All Eyes on the Bride?
Lord, Your power made all things; Your wisdom governs them; Your grace sustains them. Grant me power, wisdom, and grace.
Read Isaiah 1:21-31
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Psalm 45 presents the Bridegroom-King emerging from “palaces adorned with ivory” with music and fragrance to greet his bride adorned in gold. Can you imagine meeting your Lord like this?
I have been teaching a course on marriage and family in Africa while pondering Isaiah’s description of Jerusalem’s infidelity. What devastating imagery! Jerusalem, the city of David and Solomon, created as a beautiful and devoted wife, has now become a prostitute (21), her assets marred like the dross of silver or watered-down wine (22), not dissimilar to the sometime faithlessness of her kings. Prostitution as a metaphor for a nation’s idolatry is found in other prophetic writings as well. It reminds us that our relationship with God is like the sacred covenant of marriage, a relationship that must be honored and preserved by love and faithfulness on our part. Our partner in this “marriage” relationship is always faithful!
The garden imagery (30) is also reminiscent of Song of Songs where the consummation of the marriage is pictured as entering a private walled orchard of delights (Song 4:12–5:1). For Isaiah’s devastated national “marriage,” however, the garden is drought-stricken, where “dalliances in those oak grove shrines will leave you looking mighty foolish” (29, The Message). Human covenant-breaking is caused both by evil acts and by the absence of righteous ones. If our churches and society’s leaders cannot be counted on to be just and incorruptible (23), we, too, must be constantly vigilant. We cannot treat these descriptions as personal warnings only. They have implications for the practices of our Christian communities and for self-described Christian societies.
But as long as the bridegroom continues to love, there is always hope of redemption (27). The Lord restores the bride and the city is called “faithful” again (26). This is reminiscent of Christ’s love and renewal of the church which he will present to himself beautiful and pure in the day of his coming (Rev. 19:7; 21:9).
Are you willing for Christ to restore you and your church to royal beauty in attitudes as well as deeds? How will you show that?
Patient Father, I know I am prone to wander. Forgive my divided loyalties and dalliances with sin. Guide me in the paths of righteousness.
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