Jesus’ Valentine

AWAITING THE SHOUT

from THE SHOUT OF THE BRIDEGROOM
(Covenant Publishing)
By Glenn R. Greenwood and Latayne C. Scott

This is a love story, pure and simple.

It is the story of two lovers: Christ and His bride. We as the church see ourselves as that bride. But alongside that imagery in the New Testament is what seems to be a contradiction ““ for we know we are not only His spouse, but we are also His body.

Is there a confusion of images? Not at all. In this marriage, as in all others, the great wonder is that of how two become one flesh. There is no confusion, only the great mystery of union.

Jews call a wedding “a building of joy,” and the imagery fits our marriage with Christ, too. We can almost hear it ““ the hammering”‘s slowing rhythm that tells our hearts that the Bridegroom”‘s return is near.

Just before He left, Jesus assured His disciples that not only was He going to provide a mansion for them, but that they knew the way (John 14:4). Just by knowing the Bridegroom, we have all we need for this life and for godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We haven”‘t been left here to muddle our own way home.

Modern-day Jews tell of a delightful tradition with the belief that when a couple marries, all their previous sins are forgiven. Thus they start their life together with “a clean slate.”
For us, each day brings that joy of a new beginning, for the blood of our Bridegroom cleanses us after each and every sin.

As each spiritual “Wednesday” comes and goes in our lives, we find our focus turning inward, to ourselves and the agony we feel as we await His coming. But we are quickly humbled by the memory of Jesus, praying in the garden, with sweat drops like blood, and we know His agony was over a bride who by her very nature could not be completely faithful to Him.

He even asked to have the cup of the marriage covenant taken away. But he didn”‘t want an escape clause, a way out. He wanted the bride. He was willing to trust His Father to work out the details, to keep her pure.

The betrothal would be a trying time. He knew there would be paramours competing for her attention ““ false teachers who would flirt with her and try to take her eyes off Him. All around her would be the temptations of the immediate, ranging from annoying distractions to alluring mirages of happiness.

He knew that she would face discouragement and ridicule, because others would not understand her devotion to Him ““ just like the daughters of Jerusalem in Song of Solomon 5:9 who would not love Him like the bride would.

And He knew the bride would have “internal” problems, too. She would have body parts that would misbehave, always at the wrong time, and illnesses caused by dysfunctions of other parts. But as 1 Corinthians 12 tells us, each part is necessary and important. A bride awaiting her Beloved doesn”‘t cut off an infected finger, or gouge out an afflicted eye. She nurses each back to health so that she can be complete for Husband.

He has left us a love letter, His Word. The bride who loves Him will hang on every tender phrase and hide it in her heart. Our opportunities for intimate moments with Him are rare ““ but how we must treasure those times when we taste His flesh and blood, or listen attentively to His messages hidden in our hearts.

Our wedding to Him will be a festival like never seen before And like the bridegrooms of the Old Testament, He will devote Himself to us. We will be His full-time agenda, for eternity, a never-ending honeymoon of delight.

For us, the church, the honored bride of Christ, the waiting is hard. Like Paul, we face the daily desire to depart and be with Him, right now. But we know we have responsibilities here that we must attend to during our lifetime of betrothal.

But it”‘s all or nothing, this coming wedding day.

Either He will shout His approval of us, or He will remain eternally a bachelor, for we are His only love.

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