Post Title: Your True and Highest Self
There is no more important subject for us to understand if we truly want to be well established on the foundations of our faith, than the subject of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose (Luke 4:43).
My subject is the implications of the Kingdom for how we live as men, women, and families.
The primary unit in God's economy for the building of his community, his church, is the family—it is not the individual. The family is the nucleus of the cell of the body of Christ (Messiah). Of course, you do not have a family in God's view without a godly man and a godly woman.
So I want to share with you some insights from Scripture that have meant a great deal to me personally and to my wife in our relationship. And I believe they can also be a blessing to you if you will receive them. Please listen attentively and openly, let your hearts be challenged, and if you hear things that are meaningful to you, lay hold of them.
As I examine the Genesis account it is my conviction that the creation of Adam and Eve and their covenant union was the apex of God's creative activity. It was not an afterthought or some accommodation to lower impulses or drives. It was by God's design that the height of his creative activity was the creation of man and woman, and joining them in marriage resulting in the procreation of children and the formation of a family.
It is no coincidence that the prophets and writers of our Hebrew Bible could think of no higher metaphor to use in describing God and his relationship to Israel than the metaphor of a family. God is spoken so often of as a father—just as our Lord taught us to pray, our Father (Avinu).
The human race began with a family, and the Jewish people were first a family. The founders of that community—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—are called fathers, and the community members are called the children of Israel. All of these are family metaphors. God himself says to Israel, You are the sons (children) of the LORD your God. (Deut 14:1).
The Jerusalem temple itself is called the house of the Lord. The furnishings within that house are household furnishings (e.g. lampstand, table). One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple (Psalm 27:4).
The relationship between God and Israel is described in terms of a marriage relationship; he is the groom, and Israel is the bride. That is why often in prophetic language idolatry is spoken of as adultery. The explicit language describing Pentecost at Sinai after the Passover in Egypt connotes a wedding ceremony. Why? Because the essence of Sinai was a covenant and the essence of marriage is a covenant. So the prophets can say, I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD (Hosea 2:20).
Song of Songs describes God's love for Israel and his covenant unity with her in terms of a bride and groom. The New Testament carries that metaphor forward; we are called the Messiah's bride (2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:32). When Jesus returns there will be a great wedding feast, the Messianic banquet (Rev 19:9).
A Jewish wedding ceremony draws its symbols and language from God's visitation at Mt. Sinai. There are two words describing two phases of a Jewish wedding ceremony that are full of striking, beautiful imagery.
The first part is characterized by the term kiddushin meaning sanctified, from the word holy (kadosh). Here, the bride is set apart from all other women unto her husband, and he is set apart from all other men unto her.
The second part, enacted at a later date, is called nissuin. The Jewish tradition is to lift up the bride and groom in chairs while the guests dance around them. The idea of a wedding is an elevated concept, it is one of lifting up. I find it very meaningful that when Messiah returns, we will be lifted up as his bride to join him, and in the consummation of that union there will be a great feast with great rejoicing.
You can feel Paul's earnestness when he says maranatha, come quickly Lord. He was looking ahead to the great wedding feast, of being lifted up to meet our Lord.
Marriage and family are extraordinarily important in God's sight, it is by his design. I want to say to you some things about what it means to be both a man and a woman, a husband and a wife—in the context of the biblical revelation and pattern.
My premise is this: each of us has been born either a male or a female, but we must become a man or a woman.
It is a process of maturation, growth, and education. If you want to know how to enter the fullness of your masculinity or your femininity, then go to the manual of the Manufacturer. See what the Creator has to say about who you are. Because if you operate according to the Manufacturer's instructions you will get the best results.
I recently read a report in a journal. Among the findings, the authors state, "Our object ought to be to increase the number of urban young men who marry and remain married. Of all the institutions through which people may pass—schools, employers, the military—marriage has the largest effect. For every race and at every age, married men live longer than unmarried men and have lower rates of homicide, suicide, accidents, and mental illness. Crime rates are lower for married than unmarried men and incomes are higher. It is less likely for drug dealers to be married than for young men who are not dealers. Infant mortality rates are higher for unmarried than for married women, whether black or white, and these differences can not be explained by differences in income or availability of medical care."
This is a secular article citing secular statistics. What they point to is a sacred pattern that the Creator placed in us. When we adhere to that pattern in terms of our identity within our relationships we come into shalom: wellbeing, completeness, wholeness. Your greatest purpose, sense of meaning, and fulfillment in life will be realized to the extent that you conform to your Creator's design.
In other words, only as your identity is found in him and he in you, do you enter into his shalom where you will discover your true and highest self.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.