"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
The great governing figure of wedlock as presented in Eden is that of the identity of life on the basis of love. This essential feature lies embedded in the deeper mystery of Christ and His church. (Eph. 5:32) The earthly union of man and woman is, therefore, a figure of higher realities which were purposed prior to the beginning of any such human experience.
A further aspect of marriage is dealt with in the Scripture in which it is stated to be for the preservation of a godly seed and the safe-guarding of conception in order that human society may be maintained. (Mal. 2:13, 14) We may refer to these two as the primal and legal aspects of wedlock. The apostle Paul in his doctrinal teaching adopts the legal aspect in Rom. ch. 7, and appends a spiritual lesson thereto showing that it is our duty to bring forth fruit unto God. (v. 4)
In the epistle to the Ephesians the primal figure is taken to account, not the legal one, in which case the wife loses separate entity and becomes one with her husband in the identity of life on the basis of love. The lesson deduced in instance is that the Spirit of God makes a stringent stand for sanctity and separation. Love is one for one. The greatest incentive for personal holiness lies in the character of the Lover, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
We should take notice of the four special figures that are attached to the primal presentation of this sacred bond in relation to the bride.
(1) In the sphere of identity, she leaves and cleaves. The bride-to.be is expected to leave her family, her identity, her property, her country, her history and her destiny, and to receive in their place a new name and a new nature. "Thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty, for it was perfect through my comeliness which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God." (Eze. 16:13, 14) He Who does this "is the chiefest among ten thousand, the altogether lovely one." (Song of Songs 5:16)
(2) In the sphere of possession, she gives and gets. In this phase, "My beloved is mine, and I am his," the soul receives immortality and an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance. Christ, Who is Heir of all things and abides forever, brings to His bride life and immortality through the gospel. He it is Who says, "Because I live, ye shall live also." We become "heirs of God and joint.heirs with Christ."
(3) In the sphere of privilege, she gains union and communion. In an intimacy and integrity of perfect harmony which includes mind, will and heart, "They twain shall be one." This fact is clearly stated by the apostle, in the words, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." (I Cor. 6:17) By virtue of this unity and amity, a perfect fellowship is established.
(4) In the sphere of fidelity, she confides and abides. This suggests constancy in the matter of confidence and companionship. "Can two be betrothed, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3, margin) In the spiritual sense, the agreement having been made by a covenant of atonement, the abiding relates to everlasting accord and association in blissful satisfaction. "I shall behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." (Psa. 17:15)
These four features of identity, legacy, unity and fidelity, imply a corresponding exclusiveness. The sanctity of so intimate a relationship must be safeguarded against intrusion of any kind.
In the light of these facts we learn that the occasion of the marriage of Boaz of Bethlehem, and Ruth, the stranger, marked a union which supplied an index to infinite movements, which ultimately issued in the manifestation in this world of Messiah, the Mediator, for the sole purpose of demonstrating the kindness of God toward humanity. The content of the book of Ruth apart from all other consideration is a rare and remarkable literary gem, but, in addition, the message incorporates a dramatic illustration of the profoundest features of a complete redemption, which is graphically romantic, as well as being genuinely historic and grandly prophetic. The light is clear and resplendent, the delicate reticence gives the book a true sense of sanctity as well as of sanity. Amid the surge and storm of sorrow, the soul is stilled into quiet contentment. The distress dies down and the season of darkness is succeeded by a new dawn of radiant splendor with the heart-stirring discovery of a kinsman-redeemer, a stronger sympathy, a sweeter society, indeed, of a bridegroom beloved.
The mingling of hope and helplessness eventually merge into home and heaven. Like as the heart of the redeeming kinsman was set upon securing Ruth, so our blessed Redeemer set His love upon mankind to lift humanity from loss, loneliness and pain to the wealth of His eternal gain. We find, therefore, that in the record of Ruth, Hosea and other books of the Bible, there lies embedded a miniature replica of the most real and remarkable romance of all revelation and history.
By sheer weight of His moral grandeur, Christ towers far above the splendor of earth's supreme potentates. He is the chief and central figure of all history, the preeminent governing personality of revealed prophecy and the supreme commander in control of determined destiny.
I cannot claim to be a kindred of Jesus by virtue of my humanity, for it was by means of the mystery of His birth that He dwelt among men to express deity, Emmanuel - God with us. He came to demonstrate nearness in order to substantiate His right to redeem, but by so doing He also expressed in clear evidence the distance that existed between His state and that of man.
Christ's identity with humanity is a tremendous potentiality. Man is not only highly honored, but, through the mystery and medium of manifestation, the Son of man wrought out in human history God's redeeming purpose.
How fervently we should engage in blessing the Lord for having given us glimpses of the coming dawn as an earnest, and for granting us in a variety of ways foretastes of the life to come, together with some sweet samples of that sublime society that never ceases. The divorceless swallow has awakened in its throbbing breast a consciousness of the summertime in a land of far distances to which it migrates. How much more sensitive should we be to the impressions of His gracious Spirit Who reveals things to come, things of such sort that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man to conceive.”
When we view the magnitudes of an ever.expanding sky, the multitudes in the starry heavens and the magnificent amplitudes of glowing beauties in the gorgeous sunsets, all of these marvels bespeak greater wonders in the realm beyond, "For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Cor. 4:18)
We are encouraged to look forward to a time when we shall be lifted above the lowlands of this life to the uplands of a loftier station and lovelier state. We are not merely to be brought into the vicinity or precincts of Paradise but into the very center of the celestial community.
These revealed realities bespeak a larger and more lustrous life and a higher and holier Homeland with grander gates of entrance and more glorious gardens than we know here. They presage a bigger and better brotherhood with a closer contented comradeship.
They indicate a brighter and more blessed birthright into a superior and more spacious society. They betoken a latent and lasting loyalty, with a deeper and more desirous devotion. They imply a statelier and more sublime suitability, with a richer and more replete realization.
Let us reciprocate our Regal Redeemer by making Him the center and circumference of our whole souls' full range of delight. Let us not content ourselves by saying that we have given Him place or even prominence in our lives. God hath decreed to Him the preeminence in all things and most decidedly He deserves the same from each of us.
This royal Bridegroom is spoken of by the apostle Peter as the One "Whom having not seen we love." We are also to "rejoice with joy unspeakable." When Peter would define the character of the Beloved, he does so by using a rich and wonderful word, "Unto you therefore which believe he is PRECIOUS," and further declares that His promises are many and exceedingly precious, which means they comprise a veritable casket of celestial certitudes. The word "precious" has in it the sense of honor as well as quality. In Christ we find intrinsic worth and infinite wealth perfectly combined, for in Him the rarest beauty and richest bounty are equally blended, therefore, we ask ourselves to whom or to what shall we liken Him? Shall we make mention of the manifold marvels of radiant sunsets, stellar magnitudes, alpine glories, mountain gorges, ocean wonders, forest splendors, scenic grandeurs and floral lovelinesses? All of these perishables are dimmed into insignificance when we think of the preciousness of Christ. We shall ever find emanating from Him new flashings of light, new features of love, new fullnesses of life, new facilities of liberty, new facets of Lordship, new factors of leadership and new forms of lustrous grace.
Our Lord is essentially precious for He is wholly one with the Father, co.equally, co-executively and co.eternally.
An essential person is one who is absolutely necessary and who cannot be done without. He is exclusively precious because He is actually and abidingly "the altogether lovely one." He is endearingly precious because of His affectionate care, attractive charm and appealing courtesy. He is effulgently precious because of being the radiant Bridegroom, the resplendent Beloved and the regal Bestower of replete blessedness. He is excellently precious because of His perfect character, prudent competence and prevailing conquest. He is exceptionally precious because of His preeminent Lordship, paramount leadership and permanent loveliness. Yet again He is eternally precious because of His enduring ministry, His exceptional mercy and His everlasting majesty.
The preciousness of Christ surpasses all estimates. He is utterly unpurchasable because of the inconceivable value of His priceless virtue, so we may aptly use the words of Isaiah the prophet when considering such a theme . "without price." (Isa. 53:1) Further, He is wholly unrivaled because of the inestimable worth of His peerless wholesomeness, the One Who is described in Hebrews as holy, harmless, undefiled, yea, Whose stately throne is "higher than the heavens." (Heb. 7:26) The actual degree of His goodness is unassignable because of the incalculable honor of His matchless holiness. Christ is more precious than the happinesses of Heaven, than the melodies of music, than the pleasures of peace, than the treasures of truth, than the features of friendship, than the virtues of valor and even more precious than the bounties of blessedness.
All precious is Jesus, my Lord and my King,
The heavens adore Him and rapt'rously sing,
Acclaiming Him worthy in anthems of praise,
So perfect in beauty, the Ancient of Days.
All precious is Jesus, my Savior and Priest,
Millions of souls He hath fully released,
Subdues every power opposed to His will,
And reigns over all in His consummate skill.
All precious is Jesus, my Master and Friend,
Whose kingdom and riches abide without end.
The throne of His grace is established and sure,
The fame of His Name shall forever endure.
Thrice precious is Jesus, beloved of God's host,
The Archangels and saints have made Him their boast,
His honor and majesty never recede,
His love and His loveliness meet every need.
So precious is Jesus, blest Bridegroom of peace,
The joy of His worshipers never shall cease,
Enraptured, enthralled by His beauteous grace,
The glory of heaven reflects in His face.
Most precious is Jesus, my Leader and Guide,
The fairest and choicest whatever betide,
He's constant and faithful in every domain,
And pledges most surely to come back again.