The main problem when writing an article is often experienced right at the start. The array of information which is to be correlated, often appears jumbled within the writer's mind and the task of untangling it, allowing it to flows seamlessly unto the paper is the first goal.
When writing a Christian article the importance of maintaining a linear pattern is paramount as the information, while complex to understand, appears to the reader to be simplistic as they assume that they are already familiar with the topic material.
To therefore propose to set out in order an illustration of the Christian faith as detailed within scriptures is a mountainous task and the first problem is where to begin.
To most Christians the bible starts in Genesis and finishes in Revelations, but if time correlation of scripture were to be used, then this would determine the Gospel of John as the start of the narrative as we are told at the start of the book, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.' (John 1: 1-3)
I wish therefore not to look at the chronological order of events but at the events themselves and what they mean to us in the 21st Century.
The title of this article, (Arranged Marriage - Why Us?) is not just the reason for the emergence of Christianity out of Judaism, but can be shown to be the reason for creation itself.
With an estimated 7,000,000,000 people alive on the planet within the early part of the 21st century and the suggestion that this could rise to over 18 billion by the end of the 21st century. The necessity of teaching the truth of the Christian gospel to multiplying masses is becoming more evidence.
It is estimated that by the year 2030 the increase of the Muslim faith on the earth could account for a quarter of the world's population. Although it is still believed that Hinduism will continue to maintain their position as 3rd largest religious grouping, the fear is that Christianity could move into second position overall. Also take into account the growing number of 'nones'(people who claim no religion) in the world today and the growing tide within the western world's Christian denominations who express none or only partial acceptance of the teaching of Christianity it is easy to see why there is an urgent need to promote the true gospel into this world.
However this in itself is the first problem, if the world's view of Christianity is correct then we are at odds with the Judeo-Christian Bible which teaches us that the way to God is a narrow path and few find it. (Matt 7:13-14)
The scriptures maintain that the truth of God would be largely unacceptable to our modern world because our world is ruled by a spiritual power/principality (Satan) who is in opposition to God's will for creation. (1 John 5:19)
So perhaps that is were we need to start, what was God's reason for starting creation? The bible teaches that the reason God created life was to bring into being a suitable helpmate for his son. In John Ch 1:14 & 17 we are told that the Word (Logos) of God was the one how became flesh and dwelled among us as Jesus Christ.
It is clearly witnessed in the new testament that the Church is to be the Bride of Christ and that the 'arranged marriage' is to take place when He returns as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. (Ephesians 5:25-27). So we know the outcome, Jesus is to be married to a remnant of humanity. What however is to happen to the rest of humanity who are not a part of the Bride. We will addressed this momentarily, but first we need to understand who and what Satan is.
The bible tells us that the Angels of God rejoiced at the creation of the physical earth. (Job 38:7) As a result of this we can state that the angels were created before the physical universe as it would be difficult for them to rejoice if they did not exist .
In Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 we are given a glimpse into the creation of the most infamous of all of God's Angels, Lucifer (Satan, The Devil).
Notice that this angel was called the covering cherub, in the old testament when God commanded Moses to make the Ark of the Covenant He told him to follow closely the pattern revealed to him on the mountain. This Ark the representation of God's throne in Heaven had two covering cherubim on either side but a third cherubim, who's job would have been to cover the head of the throne is missing. The bible tells us that this covering cherubim was prefect until iniquity was found within him.
There are many suggestion as to why Lucifer may have rebelled against the most High God and while the details are not directly addressed within the pages of scriptures, the bible leads us to believe it was because of God's intention to create mankind and the subsequent position of authority that mankind would exercise when God's plan for them was fully realised. Lucifer, who previous would have been considered to be the zenith of God's creative ability, may have felt threaten by mankind and that was why he set out to destroy them completely.
The first attack against mankind occurred within the Garden of Eden and resulted in mankind experiencing immediate spiritual death, cut off from God it forced Adam and all of his progeny to also have to experience physical sickness, disease and mortal death.
At that time, God also started to reveal His plan for salvation by explaining that he would save the human race through the woman and that her seed would be wounded by the serpent but that he would subsequently crush the serpents head. This was the first recorded messiah promise foretelling of the coming of Jesus Christ. (Genesis 3:15)
Due to their spiritual death, Adam and Eve lost their right to represent God's government on the earth. This was claimed by the usurper Satan and he will be able to come into God's present until he is cast out of heaven, which will occur when Jesus assumes full authority for the earth.
In (Genesis 3:24) we read that 'After sending them out, the LORD God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.'
Within the bible, three Cherubim are specifically mentioned and these are considered to be the Covering Cherubim. One of these is currently situated on the earth while the other two are in Heaven - the one on earth is Lucifer now called Satan. When we realise that it was Satan's job to prevent mankind having access to the tree of life - which today is salvation through Jesus Christ, we are forced to have to congratulate him of a job well done.
If we examine the spiritual condition of mankind it is clear that Satan has blinded the minds of humanity from seeing the true God and subsequently has set up false religions in place of the truth faith. This trend also continues into the Christian era with the proclaiming of false christ's and false gospels.
Our question is not what God was willing to do to restore mankind to his pre-fall status and remove Satan from the throne of this earth, which he has usurped from Adam by disqualifying him through death. Rather the question we have to ask is why He is willing to do it. Notice the new testament clarifies for us that God determined, before He created the Earth, the identity of Christ's bride (the Church) and subsequently recorded all of their name's within His Book of Life before the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8)
Jesus shared an interesting parable with his disciples in (Matt 25:31-46) about the goats and the sheep. Within this parable Jesus explained that when the nations are to be judged they will be separated into two groups and one group will be allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven because of what they did within their lives which was good and the other group are refused access to the Kingdom of Heaven because they withheld good works in similar circumstances.
It is generally accepted that this parable is not addressing the Church as we are told in scriptures that the Church is not subject to judgement other than while it is on the earth.(Romans 8:1)
So how is Jesus as judge of the nations able to set aside original sin which automatically sentences mankind to death? It was by his sacrifice on the cross where Jesus paid for the sins of all humanity and therefore he is the only one who is able to judge which individuals are worthy of eternal life and which are not. It is important to note however that mankind are not in the dark as to what is expected of them as the bench mark continues to be outgoing love and concern for others as recorded throughout the scriptures. There is no need for any to miss out on the Kingdom of Heaven, as God said in Deuteronomy 30:19 'choose life and live.'
The problem this parable creates for us is that it indicates that these individuals who are permitted access to the Kingdom were unaware of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, i.e. they are not Christian. To understand this conundrum we need to have a clearer understanding of the Plan of God.
The analogy of the arranged marriage is pivotal on our understanding of the plan for salvation. The two families within the proposed marriage agree a contract of conditions to allow the bride to be purchased from one family and become a permanent part of the other family. This is normally called agreeing the bride's price. The two parties within the plan for salvation are humanity and God.
God wishes to purchase a bride for His Son from among his human creation, however the price is not the only consideration. The family of the bride are no longer able to have the level of direct communication with God that their first parents had in the Garden of Eden prior to the fall.
Due to the sin of mankind's disobedience, God now needs the use of an intermediary body. God initially chose to speak to selected individual called prophets to speak with mankind but occasionally He spoke directly by angels.
Following the direct attack of Satan were he influenced angels to mingle with humanity resulting in the creation of hybrid humans with living spirits inherited for their angelic fathers. (Genesis 6:4) God was forced to destroy humanity from off the earth with a planet wide flood but he saved Noah and his family as their genetic line was pure back to Adam. All modern humans alive today are direct descendants from Noah.
Another more distant direct descendant from Noah was a man called Abram, God chose to call a people to himself through this man and determined that salvation would be able to come to the earth through a promised descendant of Abram who God renamed Abraham. The rest of the old testament books from Genesis to Malachi are about these descendant of Abraham.
The story of Abram is a biblical illustration of the call God puts on a person's life when they become a Christian. Abram was a mature individual living in Ur of the Chaldeans (modern day Iraq/Iran) and he accompanied his father Terah to a town call Haran. Following the death of his father, Abram (as custom dictated) assumed responsibility for the family and as such was approach by the voice of God to leave the immediate area and journey to an unknown destination. Abram obeyed the voice and set out from Haran with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot (Abram's brother Haran previously dead.
Initially Abram was unaware of the 'god' who had called him to service, but this would not have been considered unusual as it has to be remembered that Abram came from a people who worshipped many household and territorial gods. The bible identifies these were demons desiring worship so we need to understand they are real spiritual beings who presented themselves as intermediaries between the Almighty Creator God and sinful mankind. (Deuteronomy 32:16-18). It worth noting that mankind's experience with the Creator God up to the time of Abram was negative. God had destroyed the previous world in a flood, had changed the languages of the people in Babel and subsequently scattered them across the entire earth. It is therefore understandable that God did not reveal his true identity until he had developed a working relationship with Abram first. When Abram came to the Land of Canaan he found that the land was in the grip of a severe famine. Initially Abram may not have been too impressed with the god who had called him as the land was experiencing famine. So Abram when on into Egypt to find food for his family, servants and animals. However it was in Egypt where God initially showed Abram his might and power by disarming the Egypt gods and humbling their Pharaoh.
Over the years God blessed Abram and his family and the flocks and herds increase for both Abram and Lot to the point when they no longer could remain together as a single family unit. Abram offered Lot the choice as to where to settle and agreed that he would go in a opposite direction. Lot chose the fertile land around the cities of the plains and set up camp near the main city of the region, Sodom.
There were ongoing power struggles between the local tribal kings in the plains area and on one such battle Lot and all of his family and belonging were taken captive by a rival king and Abram was forced to rescue them.
Following this incident Abram was met by the priest of the Most High God Melchizedek and was blessed by him. This was the first time that Abram fully understood that he was a servant of the Almighty Creator God and not an intermediary spirit. Abram's entire approach to God changes from this moment on, and he no longer doubted that any of the promises made to him could be fulfilled.
God used Abram as a literal prophecy by using his life as an illustration of God's future plan of salvation. We start to view the prophetic with God's promise that all nation would be blessed through Abram and that his descendants would be as multiple as the sand on a sea shore or the stars in the night sky. Abram was to have children. It is interesting to notice that when Abram first received this promise he was reluctant to believe that it could be true as he was old (86 years old) and his wife, while almost as equally old, at 76 years was also barren, however when he shared the promise with his wife she persuaded him that it must be God's intention to give him children by another woman. Sarai then arranged for Hagar her own Egyptian slave to be Abram's concubine so that she could provide a surrogate child for Sarai . The first child of Abram was Ishmael and he was born via the natural process of nature.
It was 13 years later that God revealed to Abram that the promised blessing was not to come from Ishmael, but that rather God was going to give Abram a son through Sarai and that both their name were to be changed to Abraham and Sarah as confirmation of the promised child. This was also when circumcision was given as a token of Abraham's agreement to walk with God.
Isaac was born when his father Abraham was 100 years old and his mother Sarah was 90 years old. This birth was acknowledged as being miraculous and was foretold to both Abraham and Sarah by a group of strangers who Abraham shown hospitality to. It transpired that these strangers were angels send from God on a mission to determine the fate of the infamous cities of the plains, Sodom and Gomorrah.
God allows Abraham to intercede for the cities and agreed that should 10 righteous people be found then the cities would not be destroyed. This discourse shows the change in the relationship between God and Abraham with God recognising Abraham as a intercessor for the earth. This remains a part of the Church's responsibility today.
At the birth of Isaac, Sarah was no longer prepared to share her son's inheritance with his half brother Ishmael and the 14 year old and his mother are sent away from the camp of Abraham. Many have felt that Sarah was wrong in this action but it has to be noted that God was in agreement with her and promised Abraham that he would care for Ishmael from then on.
This was a prophetic illustration of the separation from the physical written law which was to be given to point the way toward the coming messiah. While the observation of the physical written law is no longer required since Jesus arrived and the Holy Spirit now writes the true spiritual law into our hearts and minds. It has to be acknowledged that we continue to learn about the character and judgements of God by studying the Written Law and understanding it's spiritual relationship to our world today.
To prophesy the need for Jesus to have to be offered as a payment for our sins, God uses Abraham and Isaac to illustrate this by asking Abraham to offer up his own son Isaac in a burned offering. Abraham agrees and he and Isaac journey to the appointment place on Mount Moriah. Isaac carries the wood for the fire across his back and Abraham the knife and fire.
Jesus also carried the wood of the Cross on his own back as he was being lead to crucifixion which was also to take place on Mount Moriah.
There is dispute as to the age of Isaac when this event took place but it would have been unlikely he was a young child and could have already reach early adulthood. It is note worthy that Isaac did not resist his father's attempts to bind him or lay him on the wood covered alter. He was in full submission to his father's will at the time. This further represented Jesus Christ's own submission to the will of His Heavenly Father in regard to the Cross.
The bible acknowledged that Abraham was prepared to kill Isaac and that God intervened just in time to prevent him. On looking up Abraham saw a lamb which had it's head caught in a thorn thicket and this became the sacrifice provide by God in place of Isaac.
To day we know that God has already provided the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and his name was Jesus. On His head was placed a crown of thorns as an illustration of the earlier prophesy
God continued to illustrated His plan for mankind when Abraham decided to arrange a marriage for his son Isaac and commanded his servant to return to the land of his birth to locate a wife for his son.
This servant who had total charge of Abraham's household was a parity of the Holy Spirit. He took what he perceived would be required to complete the commission and set out on the journey back toward the land of Abraham's nativity.
Today the Holy Spirit is charged with the same commission to call the Bride of Christ from out of this world and presents us with spiritual gifts directly from God in Heaven.
The servant arrived back in the county of Abraham's birth and started his search by asking the God of Abraham to reveal the correct bride for Isaac by getting her to offer to water all of his camels when he asked her for a drink from the local spring. The Holy Spirit continue to call out to the Bride in a similar way today through the preaching of the gospel. It is only the ones who response who are called by God to be offered a position within the Bride of Christ.
Rebekah was unknown to the Abraham's servant when he asked her for a drink, but he watch until she had watered all of the camels before he revealed that God had chosen her to be the bride of his master's son Isaac and offered her gifts of jewellery. Rebekah went home and told her mother and brother Laban about Abraham's servant and when they saw the precious nature of the gifts they welcomed the servant to stay with them to discuss the matter.
The servant soon discovered that he was in the household of Abraham's close relatives, in reality the home of his nephew Bethuel a son of Abraham's own brother Nahor.
Bethuel was Laban and Rebekah's father which would have made them 2nd cousins to Isaac. The servant agreed the bridal price with Rebekah's family but they were reluctant to allow her to go with him until they had said their goodbyes which according to custom could be any time up to a year. Abraham's servant was unwilling to abide by custom and explained that they would have to leave immediately the following day. The family agreed to allow Rebekah to have the final say in the matter and she agreed to forgo the normal custom and left with the servant the following morning.
There is a lot of teaching for us as the Church of Jesus within this encounter in Bethuel's home. We are chosen as part of the Bride of Jesus but are not given time to prepare for Christianity, we are trust into it immediately. We have to say goodbye to our old way of life and set out on a journey which is to involve immense learning of a new way of living.
The bridal price which God has agreed with humanity was that the blood of his own Son would release them from the penalty of their sins of rebellion against God Himself and restore them to righteousness. That payment has been paid in full 2000 years ago by Jesus but this world's population need to know about this payment for themselves. Therefore God agreed that He would use the Bride herself to announce the good news to her brothers and sister of this world.
As Rebekah started out on her journey she was accompanied by the servant of Abraham who would instruct her in the ways of Abraham over the 750 - 800 miles journey back to the promised land. As the Bride chosen for Christ we are also accompanied on our journey by the Holy Spirit who's instructs us about Jesus and the Kingdom we are to inherit with Him. We are taught in regard to what God expected from us both now and when we are married into His family and start the necessary training as co-regent, a training which will be completed over the remainder of our lives here on the earth.
Christian's called as part of the Bride of Jesus are unique as they are expected to demonstrate the love of Jesus under both physical and spiritual persecution. However the nations are not under the same level of persecution, therefore when Jesus judges them it is on how they showed love towards other, and especially to those who are currently being persecuted for their faith in Jesus.
This was God's agreed price for the bride that He would allow His son Jesus to pay the ransom - the bridal price - so that the people of this earth could be judged on their ability to reflect their creator and not because they were cut off from Him. God wants all the world to understand this because God is Love (1 John 4:8).
The Bride however belongs to God and was chosen by Him before any of the individuals comprising the Bride were born so that they could not claim that they had influenced the choose.
So what happens when we are chosen. God calls out the Bride through the media of preaching as the Holy Spirit has predisposed the called individuals to response to preaching directed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that His sheep would hear his voice. (John 10:27)
The bride will agree to Jesus living his life through them and to receiving His living spirit which also allows the Holy Spirit to join with the individual as they have been made Holy (free from sin). This change of the dead human spirit we inherited from Adam for the living human spirit we receive from Jesus explains why we are called by Paul a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17). This process can only be preformed by God the Father and is the creation of a completely new type of being, combining the Spirit of the Beloved Son of God with God's own created human image to make us adoptive children of God in a full sense of the word. We are part of the body prophetically prepared for the Spirit of Jesus before the beginning of time.
The term Sons of God can only refer to beings directly descending from God, i.e. Angels, Adam and Jesus - the rest of humanity are called the sons and daughters of their earthly father. However when God supernaturally intervenes in a Christian's live and removes their dead human spirit, replacing it with the living spirit of Jesus, He is forming a new creation. Each of us who are truly Christian are new creations and therefore can be legitimately called sons and daughters of the Most High God equally with Angels, Adam and Jesus. Please noted that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
We need to understand that as new creations we have been made alive to God. Our past condition no longer exists and all sins are cancelled as Jesus bore them in his perfect body, and when He resurrected our old dead human spirit resurrected within Him and is now seated in Him at the right hand of God our Father. (Ephesians 2:6)
We now live with a human spirit which our personal actions in this life can not effect, as the life we live is no longer our own. It is because of the living spirit given to us that the Holy Spirit can also come and dwell within us as our permanent counsellor and teacher. Note the Holy Spirit was not offered to Adam, nor the angels of God. We receive it through the indwelling of the Living Spirit of Jesus so that we are able to know the mind of God, as scriptures teach - 'No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit.' (1 Corinthians 2:11)
God arranged a marriage a long time ago. A marriage between His Son Jesus Christ and His chosen sister the Church. We who are called to participate within that marriage are to inherit with Christ all things and are authorised to exercise Him authority in this Earth now to reveal the fullness of His glory to our earthly brothers and sister.
Lets take our calling and election seriously and stop running around like headless chicken. We had a head, His name is Jesus and He is in charge.
William Andrews is a regular Christian preacher/speaker within churches across Northern Ireland. He lives in one of the very few dry villages in Ireland called Seskinore, has been married to Caroline for 39 blissful years and has two daughters Charlene (38) and Rachel (25). The year 2008 proved to be an exciting year for the family as Charlene got married to Dominic in September 08 and they had their first child Phoebe Rose on 30th November 2009. A second grandchild, Ruby Caroline was born on 23rd April 2013.