If you’re reading this blog post the weekend it was published, then Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets, also called Rosh Hoshanna) is about to happen. This year, the first day of the seventh Hebrew month falls on Monday, Sept. 26. All around the world, people will blow shofars and gather to celebrate this day God calls holy to Him.
Last year, I wrote about the many different theories for what this day pictures. God simply calls it “a solemn rest for you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation” (Lev. 23:24, WEB). There are several ideas about what this day pictures in the New Covenant now that Jesus has filled the Law up to its fullest extent (Matt 5:17-20; see Thayer’s definition of pleroo). I think the strongest argument links this day with Jesus’s return to claim His bride.
I’ve been thinking about love and marriage a lot lately. I recently started dating a man I’ve been friends with for years and I’m kind of in awe of how wonderful this relationship is; I thought we’d be good together but I hadn’t realized exactly how good. This giddy, happy, can’t-wait-to-see-him feeling is how we should feel as we wait for Jesus to come back to earth. We should be longing to see Him, eager to have our Bridegroom give us His new name (Rev. 3:12).
Promised in Marriage
I know the idea of being romantically in love with God and having Him in love with us makes some people uncomfortable. For some, thinking of Jesus as lover as well as Lord is a struggle; the in-love emotion seems a strange thing to try and balance with the respect due God. I suspect it’s a particularly weird analogy for men in the church, who are asked to picture themselves as a bride for their spiritual relationship to Christ while also modeling His role as Husband in their relationship with their own wives if they get married (Eph. 5:25-33). Still, church as bride and Jesus as Groom is one of the most common analogies for our relationship used in scripture, so it’s worthwhile to try and wrap our minds around it.
Usually at this point in a study about Jesus as our Bridegroom, I’d start talking about Jewish wedding traditions. Today, though, I want to focus just on how scripture talks about this relationship. For more on the Jewish background and historical context, check out my posts “The Bridegroom’s Pledge” and “The Bridegroom Cometh!“
I wish that you would be patient with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you are being patient with me! For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.2 Corinthians 11:1-3, NET
There isn’t much room to argue with this verse. If we’re following Jesus, then we’re promised to Him in marriage. Our goal is to be pure for Him at that marriage; in other words, wholly faithful to Him now whatever our past was like. The “foolishness” Paul talks about here involves defending his apostolic mission from naysayers, moderate boasting about the mission God sent him on, and the shocking idea that his readers might listen to someone preaching “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 10-11). It isn’t foolish to think of Jesus as our future Husband. It’s foolish to let anything distract from our focus on being faithful to Him.
The Marriage Covenant
If you followed along with my recent Isaiah study, you might remember that the topic of God’s marriage covenant with Israel came up in Isaiah 40-66. When God established His covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai (often called the Mosaic covenant), He was setting up a marriage relationship (see Is 54:5-8). They would be His people and He would be their God. When they stopped worshiping Him or brought foreign gods into their hearts, He took that as adultery. Ezekiel 16 summarizes this well.
“Yes, I swore to you, and entered into a covenant with you,” says the Lord Yahweh, “and you became mine. … You were exceedingly beautiful, and you prospered to royal estate. Your renown went out among the nations for your beauty; for it was perfect, through my majesty which I had put on you,” says the Lord Yahweh.
“But you trusted in your beauty, and played the prostitute because of your renown, and poured out your prostitution on everyone who passed by. … Moreover you have taken your sons and your daughters, whom you have borne to me, and you have sacrificed these to them to be devoured. …
“I will judge you, as women who break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will bring on you the blood of wrath and jealousy.” …
For the Lord Yahweh says: “I will also deal with you as you have done, who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant. Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. … Then you will know that I am Yahweh; that you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more, because of your shame, when I have forgiven you all that you have done,” says the Lord Yahweh.Ezekiel 16:8, 13-15, 20, 38, 59-60, 62-63, WEB
“Love story” is my favorite metanarrative the Bible gives us to describe the big, important story God is creating. When we pull back and look at God’s plan as revealed in the whole Bible, we see a story of romance where God married a people who were then unfaithful to Him, and whom He died for in order to bring back to Him. You’re simply never going to find a better love story than that. Even the most beautifully romantic fairy tales are pale reflections of God’s love for His bride. He’s passionate about us and He wants us in a faithful, lasting covenant relationship with Him.
Falling in Love With God
There’s a really interesting connection between love and obedience in the Bible. The greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:28-34, WEB). All the other commandments depend on loving God and loving your neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40). Love is the basis for our obedience; the foundation for following God’s other laws. It’s also a lot easier to enjoy being obedient if you’re in love with God and trust that His commands are good for us.
But what if you don’t feel “in-love” with God? Real love is as much an action as it is a feeling, so we can (and ought to) do the things that people who love God do regardless of how we feel. As much as I enjoy relating to God’s word academically, though, I also think it’s appropriate to get excited about God and our relationship with Him. There’s likely more than one way to do this, but one of the things that helps me connect with my love for God is reading about His love for me.
Yahweh appeared of old to me, saying,Jeremiah 31:3, WEB
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.”
“I will betroth you to me forever.Hosea 2:19-20, WEB
Yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness, in justice, in loving kindness, and in compassion.
I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness;
and you shall know Yahweh.”
God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!Ephesians 2:4-5, NET
In just those three verses, we see God passionately declaring His love for His people, and one of those people reminding us of the “great love with which He loved us.” The reality of God’s love is awesome. We were dead and His love brought us back to life. We made mistakes and He still wants to keep us with Him forever. He treats us with loving kindness and calls His love faithful and everlasting.
We are recipients of God’s love now, which is an incredible thing. We’re still waiting, though, for a time when things will be even better. When Jesus returns, we’ll “be like Him” and we’ll get to “see him just as he is” (1 John 3:2, NET). Make no mistake, Jesus is present with us now. We don’t get to see Him, though. Our conversations don’t happen face-to-face. As wonderful as it is to be in love with Him now, how much more wonderful will it be after He comes back for us, marries us, and establishes His kingdom here on earth? That’s the sort of wonderful, exciting thing we can look forward to as we begin this fall holy day season.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” He who hears, let him say, “Come!” He who is thirsty, let him come. He who desires, let him take the water of life freely. … He who testifies these things says, “Yes, I come quickly.”
Amen! Yes, come, Lord Jesus.Revelation 22:17, 20, WEB
Featured image Jess Bailey from Pixabay
Song Recommendation: “Even So Come” by Chris Tomlin