I want to turn you to several passages of Scripture. In the Old
Testament in the prophecies of Isaiah chapter 54, verse 5: "For
thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name: the
Holy One of Israel is thy redeemer".
Chapter 62 at verse 5: "For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so
shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over
the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee".
In the prophecies of Jeremiah, chapter 3, verse 14: "Return, O
backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am a husband unto
Chapter 31, at verse 31: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,
that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with
the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with
their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring
them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake,
although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord".
The prophecies of Malachi chapter 2, verse 11: "Judah hath dealt
treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in
Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which
he loveth, and hath married the daughter of a strange god".
That is how we finish the Old Testament. Now we will see how we
finish the New Testament. The book of the Revelation, chapter 19
verse 7: "Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give
the glory unto Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His
wife hath made herself ready". Chapter 21, verse 2: "And I saw the
holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made
ready as a bride adorned for her husband".
Verse 9, "And there came
one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls
who were laden with
the seven last plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come
hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And
carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and
showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone
most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal: having
wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates
I think we can leave the reading there and resume the matter with
which we have been occupied through the week. We have been seeing
what God is doing particularly in the dispensation in which we
live. He is constituting a new, heavenly, spiritual, Israel. We
have seen the failure of the old Israel and God's necessity for
setting that Israel aside, but, at the time of setting aside, the
bringing in of His new heavenly Israel. This is what is called
"the heavenly calling", and we are told that we are called to be
"companions of the heavenly calling", and "companions of Christ in
the heavenly calling".
We have seen how the New Testament takes over the ideas of the
Old Testament and translates them into spiritual meaning. The
titles of the old Israel are redeemed and brought over to the new,
because, although God may have to give up an instrument that He
raises up, He never gives up His thought. He will never give up
His intention, and if He cannot realise His purpose in one
instrument, He will realise it in another.
We have seen that the old Israel was called "God's family"; we
have seen that the old Israel was called "the Lord's house"; the
old Israel was called "God's heir for His inheritance"; the old
Israel was called "God's flock" - Israel were God's sheep. We have
seen that the old Israel was called "God's vine". And all these
titles are taken up and brought into the New Testament church. The
new heavenly Israel is His family - children of God. It is His
house, "Whose house are we". We are "heirs of God and joint-heirs
with Jesus Christ". We are His flock - "I am the good shepherd".
We are His vine, "I am the vine, and ye are the branches".
Well, now we have to come to the last one that we are able to
look at at this time. And from the readings that we have taken you
have come to the conclusion as to what it is: the Bride of the
Israel, as we have seen from those various Scriptures, was called
God's bride. It says that He became a husband to Israel. You
notice that although Israel was a man literally, Israel is usually
spoken of in the feminine. It is not "he" it is "she", and it is
"she" who failed Him as a wife. He purchased Israel to be His
bride with precious blood. Last week we saw that the Passover was
a marriage covenant. Jeremiah 31:31 says that when He brought them
out of Egypt, He took them by the hand and became a husband unto
them. The blood of the Passover lamb was the blood of a covenant
marriage between the Lord and Israel. He betrothed Israel unto
Himself that night, and thus she was purchased with His blood.
Very little needs to be said to those who know the Old Testament,
about God's love for Israel - the most amazing thing in history.
When you think what Israel was, when you read the history of
Israel from Israel's own side, it is the most wonderful
thing to hear the Lord saying: "I have loved thee with an
everlasting love". God has never given up that love, it's still an
everlasting love, but there is a sob in the heart of God. It's a
However, the Old Testament is a wonderful revelation of God's
love for Israel: the love of the whole heart of God for a bride.
How that love was expressed for Israel! See the wonderful
protection that the Lord provided for Israel! He protected Israel
all the way along. He provided food and raiment for Israel. It
says that He led her safely on. The tender, providing, protecting
love of God is everywhere in the Old Testament.
What was God's thought and intention in betrothing Israel to Himself?
That she might be to His pleasure. The Lord took pleasure in
Israel, but the Lord had brought Israel into being for His own
pleasure, to bring satisfaction to His own heart.
Of course, this is a deep mystery why the all-sufficient God
should want something for His pleasure. He who possessed all
things and really had need of nothing is nevertheless revealed as
One who created a people for His pleasure. You see, He created all
things for His pleasure. He created the world for His pleasure. He
created all that is in the world for His pleasure. And He created
man for His pleasure. And it all went away from Him. He was
disappointed in it all, so He said: "I'll begin again", and He
raised up Israel. His idea was that Israel would satisfy Him where
everything else had disappointed Him. The bride was for the
Then again, Israel was raised up to be the self-revelation of the
Lord. God intended to reveal Himself to the whole universe through
Israel; to show what kind of a husband He is. Of course, we can't
bring this down to everyday life now, but sometimes you are able
to see what kind of a husband a woman has, by herself. As you look
at her, see how she is provided for and cared for; you are able to
say: "She must have a wonderful husband!" Well, that is what a
wife is for! I'm afraid many of us husbands have failed
terribly... but that is how things are in the human life. But the
Divine thought is just the opposite. God wanted to reveal to this
whole universe what a wonderful God He is in terms of a husband to
Israel. Israel had been raised up, in New Testament language, to
"show forth the excellencies of Him who called her out of darkness
Then Israel was brought into this relationship of the wife to the
Lord for the purpose of His increase, His
expansion. So to speak, many others outside of Israel were to be
born unto the Lord through Israel. His family was to expand by
means of Israel: "The Gentiles shall come to the brightness of thy
shining". And nations were to be born unto the Lord, these are the
things that the prophets said. And the bride was to be for the
Lord's own expansion.
And then, last of all - mystery of mysteries! - it was a matter
of companionship. None of us can understand why the Lord wanted a
companion. It is possible to be a wife and not be a companion.
Many a wife is not a real companion of her husband. He does not
find her a companion. She is a lot of things, but just that one
thing is lacking - real companionship. Perhaps that is the tragedy
of many broken marriages today. Of course, I know that it works
the other way as well, but companionship is the highest
thought in this relationship. The Lord raised up Israel to be His
Now, it is easy to see how Israel failed in all these matters.
The time came when the Lord could no longer take pleasure in
Israel, when Israel no longer revealed to the world what kind of a
God He is, when Israel cut off the Gentiles and shut herself down
to herself; refused to fulfil the world mission for which she had
been brought into union with God. And all this resulted in God
losing His companion, and the Old Testament closes on that painful
note: a horrible thing has happened in Israel, she has left the
Lord, her Husband, and gone after another.
So, to the Lord, she died. To the Lord as a nation she is dead,
she is "dead while she liveth". The Lord could never marry another
while she was alive; that was contrary to His own law. She has
died, so He can take another wife. You will remember Paul's own
words about this: that we are married to the Lord. When this
former wife died, He brought in another, a new bride.
The New Testament has a lot to say, as you know, about this new
bride. In the gospels the Lord Jesus calls Himself the Bridegroom.
You will remember the parable of the virgin, when the cry went
forth: "Behold, the bridegroom cometh!" and we have read these
passages in Revelation all about the bride, the Lamb's wife. Some
of you are recalling Paul's words in his letter to the Ephesians:
"Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that
He might present the church to Himself a glorious church, not
having spot or wrinkle or any such thing", and that follows this:
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loves the church".
Well, the fact, I think, is established, but we have to bring
back all those features of this relationship. Why are we
joined to the Lord? Why are we what are called Christians?
For if we are New Testament Christians we are joined to the Lord
in a covenant of marriage. It is "the church of God, which He
purchased with His own blood".
How many of you go to the Lord's Table at any time? It goes by
different names - the Lord's Table, the Lord's Supper, the Holy
Communion, and so on. It doesn't matter so much what you call it,
it is what you mean by it. Do you know, dear friends, that every
time you go to the Lord's Table, His meaning in that table
is that you are putting your hand to the covenant again and
saying: "I stand by my marriage relationship to the Lord. This
loaf means that I am one flesh with Christ." We are one body in
Him, a part of His very Body is represented by that loaf. And the
marriage ordinance of God at the beginning is: "They two shall
become one flesh". Jesus said: "This loaf is My body". When we
take it we are meant to be saying: "I am one body with Christ".
The two become one flesh. And it is the marriage relationship.
And when we take the cup, symbolic of His Blood, we say two
things: "I share one life with Him. His life is my life, and that
was made by a covenant in His Blood." That is the deep meaning of
the Table of the Lord. Is that what we mean every time we
come to the Lord's Table? It is the bride saying: "I stand by the
covenant, I am one with my Lord".
We sang this afternoon: "Jesus, my Husband..."; that is the
nature of our union with Him. That is what it really means
to be a Christian. May our Christianity be redeemed from
everything less than that!
But when the relationship has been established in His Blood, then
the purpose of the relationship begins. We are His for His
Pleasure and not our own. He has made us for His pleasure,
the apostle says, "Working in us that which is well-pleasing in His
sight... that we may be unto the praise of His glory... to
the glory of His grace... to shew forth the excellencies
Dear friends, this compasses the Christian life. This is why He
has drawn us with the bands of love. This is the reason for our
union with Christ: that we should be unto His pleasure,
that He may take pleasure in us. The time is coming when
He will look at His bride and then He will say, "She is a glorious
bride". He has brought us to Himself for that very purpose: to
reveal Himself by means of us.
Perhaps our heads and our hearts are going down now. What a poor
revelation of our Lord we are! We're making a terrible mess of
this business of revealing Christ, but He is taking great pains
with us. Truly it is not easy, and He does not make it easy. It
seems so often that He puts us into difficult positions in order
that we may show forth His glory.
Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to
buffet him. Do you know what it is to have a thorn in the flesh
and a messenger of Satan always buffeting you? Paul said that he
went to the Lord three times about this. I don't know whether he
meant literally three times, I think he meant: "I went to the Lord
again, and again, and again! I asked the Lord to remove this thorn
and to destroy this messenger of Satan, but He said unto me: 'My
grace is sufficient for thee: and My strength is made perfect in
That strange sovereignty of God... that strange providence of
God. It seems sometimes that He puts difficulties into our lives,
and makes it hard for us, and then, in the grace that He shows, we
magnify Him. No one knows what Paul's thorn was. A lot of people
have had a guess at it, and some people think they've got it, they
know what it was, I don't think anyone really does know. But it
was evidently something that people could see, and they could say:
"My word, Paul has a hard time with that. I'm very glad that the
Lord hasn't called me to go that way! That poor man does know what
suffering means, but how
marvellous is the grace of God in that man! Look at his
victorious spirit! See how he does not go down under his
suffering. My, the grace of God in that man is a wonderful thing!"
And Paul said: "And they glorified God in me". Yes, for the
self-revelation of the Lord the church is a suffering church. This
wife of the Lord is a suffering wife, but the revelation of His
grace is a wonderful thing.
Then what about His increase through the church? We have already
said much about this. The Lord, through His church, wants to bring
many, many into the Kingdom. Said He, "Preach the gospel in every
nation, in the whole creation... The Lord willeth not that any
should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge
of the truth". Let that stand over all your ultra-Calvinism. Don't
let any Calvinism take one iota away from that. The Lord would
have all men saved, and He has never told His church to go
and pick out one here and one there and say: "You are the elect,"
and leave the others. No, "Preach the Gospel to the whole
creation; leave the rest with Me!" Well, that is the world mission
of the new Israel. But do not just view it in a general way. Get
down to it tomorrow morning, make this your personal business if
by any means you might be able to bring souls into the Kingdom.
When we have said all that, we come to this supreme thing: He has
joined us to Himself to be His companions. That has been our note
right through this conference: "We are become companions of
Christ... Wherefore, holy brethren, companions of a heavenly
calling." To be His companions. I confess that I don't understand
that: that the Lord should find me His friend, not just officially
related to Him, but related to Him as a friend. To be the friends
of the Lord! I can only say to you let us take that word and
continually ask ourselves "How would a friend act in this
matter? How would a friend decide? I am the Lord's friend.
I must not fail Him in friendship. I must not let Him down. He
counts upon me to be His
friend" - the highest and most sacred part of the whole
I despair of ever getting over to you what I see in this matter.
You see, after all this time, I haven't touched the new Jerusalem
yet! It is a very significant thing that the new Jerusalem is
called "the Bride". Said the angel to John: "Come hither, I will
shew you the bride, the Lamb's wife", and John might have said:
"Now, let's go and see this wonderful woman"! "And he shewed me
the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven."
The bride is the city, and the city is the bride. And then you
have to read the whole description of the city in Revelation 21
and 22 in order to know what the bride is going to be like. See
all the precious stones! This is the preciousness of the Lord
Jesus in manifold expression. Peter said: "Unto you that believe
is the preciousness". "All manner of precious stones..." it is
what Jesus is in His real character revealed in the bride, the
Well, I can't stay with that, that wants hours! But you look at
it. Stop thinking about a literal city. This is all a symbolic
representation of Christ's bride. All these glories of the
city are only the glories of Christ expressed at last in His
bride. "He shewed me the holy city, the new Jerusalem... having
the glory of God... her light was like unto a light most
precious" shining through all these gems. I'm afraid my
interpreter might have a bad time if I started giving you the list
of gems! But it really doesn't matter, we need not do it.
All this is what was meant by the apostle when he said: "He will
present the church to Himself a glorious church" ... a
glorious church. The city is a revelation of His manifold
glories, and the City is the Bride.
Now dear friends, I have only to close with this final word.
These are all very beautiful and wonderful ideas. They are
glorious thoughts, but it is just unto this that the Lord has
called us. This is the heavenly calling. It is unto this
that He wants us to be companions: "Companions of a heavenly
calling" because "companions of Christ".
I hesitate to strike a note that might sound a bit depressing,
but I do remind you that this great letter to the Hebrews has many
"ifs" in it. "Whose house are we, if we hold fast... We
are become companions of Christ if we hold fast". This
letter is just full of warnings, full of strong exhortations, and
I do not believe that it was written to non-Christians.
All the evidences in the letter are that it was written to true
Christians. Therefore, it was saying to Christians: "Don't miss
your inheritance! Don't fail of your heavenly calling. Do not fail
to be true companions of Christ. Do not accept anything less than
God's best and God's highest".
You can be Christians having much
less than God intended. And you notice when the description of the
City-Bride has been given, it says: "Blessed is he that has the
right to enter in..." has the authority to enter in. There are
nations that will not get in. They will walk in the light
thereof, but will not be this. Make sure that you are of this
Bride. Do not fail the Lord as Israel failed Him.
"Let us go on to full growth".