THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS OF MARRIAGE

Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2004

Part Six:

The Celebration Factor

Much of what we have studied, particularly in the previous section, has been heavy going, and without the transcendent grace of God most of us would be echoing the disciples in their conclusion that it is better not to get married.

But the Bible presents another aspect of marriage that surpasses the responsibility, the difficulties, the pitfalls and the failures. It presents marriage to us as a celebration and a cause for celebration. So certain is this Celebration Factor that God uses marriage as a picture, not only of his relationship to his people in this present era, but as a picture of the ultimate celebration when all that is opposed to him is brought to an end, and Christ and his people are finally and inseparably brought together, in 'the marriage supper of the Lamb'.

STUDY FOURTEEN: MARRIAGE – A CELEBRATION

Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2004

A. 'A GOOD THING'

The Creation Factor established that it was 'not good' for man to be alone, and that to make it 'good' God created a wife for Adam. We have seen Adam's joy and satisfaction when he saw Eve in his ' This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh'. And we have seen that God's summation is that 'for this reason' a man will leave his father and his mother – his nearest and dearest – and cleave only to his wife.

Read these verses. Identify and discuss their affirmation of marriage as 'good'.

Genesis 24:67

 

 

Deuteronomy 24:5

[see also 20:7]

 

Proverbs 18:22

 

 

Proverbs 19:14

 

 

Proverbs 31:10-31

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add some reasons of your own why 'finding a wife' is a good thing. [Wives, you could list some about 'finding a husband'!]

 

 

 

 

 

B. A REASON FOR REJOICING

The Bible presents marriage as the occasion of public rejoicing, and the reason for sustained personal joy.

Check out the verses. Comment on their meaning.

Psalm 19:4b-5

 

 

Proverbs 5:18-19

 

 

Ecclesiastes 9:9a

 

 

Isaiah 61:10

 

 

Isaiah 62:5

 

 

Jeremiah 7:34; 16:9; 25: 10; 33:11

 

[Ignore the judgement factor; think about the references to joy associated with marriage.]

Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19

 

John 3:29

 

 

C. A CELEBRATION OF LOVE

The Song of Songs is thought by some to be a picture of Christ's love for his church; by others to be an expression of human love. There is no reason why it cannot be both, as human marriage, as we have seen, and as we will see again shortly, is used by God as a picture of the climax of his salvation purposes, when Christ and his church are united forever beyond the judgement.

Not for group discussion . A section for husbands and wives to do together.

Read the Song of Songs. As you do, make lists as indicated below. Discuss this endorsement of the enjoyment and celebration of sexual love. Challenge: do you communicate with each other like this?
Physical actions described
Words referring to pleasure
Verbal expressions of feelings
What caused the feelings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. A PROPHETIC PICTURE OF THE ULTIMATE EVENT ON GOD'S CALENDAR

We have already seen in Study 6, section C, and in section B above that Jesus uses 'bridegroom' as a picture of himself. 'Bridegroom' instantly makes us think of joy and anticipation, and also of fulfilment and consummation. Although in our society marriage is seen as anything but permanent, marriage, as God intended it, is permanent, until ended by death. Human marriage is meant to be a real-life object lesson of this love of God for his people, of the joy-filled, eternal union of Christ and his church.

These aspects of bridegroom, bride and marriage – joy, anticipation, fulfilment, consummation and permanence – feature in the Bible's description of the union of Christ and his church, both now and at the end of the age.

There is a sense in which the Church [all true believers] is already the spotless 'bride of Christ' because of the complete salvation we have in union with Christ. Write out what these verses teach about the present purity of the Christian which is the result of the sin-bearing, substitutionary death of Christ.

Ephesians 5:25-27

 

 

 

Colossians 1:22

 

 

 

There is a sense in which the Church is in the process of being purified by learning more and more about Christ and continuing to trust the pure Gospel. Discuss and describe this progressive purity.

2 Cor 11:1-15

 

 

 

Col 1:25-2:4

 

 

 

At the end of the age, the church, called 'the new Jerusalem' 'the Holy City' is presented to Christ, as his 'bride'. Read the verses below. Identify and discuss the elements of union, joy, celebration, and permanence they contain. Note that your marriage is meant to be a prophetic picture of all of this.

Revelation 19:5-9

 

 

 

 

Revelation 21:1-5

 

 

 

 

HOMEWORK TASK: During the week:
  1. Look for and verbally affirm causes of 'joy' in your wife or husband.
  2. Look for causes of celebration in your marriage.
  3. Celebrate your marriage.
  4. Seek the Lord's help to make your marriage a better prophetic picture of the ultimate and final union of Christ and his church.