Grace describes the life of a believer who securely basks in God’s unceasing loving-kindness –who doesn’t feel the need to conceal even his most embarrassing ways –who is convinced that everything taking place in this life is good –for him and for all believers.
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19)
Attaining that life of grace depends on comprehending the depths of His love. And the allegory of marriage offers a marvelous exploration into those depths.
You might be asking “Where does the Bible mention that marriage is an allegory to convey Jesus’ love for us?”
It’s in thepassage that we looked at earlier . . . where Paul concluded the narrative of an adoring husband and his beautiful wife by saying that he was actually (allegorically) speaking about Christ and His bride.
Rereading the passage –and realizing that it’s about Him and us– opens the door to knowing that Jesus cherishes and nurtures us (in courtship on earth) . . . in order to present us to Himself as absolutely flawless (for our marriage in heaven). He has made us into new creatures that are perfect in His eyes.
To discern the allegory, let’s go back to the origin of marriage and uncover the greatest love story ever –the one that’s been expressed from the beginning.
It starts with “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18).
Adam’s plight touches on Jesus’ situation. They each lived in the perfect place (Adam in the garden; Jesus in heaven) and each reigned over his kingdom (Adam over all the animals; Jesus over every living creature). And each longed for someone who was like-minded, like-bodied and like-hearted to share it all with –but none existed.
To fulfill Adam’s desire, Eve was made from him.
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24)
Although she was made from both his flesh and bone, Eve wasn’t the same as Adam. But she was his suitable helper –and when they were together (as “one flesh”) Adam would accomplish his purpose.
To fulfill His own desire, at least allegorically, God made mankind from Himself.
Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’” (from Genesis 1:26)
Although He made us in His “image and likeness,” we’re not nearly the same as Him. But we’re suitable to be His helper.
In the allegory, Adam (the husband) correlates to Jesus . . . and Eve (his wife) is the believer.
(I’m repeating some of their story to keep it intact.)
Before the woman was taken out of the man –while they shared the same body– they both were told the consequences of usurping God’s role as the Judge over what’s good and what’s evil. It was death (from Genesis 2:16-17).
Just in case we forgot it somewhere along the way, First Timothy restates the obvious . . .
For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:13-14)
Eve was the rebel who wanted to be like God –the ultimate authority. It wasn’t Adam. In the same way, we (like Eve) are the rebels who act as though we are fully capable authorities –little gods.
Try putting yourself in Adam’s position . . .
Eve had ignorantly accepted the consequences for taking on the role of authority. There she was standing before her devoted husband –wanting him, almost taunting him, to eat some of the deadly fruit that she had eaten.
He had two options. He could remain there in his kingdom with all of its goodness –yet separated from the one who was made just for him –the love of his life. Or he could join with her in spite of all her misdeeds, protect and provide for her when she would allow it and suffer the supreme consequences for her. He chose the latter and ate the fruit . . . it was better to die for her than live alone without her.
The punishments were pronounced: Adam would work the ground with thorns and weeds fighting against him . . . and he would die. Eve would envy his position of authority and have trouble in childbirth. Then they were expelled from the garden –unable to live there forever (from Genesis 3:16-24).
Here’s where the allegory shines through –and ties the two couples together.
Like Eve, we all have rebelliously challenged God’s authority. The last half of Romans chapter one describes it with examples galore –along with the repercussion of death. Later, chapter three has that often repeated saying “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God . . .” It –along with the rest of – is actually a collection of quotes from the Psalms.
Even so, Jesus chose to be joined with us so He left His home just as we’re told a husband must do.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18 and Ephesians 5:31.)
He pursued us into this world. (That’s the story behind His parable of the Prodigal Son who took his wealth, left his father, lived in a pigsty, spent his inheritance on us pigs, was greeted by his loving father, was restored his previous position –and met with disdain by his jealous brother (the Jews).
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
At the end of the resurrection’s implications in First Corinthians, there’s a comparison of Adam producing physical life through Eve to Jesus producing spiritual life through us.
“The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45 and Genesis 2:7)
. . . death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (from Romans 5:14)
According to that verse above, Adam committed an offense –and yet He was a type (a perfect, though earthly, resemblance) of Christ. What offense, transgression or sin could they possibly have in common?
They did what was necessary to be united with their brides –following them into their “pigpens” and taking on their filth –their sins –their death penalty.
Adam would have been justified in being angry with Eve –after all, she made his life’s work utterly painful and caused his death. But nothing is recorded to indicate such an anger existed. And when Jesus was on the cross He responded in the same way toward us –saying to His Father “forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” That’s the ultimate proof of a faithful husband’s love.
Both Adam and Jesus chose dying so they could be with their brides –rather than living alone without them.
In that punishment section of Genesis chapter three, there are hints about what Jesus –our husband– would do on our behalf.
Only the man was told that he had to die –she wasn’t. It’s referring to the second death –spiritual death. Only Jesus had to die . . . and He did it so that we don’t have to. Also the man would have troubles producing a harvest from the cursed ground. It’s alluding to Jesus toiling to save our souls. He was speaking about that harvest in . There was one other curse: the serpent would crawl on that ground –Satan would be very familiar with our souls.
That First Timothy passage ends by saying that women (referring to mankind) will be saved through childbirth (once we recognize our need for Him). In that life-giving event a child is covered in its mother’s blood and water. It depicts believers being eternally cleansed and protected by His blood and living water. Both flowed from His side at the cross.
In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus said . . .
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. (from John 3:3)
Yes, I’m describing what takes place with each of us individually. Some fall in love with the One who gave His life for them and they accept His marriage proposal. Like an engagement ring, He puts His Holy Spirit within us as His promise of eternal life with Him. Now we’re merely waiting for the celebration to take place in heaven.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (from Revelation 19:6-7)
And there are some who refuse His proposal. He knew that’s what would happen from the start. Yet, it’s all worth it to Him –to have His perfect, eternal helpmate.