Q. Recently, I got hit with an interesting interpretation of the bride. This group of people believes that Israel is the bride, they are pre trib believers and they think that we go to heaven to rule there, but that the Lord comes to marry Israel and rule with them on the earth. They had several Old Testament passages to support this view. I brought up the book of Ruth and the typology of Joseph and his gentile bride. Beyond that I am kind of fuzzy on defending the church being the bride. Can you help me with this?
A. The Old Testament contains many references to the relationship between God and Israel. Often they’re symbolized as a marriage, just like the relationship between Jesus and the Church is symbolized as a marriage. When Israel broke their covenant with God, He called it a divorce (Jeremiah 3:8) and when the covenant is renewed it will be like a remarriage (Hosea 2:7).
But this in no way changes or negates the relationship Jesus has with the Church. In 2 Cor. 11:2 Paul wrote, “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.” In the Greek language this carries the implication of a betrothal. And in Rev. 21:9-10 the angel showed John the bride of the Lamb coming down out of heaven. It was the New Jerusalem, the exclusive home of the Church.
It’s important to remember that all this is symbolic. God didn’t really marry Israel, in the sense of an earthly marriage. Nor will Jesus marry the church in that way. The reason these relationships are expressed in term of a marriage is to give us a better view of how intimate and exclusive they are. It’s a heavenly concept expressed in earthly terms to help us understand it.