“…And they two [husband and wife] shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Eph. 5:31-32
Each of these seven bride unions have something unique to their relationship, not shared by the others. Considering only these main differences, the composite of these special features gives a beautiful depiction of Christ’s deep relationship with His church.
First in Adam and Eve we see God’s PATTERN (Gen. 2) in that the bride was God’s work. God formed Eve from Adam while he slept and she was presented finished and alive to him. They were one flesh, she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
Considering Christ and His church, Eve was the physical model of how God forms the Bride of Christ. Saved by grace, we are God’s workmanship. We are not saved by our own works, but solely by His work on the cross. As believers, we are given His life (Spirit). We are one in Christ Jesus, members of His body – spiritually bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh (Eph. 5:30-32).
Second, in Isaac and Rebekah we see her PARTICIPATION (Gen. 24) in that the bride became willing. Eve didn’t have a choice; no love is recorded as she was just given to Adam. She couldn’t truly say to Adam, “you’re the only man for me.” But for Rebekah, Abraham sent a servant (not his son) to a distant land for one purpose – a bride for Isaac. He did not come to change the land but to call out a bride for the promised heir. It was there that Rebekah heard about and saw Isaac’s inheritance from the servant. She was then asked if she would be willing (which was a criteria) to go wed this unseen man. She said, “I will go” (Gen. 24:5, 8, 58).
Considering again Christ and His church, God has sent his Spirit into this world to obtain a bride for His Son in heaven. As the Spirit works in hearts, some willingly respond to the gospel and come to Christ by an act of faith. As Peter said, “Whom having not seen, ye love…” (1 Pet. 1:8). God does not bypass the will, as Christ does not want an unwilling bride (Rev. 22:17).
Third, in Jacob and Rachel we see PRICE (Gen. 29) in that the bride was loved and so a price was paid. In this union we have love recorded for the first time before the marriage – “Jacob loved Rachel.” Willing to pay twice the original dowry (bride price) to her crafty father, he paid 14 years of free labor (close to a million dollars today) for Rachel.
Considering once more Christ and His church, in Ephesians 5:25, we read that “…Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” Again, in Acts 20:28, “…The church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood.” True love does such things.
Fourth, in Boaz and Ruth we see PROTOCOL (Ruth 1-4). Even though the bride was a Gentile, she was still legally united in marriage.
After Ruth’s first husband died, she was converted to God and desired to marry a mighty Jewish man from Bethlehem. However, the legal criteria of the law had to be met. So, with ten elders of the city present at the gate as witnesses, legal procedure was met so Boaz, and not another relative could legally marry (Ruth 4:10).
Considering once again Christ His church, when any sinner (Jew or Gentile) is converted to the Lord Jesus, they become part of the Bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). But believers are not in this union by fuzzy changeable feelings, but instead by a just legal transaction – the new covenant in Christ’s blood (1 Cor. 11:25).
New covenant promises mean our sins are forgiven and the law is in our heart (Heb. 10:15-17). The terms of the covenant necessitate that we obtain it by faith in Christ who has done the work for us (Heb. 10:12, 14, 38-39). Just as a marriage has both love and legality, so also does Christ and the church. Love brings us near to Him. Legality makes it sure – forever.
Fifth, in David and Abigail we see PROMOTION (1 Sam. 25), in that the bride was freed to marry a second time. Abigail, a virtuous woman, was married to a hard, uncaring man by the name of Nabal (“folly”) whom she feared and distrusted. After being rude to David, God’s anointed, Nabal died. David was impressed with beautiful Abigail’s wisdom in this hard situation and after Nabal’s death, David called for her to become his wife. She gratefully came to David and offered to be a servant. Death freed her from the bondage of a hard relationship to be united to a coming king, whom she would serve in love and respect.
Considering another time Christ and His church, Romans 7 views believers in the past being united to the law with its bondage of rules and death. As when there is a death in a marriage, so here also death is a legal separator. The death of Christ has freed the believer from the law’s covenant containing hundreds of requirements and a penalty, “that ye should be married to another.” While death separates, on the other hand life legally unites, just as a newborn baby is legally born into its family. In grace, the resurrection of Christ has united us to God, so that we serve Him in a new way. Now Christ, not law, forms our relationship with God.
Sixth, in Solomon and Bride we see PASSION (Song. 1-5) in that Solomon’s bride expresses her love to him in a mutual exchange (the other brides do not express their love). He says to her: “Behold, thou art fair, my love”. She says to him: “Behold, thou art fair my beloved, yea pleasant” (1:15-16).
Considering again Christ and His church, we read in 1 John 4:19 that “We love Him, because He first loved us.” He has expressed His love to us in His sacrificial death for us, and now desires a mutual exchange with us showing our love to Him. We do this by our actions (Jn. 14:15; Rev. 2:4; 3:9, 19-20).
Finally, in Hosea and Gomer we see PARDON (Hos. 1-3) in that Gomer is a bride due to her husband’s obedience. To illustrate a truth to apostate Israel, Hosea was asked to marry a harlot and then remarry her after her continued unfaithfulness. Though against natural impulses, the prophet was nevertheless obedient to the Lord and an unworthy sinner found herself accepted as a wife.
Considering once more Christ and His church, in obedience to His Father, the Lord Jesus died on the cross for hell-bound, unworthy sinners (Rom. 5:6; Phil. 2:8). In anticipation of His sufferings on the cross, our Lord said “not my will, but thine, be done.” Our salvation and forgiveness are not because of our worthiness but because of His. “Worthy is the Lamb” (Rev. 5:12).