The Bride of Christ
May 4th, 1958 @ 8:15 AM
THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-4-58 8:15 a.m.
You are sharing with us the early morning services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Bride of Christ. There are four brides who are mentioned in the Book of Genesis. All four of them were won through suffering, and all of them are pictures of the bride of Christ our Savior. So this morning we are going to open our Bibles to the Book of Genesis, and we are going to look at these four brides in the Book of Genesis, which are pictures of, types of, the bride of Christ, His people, His church.
Now the first bride is in the second chapter of Genesis, the last part of it; Genesis 2:21. And Paul himself is the one who interprets for us the meaning, the deeper and spiritual meaning, of this story. So when you turn to the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, turn to the fifth chapter of the Book of Ephesians, and we are going to compare them. Paul is going to speak of this second chapter in Genesis, in the fifth chapter of the Book of Ephesians—Ephesians 5. Ephesians is almost toward the end of your Bible—the fifth chapter of Ephesians.
All right, now we read in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis:
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam 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.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Now over here in the Book of Ephesians, in the twenty-fifth verse—Ephesians 5:25:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;
That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies…
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Now you have heard that all your life, but did it ever occur to you what Paul was speaking of when he said, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church?” [Ephesians 5:32]. Well, he has a very definite meaning in that—very definite. And the meaning when we look at it is very obvious and very clear.
It is no mystery like you use the word, that a boy should fall in love with a girl, that a man should marry a woman. There’s no mystery like you use the word, about Christ and loving His church. Our misunderstanding, our lack of comprehension of what Paul is describing, lies in our use of the word “mystery” [Ephesians 5:32]. To us a mystery is an enigma. It’s a riddle. It’s an unfathomable secret. It’s a mystery. I cannot understand it; a mystery—that’s what it is to us. A mystery story is a story you can’t unravel. It’s a deep, detective story on who did the murder. It’s stuff like that: a mystery, a riddle, an enigma.
Now the word mystery used in the Bible, in the Greek language, had no connotation like that at all. It’s a Greek word. You pronounce it in Greek, mustērion, and you take it exactly into English: mystery, mustērion. Now the Greek word mustērion refers to a thing that is known only to the initiated. It is hidden, like the Masonic Lodge. The Masonic Lodge has rites and initiations that you don’t know, unless you are initiated into the Lodge.
Now, in Paul’s day, the whole Greek world—and that was the civilized world—the whole Greek world knew, and was acquainted with, what we call mystery religions. That is, they were religions into which neophytes were initiated. And all of those mystery religions had secrets that were known only to the initiated. If you didn’t belong to the religion, you didn’t know what the mystery was; that is, the secret initiations—all of those impartations that the religion was able to give to its devotees. Just like in the Masonic Lodge today—if you’re not in the Masonic Lodge, you do not know the rites and the rituals, the mysteries, the secrets in the Lodge. They are disclosed to those who are initiated.
Now Paul takes that word mustērion, which is just an ordinary Greek word applying to all those mystery religions, and he applies that word to things that were hidden in the heart of God, and which were revealed in their time to these, you, and the followers of Christ in their day. But it wasn’t known until the Lord revealed it. It is a mustērion; that is, it was something that was hidden in the mind and the plan and the heart of God and was not revealed until God’s time.
All right, Paul takes that word mustērion, and he applies it to Adam and Eve. Paul says that back there in the story of the creation of Adam and Eve, there was a mustērion; that is, there was a secret meaning that God knew, and it was not revealed fully what it typified, what it illustrated, until it came to be known in Christ and His church: “This is the great mustērion: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” [Ephesians 5:32]. All right, Paul says then that back there in the story in of the creation of Adam and Eve, there is an illustration, there is a type, there is a figure of Christ and His church. And nobody saw it, nobody knew it—except God—until God revealed it to His holy apostles and prophets [Ephesians 3:4-5].
All right, now let’s turn back to that story and see what it is. And it is very patent after you look at it. Now we’re going to look at Genesis 2:21 and following, and we’re going to look at the great mustērion that Paul says is hidden here in the heart of God, in the meaning of this story. Now let’s look at it. Genesis 2:21: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam.” That is a picture, a figure, an illustration of, a type of the deeper sleep of death that fell upon the greater Adam, the second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ [1 Corinthians 15:45]. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep, the deep sleep of death, in the darkness and in the tomb of the second Adam, Jesus Christ [Matthew 12:40]. And out of that deep sleep, in that deep sleep, his side was riven [Genesis 2:21].
Why in the world these translators wanted to translate that “rib,” I do not know. I tried to find out and I cannot find out. There is no place in the Bible where tsela is translated “rib,” except right there [Genesis 2:21-22]. That is the funniest thing to me that I have come across. Everywhere else in the Bible, tsela is translated “side”—like the side of the ark, the side of the tabernacle, the side of the house. Everywhere else in the Bible, it’s translated “side.” But here it’s translated “rib.” I cannot explain it. I do not know it, I say, I can’t find out why they did that.
So we just take it, but remember, the Hebrew says “side,” not “rib.” In the deep sleep that came upon Adam, the Lord opened his side—a riven side [Genesis 2:21]. “And he that saw it bare record, and we know that his record is true” [John 19:33-35]. I saw, out of that riven side, I saw flow blood and water—blood for redemption and water for cleansing [John 19:34]. And the Lord opened his side, and out of that side, the Lord made—now there’s another word, bana, in Hebrew, which means “build”—and out of that side, the Lord built a woman [Genesis 2:22]. And out of that cross, and out of that suffering and death of the Son of God, the Lord is building His church. The church is the fruit of the love, and grace, and tears, and blood, and suffering of the Son of God [Ephesians 5:25]. If there’s not any cross, we are yet in our sins, we are still lost and undone [1 Peter 2:24]. The birth of the church is in the blood and the sufferings and the cross of Jesus Christ [Ephesians 5:25-27].
And the Lord opened his side, and out of that riven side, He builded a woman. And Adam said—now look at it. It’s word for word: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” [Genesis 2:23]—even as the Lord nourisheth and cherisheth the church, for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones [Ephesians 5:29-30]. Paul is quoting there what Adam said here about Woman [Genesis 2:23]. Paul puts into the mouth of our Lord, and of these who love the Lord, the same thing Adam said about the woman when he saw her. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” and Jesus says that about us. We are members of His body. We are “bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh” [Ephesians 5:30].
You see—ton mustērion, it has a meaning: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother,” Genesis 2:24, “and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” All right, look over here in Ephesians, in the next verse: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great ton mustērion, but I speak concerning Christ and His church” [Ephesians 5:31-32].
So Paul says, and in this thing that we are doing Sunday morning by Sunday morning, looking at the Bible, we are doing exactly what Paul the apostle and these holy men of God did. They are taking the Old Testament, and they are saying that these things that God did, God did not do them advantageously. God did not do them accidentally, fortuitously, but each one of these things that God did had a great meaning and a great purpose. And the way God did it was because of this great meaning, a mustērion—He knew it—God had in His mind and in His heart. And it was revealed to us only in Christ and His church [Ephesians 5:32].
Well, we mustn’t elaborate any longer. We’ve got three more. Adam and Eve: a picture of Christ, and His bride—the Lord and His church. All right, now the second one; turn to Genesis 29. Another bride in the Book of Genesis is Jacob and Rachel. This is the second one we shall take; Genesis 29—Jacob and Rachel, a man and his bride, a picture of our Lord and His church.
Now in the seventeenth verse of the twenty-ninth chapter of Genesis: “Rachel was beautiful and well-favored. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than I should give her to another man: abide with me” [Genesis 29:17-19]. In other words Laban says, “I will agree.”
“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” [Genesis 29:20]. Now that is a picture of, a type of, our Lord’s love for His bride. And He waits and He works. And He waits, and we wait, and we are waiting now.
You know if I’d of thought of it, I would have memorized for this morning that beautiful song: “And the toils of the road will seem nothing, when we get to the end of the way.” “And they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” [Genesis 29:20]. Oh, that beautiful, glad, happy, wedding day, by and by and by! But now we work and we wait. And our Lord waits, but someday the toils of the road will seem nothing when we get to the end of the way. At the great nuptial morning, the marriage supper of the lamb, oh, oh, how wonderful it will be! [Revelation 19:7-9]. “And it was unto him as nothing,” those seven years are typical of the full years known but to God of that waiting, seven years, rounded, full, a mystic number to God, those seven years, but it is very definite. It is a time, and it is known to God. And at that time known to God, that great day of Christ does come, and the Lamb and His wife shall be together—God and His children [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 19:6-9]. Oh, what a day, what a rejoicing, what a gladness, what a victory, what a triumph! No more death, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more sickness, no more sighing, no more bereavement, no more separation. All of these former first things are all passed away [Revelation 21:4]. “And they seemed to him but a few days—as nothing—for the love he had to her” [Genesis 29:20].
All right, now the third bride: turn to the forty-first chapter of Genesis—the forty-first chapter of Genesis—Genesis 41. Now the third bride in the book is Joseph and Asenath—Joseph and Asenath, in the forty-first chapter of the Book of Genesis, a picture of Christ and His church [Ephesians 5:32]. All right, now let’s read it. Genesis 41:39:
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
Thou shall be over my house, and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will be I greater than thou.
[Genesis 41:39, 40]
And our Lord sits in His Father’s throne [Revelation 3:21].
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all of the land of Egypt.
And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;
And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had, and they cried before him, Bow the knee;
“Every tongue shall confess, and every knee shall bow” [Romans 14:11].
And he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt—the whole world.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all of the land of Egypt.
“There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” [Acts 4:12]. “Without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot [Genesis 41:44]. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name”; and there is a long name that has a beautiful meaning. And it means “the one who furnishes the nourishment of life”; Zaphnath-paaneah; Zaphnath-paaneah; the one who furnishes the nourishment of life; and he gave him to wife, Asenath, “belonging to Neith,” who was an Egyptian goddess. “And he gave him to wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-pherah, priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt [Genesis 41:45]. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt” [Genesis 41:46].
All right, now let’s see here the beautiful picture, and we will come to Joseph in a little while. There is nobody in the Bible that prefigures, typifies our Savior more than Joseph does. Joseph is one of the impeccable characters in the Bible—no fault, or flaw, or stain in him, except those indiscrete things he did as a child, when he boasted to his brothers about how he had seen visions of his exaltation [Genesis 37:5-10]. Well, that was childish indiscretion. But his life is pure, and impeccable, and without fault or stain, and in so many ways is a type, a figure of the life of our Lord.
Now we’re going to take him and his bride. All right now follow the life of Joseph just for this moment. Now look at it. He is the beloved of his father—no doubt about that—so much so that the others were jealous [Genesis 37:3-4]. He was the beloved of his father, and the loving father sent this beloved son to his brethren with a loving message [Genesis 37:12-14]. “He came unto His own, but His own received Him not” [John 1:11]. And the brethren, when this beloved son from the father came bearing a loving message, they took him and they sold him to the Gentiles, who took him down into Egypt, and put him in prison—turned over to the Gentiles, who put him in prison [Genesis 37:27-36; 39:20].
And in prison, there were two malefactors with him. One of them was saved, and the other one was lost [Genesis 40:1-23]. And in the third year, he stood before Pharaoh. And on the third day, he was raised out of the depths of the dungeon of death, and stood before the great king [Genesis 41:14]. And standing before Pharaoh, he was given a Gentile bride. And there he reigned with a Gentile bride—Joseph and Asenath [Genesis 41:45]. There is a great famine over the earth, a great dearth. There’s a great darkness and tribulation over the whole earth [Genesis 41:54-57]. And the brethren of Joseph come to Egypt, seeking bread [Genesis 42:1-3].
And there they see their brother, with his Gentile bride, reigning over Egypt. And Joseph is made known unto his brethren, and they are reconciled. And they weep in loving remembrance and reconciliation. And Joseph and his Gentile bride, and his brethren, and Jacob, Israel, are received back into one another’s heart and love. And the brethren are given the finest in the land [Genesis 45:1-47:11]. And Joseph reigns over them [Genesis 50:14-26].
Well, I can just see that—and you can just see it, every step of it, every part of it, every piece of it: Joseph and his Gentile bride, Asenath [Genesis 41:45]; Jesus and His church, the bride of Christ [Ephesians 5:25-32]; and his brethren coming to him reconciled, and Joseph reigning over them [Genesis 45:1-47:11, 50:14-20]. Oh, these things, they just amaze you! They overwhelm you when you begin to see how the purposes of God were wrought through them.
Now we take our fourth one, which is the one that we have come to in these early morning sermons. Now, I just say a little word of addition because the fourth one is in Genesis 24. The fourth one, I began to discuss last Sunday morning. The fourth one is, of all of them, the most beautiful picture of our Lord and His bride and the Holy Spirit seeking out a bride for Isaac [Genesis 24:1-9], for Jesus [Ephesians 5:25]. The twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis is one of the longest chapters in the Bible—just shows you how God pays attention to these types.
The twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis is the servant who is sent out, sent forth, to receive a bride for Isaac [Genesis 24:1-9]. Now, I have just a few comments to add, because we spoke of it last Sunday morning. In the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, Isaac is the son laid on the altar, with the father’s hand raised to slay him [Genesis 22:1-10]. Now in the story God intervened [Genesis 22:11-13], but in the type—that was the antitype, the type of which it is a figure of, God’s hand was not stayed and the Son was killed [Matthew 27:32-50].
And Hebrews 11 says that to all intents and purposes, Isaac was killed. He was slain. It had been decided in the heart of Abraham his father, but says the author in Hebrews 11, “Abraham believed God could raise him from the dead; from whence,” it says, “he received him in a figure” [Hebrews 11:17-19]—in a type, in a parable, in a simile, in a likeness. So in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis, Isaac is slain and is resurrected; the son, the seed, the promised one is slain and resurrected, gone through death and resurrection [Genesis 22:9-13].
Now in the twenty-third chapter of Genesis, Sarah dies [Genesis 23:1-2]. Sarah is a picture and a type of Israel. Sarah dies. Israel is put aside. Israel is sent away. Israel has rejected her Lord and is dead. Israel, according to the flesh, is put aside, put over here [Genesis 23:4]. Sarah is dead.
Now in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis—the next one, the servant is seeking a bride for Isaac [Genesis 24:1-10]. Sarah is dead. Israel is put aside, and there is a bride to be sought now for Isaac, this son. So the servant goes out—the Holy Spirit of God goes out—and he is seeking a bride for Isaac, seeking, the making up of the church. Now in the fifth verse, “And the servant said unto Abraham, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me?” [Genesis 24:5]. Now in the eighth verse: “And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee” [Genesis 24:8]—the Holy Spirit can only add to the fold those who are willing. If you’re not willing, if you’re not willing—harden my heart. “No” to the preacher; “No!” “No” to the invitation, “No. “No” to the wooing and the calling of the Spirit of God, “No!”—”Peradventure the woman will not be willing: if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shall be clear from the oath” [Genesis 24:8]. It’s all done. There’s no other hope. There’s no other way. That’s it. That ends it. It ends the church. It ends the kingdom of God. It ends the great marriage supper of the Lamb. It ends heaven. It ends everything. When you say, “No,” that’s it. There’s nothing left but death, and the grave, and to die in our sins, and judgment, and perdition, and hell—to be lost in the dark and the night. “No, no no”: that ends it. There’s nothing more to be said. “Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow thee” [Genesis 24:5]. If the woman will not be willing to follow thee, that ends it [Genesis 24:8]. Oh, for a beautiful and willing spirit! “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come—let him that heareth say, Come. Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will…” [Revelation 22:17]
All right, now look in the fifty-third verse. And with this, we have to quit. The fifty-third verse: “And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah” [Genesis 24:53]. I want to show you what the Holy Spirit does for us—what God does for us when we come, when we say: “Yes—yes I will.”
“And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment” [Genesis 24:53]. Now look at this, in this beautiful, beautiful thing. What does Jesus do for us? What does God—what does the Holy Spirit do for us when we consent? “I will belong to Jesus. I will be His. I will give my life. I will be a member of His people. I’ll be in His church, in His bride.”
“And the servant brought forth jewels of silver”—silver is redemption money—”and jewels of gold.” You know, it’s an unusual thing. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the author calls the cherubims of gold that over-arched the mercy seat, he calls them the “cherubims of glory” [Hebrews 9:5]. And He gives us the riches of glory and raiment, and He clothes us with His own goodness, and righteousness, and blessedness, and forgiveness [Philippians 3:9].
Listen, I have often thought—I don’t know whether he knew it or not, but I have often thought that the man who could have had the best idea of what it was to be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus, the new garments, was that soldier who, as he gambled at the foot of the cross, won the seamless robe [John 19:23-24]. And when he put it on, and wore it away, and maybe turned back and looked at the nakedness of the One that died on the cross [John 19:25-30]—the seamless robe was his because of the death of that One on the cross. I don’t know whether he thought of it; I guess he didn’t. He’s just a crude soldier, rude and rough; but, I say, he could have had the best idea of any man in this earth what it was to be clothed with the garments of the Crucified One—given raiment to Rebekah, the robes of righteousness, clean and white [Revelation 24:53], that God hath provided for those who love Him, for His bride [Philippians 3:9].
Well, God bless you for listening so attentively and wonderfully. And the Lord open our hearts as Sunday by Sunday we open the Book and look there on the page thereof, and see in it these rich, rich treasures of God.
Now while we sing our song, someone this hour, to give his heart to the Lord; someone to put his life in the church, while we sing the song, would you come and stand by me? “Today, pastor, I give my heart to the Lord,” the wooing of the Spirit. Or, “Today I put my life in the fellowship of the church”; a family you, or one somebody you, while we stand and sing.
A BRIDE FOR CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Four brides in the Bible
1. Adam and Eve; Genesis 2:21-24, picture of Christ and the church
2. Jacob and Rachel; Genesis 29:18-20; picture of Christ waiting until the time appointed by the Father
3. Joseph and Asenath; Genesis 41:39-46 – best loved by his father, despised by his brothers; given a gentile bride
4. Isaac and Rebekah – Genesis 22 – death and resurrection of the son, Abraham’s servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit
II. Genesis 24
1. Abraham; the Father
2. Isaac; the Son
3. Eliezer; Holy Spirit, soul winner