We are beginning today to look at God’s love for us. God Himself took the initiative to reach out from Heaven to Earth to call a body of people with Him into a marriage relationship. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible tells the story of the Creator God Who so loves humanity that He has gone to extraordinary lengths to make a way back to Him from the Fall in the Garden of Eden. The Book of Revelation speaks of believers being brought into a marriage relationship with the Messiah (Christ) by being born-again of the Spirit of God. Those who are redeemed of the Lord are pictured as coming down from heaven as a bride and as a city:
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:2-3 Emphasis mine).
This same thought, of the church as the "bride of Christ" is also mentioned by Paul the Apostle. Paul wrote:
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
God has revealed to humanity that only through a substitutionary sacrifice can this marriage union with God take place. In the Old Testament, God used the picture of an innocent Passover lamb that had to die in man's place for His people to be bought back from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:3-13). Later in the wilderness wandering, God showed the Israelites that the only way a man could be cleansed of sin was through the shed blood of a substitutionary animal sacrificed on his behalf (Exodus 29:44-45).
All the sacrifices for sin in the Old Testament were foreshadowing the most self-sacrificial act of love witnessed in the whole universe. The Most Holy God became a Man to willingly and lovingly lay down His life as an offering in full payment of the penalty of death that our sins deserve. We are purchased from slavery to sin and Satan by the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb slain without spot or wrinkle (1 Peter 1:19).
The Greatest Lover in the world has come to capture our hearts through the greatest act of love the world has ever seen, i.e., the terrible death of Christ on the cross of Calvary. If that was not enough, He then completed this greatest of all acts of love by making it available to the greatest number of people who receive His gift with the greatest amount of simplicity. It is a finished work, and nothing can be added on our part except to receive this greatest of all gifts. Just as nothing could be done on our part to be born into this world, nothing remains for us to do apart from turning from our sinful lifestyle and placing our trust in Christ.
How about you, dear reader, are you a part of this body of people called the church of the Living God, the Bride of Christ? You can be. God offers you the gift of eternal life with Him. Turn from sin and place your trust in the One who paid the price. Keith Thomas
This meditation is a shortened version of the in-depth study: God So Loved