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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, August 31, 2018

Ephesians 6:1-4 (Lesson 32)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (6:1-4)                                                               (Lesson 32)

Welcome to HBS.

I decided to “park” on Ephesians 5:22-33 for three consecutive weeks in order to glean as much knowledge as humanly possible from the Lord’s commands to His church, specifically, the responsibilities of the husband and wife.  I don’t believe we accumulated every scrap of information from this particular passage of scripture, but we did cover it well enough for the believing spouses to live out their life in step with the Holy Spirit.  However that all important first step in their journey together in life begins with demonstrating the willingness to be led by the Spirit; i.e. be under the  Holy Spirit’s control (Psalm 143:10; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 5:18).

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Outline of Ephesians Chapter 6

The duty of children towards their parents (6:1-4); the duty of servants towards their masters (6:5-9); expect spiritual warfare if you’re walking in the Spirit with Christ Jesus, not only against flesh and blood, but also spiritual forces of wickedness (6:10-12); therefore put on the full armor of God (6:13-17); how this godly armor is to be used (6:18-20); Tychicus is commended (6:21-24).

Please open your Bible at Ephesians 6:1-3.

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH
(Exodus 20:12).  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline of the Lord (Genesis 18:19; Colossians 3:21).

What was the first command from the LORD to the man He created?  Most people say, “Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” but that’s not it.  Let’s all take a look at this; please turn with me in your Bible to Genesis 1:26-27:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion (authority) over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them.  (Here’s the first command) And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill  the earth (with their offspring) and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

There are a few noteworthy items in this passage worth studying, but we’re here specifically to review the LORDs first command to the man.  In verse 1:27 the man received the authority to subdue the earth and fill it with his offspring (children).  Why?  This book says children are the Lord’s inheritance, i.e. every child born into this world is His reward. 

Turn with me to Psalm 127:3-5:

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:  And the fruit of the womb is his reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; So are children of the youth.  Happy (blessed) is the man that hath his quiver full of them:  They shall not be ashamed,
But they shall speak with the enemies in the gate (KJV).

The words is His is italicized which tells us they were added by the Bible translators,  but by doing so they have obscured the meaning of the text.  Left alone the verse implies children belong to God as His reward for all the things He does for us, resembling a “quid pro quo” kind of thing.  However, if you remove these two words the text reads thusly, “And the fruit of the womb is (a) reward.”  This means children are a blessing (not a burden) with which God rewards or favors His people. 

In this passage David compares children to arrows in the hand of a mighty man (2 Samuel 23:8-39; 1 Chronicles 11:10-47); they demonstrate the strength of his youth, while advancing the fulfillment of God’s purpose to fill the earth with god-fearing children.  David speaks in general terms because not every married couple experiences this blessing from God.  Yet if you’ve been blessed with one or more arrows in your quiver God expects you to raise them to be instruments of His praise and thanksgiving.  

In David’s day a quiver held about twelve arrows.  God’s not saying every married couple should get busy and produce twelve children; He is saying every child they bring into this world is to bring glory and honor to God, the Father of us all:

Paul writes:  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Returning to our Bible text, God’s command for the children is actually quite simple -they are to obey their parents (6:1).  As straightforward as this appears, I’m not seeing obedience to God’s will lived out in our society today.  People and children have opted to go their own way (without God) instead of walking with Him.  What’s more, the negative activities occurring outside the home have a way of infiltrating our homes, as well as the church.  This leads me to conclude this scriptural directive has been forgotten by most and ignored by the rest.  True Believers should not be counted as followers of either one of these extremes.  Instead, true Believers desire to obey all the Lord’s commands, remembering it’s not about us or what we want; it’s about glorifying God: 
 
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth (Psalm 115:1).

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought (redeemed) at a price.  Therefore glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

The Blame Game Continues

I don’t believe it’s escaped anyone’s attention that people’s perception of children has changed over time.  Most people in this nation no longer view children the way generations before the 1950s did.  This is due largely to the shift in secular philosophy’s view or understanding of people in general and children especially.   No longer are people and children seen as responsible for themselves.  Plainly said, instead of being held accountable for one’s conduct, there is always someone else or something else to blame; some other factor in our society is the reason for the child’s bad behavior.   In short, atheistic sociology claim society determines our consciousness and actions.  The Bible’s viewpoint is quite different in that it teaches us we are free to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and we shape society rather than society shaping us.

When you follow the Rule of First Mention in scripture, you’ll find the very first “blame game” incident occurring in Genesis 3:8-13; the woman blamed the serpent for her indiscretion and the man blamed the LORD because He brought her to him: 

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”  And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate. Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So, if were to believe the man and the woman here, they’re not responsible for their behavior, someone else is.  I don’t believe this is a learned response it’s humanity’s natural response to the “finger of shame” being wagged at them.  Permit me to give y’all an illustration:  my siblings and I occasionally used our parents’ bed as a trampoline or in a game we played where you had to circumvent their entire bedroom without your feet touching the floor.  When mom came home and found her bed in disarray, she immediately approached each one of us asking, “Who’s to blame?”  When it was my turn I said, “Not me,” implying someone else was guilty.  Mom knew “not me” wasn’t the culprit and the lies only made the matter worse.  Since no one admitted to disobeying my parent’s rule, all of us were punished.  She did not blame other people or our society for our misbehavior. 

However, our Apostle Paul isn’t talking about people, in general, here; he’s specifically addressing the children in the Ephesian home.  But is he speaking to all children or just a particular age group?  Paul is addressing those children who have reached the age of accountability, i.e. they’re old enough to understand good and evil; right behavior vs wrong conduct.  We know we’re on the right track because of what Paul’s doing here; he’s not speaking to the parent’s, he’s addressing children directly. 

Children obey your parents… - the Koine Greek word for children is Teknon (tek’- non), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #5043, meaning:  offspring.  It conveys the idea of:  a readiness to hear and has in it the sense of obeying orders.  It is also a present tense verb which means they are obey continually; this is to the pattern of your child’s life.

Teknon (children) is used 91 times in scripture.  I have one example taken from Paul’s letter to the Believers in Philippi for your review:   

“…so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children (Teknon) of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom appear as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:22).

The word “obey in Koine Greek is Hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #5219, meaning:  to listen attentively, to harken, obedient.  My father told us children, “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll do as I say.”  That’s not a scripture quote, but he wasn’t far from wrong.  As long as the children or child remains at home, they are subject to their godly parents.  Now, when the children are of age, and they’ve opted to establish their own homes, I believe this command from Paul no longer pertains to them.  However, as long as the child or children are dependent upon their parents for their livelihood, they are obligated to obey their parents.  Why?  Order in the home, the church, and in the community depends on it (Proverbs 1:8, 23:22; Colossians 3:18).

The Lord’s command for children to honor their parents has no expiration date. 

Training Your Child

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is (the) right (thing to do) I mentioned earlier people are not born into this world with a willingness to obey any authority; instead they’re born disobedient and rebellious.  I don’t believe I need to remind parents of this truth.  Who hasn’t experienced a child’s temper tantrum, their sass, and their stubbornness?  The first word most parents hear their child speak is “No,” after he or she has received their instruction(s).  This is due to the fact they’ve heard their parents say “no” to them multiple times each day.  Since children aren’t inclined to listen and obey, they must be trained by their parents. 

How do the husband and wifetrain” their child?  I’m glad you asked.  First, know you’re up against the world’s way of thinking, i.e. the humanistic approach of our day that basically says “Let children express themselves.” And whatever you do don’t spank them; if you do you’ll scar them for life!  This unbiblical approach to child-rearing has resulted in the child becoming assertive and demanding at an early age.  Who hasn’t seen a mortified parent in the grocery aisle or at the check-out counter, admonishing their child for misbehaving?  I had one of these experiences just the other day.  I was behind mom and her child at the check-out counter when I saw the little girl reach out and take several items from the display.  As soon as mom noticed she was removing a candy bar from its wrapper, she took it and all the other items away saying, “These things aren’t good for you… we’ll eat lunch when we get home.”  The child immediately went ballistic.  Nothing mom said soothed her or stopped the bawling.  The temper tantrum ended when mom gave in and returned the candy bar to her.  What just happened?  This child manipulated her mother – she won the battle of wills, proving children are training their parents instead of the parents training their children.    

We learned earlier children are the Lord’s heritage; they are a blessing from God.  Thus, children should not cause you to make an appointment with your psychiatrist. 

The wise King Solomon wrote: 

Train (In Hebrew the word Na’ar means infancy to adolescence) up a child in the way he (or she) should go; And when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). 

There are two things I want to talk about from this verse.  First, there’s a time element in this passage that must be obeyed.   If you’re going to properly train your children, this must be done during their development years, from birth to about ten years of age.  If you choose to reject his wisdom, y’all need to be prepared to face the consequences of your unwise decision. 

Parents today believe they have a better plan because they read a self-help book on child-rearing or because they intend to raise their child differently than they were raised by their parents.  But look at society today; do you honestly believe that plan is working?  One discipline tactic I’ve encountered more than a few times over the years is the parent trying to change their child’s unruliness by reasoning with them.  Permit me to illustrate.  One married couple with children I’m acquainted with uses the lecture method when one of their boys gets into trouble.  They pull the child aside and they begin to reason with him, teaching him to share the toy with his brother; instead of hitting him on the head with it!  From what I can see this plan isn’t working.  The one thing they have taught their children is you won’t be punished for your wrong doing; we’ll just sit down and chat instead.    

I don’t believe discussing the problem is punishment.  If they found this suggestion in a “How To” book, I’d return it and get by money back, because this plan is not working.  The oldest child continues to get what he wants, when he wants it, by bullying his younger brother.  And, the younger brother has learned to hit back, usually when his brother has his back turned!  Words alone won’t train up a child in the way they should go.  Most children learn to tune their parent’s voices out when it is something they don’t want to hear – like “Eat your vegetables” or “Help me pick up your toys.”    

The second thing I want y’all to notice is King Solomon said, “Train your children,” and not teach them.  The couple from my illustration above is doing exactly what Solomon said not to do; they are “teaching” their children to behave.  But here’s the thing, children, like adults, must be trained to obey. 

The Hebrew word for train is Chanak (khaw-nak’).  It expresses the idea of molding the character, to drill (militarily speaking), to make obedient to their parent’s commands.  I know people will disagree with what I’m about to say, but again; this does not alter God’s Word one iota.  Scripture says the proper way to discipline a child is by using the rod:

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; But the rod of correction shall drive it far from him (Proverbs 22:15). 

Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you beat him (or her) with the rod, he will not die.  You shall beat him with the rod, And deliver his soul from Sheol (Proverbs 23:13-14).

The Hebrew word for rod is Shebet (shay-bet).  It was a stick used for measurement and as an instrument of discipline or punishment by shepherds and others.  I witnessed this type of punishment while attending parochial school.  The nuns were responsible for teaching us and most of them walked the classroom with a 12” ruler (a rod) in hand.  When someone was caught misbehaving, the nun would slap their hands with their ruler; a few opted to use the metallic edge to show their disapproval.  Someone caught doing harm to another child was taken out into the hallway and spanked on the rump.

Spanking used to be a discipline tool in the schools.  If a child misbehaved, ignoring the teacher’s warnings, they were taken to the principal’s office for a spanking.  The parents were notified afterwards that discipline had been applied to their child’s backside.  This isn’t being done today, which is one reason the schools have turned into a field of battle, i.e. bullying, drug abuse, fighting, sexual harassment, children literally being shot at or killed by other students - what a mess!  Children must be disciplined at home first, and then in the school setting, if it’s necessary. 

But let’s be clear, Solomon is not saying pick up a rod and beat your child.  The verses are saying disobedience comes naturally to children and it’s the parent’s responsibility to train them to overcome their natural inclination to sin.  But abusing a child is never warranted.  Parents learn this truth in Ephesians 6:4 where Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline of the Lord.  Children are to respond obediently to their parents out of love and respect and not fear. 

Paul’s command is directed to the father’s but the passage is not saying only the fathers are to discipline the children.  You could insert the word “parents” here and be right with scripture.  You see there was a time when fathers went off to work each day and the mother stayed at home, tending to the needs of the children and their home.  They were called “housewives,” but many people believe this is a degrading term today.  Although the mother spends more time with the children then the father, the fathers must remember the Lord is watching; they will be held accountable at The Judgment Seat of Christ in regard to whether or not their children were raised in the things of the Lord. 

This verse also says the parents are not to discipline their children out of anger, but in love.  Anger is a turn-off (negative emotion) while love is a turn-on (positive emotion).  I was punished once by my father in anger, and I remember the details vividly.  It was a sad day in our relationship.  Dad had a bad day at work and in anger punished me for my wrongdoing.  But Paul is saying parents NEVER discipline your child when you’re angry.  Don’t let your emotions control you; you control your emotions (Galatians 5:22-23). 

I pray you can see there’s wisdom in the phrase, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”  Yet some people argue, “If you love your child, how can you discipline them this way?”  My response is, “If you truly love your child, how can you withhold proper discipline?”

 If you’ll apply the proper discipline when it occurs (not hours, days, months, or years later), it not only gets their attention, it awakens them to the fact they will suffer the consequences for their disobedience.

Next, many people wonder if discipline should be applied in private or in public.  My parents employed the spanking protocol when the situation warranted it.  Furthermore, the spanking was administered in public and in view of my siblings.  Adding public embarrassment to one’s stinging behind was a very effective tool and it made the other children sit-up and take notice.  It was definitely an attention-getter!  By the way spanking in our home was not a matter of routine.  My parents used other forms of punishment such as grounding, no T.V., washing our mouths out with soap, if we took God’s name in vain or used a curse word, and we were confined to our room if we couldn’t get along with each other.  Spanking was reserved for serious offenses and not just because we didn’t eat our spinach…

Let’s look at verse 6:2-3.

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH (Exodus 20:12).

Both parents have the God-given responsibility of training their children in the ways of the Lord.  This doesn’t mean you beat them over the head with your Bible, or drill them with scripture and Bible facts, instead you are to encourage them to make the Word of God a part of their daily lives; just as you are doing, I pray!

How important is this?  God said it’s very important.  The phrase “HONOR YOUR PARENTS; your father and mother” is repeated eight times in scripture which means it’s there for our learning:

For whatsoever things were written (in times past, or) aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4; Ephesians 2:1-13 - KJV).

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for (what) training in righteousness, so that the man (or child of God) may be complete, fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). 

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER” is a command from the Lord.  It expresses the idea both the mother and father are worthy of being honored.  This tells us, among other things, the parent’s God-given responsibilities in the home are vitally important to God’s plan and purpose for His one Church. 

Although the parent’s roles are deemed honorable here, I would not be fulfilling my role if I failed to mention women today do not see eye-to-eye with God; they do not consider motherhood honorable or something to be desired.   This is evidenced by all the activity going on at Planned Parenthood.  I’m not going to sugar-coat the truth; Planned Parenthood’s main role is to abort children, black children preferably; not my opinion, you’ll find the majority of their clinics are in located in black neighborhoods by choice.  Most of the population today chooses to ignore the facts.  Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, as it’s known since 1952, was a leading advocate of the Eugenics Movement, specifically, of negative Eugenics, which promotes the reduction of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with undesired traits or economic conditions.  On a radio show, Sanger is reported to have said, “Morons, mental defectives, epileptics, illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, and dope fiends ought to be surgically sterilized.”  If they wish, she said, “…such people should also be able to choose a lifelong segregated existence in labor camps.”  Adolph Hitler and his followers held the same view.    

Instead of listening to the “talking heads” about this subject, I choose to examine the facts.  Planned Parenthood has a long and well-documented history of racism beginning with its founder, Margaret Sanger.  It’s also a fact more African-Americans have died from abortion than from AIDS, accidents, violent crimes, cancer, and heart disease combined.  And in America today, a black child is three times more likely to be killed in the womb than a white child.  Since 1973, abortion has reduced the black population by more than 25%.

 “When will people wake up and smell the coffee?”  It’s not a “choice;” it’s a child!  Although millions of women do not see motherhood as a blessing or honorable, and willfully disregard the Lord’s commands, God has spoken plainly.  Any way you want to look at it, the sin of abortion does not bring honor and glory to God!  It’s murder and people will be held accountable. 

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH (Exodus 20:12).

This promise from the Lord is both general and specific.  In general, the natural consequence of honoring your parents and the skills learned from doing so lead to a good life and a good life is usually connected to a long life.  Sin characteristically shortens life while virtue extends it.  

The promise here is also specific in that it is a direct promise from God.  He extends a blessing to those who honor their father and mother.  This does not mean God cannot have a different plan for specific individuals even if they do honor their father and mother – Believers who are persecuted for their faith in Christ is but one example.  However, obedience to God’s command brings His blessings. 

What does it mean to honor your parents?  Primarily it means “to place value upon” them.  It is demonstrated in consideration, love, and respect.  This is something all of us are to do regardless of our age.  Remember, earlier I mentioned the command to Honor your father and mother has no expiration date attached to it.  Young children honor their parents through their obedience to them.  Older children transitioning into adulthood honor through submission – they willingly follow the instruction and advice of their parents out of sincere devotion.  

When you become an adult and live independently of your parents you are no longer under their authority.  Our obedience and submission are no longer required because the authority structure has changed.  Men, you are to leave your father and mother and cleave to your wife.  Ladies, your husband is now your head and not your father.  But even so, as adults, we are still to give honor to our parents.  If the parents have done their job properly and the children are walking with the Lord this arises out of love and heartfelt devotion.  

However, some people have been bad parents.  Their children suffered at their hands.  Their past is full of pain, trust has been broken and their current relationship is strained at best.  But regardless of the past, you are still responsible before God to honor them.  I haven’t found an escape clause anywhere in this book, which at minimum means you must honor even the bad parents:  by not speaking evil of them, slandering them, letting them go hungry or ignoring them in time of need, for at worst they are still your neighbor which we have been commanded to love as ourselves (Mark 12:31).   Honoring them will be a difficult duty instead of a joyful devotion.  Even so, you can still honor them out of your love for Jesus Christ and desire to be obedient to Him.

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, August 24, 2018

Ephesians 5:22-33 (Lesson 31)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:22-33)                                                               (Lesson 31)

Thank you for attending HBS’s personal Bible study.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.  Amen.”

We have been parked on Ephesians 5:22-33 for two weeks attempting to glean as much knowledge as humanly possible from this scripture passage, and yet we’re still here, why?  Many Christian churches believe and teach God’s one Church is “The Bride of Christ.”  I know.  I’ve was there when this belief was taught to the congregations.  They use Ephesians 5:25-27 and 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 to support this teaching.  But here’s the thing, the phrase “The Bride of Christ” is not found anywhere in the Bible.  That being understood, are these church’s teaching biblical truth, or not?  We’re back here again this week to answer that question and we’ll do that by flipping some Bible pages in order to see what this book does say about “the Lambs wife, the bride of Christ” (Revelation 19:7-8, 21:9-10).

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The Bride in the Old Testament

The Israelites became the nation of Israel when they were called out of slavery in Egypt.  Although Israel was “married” to the LORD God, she proved to be an unfaithful spouse because of “adultery.”  This is how Israel’s unfaithfulness to the LORD was expressed in the O.T.  How did Israel cheat on the LORD God?  The Israelites “left” the LORD and His Word for false gods such as:  Asherah, Baal, Dagon, Molech, etc.  However, despite their repeated mistakes, the LORD declared the nation of Israel would return to Him, they would become exactly what He purposed for them, and He would fulfill His covenant promises to them, one of these being Israel would become a nation of priests (a go-between), a holy nation, and a faithful wife (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6, 66:21; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:10).

With this info in mind, let’s all turn to the book of Isaiah at chapter 54:4-8:

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.  “For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth.  “For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God.   “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you.  “In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.”

While we’re in Isaiah, let’s all turn to chapter 62:1-5:

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning.  The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate.  You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  It will no longer be said to you, Forsaken, nor to your land will it any longer be said, Desolate; but you will be called, My delight is in her, and your land, Married; for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married.  For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; and the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.”

Now, if you would, please follow me to the book Jeremiah at 3:14:

Return, faithless people, declares the LORD, for I am your (what) husband.  I will choose you – one from a town and two from a clan – and bring you to Zion.”

And Jeremiah 31:33:

 “Behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares the LORD.  But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

For those who are not familiar with the minor prophet Hosea’s work in the O.T.  the LORD God used his personal life as an object lesson to instruct the nation of Israel to repent of their idolatrous behavior.  To present His case, the LORD God told Hosea to marry a prostitute and have children:

When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits fragrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD…” (1:2-4).

Hosea obeyed the LORD by marrying Gomer and they had three children.  The number three, as well as the names of these children is significant.  The number 3 is found throughout this book.  It’s the number of the God-head, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Jesus was 30 years old when He began His ministry to Israel, Jesus was 33 years old when He died on the cross, Jesus was tempted 3 times in the wilderness by Satan, Peter, James, and John were the 3 disciples in His inner circle and they were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciple failed to stay awake 3 times in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter denied Jesus 3 times, as Jesus said he would, In John 21 we find Peter telling the Lord he loved him 3 times in succession, according to Mark 15:25 it was the 3rd hour of the day when Jesus was crucified, Jesus rose from the dead on the 3rd day, etc.  The significance of the number 3 here and elsewhere in scripture reveal God is Sovereign over sin. 

The LORD chose specific names for Hosea’s children to teach Israel an object lesson.  The first child, a son, was named Jezreel which means “God scatters.”  God judged (scattered) the northern kingdom with the Assyrian invasion around 722 BC.  Their second child, a daughter, named Lo-ruhama (not pitied), and the third child, a son, was named Lo-ammi (not my people). 

The LORD’s disfavor with His chosen people would be temporary.  We learned this from the prophet Isaiah’s writings.  The LORD God had promised the nation of Israel would repent (means:  change one’s mind) of its unfaithfulness and return to Him. 

Hosea wrote:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.  Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope.  And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up (was redeemed) from the land of Egypt.  It will come about in that day, declares the LORD, That you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali.  For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more.  In that day I will also make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and the creeping thing of the ground.  And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety.  I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.  Then you will know the LORD (Hosea 2:14-20). 

Here we get a glimpse of the LORD God’s devotion and tenderness towards His people, the Jews.  Hosea depicts Him as a courting lover.  He allures the object of His love and speaks kindly to her.  This passage speaks of a refreshed relationship in which His wife (the nation of Israel) will call Him “My husband,” “My man” (Ishi) instead of “My Lord.”  Baal was one of the false gods Israel discovered by fraternizing with the pagan gentiles in the land of Canaan (Numbers 22:41; Judges 2:13).

There is also prophecy in this passage and this should not be overlooked.  All prophecy, past, present, and future in the Bible is directed to the nation of Israel and not God’s one Church.  The Church was a mystery (a secret) kept hidden in the mind of God since before the foundation of the earth – remember? 

Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, (Colossians 1:25-26).

In the prophecy of this restored relationship, in which God will put His Spirit into the nation (Jeremiah 31:31-40), the animal kingdom will also be at peace (Isaiah 11:6-10), and war will be no more (Isaiah 2:1-4).  This renewed betrothal will be eternal and Israel will know the Lord– the One True God.
 
So, when will this planet know true peace among the animals and the people, and when will the nation of Israel know the One True God of Israel?   The Millennium, Jesus Christ’s 1,000 year reign here on earth, right!  When will the King and His kingdom arrive on earth?  After the “great tribulation,” the final 3.5 years of man’s history on earth.  A time of great death and destruction before the coming of the Lord (His second advent) as revealed by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). 

The Bride in the Book of Revelation

The book of Revelation reads like an Old Testament book because the Apostle John writes to the nation of Israel re: events that will occur in the tribulation.  Most of its symbols and imagery are found in the prophets.  To a discerning reader, it should be clear that Jesus’ messages to the churches (Ekklesia) in Revelation 2-3 were not directed to Christian churches, i.e. N.T. Pauline churches.  The language the Lord used towards them has no correspondence to the language or the concepts Paul had received by revelation and communicated to the churches he planted.  John wrote to these seven Jewish assemblies to encourage them in the tribulation they were experiencing (Revelation 1:9).  Of the seven cities Jesus mentioned, only three are found elsewhere in the Bible:  Ephesus (Acts 18:19, Acts 18:19, 21, 24, 19:1, 17, 26, 35, 20:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:32, 16:8, Ephesians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:18, 4:12), Thyatira (Acts 16:14), and Laodicea (Colossians 2:1, 4:13, 15-16; 1 Timothy 6:21).  We have no information about Smyrna, Pergamon, Sardis, or Philadelphia.  The events of Revelation remain future.  Those who have attempted to make church history correspond with the messages to these churches (historicists) or worse, have tried to fit the events into a pre-70 A.D. timeframe (preterists), have replaced sound analysis of the Bible text with sheer fantasy.

The character of these assemblies is Jewish.  No Church, i.e., the Body of Christ, doctrine is found in them. The Lord’s message to them is wholly different from the language He gave to Paul for the Body of Christ.  You won’t find a hint of Paul’s gospel or the doctrines of grace in Jesus’ words to these assemblies.  Jesus’ exhortation is “he who has an ear, let him hear” and His command is to persevere and endure to the end.  To what end; the end of the great tribulation. 

So, you see, none of this is Pauline.  The warnings Jesus gave the assemblies echo His warnings to the Twelve on the Mount of Olives.  In the Olivet Discourse Jesus Christ warned them not to be deceived and to endure to the end (Matthew 24:4, 11, 24, 13).  The great temptation that will confront Israel, as well as the entire world during the period of time foretold by Revelation will be to accept the counterfeit christ as their Messiah.  This will involve the worship of Satan, the beast (the Antichrist), the Antichrist’s image, and the taking of his mark (Revelation 13:4, 8, 15, 16-17). 

Since Revelation is primarily about Israel and reads like the Old Testament, one conclusion remains:  it is what it is.  Therefore the bride of Revelation 19 is Israel.  God’s one Church, the Body of Christ was raptured prior to (not during and not after) the start of the tribulation, remember?  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

John wrote:

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’” (Revelation 19:7-9). 

In the marriage of the Lamb, we read the bride has made herself ready.  Please direct me to the Bible verse where Paul declares the Church must make herself ready!  I’ll assist you with this by saying our Apostle Paul never instructs Believers “to make themselves ready.”  Paul declared members of the Body of Christ have been made complete in Christ and this is past tense not future tense (Colossians 2:10).  The Church needs no “preparation.”  We are complete in Him!  So, the bride here is Israel and the “marriage of the Lamb” is the reconciliation of Israel with their God which the prophets foretold.

But there’s more, in Revelation 21, John described a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1) to replace the old heaven and earth which had departed.  Along with the new heaven and earth is the new Jerusalem.  It comes down from heaven onto the new earth in Revelation 21:2.  John described the city as a bride adorned for her husband.  

In Revelation 21:9, one of the seven angels of the seven bowls showed John the bride, called the wife of the Lamb.  This was the new Jerusalem.  Again, everything we’ve looked at is Jewish in nature. The city has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them (Revelation 21:12).  The twelve foundation stones have the names of the twelve apostles (Revelation 21:14; Matthew 19:28).  God’s one Church is not mentioned here, folks. 

Paul and the Bride of Christ?

Paul taught the Church is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24) and that Believers become members of His body through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (no water necessary; 1 Corinthians 12:13).  This revelation was one of the “mysteries” (secrets) the glorified, risen Lord revealed to Paul.  He was the only writer of Scripture who taught the churches “We are all members of Christ’s body.”  Before Paul this truth was not known (Ephesians 3:3-7). 

We have established this book teaches the Church is the Body of Christ.  So, how is it most of Christendom borrows two specific passages from the Bible to teach the Church is the bride of Christ?  We’ll examine this question by reviewing the two passages of scripture they use to make their case:

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2).

When proof-texted, this passage may appear to support the idea the Church is the bride of Christ.  However, when you include these verses that follow this teaching falls apart.

Paul continued:  “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.  For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things” (2 Corinthians 11:3-6).  

Paul’s point was to encourage the Corinthians to remain faithful (devoted) to Christ and His gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Paul constantly had to defend his ministry–from both unbelievers and Believers.  Some of us are still defending his apostleship and his writings today.  From his words in this passage, he recognized he was not the most polished speaker.  But in terms of knowledge, he was out in front of the pack; he was God’s apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).  The risen Lord had commissioned him and revealed to him secrets no one else knew.  Paul’s choice of words to the Corinthians, “present you as a pure virgin” was to illustrate his desire for holy living (their worthy walk) for these believers, not to teach the Church is the Bride of Christ any more than Paul taught that he was their mother (Galatians 4:19) or their father (1 Corinthians 4:15). 

Here’s the other passage they proof-text:

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.   He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-33).

In the passage above, Paul argued that as a husband is the head of a wife, Christ is the head of the Church.  This fits with Paul’s teaching the Church is the Body of Christ with Christ Himself as the Head (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18).  Paul noted that husbands should love their wives as their own bodies (5:28) because no one ever hated his own flesh (5:29).  One nourishes his body and cherishes it (5:29).  It is this nourishing and care of a husband for his own body that Paul used to make the analogy regarding Christ’s care for His Church, i.e., His one body (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:4; 5:29-30).  Paul quoted Genesis 2:24, not to make a point about the husband/wife relationship or that the Church is the bride of Christ but to emphasize the unity and care for the body.  Paul declared this was a “great mystery” but he spoke with reference to Christ and His Church (5:32).  Since the Church is the Body of Christ it means if Christ is the bridegroom we are part of His groomsmanship.  Thus, we are of the bridegroom, and not the bride! 

Summing up, wife and bride are titles that belong to Israel, not God’s one Church.  Our title is “the Body of Christ.”  As the body, we are of the bridegroom, not the bride.  If you cannot tell the bridegroom from the bride at a marriage it is going to be a confusing wedding.  But God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).  He wishes Believers to understand who they are, where they fit in His plan, and what promises belong to them.  When we choose to obey God’s command to study His Word, and rightly divide it, we can rejoice in the grace God has given to each of us and serve and honor Him effectively (Ephesians 4:11-13).  To God be the glory!

(To be continued)

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