Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
I was reading about and comparing the New Jerusalem with the Millennium Jerusalem when something quite startling occurred to me. There is a distinction and very definite distinction between the Wife of Jehovah and the Wife of the Lamb.
It goes back to Israel committing adultery with other gods. This broke the marriage contract Israel had with God which is found in Deuteronomy. This adultery which broke the covenant wasn't just a one time, fling... It was a constant thing. It was extremely degrading and embarrassing to the One True God, because it declared to the surrounding nations that He was a cuckold. And Israel was different, she "paid her lovers". Ezekiel describes this extensively in 16:15-34. Isaiah tells us that God didn't divorce Israel right away, he separated from her as a punishment to bring her back. He withdrew the blessings and rain didn't fall etc. But Israel continued to embrace other gods and Hosea tells us that this produced illegitimate children "children of whoredom" Hosea 2. Then in Jeremiah 3, we see the bill of divorcement. Actually, the book of Jeremiah shows the unrepentant Israel and why the bill of divorcement was necessary. Ezekiel and Hosea also describe the punishment. The punishment was to stop Israel from sinning with idols. The punishment was necessary because Israel broke the marriage contract 16:58-59, and showed no signs of repentance. In fact the book of Hosea is the surface story of God and Israel. Please note when you read Hosea’s story that the adulterous wife forgot her Husband, God said He would allure her. He also would betroth her in faithfulness.
Therefore, despite the punishment, there is hope for Israel... there is a call to repentance Jeremiah 3. But to no avail. God didn't divorce Judah... to do so would have made Jesus illegitimate. He suffered Judah's harlotry until she rejected Jesus, her own Son. So now we have a situation that continues today. Israel and Judah are still in punishment. What makes it exceedingly worse for them today is the clear evidence that Jesus is God's Son and is the Messiah. They continually reject this evidence which heaps more punishment upon them. God promised to give them back their land, which He did. Yet, they still reject.
In Jesus day, they had the opportunity to become sanctified but rejected it as a nation. Individuals believed and were saved and entered into a new marriage contract as the Bride of the Lamb. But the nation rejected thus the Woe curse and the scattering and the destruction of 70AD.
Hosea tells us of how God will woo back His wife. 5:14, He will "allure her into the desert and speak tenderly to her". Several places, one being Matthew 24, Israel is told when you see these signs "flee into the mountains". All their needs will be provided for... food, water etc. and this is basically when Israel finally turns back fully and wholly to God and calls him "my husband", not "my master" Hosea 2.
Now, compare Gomer a soiled wife with the Bride of the Lamb in 2 Corinthians 11:2, being presented as a "pure virgin to Christ" and in Ephesians 5 "the washing of water with the Word, that He might present the church to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing...holy and without blemish." To me, this describes the sanctification process; a continual process of emersion in the Word of God, being conformed by it and cleansed by it. It is the actual maturing of the Bride. She was betrothed as a baby and had to grow in her understanding as a whole as well as in numbers "until the fullness of the Gentiles is in..."
Now, here is another distinction. In John 3, John the Baptist called himself "a friend of the bridegroom". I had always wondered about that. Then Jesus says John the Baptist was the greatest of all, but the least of these is greater than him. How can that be? The only way that could be is if John the Baptist was the last of the OT prophets and not a member of the Bride herself. And the only way this could be is that John the Baptist died before Christ rose from the dead. This draws a clear distinction down between the OT saints and the NT saints or rather the church, the Bride of Christ.
So why the sacrifices? Because before the Millennium, the marriage between the Messiah and His Bride takes place. Revelation 19. This does not mean that the blood of Jesus does not cover the Millennial saints. It does. But ONLY after they receive their glorified bodies. They have to go through the sanctification process, just like the church did. They are human and subject to sin. Everyone will live at least 100 years (Isaiah 65). The unbelievers dying at that age and the believers will continue to live until the 1000 years is finished. God is holy and for Him to reside in the Temple amongst flesh and blood with sinful natures, these humans must be sanctified. God accepts His wife back with a deep love and tenderness, however, it is in her human state, she must be sanctified to live with Him...In His presence. We don't have God as an earthly presence now in the same manner that He will reside in the Temple during the Millennium. The blood of Jesus sanctifies and justifies us before God, but as a human I cannot stand in front of God (1 Corinthians 15). Once my physical body has passed on and I am renewed, refurbished in the spiritual realm, washed clean with the only perfect and acceptable sacrifice that will satisfy the holy law of God, only then may I stand in front of God. This is why the OT saints had to wait in the "holding tank of Paradise". The blood of Jesus was needed to make them "righteous in spirit" to enter heaven and the presence of God.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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