The Jews, Jealousy, And The Bride Of Christ
By Stephen J. Ahn
Strangely enough, jealousy will play a vital role in the fulfillment of God’s plan for the Jewish people. Nothing less than that turbulent emotion will cause large numbers of Jewish hearts to be awakened to their Messiah Jesus.
Scripture tells us that Jews will be provoked to jealousy by the blessings of salvation now being enjoyed chiefly by Gentiles (Deut. 32:21). They will feel the stinging envy of suddenly realizing that He whom they greatly desire – Messiah – has been discovered by another people.
The Jewish prophet, Isaiah, foretold the irony of this circumstance when he prophesied, "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me" (Rom. 10:20; cf. Isa. 65:1). Gentiles, who have no historical connection with Messiah, would find, while those who have roots reaching back to the first promises to Abraham millennia ago, would not comprehend.
But Scripture also makes clear that this condition is not the end of the matter. The early church missionary, Paul, wrote to some Gentile Christians in Rome, "If you [Gentiles] were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted…into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will [the Jews], who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?...Israel will be saved…for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:24, 26-29).
God continues to reach out to the sons of Jacob, and He will save many. And prominent among the means of accomplishing this will be jealousy. Jealousy is uncompromising, un-moderated, and has a terrible grip. According to the Shulamite woman in Song of Songs, jealousy is "cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame" (Song 8:6). But will there be something more to the Jews’ jealousy than the general fact that some Gentiles have chosen to become Christians – a circumstance that has existed for centuries with only a mild impact on Jewish belief?
Over the centuries, Jews have proven their great capacity NOT to be jealous. During the Diaspora (scattering from the homeland), they have shown themselves without equal at maintaining their own traditions. For evidence, one only needs to look at the feeble band of Yemeni Jews, who, despite centuries of complete isolation and desperate persecution, held on to ancient customs, and in 1948, after the creation of the Israeli state, returned to their homeland – as Jews!
Do Jews need to look elsewhere for better religious and moral codes? Hardly. Rather, Western institutions have looked to Moses for inspiration to guide their own ethics. Do Jews need to envy Gentile festivals and celebrations? Again, the influence regularly has been the other way around. Gentile religious ceremonies are often pale in comparison with Jewish originals. Neither will scholarly appeals move them. Jews have time-tested defenses against the jabs and thrusts of academic logic.
On religious matters, Jews have not felt a need to think themselves inferior to anyone. They might suggest that if Gentiles have managed a Master’s in religion, Jews have two Ph.D.’s and tenure.
There is one prize, however, that some Gentiles, and as yet, a small number of Jews, have seized, that will drive unbelieving Jewish hearts fast towards Messiah: the Bride of Christ.
Who Is the Bride?
The final two chapters of the Bible end with the revealing of a people belonging to God, not as a multitude of individuals, but as a single bride. "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife," the angel presses the writer of Revelation. The angel proceeds to show John "the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God" (Rev. 21:9-11).
The Bride, the New Jerusalem, is revealed as the culmination of God’s great work of salvation on earth. A major part of this world’s history is one deeply echoing drumroll leading up to the moment when she is brought forth full of God’s beauty and light. A grand marriage feast will mark the pinnacle of the centuries-spanning love story between Christ and His Bride, after which, the book of this present world’s history will be shut, and the light-filled era of the "new heavens and the new earth" will begin.
Who is this Bride, whom the Lord features in the final paragraphs of Scriptural revelation? Is she more than just many Christians being in the same place thinking similar thoughts? And can she exist in our days?
In the Book of Revelation, there is a song in which the singers declare, "You... have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God" (Rev. 5:9-10).
This is the song of the Bride. She is an assembly of saved souls – repented of sins, cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and devoted to their Savior – gathered to Messiah from among Jews and Gentiles who each walk as kings and priests before God. They are kings because they wield the authority of The Great King to overcome evil and work what is good. They are priests because they share in the burdens of The High Priest, to serve the things of God to the people.
Especially notable in the song are the many distinctions admitted among the people – different nations, different tongues, Jews and Gentiles – but NO distinctions made in the calling as kings and priests.
God establishes equity among the members of His Bride not by making all paupers, but by making all kings, and all priests. And yes, kingship, priesthood, and the Bride are callings that God’s people can walk in today!
Those who belong to the Bride walk actively in rich ministry to one another. As Scripture says, "...Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Cor. 14:26).
Each gives to the rest that all may be edified. Not a single member of the Bride sits in back-row pews, resigned to passivity and silence. There is far too much work to be done for anyone to be left out; the work is far too great for only a few to properly handle.
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Cor. 12:7).
One is gifted with wisdom, another with extraordinary faith, another with gifts of healing, and yet another with miracles. All these gifts do not reside upon the shoulders of a single person, or even a few people, but upon the many who form the Bride.
The Bride is not composed of select pastors and a vast sea of pew-sitters. Within her are apostles, prophets, and evangelists. Also workers of miracles, healers, gifted administrators, and yes, pastors and teachers – among many others, each of whom are called to special exploits and works of service.
Some of these, endued with capacity by God, will preach in ways that topple walls of unbelief, and light the kindlings of revival. Others will intercede in prayer to shake kingdoms both in heaven and on earth. Still others will perform miracles and heal in Jesus’ name, making resistant hearts to melt into faith. These works are possible for the Bride because the source of her life is not found on earth but far above it.
A human body is healthy when all the parts are functioning in their right order. The Bride will be brilliantly alive when all those who belong to her are walking in the gifts and callings of God.
When she is complete, she will be breathtaking in her beauty, and worthy to be married to the Son of God. She will glow with the wisdom of God. She will be the house in which God dwells by His Spirit.
"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them" (Rev. 21:3).
Above all things, the eyes of Messiah Jesus will be wholly for her.
"O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners!" (Song 6:4).
And the Bride’s love towards Jesus will burn just as strong and bright!
Let Her Arise!
One great need in these days is for the Bride of Christ to be manifested in fullness. For while individual salvation is a wonder, only the Bride will display the whole testimony of God’s wisdom – "that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church" (Eph. 3:10). If individual salvation raises a lantern to the world of what God is able to do, the Bride herself bears the brightness of the sun in her being.
Jews have been principals in many sweeping movements throughout history. But there has yet to be seen a large movement of Jews being compelled to salvation in Jesus by jealousy, though this is one uprising Scripture assures us of!
When the Jews see the Bride, they will know just how maddening jealousy can be. When they recognize Jesus’ love for her, their reasonings will fail them, for there is no reasoning that stands against jealousy.
"Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?" (Prov. 27:4).
Let the Bride arise, indeed! When she does, intense jealousy will propel the Jews toward their Messiah!
When the great Jewish patriarch, Jacob, returned to Canaan, he approached his brother Easu – who, for a bowl of stew, had walked far away from the blessings of God – with a gift of livestock and these words, "Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough" (Gen. 33:11).
Israel shared the gift of salvation with the Gentile world that was far away from any hope of heaven, and blessed many nations with the knowledge of their Messiah, Jesus. However, now is a time when Gentiles can return this favor, and say to the Jews, perhaps in Jacob’s words slightly rephrased, "Receive back your own blessing, because God has dealt graciously with us, and now we have more than enough." Chief among the blessings that some Gentiles, and a small group of Jews, will have to offer is the understanding and experiential reality of the Bride of Christ, who, finally, will be neither Jew nor Gentile, but "a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Eph. 5:27).
As God’s people spare nothing to demonstrate God’s express design for her – "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you" (Heb. 8:5) – many Jews, urged forward by a burning jealousy in their hearts, will surely be delivered face to face with their glorious Messiah, who loves them so.
Let him who thirsts, come!