Our God has an eternal purpose, a plan which he has held close to the chest since before time began. Creation was never simply a grand experiment, a laboratory exercise to make something cool and see where it would lead. No, the Creator, Y'hovah, has had a purpose which means everything to him, which he means to see come to fulfillment.
In talking here about an eternal purpose, I mean an intention of God which is the main, all-encompassing, first-cause motivation which drives all he has done and all he will do. I think we too often focus on what God has said and done without perceiving the hints he has given us as to why!
Why did the Father create us? Why did he grant us such unbelievable freedom, a free will and autonomy to act? What does he hope to gain? Does he have any goals, any desires, that he seeks to achieve through us?
Ephesians 3:8-11 talks about this eternal purpose, hidden in God from the time before time, before the angels were created, before the foundations of the universe were laid:
"To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Does this give you an idea how important this is? In the last analysis, this plan has to do with the relationship between the Messiah and his church, the host of believers who have been faithful to him. She will prove God's wisdom before all spiritual rulers and authorities. This plan has been unfolding like a cosmic theater play before the entire company of spiritual powers, created before us, great and mighty beyond human imagination, yet themselves not the centerpiece of Father's desire and plan as we are.
This plan is so huge, that it itself is even greater than the plan and history of salvation.
Think about this. There were events set in motion, before Adam and Chavah (Eve) fell, which go beyond even Jesus coming to earth to save mankind. You could say that their fall, sin, and the resultant lost and dying condition of the human race, who then needed a savior to reconcile them back to God, was just a hiccup in the unfolding of this plan. It was a big hiccup, from our point of view, and because buying us back came at such a high price. It was necessary, and the glory that Jesus earned by giving his own life for us can never be praised enough, but the point of salvation was to put us back on the road towards the fulfillment of God's desires.
"Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith - to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." Romans 16:25-27
Paul writes several times of a mystery, or secret, that had been hidden throughout eternity past. This mystery is a plan or purpose of God which he did not reveal clearly through all the ages up until then. Everything the Lord does, he reveals ahead of time through his prophets. This secret counsel of God, worked out before creation began, was gradually revealed from the very first, yet no one really understood it until after Jesus came.
Proverbs 25:2 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out."
The greatest truths were not trumpeted from the rooftops and declared in detail at the moment of Adam's creation. The story was given out bit by bit, through thousands of apparently unrelated prophecies, examples, types, and word-pictures. Because this plan was cherished in Father's heart, he concealed it from every eye except those who became consumed with a hunger to know him, who would search diligently to find him.
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look."
This mystery was revealed but still concealed, much like an old polaroid photograph. When a picture was taken, the camara whirred and the photo slid out the front, but you could not see anything on it at first. With time blurred details would start to develop on the white background, gradually growing clearer until the full picture was revealed.
What is this secret that was obscured for so long? There are at least two aspects of it, though in reality they are just different sides of the same thing.
"For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
The mystery of God is the Messiah, the Christ. Even the rabbis, who have been looking for the Messiah for over three thousand years, do not really have a clear picture as to who he is to be. There is much disagreement, many conflicting opinions. The picture was given in the Tanach, the First Covenant Scriptures, but not yet clearly developed.
The revelation of this mystery is the person of Jesus Christ himself. Let me put it this way. It is the hidden truth that a man would appear on earth who was both YHWH walking around in human flesh and at the same time the container for God himself.
Jesus said, "Tear down this temple, and in three days I will build it back up again." The reality behind his statement was huge. In effect he was saying, "You think of the temple as that pile of stone. But in reality it is the house of God, the container for God. I am the only temple of God, of YHWH, that there is on earth at this time. During Jesus lifetime, the only temple in Israel was no longer in Jerusalem, it was in Bethlehem, in Egypt, in Nazareth or wandering the land. It was wherever Jesus happened to be staying at that moment.
Jesus not only made this claim for himself, or had it claimed about him as a theological truth; he lived it out daily. Over and over again Jesus told his disciples and the crowds, "I do nothing of myself." "Whatever I hear from Father, I speak." "I only do the things I already saw the Father doing." Even when he healed, he healed in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus lived by the power of the Life of the Father within him. Everything he said and did flowed out of the One who lived within. This is the mystery, and the power for life, even for us, that he revealed.
When Jesus ascended to heaven forty days after the resurrection the temple changed location again. It did not however revert to the pile of gold-covered stone in Jerusalem, it transferred on Pentecost to a whole group of people, who would become now the container for the presence of God, for the shikinah glory. This is the topic of the second mystery.
Colossians 1:26-27 lets us in on the secret of Christ:
I became a minister (of the church) according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What is this secret which was hidden for so long? Wait for it, it's amazing. Drum roll, please.
It is that this God who became flesh, who would be the temple for the Spirit of God while on earth, who would have God the Father inside of him - would then himself be in those who believed in him. This is the mystery that Paul reveals: Christ in you all together, the hope of glory!
There is a oneness that lies at the heart of the person of God. You could say that it is his identifying characteristic, the theme that always seems to accompany the most important things that he does. Jesus said of his relationship to the Father, "the Father and I are one." Oneness was a theme in the garden of Eden: the man shall leave father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall be one flesh.
The devil divides to conquer. The true God has a goal, that all things will be summed up together in Christ, in perfect unity. Jesus in his talk with his Father in John 17 mentioned over and over, "You in me and I in you." But then he broadened it and said:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
We together as the people of God are meant to be one with each other. And we have God himself living in us. This is our hope. This is the power that makes us completely other than the world. This is the dynamite which transforms us and our environment: Christ in us, living his life out through us, in us.
This may be new to you, to many others the words will be familiar, as they were for me for a long time. What I didn't understand is what they mean for us. I cannot become like Christ by striving to do as Jesus would do. I cannot wear a WWJD bracelet and try to remember in any and every situation to be like Jesus and do the Christian thing.
I can only BE who I am. I am now something new in the earth. I am a human being who has Jesus living with and IN him. It is not my life which needs to be changed and made better. It is now his life, of which I am a container and a temple, which I simply let out!
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
Okay, well that sounds good, but how does it work? If I just have to BE, to let him do it, then I have nothing to do myself? I can just kick back and wait and if nothing changes, well, that's okay because it wasn't my job?
Not quite. My job, your job, our highest calling, is to walk daily in relationship with him. It is his presence and our conscious focus on him and fellowship with him, staying connected to him, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute that will transform us. Our focus is relationship and the holiness automatically follows. Any other route will not lead to the goal.
Christianity is about relationship, not ethics. If you can internalize this statement, you will be further along in Christ than many preachers, whose main goal seems to be to achieve great things and to build a big church full of people who act right.
You see, serving God and achieving great things for him and for the Kingdom of God is a great privilege and joy, but it doesn't make us great in God's eyes. Knowing God intimately, living in a daily give-and-take communication, staying-in-contact type relationship with him makes us great.
As we behold him, as we spend time with him, his presence transforms us from the inside out. True Christianity will have a final end-result of higher morality and ethics, but only as the by-product of a close walk with God.
This living out of his presence in us is the foundation for life in the New Covenant. It is the secret of life with God. And it is the basis for the fullness of the mystery of Christ in us.
You see, the incredible high calling that we have is to be something brand new in the earth. To be something this world has never seen. This is not what I alone can be as I draw near in relationship to God, it is what we together, the body of Christ will be, as we each live in the mystery of Christ in us. Paul described it in Ephesians 2:13-15.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace"
The One New Man is not simply a group to which both Jews and Gentiles, men and women can belong. This is a new creation, a new creature. The early church called themselves the new species. God had formed something new in the earth, a Body for Jesus which is both him and not him. It is made up of Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slave and free who now are this new thing, this new Person which is a community of people who live in a loving relationship to each other and together form a container for the God of the universe.
You could even say that the One New Man is a cord of three strands, made up of Jews, of Gentiles and Jesus together as one human, one body, a new and later creation.
We are meant to be a loving community of people who are learning as individuals to live by the life of Jesus within, and to express that together as people who are growing up to become the living, breathing representation of God on earth.
Lets look a little deeper. As we read before, this mystery began before time. The answer to the question of God's original purpose that underlies all he does is to be found in eternity past, before anything had been created, before there was anything, before there was even nothing. There was just God.
Yet what we know about God is that he lives in and highly values relationship. God is love. Love is the cornerstone of creation. Love has its foundation in God himself. Yet love cannot exist in one person alone.
As Augustine said, "If God is love, then in him there must exist Lover, Beloved and a Spirit of Love at the same time; for love without a lover and beloved is inconceivable."
Love cannot exist in a single individual. When God from the beginning existed as a singlular Person, unique and individual, he could hardly know, understand and exemplify love so completely that John could say, "God is love." No, God is and has always been a community.
Imagine a person alone in a room, cut off from all contact and communication with other beings, human or animal. He doesn't even have a cell phone. Now imagine this person attempting to love, to experience love or give love. Probably the best he can accomplish is to feel warm and kind feelings for himself.
It is just not possible. Luckily this is not one of those truths that we can't understand but must just accept. God is a community, and the scriptures reveal him as such.
Yes, God is one. There is and has only ever been one true God, as the Bible clearly says. But it is the kind of Oneness that we described earlier, a complete oneness of purpose, identity and shared being. God the Father, God the Son have a shared being through the Holy Spirit.
What we know is that the Father loves the Son:
From the time before time there has been a free flow of love between the Father and the Son, surrounded by a Spirit of love.
"Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17,24
"But so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here." John 14:31
The Father poured out his love into the Son. The Son received his love, and returned it. In all this exchange of friendship, love and affection there are no walls, no defenses up. There is complete openness, perfect trust and vulnerability on all sides. Each prefers the other over himself.
Just listen to the interaction between them as recorded in the gospels:
There is a certain order in this exchange of affection and love. It is not the order of a chain of command. That concept would be completely out of place in the relationship in the Godhead. In fact, it is only because of our fallen condition that we even would think such a thing necessary. But where there is perfect love and complete lack of selfishness or private agenda, there is no need at all for hierarchical relationships. In fact, they are grossly out of place, because they would only be necessary because of a fallen, selfish nature.
The order that we see is the order of the first source: the initiator and the one from who everything originates. The Father is the initiator in this relationship. He is the fountain who pours himself into the Son. The Son receives what is given him and unselfishly gives back what he has received.
How do I know this? It is in 1 Corinthians 11:3 - "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God."
Where does this passage say that the Father is the source? What I see here is that the head of Christ is God. It would seem to be saying that the Father is the boss! And that Jesus is the boss of the man and the man the boss of the woman!
The answer is in the Greek culture and language. To a Greek of the first century, the word head was metaphoric for source, just like head is slang for chieftan or boss today.
This actually makes more sense than simply to say that he is boss. We already know Jesus is Lord. This is not what is at stake or what this passage is trying to say. Instead we see here that the Father is the source of all that flows between Jesus and himself.
The Father had someone, upon whom he could pour out all the love of his passionate nature. The Father was the source, the Son was the recipient and responder. The Father loved, the Son reciprocated and loved him back, without holding anything back.
Yet the Son had no one upon whom he could lavish his passion in like manner.
We do not know how this came about, whether the thought originated in Jesus, that he began to desire to have a counterpart to whom he could be the source, the initiator upon whom he poured out his love, or whether the Father longed to do something wonderful for the Son, by providing him with a similar counterpart. It could even be that they together simply thought up a plan to expand the community of relationship in which they lived, because there was such an overflow of love and the desire to give.
How it came about may someday be revealed, though at the moment it remains hidden in the far distant past. What we do know is that as the Father is to Jesus, so Jesus is to us.
We have just seen this in the Corinthians passage. But check this one out from John 20:21: "Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."
More than simply saying that we are to be sent just as he was sent, he is saying that it is in the same way as he was sent. Jesus lived out of the life of the Father within while he was on earth. In the same way, we will live from him. This is a teaching that is repeated over and over in the New Testament.
However the plan originated, it was to create the perfect companion, a counterpart for Jesus. This counterpart would have certain characteristics. She would be the Bride of the Messiah. She would be the same as him, but not he himself. She will be the Son of God in another form. She would receive his passionate love, a wife who would be worthy of God himself.
You could say that the abundance of love in the Godhead sought an outlet for this love which would be outside of the divine community.
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. Romans 5:14
According to Paul, Adam was a type or pattern of the One who was to come, Jesus. Once you see it, it is amazing how much God revealed of his intentions in the events that took place in those few days after creation, and most especially in how he created mankind - both Adam and Eve.
In fact, the first two chapters of Genesis - along with the last two chapters of Revelation - are the only four chapters of the entire Bible which lie outside the influence of sin and the fall. The first two come before Adam and Eve sinned, and we get a glimpse into the world untainted by the stain and ruin of sin and rebellion.
The last two chapters of revelation reveal the world after paradise has been restored, all has been put right, healed, made new and perfect and with the Father once again living on earth with his people. There is no more sin, there is no more death, there is no more taint of sin and rebellion.
Because the great themes of salvation history have either not yet occured or have been completely dealt with, these chapters have nothing clouding the issues that weigh on God's heart, his purposes that transcend redemption. In fact, there are strong parallel themes between the two chapters in the beginning and the two at the end of the Bible. What can we glean from these chapters?
It is very interesting to notice that the gold and gemstones of Genesis have been worked over and made beautiful by Revelation. Many gemstones are formed, as diamonds are, by ordinary materials - such as a lump of coal - being transformed under great pressure and heat (with the presence of flowing water, a symbol of the Holy Spirit's work in us) into beautiful gems.
Isn't this exactly what has been done in the furnace of the past 6,000 years since creation, that we have been formed under great pressure and in the heat of trials, temptations and enemy resistance into people of great worth? The same is true of the pearls as gates. Pearls are formed through great irritation that is patiently dealt with until out of the trial a pearl of great beauty and value takes form.
Each of the topics of these chapters has to do with either of our themes from the two mysteries of God and of Christ. The one has to do with the redeemed people of God, who are represented as gold and gemstones, in raw, unworked state in Genesis, polished and finished in Revelation. They are also represented as a bride prepared for her husband.
The other is Jesus himself, the husband who is the source of life. He is the river of life and the tree of life. He who eats and drinks from him receives eternal life.
The events in the Garden of Eden are a microcosm of what God would later do on a much greater scale. Lets dive into the story, remembering that Paul told us that Adam was representative of Jesus . . .
Adam was created from the dust of the earth. The scriptures say that God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. This tells us that God was very, very near as Adam took his first breath and opened his eyes for the first time. You have to be face to face in oder to breathe into someone's nostrils! His eyes opened, and he looked into the loving eyes of God, possibly manifested in Jesus Christ, as he has been the interface for the Father on earth throughout history.
Adam's first experience was of love. He stepped right into a cocoon of loving care, including intimate walks and talks, you know: relationship with God. That would be, should be, so fulfilling that there would never be any thought of lack. Since Adam had no other experience than communion with his creator, how could he feel anything might be missing?
So God had to quickly do something to educate him, since he wasn't done making Adam. How could he get Adam to internalize his need for something other than him, someone like him, but yet very different, who would complete him? This was not just about getting the job of creation done. No, everything here mirrors God's own desires and plan.
So Adam was not put directly to sleep on the eighth day so Eve could be fashioned. Instead, God gave him a task: "Adam, the animals need names. Put some thought into it, examine each one, study their characteristics, and come up with a fitting name for each species!"
Wow, that was really the most important thing that needed doing right after creation? How about a few days to enjoy the wonder of life in paradise!
Actually naming the animals wasn't the point. Some people have been critical of this, suggesting that the task was too much for one day. Well, perhaps he took a few weeks, the passage doesn't really say. Perhaps the job took as long as it took Adam to internalize one vital truth: I am completely and utterly alone as a human. There is none like me, though each of the others has it's mate! Where is mine? I have a need that can not be fully met by the Father's love!
Finally Adam is prepared for what Father wanted to give him all along. "Adam, come over here, I want to give you your heart's desire! It will take just a short time, you will hardly feel a thing. Lay down on the ground beside me."
So the Lord put Adam into a deep sleep and then he reached his hand into his side and pulled out a chunk of Adam's flesh and bone, closing up the place afterward.
Let's pause here a moment, because I think there is something significant in the symbolism of what is happening. The Lord did not take the flesh from Adam's head, nor from his feet, but from his side. In wedding sermons I have emphasized that this signified that the woman was not meant to be over him, nor under his foot, but close to his heart. Probably true, but not what I want to point out.
I noticed that if Adam were to represent the human race (which he does, as in him we all sinned, according to Paul), then reaching into his side would put God's hand about a third of the way from his head (signifying the beginning of history), to his feet (signifying the end of history).
Assuming a 6,000 year history since creation, then God would be reaching his hand into history at about 2,000 BC. The flesh that he pulled out of the body of humanity at that time was a single couple named Abram and Sara. Beginning with the couple, he began pulling on the flesh and shaping her, pushing in a little here, stretching there, until she grew and multiplied and became a people all his own, Israel. Israel was the beginning of God's work to fashion a counterpart for Jesus. This work continues into the present time, because at the cross Jesus did not throw off his work in Israel to start something new. No, he drew her, this people of his, up to a new level of relationship with him.
For more detail about the relationship between Israel and the church, and about the purpose of such events as the giving of the law and what changed with the coming of the New Testament, check out my book, available on this website, called "Responding to the Shofar's Call: Rediscovering Hebraic Christianity in Light of God's Eternal Purpose."
So symbollically God is giving us a hint about what the purpose of Abraham and Israel was. It has everything to do with his plan to build a counterpart for Jesus.
So back to the story. You may have noticed that I keep referring to Eve being fashioned or built, not created. That is because this is accurate. Eve was not created as Adam was, from the dust of the earth. Eve was formed, fashioned, shaped and molded out of already existing flesh and bone (just like Abraham and Israel were). The hebrew word here for her creation is banah, which means to build (like a carpenter).
That's why women are so much better looking, and especially better shaped than men! (Excuse the joke, please!)
As Adam woke up, behold, there lay a gorgeous dark-eyed beauty beside him, coquettishly batting her eyelashes at him! Adam took a good look at her, noticed right away that there were a few updates and components that he didn't have. His pulse began racing, his heart began beating out of his chest! "Holy moly, Lord! She's a bombshell!" he said, using his best american slang.
Actually, his first recorded words were more to the point, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." (or: she shall be called ishah, because she was taken out of ish.) In other words, "Lord, this babe is ME, but not me at the same time! There are two of me!"
The next words in scripture define marriage, because this passage is all about providing a counterpart. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Though God had made two out of one, he put them back together again through marriage, so that they would be whole again. There are still two, but they are joined, they are one again.
If we look carefully at what just happened here in light of Paul's words that Jesus is the second or new Adam, then some amazing parallels spring out at us. Just as Jesus is the new Adam, the lovers of God, the true church, are the new Eve. So there was a first Eve and there is a second or new Eve, who was built for her counterpart, Jesus.
I gratefully acknowledge my debt here to Frank Viola in his book, "From Eternity to Here."
The First Eve
The New Eve
|She is another person, but not completely other. She came out of him; she is Adam in another form.||She is Christ in another form, for she was taken out of his side at Calvary (when his side was pierced and blood and water flowed. Blood and water are symbolic of birth taking place).|
|She is uncreated. Bone of his bone, flesh from his flesh. Their DNA is identical, she has the same genes as her husband, but without the y chromosome.||She is uncreated. She was formed from the substance of Jesus Christ, spirit of his Spirit. She carries the DNA of God. She has his genes. She is for him, to him and through him. The Bride of Christ has the nature of Jesus. She has his character, his ways. She is a partaker of the divine nature.|
|She is flawless. Pure. Breathtaking. The perfect woman. Clothed in light and crowned with glory.||She is flawless, just as pure and holy in God's eyes as Jesus himself. She was in Christ before creation, before time, before the Fall. She originated in perfection incarnate himself, Jesus. Adam couldn't stoop to offer his love to any less being than his own level. In the same way Jesus cannot give his love to an unworthy woman, who isn't his match.|
|She was once part of Adam's body. She came out of his side, his anatomy. She takes part of the same life that he had. She is inseparable from him but fully other than Adam.||She is the Body of Christ - originates out of his side. She shares his life. She is inseparable from him, though decidedly other. She will inherit everything that belongs to him.|
|Adam was the source of Eve's life. Eve could only exist because part of Adam was in her. Without Adam she would not have existed at all. Her life depended on him.||Christ is the source of her life. She exists and has life because a part of him is in her. Because Jesus lives in her, he is her righteousness. Everything beautiful in her comes from him.|
|Eve was formed for the fulfillment of Adam's loving passion.||She was formed completely and utterly for Him - in order to fulfull his passionate love. She is his counterpart.|
|Eve already existed in Adam before her own appearance on earth. Adam ran about in the garden with a girl inside of him. His body was the womb for her.||The Bride was already hidden in him before the creation of the world. She has her beginnings in eternity.|
|She was the increase of Adam. When she was built, he was multiplied. This was intensified with the birth of their children.||She is the increase of Christ. When she came out of his side, he was increased. She will fill the earth with his glory.|
|Eve and Adam were mutually dependent on each other. God pulled her out of Adam's side, "Split the Adam (atom)!"and she became his better half. Together they carried the image of God.||The Bride is dependent on Jesus, and he needs her for the fulfillment of his desires. The Father "Split the second Adam" and took her out of his side.|
|She was Adam's glory. She carried his likeness. When someone saw her, he saw Adam as well.||She is the glory of Christ, and carries his likeness.|
These parallels, like many others, have been built into the scriptures over and over again. It's just like Jesus said in John 5:39, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me." But these here, right at the beginning are especially insightful into his eternal purpose and plan.
All that the Father does in some way touches on this plan to expand the loving community of the trinity. Everything he does lifts Jesus up. Everything he does is relationally based.
This plan to expand the loving community in God can be seen especially clearly in four word-pictures that are found over and over throughout the scriptures, both in the first covenant and second covenant scriptures.
The first two are what the Father desires to give to Jesus:
The second two are what the Father desires for himself:
We have already talked at length about the Bride. She is truly at the heart of what God has been doing through the earth ages, one of the mysteries, that like the polaroid pictures needed a long time to come into focus. Paul comments on it in Ephesians 5:25 -
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."
The Bride will live with the Father and with the Lamb, Jesus Christ, in the new Jerusalem on earth forever. Jesus' counterpart. His wife. His love.
About the Body of Jesus I have already written at length in the former article, The Restoration of the Church. It may be worth looking at again in light of what we have learned here.
For himself the Father desires a house to live in. This theme comes up again and again in the Old Testament and is especially seen in two related objects that crop up frequently: the altar and a tent.
The altar always is placed in front of the tent, because it is only by way of the altar, the place of self-denial, laying off of our sin and humility that we are enabled to sojourn with God in the tent. We see the altar and the tent in connection with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses was given a vision of a tent to build that would be the meeting place of man and God, the tabernacle.
Solomon built an enlarged version of the tent, a temple. The temple was full of symbols engraved into the gold of the walls of palm trees, lilies, opened flowers and other vegetation as well as cherubim, angels, woven into the curtain separating the holy of holies. These were reminders in the temple of the Garden of Eden, which was the first dwelling place of God on this earth. When Solomon dedicated the temple, fire fell from heaven.
John said that the Word, who was in the beginning with God and was God, became flesh and tented with us. The usual translation is "dwelt among us." But in the original language it is literally, "he became flesh and tented with us."
Jesus claimed that if they destroy the temple, he would raise it up in three days. Of course, he meant the temple made up of his body. After his resurrection the temple was expanded to all those who believe. The day of the dedication of this temple was pentecost. On this day, fire fell again, like in Solomon's day, with tongues of fire on ALL the temples who were present.
In first Corinthians 6 Paul reminds the people there, "don't you know that YOU are the temple of the Holy Spirit?" Peter takes up the theme and says,
"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
We are to be built up together to become a temple. We are not merely the dwelling place of God on earth as individuals, but the relationship that we develop together, the tight bonds of friendship and loyalty and kindness and selfless giving that we show as we love each other as Jesus loved us - this will make us a very visible temple, together, of God's presence on earth.
Father is looking for a house to live in in every community on earth, not merely a church service to visit occasionally. The house is made up of living stones which are tightly connected to each other in a loving community, which have made themselves attractive to their God.
God the Father is also looking for children, a family. This theme is seen over and over in the whole scriptures.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. Psalm 68:5
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Hosea 11:1
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:1-2
Jesus is called the firstborn among many brethren. After the resurrection he told Mary to "go and tell my brothers that I have risen ..." Since the Father has made us his children, that makes Jesus our brother also!
We inhabit all of these truths at one time. As a believer in Jesus Christ and one who is learning to love him, you are at the same time one who is becoming the Bride of Christ and your are a part of his very body. You are bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
You are at the same time the son or daughter of God the Father and have Jesus as a brother. Together with other believers you are the dwelling place, the temple, the house for the presence and glory of God. He lives within you! What a high calling and privilege you and I have, if you have joined me in taking this wonderful God as your own and pledging your life to him in obedience.
Together these pictures shed light on God's mysteries, which are God in Christ and Christ in you! His purpose is to draw us up into him, into a deep, satisfying and intimate friendship and loving relationship with him. He has drawn us up into the constant flow of love and fellowship between Father and Son through the Holy Spirit.
The early church called this flow of relationship the great dance. Have you become a dancer in this dance?