Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Bride Of Christ.

The bride of Christ. Paul tells us that there was a remnant who remained faithful to Yahweh. Romans 9:26-27. Before we start to tie all this in together we need to back up a bit and take a quick look at another historical setting of Israel. Elijah marked a time of awful apostasy in Israel. After Jeroboam died, there were many kings of Israel, but none so wicked as Ahab. He married a heathen woman, named Jezebel, and worshiped gods and built temples for them, which provoked the anger of the Lord against Ahab more so than against all the kings of Israel that were before him. So bad was it that Elijah felt he was the only true Israelite left.

Elijah had been true to the Lord, and under God had done his best to fight the idolatry that covered the nation. In God's power he had challenged the prophets of Baal on mount Carmel. God had wonderfully proved himself to be the one true God by answering Elijah's prayer and sending fire down from heaven to consume Elijah's offering, when all the crying of the prophets of Baal to their god had been in vain.

The prophets of Baal had been killed, and the people had bowed down and cried 'The Lord he is God'. Then the Lord had sent rain on Israel and ended the drought, but all seemed in vain. Jezebel still dominated over Ahab, and Elijah found himself fleeing for his life. In this situation Elijah cried out to God in despair. In his flight from Jezebel, God asks Elijah what he is doing. Elijah replies I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.

The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me. Elijah was in despair, yet after God had dealt with him in earthquake and fire and thunder and a great stillness, God points out to Elijah that his assessment of the situation was wrong. God tells Elijah "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." For the entire story, read all of 1 Kings 16-19.

Paul goes into the history of the Jews, and for this he chooses a spectacular example in the history of Elijah the prophet. "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the scripture says in the passage about Elijah - how he appealed to God against Israel: 'Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me?' And what was God's answer to him? 'I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.' So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." (Romans 11:1-6)

Paul asks the question as to whether God has rejected his people. This seems to be so because the nation of the Jews had been rejected by God, and the understanding prevalent at the time was that the whole nation of the Jews constituted the chosen people of God. Much like some believe today.

Paul's answer to his own question is a plain rejection of such an idea. Has God rejected his people? By no means! Paul then proves his point by two illustrations. The first one is concerning himself, and the second is found in the history of the Jewish nation.

Paul argues that to say God had rejected his people, and had gone back on his word, was proved wrong straight away because of his own experience. Paul then describes briefly his Jewish pedigree. He was a true Jew. He could trace his ancestry back to Abraham, and to the fact he belonged directly to the tribe of Benjamin. What Paul is arguing is that here was a true Jew, of the nation of the Jews, and this true Jew was accepted by God.

Paul plainly had in mind the fact of his conversion. As a Jew, he was angrily opposed to Christians, and to the Gospel. He went out of his way to exterminate the followers of Jesus. Never in his wildest dreams does he think of becoming a Christian and a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Yet in spite of this God stopped him in his tracks and in his virulent attack of the church of Christ, and made him one of Christ's disciples. Paul had no desire to become a Christian yet he was owned by God, and made by God one of God's own people. Paul saw this as a very powerful argument that God had not rejected his people. If God had rejected his people, he would not have gone out of his way to save and accept Paul who was a true Jew.

Paul then is telling the truth. God foreknew Paul, and it was because he was foreknown by God before the foundation of the world, that God accepted him in Christ's death, and numbered him amongst the members of the true Israel of God.

What Paul is arguing, therefore, is that God had not rejected the people of the Jews altogether. The nation of Israel had been rejected, but there was still the remnant whom God had chosen before the foundation of the world, and these were being saved all the time.

Paul tell us about this remnant in Romans 9:26-27 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: " Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.

Paul argues that this was and is the pattern of the work of God since the days of Elijah. Just as in the past God preserved a remnant chosen by grace all down the history of the Jews, so now and in the future, he was doing the same, as in the time of Baal.

What was true of Paul in this respect was all the apostles, and many other Jews, the 3000 converted on the day of Pentecost, and indeed many thousand souls were added (Act 2:41) God had not forgotten his promise to Abraham. There were on Gentiles in the early Hebrew Christian Church from 32 to 42. He was accepting all the true children of Abraham by faith. Paul himself, happened to be one of those Jews, that God had not forgotten.

The Gentiles did not start coming into the Hebrew Christian Church until the council at Jerusalem in the 60's. Starting from Pentecost, the infant Church was being trained and prepared as a pure virgin to take on the role of a wife and fitting bride for her mate.

Here is one prime example from the words of Paul. 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 NIV I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, “ so that I might “present you” as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (emphasis added)

It should not be overlooked here that Paul says he promised the Church of Corinth to one husband, to Christ as a pure virgin. The church was already promised to Christ as a radiant, blameless bride. This is the period of time that she is observed for her purity. It is with this remnant of Spiritual Israel that Yahweh make his bride.