I’m hoping this love story will be a little easier, now that you’ve had some practice. What we are doing, for those who have just joined us, is finding Jesus and His Gospel hidden in the love stories of the Bible. I’m testing the waters here. You are a depthy group of women — if it is too challenging for you, I know I need to go back to the drawing board. I also covet your prayers for wisdom for me if I should proceed with this book. I appreciate you!
Let’s go to the beginning — to the first love story. My favorite picture of a bride is this picture of my mother on her wedding day. Dressed in snowy white, I know she took my father’s breath away. And though it is hard to believe, when Jesus has finished His work in us, we will thrill Him in the same way.
Whether we realize it or not, there are many moments in a wedding that tap into the deepest love story of all. It is as if far behind the sanctuary, a door has been opened to a room where heavenly music is playing, and we catch faint strains of the greatest Wedding Day of all. We may sense that deeper love story when:
- the trumpet solitaire sounds and we rise to see a radiant bride in a snowy white gown
- her father walks her down the aisle and presents her to the groom
- the bride and groom covenant, from this day forward and until death, “to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…”
- they are pronounced “husband and wife” and turn with radiant faces and joyful step to walk down the aisle together – no longer two, but one.
Each of us longs to be loved the way a bride is loved, but we wonder how that is possible, given the secrets we hide. We think if someone knew us completely, he couldn’t love us. Yet that is the heavenly music of the Gospel, for:
- God covers every believer with a garment of snowy white, a “wedding garment”
- God the Father chose His Bride before the foundation of the world to one day present to His Son
- God covenants with His own, for better or for worse
- One day each believer will see Jesus face to face and be forever united to Him
The very first “wedding” may not seem like a wedding at all. It may not even seem real to us. We may picture Rubenesque figures frolicking naked around an apple tree. It may seem almost mythical, and certainly so far in the past that it is hard to relate. Our hearts may not be stirred.
1. Comment on the introduction — is the idea that a wedding is a picture of the Gospel new to you? What thoughts do you have?
2. When the first bride is walked down the aisle by God the Father and presented to Adam, how does he respond in Genesis 2:23? Why was he so excited? (Genesis 2:18-20 may give insight.)
2. What parallel do you see between this first wedding and our wedding to Jesus Christ? (See Isaiah 62:5) How is it possible, given our sin, that our God will rejoice over us?
3. Challenge question: Why is a wedding a picture of the Gospel? (See above notes — and bring any Scriptures that you feel help clarify this.)
4. After Adam breaks out into song, Moses states the most importance verse about marriage in the Bible. It consists of three parts — what are they?
5. In Ephesians 5:31-32, Paul says this verse applies not only to earthly marriage, but something deeper. What is that?
Let’s begin with leaving and cleaving and do one flesh next week. (For even sexual intimacy is a picture of the Gospel.)
Earthly marriage: What does it mean for a man to “leave” his family? Does this mean abandonment? Why is this important for a healthy marriage?
The parallel with Christ: How did Jesus leave His Father in order to woo His Bride? Was this painful for Him, do you think?
In the psalm about Christ and His bride, how does “leaving” apply to us, according to Psalm 45:10-11.
How could you personally apply this?
Cleaving is akin to gluing two pieces of paper together. They are no longer two, but
one, and if you try to separate the two pieces, you rip into each of them. Cleaving cannot occur when a couple simply lives together, because there is no lasting covenant, no legal commitment. Cleaving provides the protective tent for becoming one flesh, which God says should follow rather than precede cleaving. This helps us to understand why divorce is so painful. It rips at each partner, and at any children of their union. God wants us to cleave, to be committed – for earthly reasons, but also, because it reflects His covenant.
A. As Applied to Earthly Marriage: What does cleaving mean, and how should this impact a couples’ perspective of marriage?
B. In Malachi 2:10-16, the prophet thunders at men who have broken their marriage covenant with the brides of their youth, casting them aside to marry younger pagan women. What reasons does God give in Malachi 2:14-15 for his anger with these men?
C. The parallel with Christ. Christ cleaves to us, will never leave us or forsake us. Find passages that show that this cleaving depends on Christ’s faithfulness. If we are truly His, we need not fear that He will walk out.
8. What will you take away from this week’s study? Why?