Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Bride of the Lamb by Hamilton Smith (Chapter 2)

THE BRIDE IN THE COUNSELS OF GOD
Genesis 2

The passage that we have been considering in Ephesians 5, closes with a quotation from the end if Genesis 2, where we read, after Eve has been formed and presented to Adam, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Having quoted this passage the Apostle, in Ephesians 5, immediately adds "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." This surely warrants us in saying that in Adam and Eve we have a beautiful type of Christ and His Church.

In the garden of Eden with all its divinely ordered arrangements we not only learn what is in the heart of God for man, but what is in the heart of God for Christ. Adam was not the man of God's purpose; he was only a figure of Him that was to come. We might well ask why was this earth with all its created wonders brought into existence? Now that the mystery of Christ and His Church has been revealed we have God's answer; and in picture His answer is given directly creation is completed, and before ever sin came in. God's answer is Christ and the satisfaction of His heart. It is true that the Church was counselled before the foundation of the world, for the thought of the Church carries us back to the eternal purpose of God and takes us on to eternity. It belongs to eternity, though time and creation are used to bring the Church into existence. The Church was no after-thought with God. Creation was first in point of time, but the Church was first in the counsels of God, as we may surely gather from Ephesians 3, where we read, that God "created all things by Jesus Christ to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." The Church having been formed, "the heavens and earth which are now" will, in due time, pass away and the Church will remain for the glory of God and the satisfaction of the love of Christ to the ages of ages.

While however we see Christ and the Church presented in a picture we must remember that Eve presents the Church as the Bride of Christ. As we have seen there are other aspects of the Church, but this we judge, to be the highest conception of the Church, that which is nearest to the heart of God and dearest to the heart of Christ, for therein we learn that God has purposed to secure an object that is entirely suited for the love of Christ. In the Church as the Bride we see, not only a company of people who find in Christ a satisfying Object for their hearts, but, a company of people who become a suited object for the love of Christ. This is the wonder and blessedness of the Church viewed as the Bride of Christ. It is little wonder that the Church should find in Christ an Object of love, but that in the Church an object should be found entirely suited for Christ to love is indeed a great wonder.

With this great thought God opens His book and with this great thought it closes. What God begins with He never gives up. Genesis opens with a picture that discloses this thought of His heart: and though sin and death mar the creation of God, and, in the long sad history of the failure of man and the ruin of the Church in responsibility, the picture is blurred and even lost to view, yet at last this great thought of God emerges into the light, and in the close of the Book we are permitted once again to see Jesus delighting in His Bride, and the Bride waiting for Jesus.

Looking briefly at the picture in Genesis 2, we have in the early part of the chapter a description of the Garden of delights that God provided for man. Eden means "pleasure." It is God's delight to provide for the pleasure of His creature. Thus we find in the garden there is "every tree that is pleasant to the sight," to provide all things beautiful; there is every tree "good for food," to meet all the wants of man; there is the tree of life to give the capacity to enjoy the scene; and there is the tree of knowledge of good and evil with its prohibition, so that all this garden of delights might be enjoyed in relationship with God expressed by obedience to God.

This scene of beauty having been formed, man is placed in the garden to dress it and keep it. Nevertheless, beautiful as the scene is, it falls short of perfection; and for this reason, man is alone. His surroundings were perfect, his position was supreme, he was far above the lower creation — but he was alone, and it is not good that man should be alone. There was everything there for the delight of his eye; there was everything there to sustain life; there was the capacity to enjoy his surroundings: but in all that scene of beauty and plenty, there was not an object that could satisfy his heart, for there was nothing there, from the greatest to the least, that could respond to the love of his heart. The man was alone.

But another scene rises up before our souls. A scene of which this is but a beautiful foreshadowing: a scene into which sin can never enter. Perfect as the garden was in itself, it was liable to the intrusion of an enemy, and we know indeed how soon he entered and brought sin and death and ruin into this garden of delights. But the home it foreshadows is not only a place of infinite perfection and eternal delight, but there "deceiver ne'er can enter, sin-soiled feet have never trod" — a scene where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain. These things are not there, and can never enter there, for they are passed away. But Jesus is there, the Son of Man will be supreme in that realm of glory, and may we not say He will be there to dress it and keep it; for all the adorning of that scene as well as its eternal security will be the result of His own work,

No soil of nature's evil,
No touch of man's rude hand
Shall e'er disturb around us
That bright and blissful land.
The charms that woo the senses
Shall be as bright as fair,
For all, while breathing round us
Shall tell of Jesus there.

But even so, if He were there alone would His heart be satisfied? Would we be satisfied to find ourselves in a scene of infinite perfection and infinite holiness, if Jesus were not there? And will He be satisfied if we are not there? A scene of infinite perfection would not satisfy the heart: we must have an object for the heart, and must not He have an object for His heart? But how is this object to be secured? This we learn in picture as we see the way that God provided an helpmeet for Adam.

First we learn that the one who is to be his helpmeet must be his "counterpart" or "his like," for thus should we read the last two words of verse 18. The one that can satisfy the heart of Adam must be "his like," and thus have the same thoughts and affections, and be able to respond to his love. For love can only be satisfied with an object that responds to love.

The lower creation is passed before Adam. He gives them each a name — not a fanciful name, for in Scripture a name signifies the distinguishing characteristic of that which is named. Hence in naming the animals we see that Adam had perfect knowledge of the animals. But with this full knowledge he fails to find one "his like." In all that lower creation there was not one that could share his thoughts, feel as he felt, and respond to his love. He was on an immeasurably higher plane than the animal creation.

Hence to provide one "his like," there must be a fresh intervention of God, and in this fresh work three things are clearly seen.
First, Eve was taken from Adam, 
Second, Eve was formed for Adam, 
Third, Eve was presented to Adam.

Here then we have in picture the three great truths that have been before us in Ephesians 5. First if Eve was to be his like she must be taken out of Adam. Hence the deep sleep and the rib taken from Adam, from which the woman was built. So too, if Christ is to have His Bride — one that is His like — that can respond to His love — she must indeed be of Himself. He must go into the deep sleep of death or remain for ever alone; "except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." "When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed." His "seed," which must he His like, is the outcome of His death, and love was behind His death, for we read, "Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it."

Further we read, that having taken the rib from man "the Lord God built the rib that he had taken from man into a woman" (N. Tr.). And in connection with the Church, is not this the work that is being carried on at the present time by the Spirit? If through the death of Christ the Bride — one His like — has been secured, at the present time through the work of the Spirit our affections are being engaged with Christ, with the result that Christ sanctifies and cleanses us with the washing of water by the word. Our hearts become powerfully affected by the love of Christ; bridal affections are formed with the result that we are set apart in affection to Himself and cleansed from all that is unsuited to a true and chaste bride.

Lastly there is the presentation of the Bride. Eve is brought to the man. And Adam said "This time [in contrast to the time when the animals passed before him] it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: this shall be called woman because this was taken out of a man." At last Adam finds one "his like." So, too, the day is coming when the Church will be presented to Christ "a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." It will be of Himself and therefore His like. It will be formed in His affections by the sanctifying and cleansing effect of the word and therefore able to respond to His love. For all eternity Christ is going to have His Bride, like Himself, one that can think as He thinks, feel as He feels, love as He loves, and hence one that is made perfectly suited to be the object of His love. Then indeed Christ will be satisfied. He will see of the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.

O day of wondrous promise!
The Bridegroom and the Bride 
Are seen in glory ever;
And love is satisfied.

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