Tuesday after Epiphany

Isaiah 62:1-12

A Bride Not Forsaken

Some of the most precious words in Scripture are these: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 & Joshua 1:5).  It is one of our God’s greatest promises – the simple, “I will be you” (Exodus 3:12).  It is the word that calms our fears and gives us hope.  No matter what the circumstances, the Christian knows he can get through it if only He is with him.

During Isaiah’s time, the northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to Assyria, and the southern kingdom of Judah was reduced to vassalage.  Indeed, in a few years time, Judah was destroyed.  It was easy for God’s people to see themselves, and even call themselves by the names, “Desolate” and “Forsaken.”

But God had a message for them: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.  The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.”  The rest of the chapter goes on to describe the new Zion.  She will be called, “My Delight Is in Her,” “The Holy People,” “The Redeemed of the Lord,” “Sought Out,” and “A City Not Forsaken.”  She is described as a bride in whom the bridegroom (that is, the Lord) rejoices over.  She will be a “crown of beauty” to the Lord and a “royal diadem” in His hand.  The Lord has sworn it.

The image of God as the bridegroom (in the New Testament, Jesus Christ) and His people His bride (in the New Testament, the Church) is central in Scripture.  (Our Lord’s marriage to His Church is the basis for Christian marriage in Ephesians 5.)  God is constantly wooing His faithless bride.  He must sometimes chasten her, but He never leaves her.  God’s love is such that it cannot be conquered even by our sin.  That was the whole purpose of sending His Son, the quintessential Bridegroom, to love her to the shedding of His own blood.  She is his Bride, the Church of Jesus Christ, that He has purchased.  Her history is quite checkered, both under the Old Covenant and the New.  She has been draped in scarlet and hounded into caves; she has both persecuted and been persecuted; at times she has been her own worst enemy.  But her Bridegroom will never forsake her, though oddly some of her members think they have license to forsake Him.  Nevertheless, He has washed her sins away, clothed her in white raiment, and promises her a glorious future (Revelation 21 & 22).  May we yearn to be so faithful to Him.

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