One New Man – Bride of Messiah
One New Man as the Bride of Messiah
by Lonnie Lane
A statement was made in our house church recently that stirred up some questions. The statement was that the restoration of One New Man is largely about the preparation of the bride of Messiah for His return. Mixed metaphors notwithstanding of man and bride, the two do go together as a picture of what God appears to be doing today.
Elsewhere we’ve discussed how the openness today of the Gentile church to things Jewish and to Hebrew roots is unprecedented and a definite sign that we are close to the return of Messiah. God is bringing His people round full circle back to what He had defined to the first Hebrew believers as to how to live as His own consecrated people. As Yeshua is returning for His bride who is to be making herself ready (Rev. 19:7), how is that being accomplished? What would be proper preparation for such a Bridegroom as ours? And what might God consider us ready that He would send His Son for His bride?
The Bible begins with a marriage and ends with a marriage. Obviously God is making a statement there. We are told with reference to Adam and Eve first, that “man would leave his mother and father and shall be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) Paul, in speaking about the marriage between a husband and a wife becoming one, says: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Messiah and the church.” (Eph. 5:32) It would seem that God gave us marriage so we would know the kind of love God has for us and of His desire for those who are to become one with Him. Marriage isn’t the reality; the relationship with Him which we Believers have is the reality. Marriage is actually the type and shadow of our union with Messiah Yeshua.
The first aspect of considering marriage is choosing the right person. God does not want His people to be unequally yoked with nonbelievers. Remember, Abraham and then Isaac chose wives for their sons by traveling a distance to obtain the wives from their own families. Clearly one of the local ladies would not do. A precedent seems to be developing here. At least they knew what kind of background their new wives came from. Now fast-forward more than 400 years and we find Moses writing down what he presumably got from God on top of the smoking, on-fire, quaking, noise-blasting mountain. All that going on in the mountain would be God’s statement backing up what He had to say. “I’m holy, I am all powerful.” Plus He gave a very good reason for why we should follow what He commanded: “I am the Lord!” Enough said.
Over and over in many portions throughout the Torah and the prophets God made it very clear that Israel was to be set apart unto Himself with absolutely no intermarriage with the pagans nearby or afar. However, He was also clear that any Gentile who wished to forsake his/her pagan roots and practices and submit his or her life to the ways of Yahweh and join Israel in their life of godliness was more than welcome. They could be so joined to Israel as to be counted in their number and could benefit from the edicts of provision, protection and participation.
If you tend to think of the Jews as only being direct descendents of Abraham with no inter-marriage with others, think about the mixed multitude who left Egypt in the Exodus about whom no distinction is made again after they left. Or the fact that Jews in China look Chinese just as the Jews in Ethiopia look Ethiopian. Inter-marriage obviously took place, but it was so that together they would follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and His ways.
So we’ve established that while God told Israel to remain separate from their pagan neighbors Gentiles who wished to follow God were always welcome as far as God was concerned. Circumcision would be required but Gentiles were free to enter the covenant God had with Israel if they desired to follow Him.
Now, enter the church! Yeshua comes to live a perfect life unto God by the power of the Holy Spirit. He does nothing on His own, is totally dependent on the Spirit to enable Him to fulfill the will of the Father. He leaves us with the commandment to “love one another.” Love, He told us, sums up all of the Torah and the prophets. Love is the environment of the new-born ecclesia, the congregation of His followers. What they find once the Holy Spirit came upon them, is that they can do what Yeshua did with power. They have the confidence that Yeshua did, the faith that Yeshua did. They do not fear death any longer as they have learned that they are citizens of an eternal kingdom. They’re free! And they love each other, so much as to lay down their lives — that is, to share their food, their homes, their wealth, their real estate, and their earthly goods in order that, as Torah commands, there would be no one without, no one lacking what they needed. Truly they had come to the place of being able to live out the spirit of Torah through grace and love.
When God made it clear that He was opening the doors of the Kingdom to the Gentiles, the apostles had to work through how they would be received. Should circumcision still be required now that these folks wanted to follow Yeshua? Upon wrestling with the issue of what to do with the Gentiles (see Acts 15), it was decided that as life was now lived by the Spirit, so circumcision would be by the spirit; it would be of the heart. The Gentiles would observe the spirit of Torah by grace in the same way the Hebrew Believers were. The Gentiles would be welcome to all the benefits of the church of provision, protection and participation as equal members with the Hebrew Believers. They rejoiced in following the Hebrew Messiah which meant to walk as He walked, worship the same God He worshipped, obeying the same Word that He did. Uncomplicated, yes? Yes, as long as there were enough Jews familiar with the ways of Yahweh in His Word involved.
As we know, things took a decided turn away from things Hebrew into things non-Hebrew. That is to say, pagan. The very things God warned Israel about began to take place in the church. It was not long before the Hebrews began to be outnumbered among the Believers and soon there were less and less knowledgeable persons who could bring correction to the pagan practices which were inculcated into the church. The Hebrews’ reverential fear of God, their awareness of the egalitarian nature of the social structure of Israel, the sanctity of the family, and observance of the Ten Commandments were soon compromised. Their high regard for their Holy yet involved and interactive God began to be replaced with a concept of God more atuned to the Greek philosophical mind and the Roman Empire.
To give you an idea of the paradigm shift here, though admittedly I’m painting with a wide paint brush, think about a humble carpenter-Messiah who walks among the people and who sleeps among fisherman with a stone for a pillow, who interacts, touches, laughs, cries, helps, heals, and brings hope, as compared to say, the pomp, the pageantry, ostentation and regalia and militant overbearing of a society that had more slaves than citizens, with an aristocracy that rarely serves anyone because the slaves do that. In contrast, the Hebrew priesthood served the people and brought them to God but were not permitted by God to own land so as to maintain the balance of power.
While the early churh had no priesthood, soon the governmental structure of the Spirit-led church devolved into a Greco-Roman imperialistic hierarchical clergy. Little regard or attention was given to commandments about the honoring of parents, the commandments against murder, idolatry, immorality, bearing false witness, stealing, coveting (jealousy and envy) and last but certainly not least, that which takes up the more words than any other of the Ten Commandments, keeping the Sabbath. (See Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:7-21).
Any one knowing anything about church history knows that even before AD 325 when the Emperor Constantine made the church the official Roman religion, thus “marrying” many pagan customs and celebrations with the practices of the church, things began to slip away from their Hebrew moorings and mindset. Church history is replete with shameful accounts of leadership lording it over a subjugated people who were kept in fear and away from the Word and therefore, away from truth. A grossly distorted concept of God resulted and superstition and fear permeated the so-called church. The priesthood became wealthy at the expense of the populace; a hierarchy of leadership – a pecking order, as it were, violated the respect and honor God intended one for another, replacing it with jealousy, envy and fear, extending too often to murder in the competition for office and title. Obviously there was little fear of God, let alone reverential worship in spirit and in truth. Indeed, the validity of the truth of Christianity is that it has survived many of those who call themselves Christians.
On the whole, the freedom that Yeshua died to give His people was lost; the forgiveness He bought with His blood was turned into paying for indulgences that bought no real security in God, and the promise that “no male or female, no slave of free” would be excluded from the presence of God to whom Yeshua had made a way for all, was shackled in politics and power struggles. To the masses, God was as unapproachable, uncaring and demanding as the priests themselves often were.
The Reformation challenged and then changed a great deal. Still, the re-formation back to what God intended was not entire yet. However, as men and women could now be born-again by faith, many of the violations were done away with, sometimes at great cost to those who sought the reform at the hands of those who liked the status-quo. But without going into specifics here, the church was still a far cry from what God set in motion when He changed the world with a fledgling group of Hebrews and Gentiles. There was still far to go for the power, purity and presence of God to be restored to the church.
We just went from the first century, to the fourth, to the fifteenth century. That’s a long time. Many in the church assumed that, after all that time, Israel would never be back in her Land so that all those hundreds of verses about Israel returning to the Land couldn’t possibly be taken literally. Furthermore, it certainly could not have been God’s intention to restore the things identified as Hebrew or Jewish to the church. Right?
Let’s go back to what we said in the beginning. God always welcomed Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel so long as they were willing to follow God as He defined it. There can be no doubt, then, that Yeshua is coming back for a bride that is not a bride of mixture, but one of purity as He defined it. One for whom the moorings and mindset are firmly established and unmovable. There can be in this bride no violation of the Ten Commandments. She must be scrupulously honest and respectful of others. She must have the impeccable character of godliness from whom flow the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22) in unhindered measure. And if she is to take seriously what Jesus took seriously, she will turn the Sabbath into a day of resting in God, of thinking His thoughts and not her (their) own. She will celebrate the Feasts of the Lord in freedom, seeing how each was prophetically fulfilled by Yeshua and she will worship Him through them.
As Sid often says, the Body of Messiah is incomplete without the Jews and the Body of Messiah is incomplete without the Gentiles. The same is said for the bride of Messiah. In order for the bride to properly prepare herself for her soon coming Bridegroom, she must cleanse herself of all impurities, she must be intentional about honoring others, forgiving where need be. She must welcome all others whom Yeshua has called to be His as we are part of each other. If we are one with Him, then we are also one with everyone with whom He is one. The One New Man is coming together in the fresh awareness of the original ways of God upon His people. I like to say these ways are not Jewish but God-ish. They’re His ways.
What too often characterized the church for many centuries was NOT necessarily love. It is no wonder then, that as the church embraces what the Father gave to His people in the first place, a loving of His Word in its entirety, and loving one another regardless of any difference, the Holy Spirit Who inspired the Word is also manifesting Himself in greater power than the church has ever seen before. Yes, ever! The splendor of God and His majestic goodness is demonstrated when His “one new humanity” come together in love and godliness and lift their praises to Him together.
God who is holy inhabits the praises of Israel or His people. (Ps. 22:3) The Hebrew word “yashav” translated “inhabits” carries with it a meaning of “to marry.” To those who truly praise Him in spirit and in truth, with a heart of great love, regardless of what’s going on in our lives or all around us, even in difficult times, He says,
“It shall be, in that day, says the Lord, that you will call Me Ishi, my husband, and no longer call Me Ba’ali, my Master…I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:16,19)
The One New Man is putting on the robes of righteousness that will prepare us for the coming of our “glory-ous” King and Bridegroom. Look what we’re getting ready for:
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Allelu-Yah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. ” (Rev. 19:6,7)
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.