Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Marriage: A Gift From Eden"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 9: "Marriage: A Gift From Eden"

A Personal Story--The Joy of Faith
On January 13, 1999, Robert J. Wieland wrote to his readers of Dial Daily Bread, "Nothing personal should get intoDial Daily Bread, but perhaps you will forgive me today. I should take the day off, this being my 57th wedding anniversary. My dear Grace deserves to have me out of the office, all day!
"But I can't refrain from saying out loud, 'Thank You, dear Lord, for giving her to me! And thank You for keeping us all this time!' On the day of our marriage, January 11, 1942, this nation already had a president whose marriage had fallen apart (but we didn't know it then), and since then we have watched many marriages break up, high and low. So much so that only a minority of children now grow up in stable, happy homes.
"Why has ours survived for 57 happy years? Not because we are any better than anybody else! Not because we are more capable of 'good works.' No! It's not because of some little 'secret' of nice things to do (I for one have been very deficient in doing nice things). It's not because of some unique 'wisdom' we inherited from our own parents. No, our 57 years of happiness is not from any superior wisdom or righteousness. It's because we have believed something. We have believed that God brought us together.
"Oh, yes, add one thing to that: we have also believed that God is love. In times of trial, that simple little bit of confidence in (1) His leading and (2) in His goodness, has held us tight. If you're interested in marital happiness and fidelity, read that fascinating story in Genesis 24; note those seven steps of faith that Isaac took, and remember the last one, 'he loved Rebekah' (vs. 67), yes--forever" (Jan. 13, 1999).
Four years later, January 2003, Dial Daily Bread echoed the same sentiment, only more so. "The two of us (Grace and Robert) who try to share a morsel of 'bread' in this daily mini-message pause a moment to celebrate our 61st happy wedding anniversary. It's no achievement of our own; we deserve no congratulations as though we have accomplished anything. No, it's just a word of thanks to the One who invented marriage. And a prayer that somehow we might say one little word that could encourage some struggling married couple somewhere who fear the fate of roughly half of all Christian marriages.
"We have not an iota of superior wisdom. Both of us came from dysfunctional families. Neither was an expert, or properly 'educated.' We haven't 'done' anything to deserve what we've been given. It's all 'much more abounding grace,' which of course means undeserved favor. But was there nothing special that may have proved an avenue of blessing?
"(1) Long before we met each other, as youths we had given our hearts to Jesus. To us our baptism was very serious. (2) We did not rush into each other's arms; we took time. We wanted to be sure that the Holy Spirit was directing us. (3) We came to our wedding day believing that as surely as the Lord brought Rebekah to Isaac (Genesis 24), so surely had He brought the two of us together. (4) When if ever there were temptations along our way, this confidence anchored us. We cherished it. (5) When a call to missionary service came, we thought of what Jesus gave up for us, and we responded. We couldn't say anything but 'Yes.' (There's not an iota of merit in all this; it's all thanks to Him.) (6) And no, it's not a talisman, not a magic trick--we have simply wanted to kneel on our knees every day in what old-fashioned people called "a family altar." It started the very night we were united in marriage; we love it still today. No, it's not 'righteousness by works,' not the least; it's the joy of faith."

The Greatest Marriage--Yet to Come
Elder Wieland also wrote prolifically about the greatest marriage in the Universe--yet to come. The "marriage of the Lamb," as described in Revelation 19, the climax of Scripture when the Bride of Christ makes herself "ready" for the wedding
The story has been in the Bible from the beginning. When Adam was in desperate loneliness in Eden, the Lord brought Eve to him; He also foresaw the time when He would comfort His own loneliness with the "marriage" of a "bride" taken from His beloved world. Jesus is a lone, lonely Man in heaven; He wants to be with His people. The "woman" with whom He is in such desperate love is a "corporate" woman--a "body" of humans composed of redeemed sinners from "every nation, tribe, tongue, and people" (Rev. 14:6, 7, NKJV). "She" has grown up from her infancy "in Christ" through all the stages from childhood in which a woman grows up; she has come at last to a place of maturity where she will be ready to stand by His side as His "help-meet."
Throughout Bible history we read of His many disappointments. Like a surrealist painting, these vivid scenes portray the whole of human history and especially that of God's people, as a divine-human love affair, a husband wooing a wife. There must be something about that "body" of believers that Revelation designates as "the remnant" which "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ," that has called forth or has released the conjugal love of Christ. He wants to marry "her"; and that desire is a burning one, not to be turned aside.
We could say that the little group who went through the Great Disappointment of 1844 were deeply beloved of Christ. The "remnant" refused to give up their faith, confident that the true Holy Spirit was working in the Midnight Cry. They were especially dear to His heart. On down through the early history of this people, a special heavenly love affair was developing. Not since Pentecost has Jesus found such a group of believers loyal to Him.
Then comes our sad history of "1888." The disappointment of that love in "1888" was to Him "beyond description." [1] However, increasingly, thoughtful people are coming to see the story of "our" disdaining the Lord Jesus in the most precious message of the beginning of the latter rain. In rejecting it, says the Lord's servant, we disdained Christ, just as "the woman" did her Lover in Song of Solomon 5:3. [2]
Christ's pathetic appeal in His message to "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans" ("be zealous therefore, and repent," Rev. 3:19) is connected with the Song of Solomon, for His parting appeal is a direct quotation from it, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If a certain one [tis, Greek] hears My voice and opens the door," … then comes the intimacy.
The Son of God is a yearning Bridegroom longing for the marriage to come. He is a competent Marriage Counselor. Have a good visit with Him.
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland
(Compiled by Carol A. Kawamoto)
[1] See Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Dec. 15, 1904, her statement describing how Jesus felt after the 1888 failure of the church leadership to receive and pass on the message, and the loss of the consequent reconciliation with Him: "The disappointment of Christ is beyond description."
[2] See Robert J. Wieland, "The Song of Solomon and the Laodicean Message," which is available on the Web:
For Further Reading:
"Seven Memorable Marriages in the Bible," by Robert J. Wieland.

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