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The Marriage of the Lamb and the Wife of GOD are themes in Scripture. How is the Bride concept dealt with in Scripture, in relation to Israel, the Body of Messiah and the Nation?

This special topic was recorded on February 23, 2008. Our speaker for this session was Elie Nessim.

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The text for this session:

The question we’re going to look at today is as follows:


The Marriage of the Lamb and the Wife of GOD are themes in Scripture.  Could you explain how the Bride concept is dealt with in Scripture, in relation to Israel, the Body of Messiah and the Nation?


In answer to that, Scripture portrays GOD as having two brides – an earthly bride and a heavenly bride.  Israel is GOD’s earthly bride.  The Church, or the Kehillah is GOD’s heavenly bride.


First of all, the nation of Israel:  The nation of Israel is comprised of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and they are compared to the natural branches of the Olive Tree in Romans 11: 16 – 24.  At the present time the true Israel consists of a believing remnant.  In Romans 2: 28-29, GOD’s word says:


“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”  That describes the believing remnant.  And again in Romans 4: 11-12, Romans 9:6-8, this fact is pressed. 


The nation of Israel has a unique relationship to GOD, comparable to a marriage covenant.  In Deuteronomy 32 – The Song of Moses – verse 8 and 9, GOD says:


“When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.  For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.”


Also in Isaiah chapter 19, GOD speaks about “Israel My inheritance.”


The unbelief of the majority in the nation is put in terms of marital unfaithfulness.  Their subsequent reclamation is described as the marriage restored.  Their salvation from sin will be as a nation.  Romans 11: 25 – 27 declares this truth:


“For I do not desire, brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 


“The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”


And again in Isaiah chapter 60 verse 22, GOD says there similar words:  “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation.  I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.” In verse 21, GOD says about His people as a result of His Redemption “Also your people shall all be righteous.  They shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.”


Israel is the only nation as a nation for whom Messiah died, and that fact is brought out to us in John chapter 11, verse 47 – 52: 


“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.  If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”  “And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that he would gather together in one the children of GOD who were scattered abroad.”””


Messiah died for Israel as a nation, unlike any other.


Scripture outlines the espousals and marriage of Israel to GOD, the failure of the marriage, and its ultimate renewal.  In Exodus chapter 19, verses 4 – 8, we have the record of the offer of marriage accepted by the people of Israel. 


“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.  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.  And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”  So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him.  Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.”  So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.”””


There was the offer of marriage, and GOD recounts this event in Jeremiah chapter 2, verse 2 and 3:  “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, the firstfruits of His increase, all that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,” says the LORD.’””


That speaks of the betrothal in the wilderness referring to the betrothal offer when Israel came out of Egypt into the desert.  Also in Jeremiah, chapter 3 and verse 1, GOD speaks of their unfaithfulness and He compares it to spiritual adultery.  In Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 32, GOD promised a new covenant with His people, and this is what He says:


“Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.” 


There’s a picture of Israel’s unfaithfulness to her divine husband, and GOD seeks to remedy this by means of a new covenant.


In Hosea chapter 2, there’s the picture of how GOD succeeds in bringing His people to Himself.  There’s chastisement, there’s correction, there’s conciliation.  In Hosea chapter 2, throughout the whole chapter, the whole process is described.  And in Hosea chapter 3 – Israel reclaimed; bought back, forgiven, restored and remarried.  And in Isaiah 54, verse 4 and 5: 


“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; nor be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.  For your Maker is your Husband, The LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the GOD of the whole earth.”  Israel there is described as GOD’s earthly bride - her defection, her reclamation, her restoration.


We also have a picture in the Scriptures concerning the Church, (or the Kahal, or the Kehillah) GOD’s heavenly bride.  The Church is composed of all those who are circumcised in heart.  The Church, the Kahal, the people of GOD, the house of GOD, began with Abel. 


In Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 4, Abel is mentioned as the first of the many men and women of faith.  “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts…”  That’s when the Kahal began.  It began with Abel, and it is comprised of all those who are circumcised in heart.  In the case of Israel, circumcised not only in flesh but in heart. 


Romans chapter 15, verse 8 – 12:  “Now I say that Yeshua HaMashiach has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:  “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.””  The Church is called the wife of the Lamb. 


In Revelation chapter 21, verse 2 and verse 9:  “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  Verse 9:  “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.””


So the Kehillah is called the wife of the Lamb.  It is composed of believing Jews and Gentiles, and they are one body in Messiah.  Ephesians 1: 22 – 23; Ephesians 4,verse 4 which speaks about “one body and one Spirit…called in one hope of your calling…” particularly in Galatians chapter 3: 28 – 29: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.  And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” 


Physical distinctions apply only while we are here on the earth.  In the book of Revelation chapter 7, verse 4 and verse 9, the physical distinctions are mentioned.  “And I heard the number of those who were sealed.  One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.”  And verse 9:  “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”  Spiritually, there is no distinction.  Physically, the distinctions do apply and are mentioned in Revelation.


Two useful analogies are found in the Olive Tree figure (Romans 11) and the two births mentioned in John chapter 3.  It’s not enough to be a child of GOD to be born into the nation of Israel; we need to be born again – the two births.  In all this, the Kehillah, the Church retains her Hebraic character.  That is borne out in Revelation 21, verse 12 and verse 14.   Speaking of the bride of the Lamb in the figure of a city:  “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.”  And again in verse 14:  “Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”  So the gates and the foundations are named after the Patriarchs and the Apostles respectively – all Hebrews.


The heavenly bridegroom is Messiah.  In Matthew chapter 9, Messiah was responding to the challenge - why His disciples did not fast as the disciples of John, and the disciples of the Pharisees.  And this was His reply in Matthew chapter 9, verse 15:  “And Yeshua said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?  But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  He compares Himself to the bridegroom, and He also announces in advance, that the day will come when He will be taken from them.  But He is not only come as a bridegroom of His people Israel, He is also come as the heavenly bridegroom of the nations.


In Acts chapter 15, there was a council held at Jerusalem to discuss a new problem, and that was that Gentiles were now becoming followers of Messiah.  Verse 13 of Acts 15:  “And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: “Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.””  So in saying that, he was asserting and affirming that the heavenly bridegroom is the bridegroom of all believers, Jewish and well as Gentiles.


Two parables that illustrate this are the parables of the marriage feast in Matthew 22, and the parable of the wise maidens in Matthew 25.  In both those, there is a picture of marriage; there is a picture of wedding procession.


Thirdly and lastly, concerning the Kehillah – the betrothal and marriage, spiritual betrothal and spiritual marriage.  Here is what John said in John chapter 3 and verse 29.  Speaking to His disciples, He said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.  Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.”  There’s the reference to the heavenly bridegroom of His believing people.


Then we have a reference to the bride, in what Shaul wrote to the Corinthians.  2nd Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 2: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.  For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Messiah.”  That was Shaul’s ministry – to gather the Gentile part of the bride for Messiah.


What was the betrothal price?  The betrothal price was the blood of Messiah Himself.  In Acts chapter 20, verse 28, Shaul gave his parting charge to the elders of Ephesus in these words:  “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  With every betrothal, there was a betrothal price to pay.  Or as Ephesians declares, in chapter 5 and verse 25:  “Husbands love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the church (or the Kehillah) and gave Himself for her.”  The betrothal price was Messiah Himself and the blood that He shed.


Once more in Hebrews 13, verse 12: “Therefore Yeshua also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”  That was the betrothal price.


And the marriage is the final stage, found in Revelation chapter 19 and verse 7:  “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  And the wife is composed of those that are mentioned as a great multitude in verse 6: “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!””  Two brides – one earthly; one heavenly!  The nation of Israel, the earthly bride; the Kehillah, GOD’S heavenly bride.











(Q):  Some say that Israel was divorced and use things like Jeremiah 3:8 to support that and would go to Ephesians 5 and say that there is a new Israel and it is the Church.  How would you answer them?



(A):  GOD says that He will take back the one that He has divorced.  In Jeremiah 3 and verse 1, GOD says to His people there:


“They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’  Would not that land be greatly polluted?  But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me.” Says the LORD.’” 


The nation here that is divorced is the nation of Israel.  She has not married another.  According to the Torah, if a woman was divorced and went and married another man, she could not return to her first husband.  But He says specifically here, to the nation of Israel, ‘you have not married another; “you have played the harlot...”  So she is still the wife, although she has been divorced, she may still, according to the Torah, return to her husband because she has not legally married anybody else.  And GOD says, ‘I will take you back with all your defilement.  With all your default I will take you back to Myself.’ “Yet return to Me,” says the LORD.””


(Q):  And those that use Ephesians 5 to say that there is a new Israel, how     would you answer that?



(A):  GOD has a purpose for the nation of Israel, a national earthly purpose.  He also has a purpose for every believer, and those compose His heavenly bride.  We have the two existing side-by-side, and eventually merging into the heavenly bride.  At the time that the whole nation of Israel becomes a believing nation, all the members of the saved nation are not only members of the earthly nation; they are also members of the heavenly bride.  They have a dual role, a dual identity.  This dual identity is described for us in the Scriptures.


(Q):  Would you say that the Messianic Kingdom is the fulfilment of the promises GOD made with Israel, as the physical bride Israel would be to Messiah in that Kingdom?



(A):  Yes, I would say that the Messianic Kingdom is the outworking of GOD’S purposes of Redemption, both national and spiritual.  Redemption is natural when Israel are redeemed from all their enemies and restored to their land.  And it is spiritual when as in Ezekiel chapter 36 He says: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean.”  After He had brought them back into their land.  There is a two-fold restoration – physical and spiritual.



(Q):  In Revelation 21 verse 2 and 9, the bride is referred to as the city.  Could you just elaborate a little bit on that statement in reference to the eternal bride of GOD?



(A):  The question was about the nation of Israel represented by Jerusalem.  It’s continuing the picture that is found in the Prophets, where GOD says to Jeremiah, “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying… ‘I remember you… the love of your betrothal…” Jerusalem stands as the emblem of the nation, just as today in diplomatic language, we speak about London, or Paris, or Moscow, or New York, and by those we mean England or France or Russia or America.  They are symbolized by their capital cities.  And in the case of the nation of Israel, Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel.



(Q):  Some might say that GOD is having a multiple marriage with two brides.  How would you answer them?



(A):  The picture of two brides doesn’t apply in an earthly situation, but in a spiritual situation with GOD, it is quite feasible for GOD to have multiple brides.  In the book of Psalms – Psalm 45, we read about the queen, we read about the virgins, her companions, and they are all brought into the palace to the King, to form one composite bride.  That’s why the Bible says, “this is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Messiah and the Kehillah.”  It is a mystery but it cannot be explained by any human analogy.





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