Pastors Report - 18 May 2018
brideLookingOutOfWindow

"THE" Royal Wedding...

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." (Revelation 19:7)

Royal Weddings Today:

"Surely there can be no more joyous ceremony than this we now enter. Marriage is not only a natural union, but it is a divine institution ordained by God. It was established, not by man, but by the eternal God at creation and derives its authority from the divine laws of God which are immutable and unchangeable.... " So begins the church marriage ceremony – simple, and relatively short, but absolutely filled with profound meaning and joyful sanctity – to correctly reflect the higher divine future fulfilment the institution is based on.

But mankind, by rejecting the tree of life and all it symbolised, has largely lost sight of this higher fulfilment and instead has built his own civilization with its own customs and laws – including his own version of marriage, and in particular, royal marriage. Consequently, royal marriages today have strayed far from God's standards as they lose sight of the divine base and instead merely reflect the celebrity/film star culture of today's shallow and superficial society. Nowhere is this so apparent as within today's media – and yet this is unfortunately the average person's primary source of knowledge about such things. It is clear therefore that we within God's church must instead do our best to recapture the true values as God defines them in this area – so we can indeed be ready to correctly fulfil our role as Firstfruits, ready to teach the nations what marriage and the family unit is truly all about.

  • Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
  • Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
  • For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
  • For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9)
Virginity:

Throughout the ages the world has had immorality to a greater or lesser extent with prostitution, for example, widely recognised as the world's oldest profession. But today is different. In the last few decades – and especially since the 1960's – the Western world has become largely A-moral rather than merely Im-moral, in that the very concept of right and wrong in a sexual context is no longer even understood – let alone adhered to. With God thrown out of the window, there is no higher authority to have to take note of. Sexual "freedom" of all kinds has eroded the very comprehension of what God defines as acceptable and unacceptable in the sexual area, making the entire concept of "virginity" or "saving yourself" prior to marriage, something now treated with scorn and even undesirable. Casually living together prior to marriage has become the new norm – including within royal marriages it seems.

But that is not God's view! He doesn't treat such immorality lightly – far from it – in fact He uses the concept of virginity and purity prior to marriage as opposed to whoredom to convey some truly profound spiritual lessons to mankind – and particularly to those of us in God's church. We can see this graphically portrayed when we contrast the virginal true church with the harlotry of Babylon the great. The true church is currently waiting – saving herself – for the return of her Lord, the King, her husband to be, while the false church – along with all her harlot daughters – sell themselves wantonly to the highest bidder, and whomsoever appears to humanly give the greatest advantage in today's world and its politics:

  • I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me!
  • 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.
  • For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough...
  • ...For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
  • And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
  • It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.(II Corinthians 11:1-4,13-15 NIV)
  • And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
  • With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
  • So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
  • And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
  • And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:1-5)
Betrothal

So many things are different today to what we find within Scripture – and certainly this is true in the area of the betrothal period prior to marriage. Note how this profound discrepancy is highlighted within the following article on the subject of betrothal from the Jewish encyclopaedia

The term "betrothal" in Jewish law must not be understood in its modern sense; that is, the agreement of a man and a woman to marry, by which the parties are not, however, definitely bound, but which may be broken or dissolved without formal divorce. Betrothal or engagement such as this is not known either to the Bible or to the Talmud, and only crept in among the medieval and modern Jews through the influence of the example of the Occidental nations among whom they dwelt, without securing a definite status in rabbinical law.

Several Biblical passages refer to the negotiations requisite for the arranging of a marriage (Gen. xxiv.; Song of Songs viii. 8; Judges xiv. 2-7), which were conducted by members of the two families involved, or their deputies, and required usually the consent of the prospective bride (if of age); but when the agreement had been entered into, it was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that of actual cohabitation.

The root ("to betroth"), from which the Talmudic abstract ("betrothal") is derived, must be taken in this sense; i.e., to contract an actual though incomplete marriage. In two of the passages in which it occurs the betrothed woman is directly designated as "wife" (II Sam. iii. 14, "my wife whom I have betrothed" ("erasti"), and Deut. xxii. 24, where the betrothed is designated as "the wife of his neighbor"). In strict accordance with this sense the rabbinical law declares that the betrothal is equivalent to an actual marriage and only to be dissolved by a formal divorce. ( http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3229-betrothal)

Only with the above understanding of the betrothal period and the need for a formal divorce during that time should the betrothal need to be dissolved for any reason, does the account of Mary and Joseph - and his dilemma - begin to make any sense. To all intents and purposes, even though the consummation and wedding ceremony had yet to happen, the human parents of Jesus Christ were as good as married once the betrothal came into effect:

  • Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy [Spirit].
  • Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
  • But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy [Spirit]...
  • ... Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
  • And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:18-20,24-25)
Marriage Covenant:

Having an understanding of the legal solemnity surrounding the biblical betrothal period is something truly vital for all of us within God's church today. This is because, as firstfruits and the collective Bride of Christ, we find ourselves in that betrothal period right now – at this end time – within a binding agreement between both Jesus Christ and His bride. Even though the marriage ceremony itself will not occur until Christ returns to claim His then spirit-born wife, as the Jewish Encyclopaedia article states, at this present time they are still to be: "considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that of actual cohabitation" . This is the heart and core of the New Covenant – a marriage covenant that God's church, as spiritual Israel and spiritual Judah, is now under the terms of, even though it will not be fully ratified until after Jesus Christ's return (Hebrews 8:8).

We individually come under the terms of this New Covenant relationship at the point of our baptism when, following repentance and determining to unreservedly turn to God's way for the rest of our physical lives, – not "loving our lives unto the death",(Revelation 12:11) , we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all past sins. From that point on, we become part of Christ's collective wife who is being washed – purified – ready for the actual wedding ceremony to take place. Even the gentiles of old understood the depth of preparation desired for a royal bride<

  • " Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)" (Esther 2:12)
Washed by the Word:

But our purification is somewhat different from that which Esther physically undertook – we are cleaned up by not only the indwelling but the constant day in and day out use of God's Holy Spirit and it's a process that must continue until the final consummation following His return, when we'll either be changed or resurrected to immortality:

  • Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
  • That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
  • That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having [stain], or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish...
  • For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
  • This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:25-27, 31,32)

This is why each year at the Passover we not only take the emblems for forgiveness of sin of all kinds, but also effectively renew our initial baptismal commitment – our betrothal agreement – as well. In that solemn ceremony, we're once again brought face-to-face with the incredibly high price Jesus Christ willingly paid for His wife, the church – when He activated the New Testament with His very blood:

  • For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
  • And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. (Mark 14:24)
  • Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:20)
  • After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. (I Corinthians 11:25)
And To Obey:

Once again – looking back to the pivotal decade of the 1960's – we see a shift in the social structure of society, which gave birth the the Women's Liberation Movement and other feminist movements, and if there is one segment within what was once the traditional marriage ceremony that today is so vehemently opposed, it is the requirement for the wife to agree to be subject to her husband's authority as laid down in Scripture. And sadly this rejection is commonplace within marriages from all strata of society... from royalty on down to the casual "binding" in a registry office or on a beach in the Bahamas.

  • Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
  • For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
  • Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Once again we see the vast difference between the spiritually humble, teachable and obedient true church of God and the rebellious, self-willed whore of Babylon and her harlot daughters. On the one hand we see apostate organisations of THIS world – masquerading as churches of Jesus Christ – who stridently decide for themselves the definition of right and wrong, true and false, obedience and disobedience .... contrasted with the true virginal Church of God who in love, honour and deep respect willingly submits herself to her loving husband – not merely by the strict letter of His word but seeks His very intent and spiritual wishes as well.

  • Wives, likewise, submit to your own husbands. Do this so that even if some of them refuse to believe the word, they may be won without a word by their wives' way of life.
  • After all, they will have observed the reverent and holy manner of your lives.
  • Don't try to make yourselves beautiful on the outside, with stylish hair or by wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes.
  • Instead, make yourselves beautiful on the inside, in your hearts, with the enduring quality of a gentle, peaceful spirit. This type of beauty is very precious in God's eyes.
  • For it was in this way that holy women who trusted in God used to make themselves beautiful, accepting the authority of their own husbands.
  • For example, Sarah accepted Abraham's authority when she called him master. You have become her children when you do good and don't respond to threats with fear.(I Peter 3:1-6 CEB)
Breeding:

When Jesus Christ as the Eternal of the Old Testament, created Adam and Eve as husband and wife, He undoubtedly did so with the higher divine future fulfilment in mind (Isaiah 46:10). There was an incredible purpose in creating Adam's wife Eve in the way that He did which is made very clear in Genesis: she was designed to be a help which was fully fitting for her husband in every way – as the very bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh at his side, what we might term today as a "soul mate":

  • And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help [comparable to] him....
  • ...And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
  • And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
  • And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
  • Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:18,21-24)

From the time of Noah (Genesis 6:9) we can note that "breeding" was something valued by God, and it appears Abraham – who was to become the Father of the faithful – thoroughly understood the importance of the subject when the time came for Isaac to marry:

  • And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
  • And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
  • But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.(Genesis 24:2-4)

Isaac did the same in sending Jacob to his uncle Laban to find a suitable wife (Genesis 28:1-5) ... They were very much looking for someone with the same or similar ancestry – or "pedigree" – who would therefore be more likely to be a help that was fitting to her husband and extended family. And until comparatively recently, in royal circles this would even translate into someone with similar royal breeding as well.

When we think in depth about what our calling really is – what we are being trained for, i.e. moving in the "royal circles" of the universe-ruling God family – then it is obvious that the Royal bride will certainly require the appropriate spiritual "breeding" also! Jesus Christ is certainly not going to marry just anyone, but in fact His future bride has been hand-picked for Him by the Father! During this betrothal period, in the run up to the marriage ceremony, " ...we all ... are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (II Corinthians 3:18) i.e. as if we are taking on our Husband's very DNA, so that we truly will be "bone of His spiritual bones and flesh of His spiritual flesh". Of His own spiritual kind and with the same spiritual ancestry.

Royal Children:

And as was the case in royal circles in the past, the primary reason those in line for the throne were required to only wed suitable princesses and not commoners, was to ensure the correct royal lineage of subsequent children. So too with the Bride of Christ. As spiritual royalty, the teaching and training of our offspring must be from the same spiritual source as our Husband's, Jesus Christ – so that subsequent children will be converted in the same way, believing the same things, breathing the very same spirit, eventually ready to rule and reign in the Royal divine family of God – as spirit born-sons of God – for all eternity.

Here is what Mr Armstrong has to say on the subject:

But, with Satan out of the way, with the glorified Christ ruling, with His glorious marriage to His Bride, the Spirit-born of God, that marriage will beget millions upon millions of children...

But how will this marriage produce children?

Those who are called, now, during this time, and who do repent, who do receive Christ as Saviour, do follow God’s Spirit, do overcome, not only will be in the marriage to Christ – they are to rule with Him (Rev. 2:26-27, 3:21, 1 Cor. 6:2-3), and they shall be priests as well as kings (Rev. 5:10, 20:6).

With the saints made immortal – the collective wife of Christ – the human mortals left alive on earth will be ruled by Christ and by them. The human mortals will be taught and ruled by immortals. Those who do then repent and come to salvation through Christ will then receive God’s gift of His Holy Spirit. And then they shall inherit the Kingdom of God.

After His return as King over all nations, sitting on the throne of His glory, then shall Christ say to the converted: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom…" (Matt. 25:31-34) Thus they shall be born of God – be born into the family of God.

Thus the marriage of the converted Church to Christ will result in the begettal and birth of divine children -children who, during the thousand-year reign with Christ, are Spirit-born – and in all probability, untold millions of them. Read it also in Isaiah 11:10-13 and Romans 11:25-26, and many other scriptures. ( Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete?)

The Wedding Psalm:

A fitting scripture to end on must surely be Psalm 45 ... and the heading given in the NIV is that of "a wedding song". We read first of all of the nobility and strength of the King – our future husband – and verse 9 onwards is dedicated to His bride. That is us, as God's people - that is our calling, and why we as the firstfruits, must endure to the very end, so we can be worthy of this incredible position and take our place at the side of Jesus Christ, as His Bride throughout eternity.

  • My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
  • You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.
  • Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
  • In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
  • Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet.
  • Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
  • You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
  • All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad.
  • Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.
  • Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house.
  • Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.
  • The city of Tyre will come with a gift,people of wealth will seek your favor.
  • All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold.
  • In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her— those brought to be with her.
  • Led in with joy and gladness, they enter the palace of the king.
  • Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princes throughout the land.
  • I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.(Psalm 45 NIV)