IS THERE A "GENTILE BRIDE"?
Michael F. Blume
© 2003 Michael F. Blume
The issue of the bride of Christ is interpreted quite varyingly amongst Apostolics, and the mention of the "Gentile Bride" is often made. However, is the idea of a "Gentile Bride" a biblical idea?
God spoke of picking Jerusalem out for His Bride in Ezekiel 16. He personified her as though she were a girl found thrown aside in the wilderness in her own blood. God took her and cared for her. Our Lord was actually making references to the Exodus, after Israel escaped Egypt, in which Israel was in the wilderness.
It is a marvelous type of new birth in that God considered Israel as a new-born and cast-aside child. We, too, are born again as we are baptized in the Red Sea of our Jesus' name baptism, and baptized by the Spirit as Israel was led by the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud [1 Corinthians 10:1-2]. He entered into a marriage covenant with her on Mount Sinai [Ezekiel 16:8], representing the giving of the Law of Moses. He clothed her with the items that we learn were for the Tabernacle furnishings and Temple furnishings. He said He shod the lady with badger's skins [16:10]. That was the outer covering for the Tabernacle! The broidered work with which He covered her was the embroidered curtains and veiling of the Tabernacle. (Recall that the Tabernacle was made during the Exodus, after God recovered her from Egypt.) He decked her with the ornaments of gold and silver used in the Tabernacle elements.
This is not speaking of a human woman, but of Jerusalem and Israel as a whole who, in God's eyes, was His Bride.
As time went by, though, Israel played the harlot many, many times, according to this 16th chapter. However, Daniel 9:24 tells us that Israel/Jerusalem would "finish the transgression". She would sin to such a degree that would cause her to cross over God's limit of tolerance. And Jesus reflected that same note when He told her that she filled the cup [Matthew 23:32]. She went too far. Truly He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. God divorced her and was willing to take her back many times, as we see in the foreshadowing and typological story of Hosea and Gomer. But she went too far in Christ's day. She would be destroyed once and for all, to not return again to the Lord, as He allowed her to return time and time again in the past.
Many wonder if the Harlot in the Book of Revelation can be applied to any movement today, who was allegedly considered a bride, but had gone "whoring" after other gods. That is not possible. The harlot was guilty of "all" the blood shed upon the earth [Revelation 18:24], and this is noted by Christ to be Jerusalem [Matthew 23:35]. More than one party cannot be guilty of "all" of anything. It is like saying there was a great tribulation such as never was, nor ever will be, that was finished in 70 AD, and there will be another great tribulation that never was, nor shall be. That is impossible! The language forbids it. How can there be two great tribulations “such as never was nor ever shall be?”
In this manner, Matthew 23 pronounces a curse of finality upon Jerusalem from the mouth of her Groom, Jesus Christ. That finality implies a present or future Jerusalem cannot ever return to God again. Chances to return were available in times before Christ, and a remnant returned. But in Christ's day He indicated such chances were gone forever. The remnant of Jews, such as Paul, Peter, and John, were not considered the return of Jerusalem to her groom. They became members of the New Bride, the Church. I say this because many have the opinion that Israel's reinstatement as a nation in 1948, and a present-day Jerusalem, fulfills prophecy of a regathering to Israel, and the possibility for Jerusalem to return to her Groom once again. We must ask ourselves if the referenced prophecies are not actually referring to the regathering of Israel to Jesus through the work of the cross, and not to a land in the Middle East.
Joel 3:1 foretold that God would bring again the captivity of Judah in the days noted in Joel 2 in which He would pour His spirit out upon all flesh. Did not Peter say under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost that that prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost? Did Peter say that "part" of Joel's prophecy was fulfilled that day in Acts 2, or all of it? Nothing was said about only a fraction of that prophecy being fulfilled [Acts 2:16]. So how can there be a present-day return of Judah from captivity if Peter said it was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost?
If God truly did gather Israel to the Middle East in 1948, then Israel must have circumcised their hearts to the Lord and came into servitude to Him through Jesus Christ. (More on the exclusivity of God's work through Christ alone later). While some propose that God will reinstate Moses' Law for Israel to obey, we must understand that Hebrews 10 teaches in explicit terms that animal sacrifice and blood offerings have ceased due to Christ's sacrifice which was accomplished once and for all time, so far as the need for blood sacrifice is concerned. So there is no other way to come to God except through Jesus Christ. And Israel has not accepted Jesus Christ.
Sacrifices ceased to be offered only when no more conscience of sins had to be purged [Hebrews 10:2]. Jesus' offering was made once and for all, because His blood "purges" sin [Hebrews 9:28; 10:10, 12, 14]!
Deuteronomy 30 tells us that God will re-gather Israel only when certain prerequisites are met.
They must obey the commandment of God.
This is the same note sounded forth by Jeremiah! Israel's heart will be circumcised when she is gathered to her land. Did that occur in 1948? No.
Notice how the Apostle Paul interprets this "commandment", so that we can determine if God has indeed gathered Israel to the land again.
The "commandment" is "the word of faith" that Paul preached. This informs us that Israel must not only live in obedience to God in order for Him to gather them again, but that the commandment they must obey is faith in Jesus Christ! Did Israel obey the word of faith in Jesus in 1948? No. And God does not gather people and then hope they serve Him afterwards. God does not gather anybody who is in disobedience.
Why is there a present-day nation in the Middle East called Israel? It is because people simply chose to go to that part of the world and establish themselves a nation using that age-old name. God had nothing to do with it, otherwise God violated His own Word in Deuteronomy 30.
All of this tells us that God was finished with natural Israel and Jerusalem as being His exclusive chosen people, yet they can still be individually restored through the New Covenant of Jesus, and that God’s bride is now called the Church. This bride is not just Gentile, but is now comprised of both Jew and Gentile in the one body of Jesus Christ.
How can we say the church is the "Gentile Bride" in light of these scriptures?
When natural Israel was God's Bride, she was actually a foreshadow of the Church, the true bride-to-come. She did play the part of God's bride. But she did in the sense that Law also was in effect for a time, but doomed to be unable to render anybody righteous.
Paul taught extensively that God installed Moses' Law into man's relationship with Him for the purpose of proving to man that independence from God's Life could not cut it, no matter how many detailed laws God would give to man, that would indeed deem man righteous should he be able to keep them all. Hence, God knew Law could not be kept [please read Romans 3:20-22, 28; 8:3; Gal 2:16; 3:11-14, 24; Phil. 3:9] He only brought Law in in order for Him to give man his best shot at making himself righteous. And when the fullness of time came for the real thing, having given mankind (or rather, Israel) ample time to prove that man cannot gain righteousness without God's Life, Christ came with the real deal! But yet, law also foreshadows our covenant in many ways.
So it is with Old Jerusalem as bride. God knew the real Bride was forever destined to be the Church. However, Old Jerusalem was called "the bride", and failed Him, and went whoring after other "lovers". God finished his dealings with her in His final destruction of her in 70 AD, and the Church is now the ultimate Bride who was actually predestinated to never slip into spiritual whoredoms. She will not fail Him.
It is not a Gentile Bride. That idea is from the tenets of Dispensationalism that teaches that God will revert back to Law once again with Israel, after having inserted a gap of time for the "Gentile Church" after Israel rejected Christ. They call it KINGDOM POSTPONEMENT, which the Apostles never taught.
This brings up a vital note. Dispensationalism is a teaching that is the result of observing Old Testament prophecies and interpreting them outside the light of the Apostles' words and interpretations found in the New Testament. There is not an Apostolic witness to the theory of Dispensationalism. The Apostles never taught seven dispensations of time. They never taught that something after the Church Age will bring God's work to a close in the earth. They never taught that the Church is some sort of insertion that was never meant to be, due to the rejection of Jesus by the alleged real concern of God, Natural Israel. In fact, upon closer examination, we find that the prophecies the Apostles did interpret referred to the Church bought by the work of the cross and the blood of Jesus. Those prophecies contain statements that the Apostles interpreted as referring to the born-again experience. And Dispensationalists interpret these same terms as something alien to how the Apostles interpreted them. Dispensationalists claim those references apply to something other than the born-again experience.
We must understand the major error of Dispensationalism in its pure form (most Apostolics who adhere to Dispensationalism believe in a watered-down version). Dispensationalists propose that there never would have been a "Gentile Church" had Israel accepted Christ. So they argue that the Church is strictly Gentile since the Jews blew their chance. And after the Church is raptured away, they propose that the Jews will again be dealt with through Law i.e., through animal sacrifice, and the whole legalistic shot, and given another chance!
"Most" dispensational Apostolics will not agree that God will revert back to Law. But true Dispensationalism gave rise to the "Gentile Church" philosophy. However, if one disagrees that God will revert to Law, then one disagrees that there is a "Gentile Church." It is the Church where there is neither Jew nor Gentile! And the Jews must come into the church, or else ever be outside God's commonwealth of people!
And let me close by saying that a remnant was always reserved by God to carry on while everyone else apostatized. There was a remnant of Israel and Jerusalem, as Paul indicates in Romans 11:5, who found Jesus and were counted as Israel in God's eyes. Romans 11 teaches us that more of the remnant would come into the church in Paul's day [Romans 11:26], while the rest remained blinded. But it must also be pointed out that God never blinded an entire race of Jews! He only blinded and cursed the generation who crucified the Lord. He blinded them and their children. And since a generation consists of forty years (see the average amount of years for a generation in Matthew 1:1-17), that blindness applied to nobody after 70 AD, except for the blindness Satan instills when anyone believes not the Gospel [2 Corinthians 4:4].
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