first bride and bridegroom enjoyed a special relationship with one another, walking daily in fellowship with God. It was the ‘perfect marriage’ until sin entered and spoiled the union under the sentence of death, yet marriage never ceased to be the divine ideal.
Genesis chapter 2 magnifies events in chapter 1, but emphasis is placed on the name ‘Lord God’, Jehovah Elohim, the divine administrator, in contrast to Elohim, the Creator of chapter 1. In that administrative capacity, the Lord God made for Adam ‘a woman’ and brought her unto the ‘man’, precluding any redefinition of marriage or gender, as both are critical to the integrity of the type of Christ and His church. God made Adam ‘first’, establishing the order of headship. Therefore, as the first bride was subject to her head, the church should be subject to Christ, Eph. 5. 23, 24.
The first reason God gives for providing a bride is found in Genesis chapter 2 verse 18, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’. Marriage may not be God’s will for everyone, but God always purposed that Christ should have a bride joined together with Him eternally in heaven. That is why, ‘What … God hath joined together, let not man put asunder’, Mark 10. 9. The bride is secure in His love, for ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ Rom. 8. 35.
Second, God made Eve as a spiritual ‘help’ for Adam. Eve’s glory came directly from Adam and when God presented her to him there were no other women for Adam to compare Eve with, so she would receive his undivided attention. She was the complement and fullness of the man, and her typical meaning is beautifully illustrated in the Hebrew word ‘made’, Gen. 2. 22, which means ‘to build’, 4. 17. Just as God built a bride for the first man, the second man, the Lord from Heaven, said, ‘upon this rock I will build my church’, Matt. 16. 18. The church was yet future, and the bride of Christ is distinct from Israel who is the unfaithful wife of Jehovah, presently set aside for coming judgement. A spiritual ‘help’ is still God’s ideal order for marriage today and we may well ask ourselves, ‘Am I a help to Christ or a hindrance?’ ‘Am I a faithful help to my spouse?’ Let no one think ‘church doctrine’ is not practical, for the marriage union is the very foundation of the family unit.
The order of marriage for the first bride was arranged by an omniscient God who had a perfect knowledge of Adam’s needs and with omnipotence made a perfect woman out of Adam’s rib. The New Testament pattern today is to marry ‘in the Lord’, 1 Cor. 7. 39. This anticipates the union of one man and one woman who are saved (in Christ), baptized, practically, walking together (in the Lord). ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ Amos 3. 3.
The word ‘love’, first mentioned in Genesis chapter 22, is used for the Father’s love for His beloved Son which typically predates the love of Adam for Eve. The love of a husband for his wife should reflect the love that Christ had for the church and the glory we are called to share. Love is defined by the words, ‘gave himself’, Eph. 5. 25. The world’s idea of ‘falling in love’ today and breaking up tomorrow shows no understanding of the sacrificial love of Christ. Nothing can compare to the blessed place which the church occupies in the purposes of God and in the affections of Christ.
As Eve was ‘raised up together’ with Adam and saw her husband for the first time she must have observed the similarities and yet the marked differences. Both came from the hand of God yet were physically different in gender and role, with Eve discovering she had the privilege of bringing children into the world. But Eve would learn that God caused Adam’s side to be opened, and, made from his rib, she would be forever united with him as a member of his body. God’s surgical skill would mean there was no mark left on Adam, Gen 2. 21. As we contemplate how Christ gave Himself for the church, it required a wound that was not visible to anyone but the holy eye of God. Isaiah prophesied, ‘by his stripe [singular] we are healed’, Isa. 53. 5 lit. Eve, the first bride, was linked to a wounded man by precious blood, and so are we.
The Bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
She will not gaze at glory,
But on her King of grace,
Not at the crown he giveth,
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.
[Anne Ross Cousin]
As God conducted the marriage and brought Eve to Adam, he would recognize her dependence on him because she was taken out of him and now joined to him as ‘one flesh’. In Ephesians chapter 1, our union with Christ is underlined using the preposition ‘in Christ’, for God’s purpose is to gather together ‘in one’ all things in Christ, Eph. 1. 10. That describes our individual union with Christ as members of His body, and the corporate unity of Jew and Gentile together in ‘one new man’, 2. 15. In Romans chapter 8 verse 17, we are one as ‘heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together’. Paul captures the truth of Genesis chapter 2 verse 23, ‘For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh’, Eph. 5. 30, 31. This ‘oneness’ teaches us that the church, the bride of Christ, exists primarily for the glory of God but, ironically, the assembly that received such a wealth of teaching on Christ and His love for the church was the church who had left their first love, resulting in Christ’s call to Ephesus to repent, Rev. 2. 4.
It is the purpose of Christ that He might present His bride to Himself ‘a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish’, Eph. 5. 27. This looks forward to the marriage ceremony that will take place after the Judgement Seat of Christ, which is why the bride is ‘arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints’, Rev. 19. 8. God clothed the first bride, Eve, in a coat of skin available only through the shedding of blood; we have been clothed in ‘garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels’, Isa. 61. 10.
The subtlety of the devil Sadly, while Eve was the first bride, she was also the ‘fallen bride’, appearing in the New Testament to teach us two important principles in the local assembly.
First, the local assembly at Corinth is described as an espoused bride, 2 Cor. 11. 2, ‘I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ’. Paul’s desire was for the saints at Corinth to be pure in light of the coming Bridegroom. He warned them of the danger of their minds being deceived and defiled by listening to ‘another gospel’, just as Eve’s mind was so deceived by the devil’s false gospel. They could spoil their spiritual chastity and, just as Eve listened to a false gospel, so today in the local assembly we need to be careful that we do not advance ‘another Jesus’. The ‘Jesus’ of drama, acting or movies is an unacceptable substitute for the true gospel and has no place among God’s people.
The subjection of the woman A second lesson from Eve is found in Paul’s letter to Timothy, who was in the assembly at Ephesus. In chapter 2, Paul teaches the importance of the assembly prayer meeting and instructs us in what we should pray for, and who should pray in public. The woman should be silent. The reason given is not cultural but creatorial - Adam was formed first and therefore the woman should be subject to the man. Notice ‘in like manner’; it is not a question of equality but authority. Eve usurped authority over Adam instead of being in subjection, with catastrophic results. This amplifies the teaching of Ephesians chapter 5 verse 24 where subjection is in the context of husband and wife, whereas here it is male and female, but the principle is the same.
The first bride teaches us that the church, whether universally or locally, should be subject to Christ until He comes.
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