The grand story of the Bible is moving toward an end, one where God will reveal himself as he is. But what does that actually mean? When we take into account the entire biblical narrative, one that is centered around the cross, this means that God will fully unveil his love and we will not only see him as love, but also we will see ourselves as God’s beloved bride.
In this final sermon in this series covering the high points of the Bible, Greg offers an overarching perspective of the Scriptures while also pointing to the end of all things. The overarching survey can be captured by seeing the Bible as a grand love story of God seeking to share his love with human covenant partners. The Bible depicts it is as a story of God seeking a bride, where God is betrothed to a people in history who will then ultimately have the marriage consummated in the endless glorious age to come.
However, the Scriptures depict a history of a bride who has separated herself from the groom. This begins at the beginning in the story of the fall. Instead of trusting God’s loving and beautiful character, humans suspected him of all the worse aspects of human nature. The bride fell under a curse and she forgot who she truly is. The Bible is the story of God desperately trying to wake his bride up, rescue her from the enemy, and open her eyes to his true character and true love for her.
We see this in Psalm 18:25-26 where is says that God appears to people as they are, not as God actually is. With this in mind, the Bible shows us a God who is willing to stoop as low as he needs to in order to enter into solidarity with his deceived bride. God relates to his bride on her own deceived terms, in order to gradually reveal to her that he is not at all like the beast she imagines.
This point of view is rooted in the cross, the ultimate expression of God stooping to bear the sin of his bride and taking on the appearance that reflects the ugliness of sin. The love of God goes to the farthest extent possible as God became what he was not, as sin and a curse, in order to demonstrate the love that God is. God did the same thing throughout the Old Testament, as is exemplified by the giving of the law. God was willing to accommodate the Israelite’s fallen need for a meticulous law, taking on the appearance of a rather typical Ancient Near Eastern law-centered deity, so that he could influence his bride in the direction of truth. Because God cannot coerce his bride into having only true conceptions of his nature, God had to embrace his bride where she was at, even if it made him look bad.
The bride is then invited to see this God of love and be influenced by it, to be transformed and made ready for her future marriage by gazing at the beauty of the groom. The central passage for understanding this is found in 2 Corinthians 3:14-18. There we are encouraged to see in our imagination the beauty of the revelation of Jesus, and as we do so, we are changed from one degree of glory to the next. God’s beauty changes our ugliness and prepares us for the coming marriage union with God.
This is where this entire biblical story is heading. We are moving to the face to face encounter with God where we will join God and be fully awakened to the reality of what it means to live in the love of the groom. We are children now of God, but this reality will be fully unveiled then. When he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
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