Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
The Search Concluded
Then Rebekah and her maids arose, and they rode on the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed. (Genesis 24:61).
The Spirit of God has been in the world for almost 6,000 years, performing a work relative to manís eternal salvation. The Spirit, throughout Manís Day, has breathed life into the one having no life; and He has done this on the basis of death and shed blood.
Basic teachings surrounding not only the Spiritís work in manís salvation but the necessity of death and shed blood as well (allowing the Spirit to breathe life into fallen man) are set forth in Genesis chapters one through four. And these foundational truths ó establishing First-Mention Principles ó remain unchanged throughout all subsequent Scripture.
(The Spiritís work, in this respect, is introduced in Genesis chapters one and two through that seen relative to the restoration of the ruined creation in chapter one [v. 2b] and that seen relative to life being imparted to man through Godís breath in chapter two [v. 7].
The Spirit of God moved upon the ruined material creation, where only darkness had previously prevailed. This is the first thing occurring prior to God speaking, light coming into existence, and God making a division between the light and the darkness.
And it is exactly the same with ruined man today, wherein only darkness prevails. Fallen man, a subsequent ruined creation, must be restored in exact accord with the established pattern. The Spirit of God moves upon the ruined creation. That is, the Spirit breathes life into the one having no life [ďSpiritĒ and ďbreathĒ are from the same word in both the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek text of the New Testament ó Ruach and Pneuma respectively]. And the Spirit breathes life into fallen man on the basis of death and shed blood [Christís finished work at Calvary].
Light then comes into existence. The one ďdead in trespasses and sinsĒ passes ďfrom death unto life.Ē Then God makes a sharp division between the light and the darkness, between the spiritual and the soulical, between the new man and the old man [cf. Hebrews 4:12].
Thus, the foundational basics surrounding the work of the Spirit in this respect, are seen in the opening two chapters. The Spirit of God moves upon ruined man [chapter 1], imparting life through Godís breath [chapter 2].
Then, the one basis through which the Spirit brings about life in this manner ó death and shed blood ó can be seen in the next two chapters of Genesis [chapters 3, 4].
In chapter three, following the fall, the first thing that God did relating to restoration was to clothe Adam and Eve with animal skins, showing a previous death and shed blood. Then in chapter four, Cain slew Abel [a type of Israel, 4,000 years later, slaying Christ], again showing death and shed blood [ref. the authorís book, HAD YE BELIEVED MOSES, chapter 11, ďThe Blood of AbelĒ].)
Salvation by grace though is not the only thing dealt with extensively in the opening chapters of Genesis. These chapters also deal with basic truths surrounding man after he has been saved.
Events seen on day one alone pertain to Godís work relative to eternal salvation. Events seen throughout the succeeding five days would pertain to Godís continuing work in salvation, with complete restoration awaiting a full six days of work, awaiting the completion of Manís Day. And this continuing work has to do with the salvation of the soul, which will not be realized until the seventh day, the earthís coming Sabbath, the Messianic Era.
Events throughout the six days in chapter one could apply to Godís work with man at any time throughout Manís Day (during any dispensation), with the completion of all Godís work realized on the seventh day. However, following that which is revealed surrounding events occurring during the seven days in Genesis 1:2b-2:3, God centers His revelation on providing foundational material having to do with two divisions of mankind ó Israel and the Church.
And this is in perfect keeping with later revelation. Those separated from God (the unsaved) are later seen dealt with through Israel first, then through the Church (while Israel is set aside); and, during the Messianic Era (following Israelís restoration), God will deal with mankind at large through both Israel and the Church.
(Though Israel was brought into existence before the Church, that which pertains to the Church is mentioned before that which pertains to Israel in these opening chapters of Genesis. Truths pertaining to the Church can be seen in chapters two and three; and truths pertaining to Israel can be seen in chapters four, six, seven, and eight.
In chapter two, in the antitype, Christís bride is revealed to come from His body [a part of His body rather than all of His body]; and in both chapters two and three, basic truths are set forth surrounding the husband-wife relationship, particularly as they relate to Christ and His bride and pertain to the reason for manís creation in the beginning.
Then in chapter four, events relative to Israel begin. Cain slew Abel, as Israel, 4,000 years later, slew Christ. And, as the blood of Abel cried out to the Lord ďfrom the ground,Ē the blood of Christ speaks ďbetter things than that of AbelĒ [Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:24].
And, going on to chapters six through eight, Noah passing safely through the Flood is a type of Israel passing safely through the coming Tribulation. Then, as a new beginning lay beyond the Flood, a new beginning will lie beyond the coming time of destruction.)
Now, all of these things could be little understood apart from subsequent revelation, beginning with the life of Abraham in Genesis chapter eleven. And the whole of the matter is put together in the course of five chapters set at the latter part of Abrahamís life (chapters 21-25), though all of this (the first 25 chapters) could not be that well understood apart from subsequent revelation (the remainder of Scripture).
Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two put together things previously seen relating to manís salvation (in chapters 3, 4, which foreshadow Christís future work at Calvary ó the offering of the Son (chapter 22), born in a supernatural manner (chapter 21). Then chapters twenty-three through twenty-five put together things previously seen relating to Israel and the Church (in chapters 1-9). And throughout these five chapters in Genesis, all these things are set within a dispensational framework.
Then there is the necessary abundance of revelation that follows, extending throughout both the Old and New Testaments, which continues to build upon that previously revealed. And all of this revelation together ó that given prior to, including, and following Genesis chapters twenty-one through twenty-five ó allows Christians to see a complete word-picture, fully detailing Godís work in relation to man and the earth during both Manís Day and the future Lordís Day.
The key to a correct understanding of that which is revealed in the New Testament lies in first understanding that which has been revealed in Moses and the Prophets, particularly in the book of Genesis. All of the unchangeable basics were set forth in the earlier revelation first. And later revelation simply forms commentary for the earlier, necessitating an understanding of the earlier revelation in order to properly understand that which the Spirit later moved men to pen. The whole of Godís revelation must be studied in the light of itself, ďcomparing spiritual things with spiritualĒ (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
Back to Genesis Chapter Twenty-Four
As in the Spiritís work surrounding salvation, so it is in the Spiritís work surrounding His search for a bride for Godís Son. Once God had established the foundational truths in Genesis surrounding the Spiritís work in both realms, no change could ever occur in either realm at a later point in time. The work of the Spirit relative to salvation by grace, continuing during the present dispensation, must be completely in line with that previously set forth in Genesis; and the work of the Spirit relative to His search for the bride, a work peculiar to the present dispensation, must be completely in line with that previously set forth in Genesis as well.
As in the type, so it is in the antitype. The Spirit conducts His search between two times ó between the time Israel was set aside (Genesis 23) and the time when Israel will be restored (Genesis 25). And He conducts this search among the people of God.
In this instance, the people of God cannot be Israel, for Israel has been set aside. Nor can the people of God be one or more of the Gentile nations, for all of the Gentiles are ďaliens from the commonwealth of IsraelĒ ó the nation through which all spiritual blessings were to flow out to the Gentile nations (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Ephesians 2:12).
Accordingly, none of the Gentile nations could possibly come under consideration as the place where the Spirit could conduct His search for the bride. And this would be true even more so with Israel set aside, for the channel of blessings for the Gentile nations had been removed from the place that God had ordained that the nation occupy.
Thus, God had to bring an entirely new nation into existence, one which was neither Jew nor Gentile. And this new nation, though it could be neither Jew nor Gentile, had to be Abrahamís seed (for, again, God had previously decreed that spiritual blessings must flow through Abraham and his seed alone [Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17, 18]). Apart from a connection with Abraham of this nature, this new nation would be outside the scope of spiritual blessings and, in this respect, no different than any of the Gentile nations.
Note how God brought matters to pass surrounding this new nation ó providing the Spirit with a people of God, other than Israel, among whom He could conduct His search for a bride for Godís Son.
This new nation was brought into existence (and continues to be added to via the same means) through an immersion in the Spirit of the ones in whom the Spirit has already breathed life. This is something that began on the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. and continues during each succeeding generation throughout the dispensation.
This immersion in the Spirit places the saved individual ďin Christ,Ē forming an entirely new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This occurs at the time of the birth from above, though subsequent to and separate from the new birth.
If the person were a Jew prior to this time, he ceases to be a Jew and becomes a new creation ďin Christ.Ē If he were a Gentile prior to this time, he ceases to be a Gentile and becomes a new creation ďin Christ.Ē ďIn ChristĒ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but one new man; and all those ďin Christ,Ē forming the one new man, make up the body of Christ (Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:15).
Then, this positional standing that every Christian occupies, ďin Christ,Ē provides the necessary connection that the one new man must have with Abraham (in order to possess a hope and be in a position to realize spiritual blessings). Christ is Abrahamís Seed; and those ďin Christ,Ē forming His body, are ďAbrahamís seedĒ as well, ďand heirs according to the promiseĒ (Galatians 3:29; ref. chapters 7 and 8 of this book).
Then, being part of the body of Christ allows the bride to not only come from the family (in accord with Genesis 24) but also from the body (in accord with Genesis 2). The bride for the first man, the first Adam, was formed from a part of his body, not from all of his body. And this must hold true for the bride of the second Man, the last Adam, as well. Christís bride must be formed from a part of His body, not from all of His body.
Thus, the Spirit of God is in the world today bringing to pass a work that continues from previous dispensations ó breathing life into the one who has no life. But the Spirit of God is also in the world today performing a work peculiar to the present dispensation alone. The one in whom the Spirit has breathed life is then immersed in the Spirit, placing that individual in a position where he can be found among those to whom the Spirit has been sent to search for a bride for Godís Son.
The individual, through this immersion in the Spirit, finds himself a new creation ďin Christ,Ē part of the one new man, and among those forming the body of Christ. Through this immersion in the Spirit, all of the qualifications are met for inclusion in the new nation brought into existence on the day of Pentecost ó a nation separate from either Israel or the Gentile nations, in which the Spirit can conduct His search for the bride.
And this search occurs over a 2,000-year period. The Spirit finds one here and one there within this new nation who will respond positively to the question, ďWill you go with this man?Ē (Genesis 24:58 [ref. chapters 9 and 10 of this book]).
And the Spirit finds these individuals throughout succeeding generations, covering the entire two millennia. Individuals in each succeeding generation, through the immersion in the Spirit, continue to be added to the one new man, allowing the Spirit to continue His search for the bride.
There though has to be an end to the Spiritís search. There has to be a terminal generation of individuals added to the one new man among whom the Spirit can conduct His search, bringing an end to the dispensation. The work of Abrahamís servant among Abrahamís people came to a successful end in the type in Genesis chapter twenty-four. And this same thing must come to pass in the work of the Spirit in the antitype as well.
Nearing the End
Scripture reveals God working in three dispensational periods during Manís Day; and, in each, God deals with different household servants (that distinguishing one dispensation from the other) and the world at large through these household servants. And each dispensation lasts exactly 2,000 years, with these three dispensations completing Manís 6,000-year Day.
During the first dispensation within Manís Day, God dealt with household servants, who formed no particular nation. And the world at large was dealt with through these servants (e.g., during the time of the Noachian Flood, when God dealt with the entire world through Noah). This dispensation extended from the creation of Adam to the birth of Abraham, covering the first 2,000 years of human history.
During the second dispensation within Manís Day, God dealt with household servants who, after four hundred years dating from the birth of Isaac, formed the nation of Israel. And the world at large was dealt with through these servants (Israel was to be Godís witness to the ends of the earth [Isaiah 43:10]). This dispensation extends from the birth of Abraham to that time yet future when the Messianic Kingdom will be ushered in, covering a second 2,000-year period during Manís Day.
However, this dispensation was interrupted seven years short of completion, at the time Israel crucified the nationís Messiah. Sin on Israelís part had reached an apex, Israelís cup of iniquity had become full (cf. Genesis 15:16), and God stepped into the affairs of His people and brought about a change in His dispensational dealings with man. God stopped the clock insofar as counting time during the second dispensation was concerned, set Israel aside, and began a work through new household servants fifty-three days later, on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was sent.
A third dispensation ensued during Manís Day; and God began His dealings with an entirely new segment of household servants, who formed a new nation ó the one new man ďin Christ.Ē And the world at large was to be dealt with through these new household servants (the one new man was now to be Godís witness to the ends of the earth [Acts 1:8]). This dispensation extends from Pentecost to the rapture, covering a third 2,000-year period during Manís Day.
Once this dispensation has run its course, the one new man will be removed, God will turn back to Israel, and the last seven years of the previous dispensation will be fulfilled. These last seven years will complete Manís 6,000-year Day, and the Lordís Day, the Messianic Era ó a fourth dispensation ó will then be ushered in.
This fourth dispensation will last for 1,000 years. It will be the seventh millennium dating from the creation of Adam, during which the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God will be realized. And this seventh millennium is that toward which the whole of Scripture moves, beginning with the six days, followed by a Sabbath of rest, in Genesis 1:2b-2:3.
For further information on dispensations, refer to the authorís books, THE STUDY OF SCRIPTURE [chapter 5] and HAD YE BELIEVED MOSES [the Appendix].)
1) Belief to Unbelief, ThenÖ
Parallels can be seen in Scripture between the way in which dispensations close (or, an interruption occurs, as was brought to pass near the end of the second dispensation), necessitating God stepping in and beginning to deal with man within a new dispensational framework. In each instance, belief is followed by unbelief as the dispensation progresses. Then, unbelief is allowed to reach an apex before God steps into manís affairs and brings about a change.
The first dispensation began with manís creation and fall. Following redemption being provided (in order that man could ultimately realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning), God began to make Himself known to man, which would have been through a means other than written revelation (which did not exist until Mosesí day, 2,500 years following Adamís creation).
God making Himself, His plans, and His purposes known prior to written revelation ó in a manner that would allow man to act accordingly ó must be recognized. Man exercised ďfaithĒ during this time, and ďfaithĒ is simply believing that which God has revealed, resulting in oneís life being governed accordingly.
Men such as Abel, Enoch, and Noah acted ďby faithĒ during the first dispensation (Hebrews 11:4-7). But this is not how the dispensation is seen to end. The dispensation ends with a descendant of Shem, in the lineage through which Messiah would eventually come, involved in idolatry in Ur, in the area of Babylon (Joshua 24:2; cf. Genesis 10:10; 11:1-9).
Then God allowed seventy years to pass in the second dispensation before He appeared to Abraham with instructions relative to leaving his home in Ur and traveling to another land, which he was to receive for an inheritance (Genesis 11:31ff). And Abraham, at this time, is seen in a position to exercise faith, which would require his having previously been saved.
(The matter surrounding Abrahamís salvation is not really dealt with in Scripture. Other than brief references to his birth and marriage, Scripture introduces Abraham at the time of his call, at a time following his salvation [Genesis 11:26ff]; and Scripture does not go back and deal with this issue.
Romans 4:3 is often referenced as having to do with Abrahamís salvation. But that is not correct at all. Romans 4:3 is a quotation from Genesis 15:6 [cf. James 2:21-24]; and the context of the verse, in either Genesis or Romans, has to do with Abrahamís call, relative to a promised inheritance. Teachings surrounding eternal salvation are not in view in either section of Scripture [cf. Genesis 15:7-21; Romans 4:13-22].)
Abraham believed God, obeyed Godís call, and he, by faith, ďwent out, not knowing where he was goingĒ (Hebrews 11:8ff). And because of a subsequent, progressive walk by faith (though failure occurred at times [e.g., Genesis 12:10-20; 16:1-4]), Abraham became known as the father of the faithful (Romans 4:11).
The nation emanating from Abrahamís loins, through Isaac and Jacob, also went out by faith under Moses. They left Egypt four hundred and thirty years to the day, dating from the time God had first appeared to Abraham in Ur (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 12:40, 41; cf. Galatians 3:16-18).
But, as time progressed, demonstrated first through the actions of the accountable generation under Moses, things began to change. Unbelief set in, which ultimately (after giving the Jewish people centuries in which to repent) resulted in God allowing His people to be carried into captivity by Gentile nations ó first, the northern ten tribes (by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.); and then, the southern two tribes (by the Babylonians in 605 B.C.) ó bringing an end to the theocracy that had been established at Sinai during Mosesí day.
Seventy years following the time when the entire nation (all twelve tribes) had been carried into captivity (Daniel 9:2; cf. Jeremiah 25:11), a remnant was allowed to return to the land under Zerubbabel. The temple was rebuilt, though there was no restoration of the theocracy. And, though a remnant returned to the land, the majority of the Jewish people continued to remain scattered among the Gentile nations during the years that followed (similar to the situation which exists in the world today ó a remnant of Jews have returned to the land, and they are about to rebuild the temple [though there will be no restoration of the theocracy]; but most of the Jewish people remain scattered among the Gentile nations).
By the time Christ appeared, over five hundred years following the return of a remnant under Zerubbabel, unbelief was once again firmly entrenched in the camp of Israel. And the end result was the rejection of the message, the Messenger, and the eventual crucifixion of the Messenger.
At this point, even though the dispensation still had seven years to run, God stepped into the affairs of man once again. Unbelief, resulting in the nationís actions, had reached an apex. And God, at this time, brought about a change in His dispensational dealings with man.
An exercise of ďfaithĒ marked the beginning of this third dispensation, as seen in the book of Acts and the epistles. But the dispensation was destined to end exactly the same way in which the first dispensation had ended, and under exactly the same conditions which resulted in the second dispensation being interrupted ó a manifestation of unbelief among the people of God.
And this manifestation of unbelief among the people of God at the end of the third dispensation has been plainly foretold several places in Scripture. Christ Himself, at the time of His first coming, asked, ďNevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith [Greek: Ďthe faithí] on the earth?Ē (Luke 18:8).
ďThe faithĒ is an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom (e.g., Acts 6:7; 1 Timothy 6:10-15; 2 Timothy 3:8; 4:7, 8; Jude 3), and the way in which this question is worded in the Greek text portends a negative response. Christ, in this passage, revealed that He would not find ďthe faith on the earthĒ at the time of His return, in complete keeping with subsequent warnings by Paul (Acts 20:29-31; 1 Timothy 4:1-3), by Peter in his second epistle (chapters 2, 3), and by Jude in his epistle.
At the outset of the dispensation, ďthe faith,Ē which had to do with things surrounding the saving of the soul, was the message of the hour. It was proclaimed universally throughout the churches. But, at the time of Christís return, conditions will be completely reversed. Except in isolated instances, one will not find this message being proclaimed at all in the churches of the land. Instead, this message will be either unknown by Christians, or it will be hated, despised, and rejected by Christians.
There are two places in Scripture that foretell the history of Christendom throughout the dispensation in this respect ó Matthew 13:3-33 and Revelation 2, 3. One was given by Christ to His disciples during His earthly ministry, and the other was given by Christ to John about sixty years later.
The account in Matthewís gospel shows the history of and condition of Christendom at the end of the dispensation through two means: 1) a mustard seed that germinated and grew into a great tree (an abnormal growth, depicting a world power, with the birds of the air [emissaries of Satan; cf. vv. 4, 19, 32] lodging in the branches of the tree), and 2) a complete leavening process. And both together show total corruption at the end of the dispensation in relation to the Word of the Kingdom (vv. 31-33).
Then, the opening chapters of the book of Revelation show the deteriorating history of Christendom through that revealed about the seven churches in Asia during Johnís day, with conditions at the end of the dispensation depicted by the condition of the church in Laodicea ó ďwretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and nakedĒ (3:17). And, as in the parables in Matthew chapter thirteen, this shows total corruption at the end of the dispensation in relation to the Word of the Kingdom.
(The fact that the Word of the Kingdom is the central issue at hand in both sections of Scripture is evident.
In the parables of Matthew 13, this is the stated subject forming the introduction to the parables [vv. 3-9, 18-23]; and, this same subject is seen continuing throughout the subsequent parables [cf. vv. 19, 24, 31, 33].
Then, in Revelation 2, 3, this is the evident central subject because of that seen throughout. Works, with a view to overcoming and occupying a position with Christ in the kingdom, form the central subject matter throughout each of these seven epistles. And each epistle is structured exactly alike in this respect.
Accordingly, as in the first four parables in Matthew 13, so in Revelation 2, 3. There is nothing in either section that pertains to salvation by grace. The whole of the matter in both sections of Scripture has to do with present and future aspects of salvation ó the salvation of the soul. And this must be recognized if these passages of Scripture are to be correctly understood.)
Thus, unbelief among the people of God can be seen at each of the three times when God steps in and changes His dispensational dealings with man. Two have already come to pass, and the third is about to come to pass; and once the third comes to pass, this will allow God to once again begin His dealings with Israel and bring to pass the seven unfulfilled years of the previous dispensation.
(It should be noted that unbelief will continue to exist in the camp of Israel throughout the final seven years of Godís dealings with the nation during Manís Day. When Christ returns, after Danielís unfulfilled Seventieth Week has been allowed to run its course, He will find the Jewish people scattered among the nations, in a state of unbelief. And, in a respect, this unbelief will be a continued unbelief from the apex reached at the end of Danielís Sixty-Ninth Week.
Then, following Messiahís return and Israelís national conversion, when the Jewish people look upon the One Whom they pierced, unbelief will turn to belief. And following certain related events that will occur at this time [e.g., Israelís national repentance, the resurrection of Old Testament saints, Israelís restoration to the land], a change in Godís dispensational dealings will once again occur.)
2) Unprepared for Christís Return
On the basis of Danielís Seventy-Week prophecy, which foretold the approximate time of Messiahís first appearance to the Jewish people, Christians often see a truth applying to the Jewish people but fail to see this same truth when brought over into Christendom. Christians are quick to point to this prophecy and call attention to the fact that the generation of Jews living near the end of the time covered by Danielís prophecy should have known that it was about time for Messiah to appear, and they should have been ready.
And that is very true. The Jewish people should have been looking for their Messiah and should have been ready when their Messiah did appear. They possessed the Word of God, telling them that the time was at hand.
But, in this same respect, there is a parallel truth pertaining to the nearness of the hour and Christís reappearance that Christians today fail to see. And the knowledge and readiness of the present generation of Christians concerning the matter is no different than that of the generation of Jews that witnessed Christís first appearance.
Christians today only need to look at one thing in order to know that the Lordís return is at hand ó chronology related to both the dispensation and to Manís Day. The present dispensation will last for exactly 2,000 years, and Manís Day will last for exactly 6,000 years. Thus, all that Christians have to do is look back and perform some simple mathematical computations ó the same thing which the Israelites could have done 2,000 years ago, but didnít do.
(Refer to the Appendix in the authorís book, HAD YE BELIEVED MOSES, for information about the chronology of dispensations and Manís Day, problems with trying to establish exact dates for Christís return, etc.)
In this respect, the Israelites, at the time of Christís first coming, were in possession of a chronology that could have told them that the time was drawing nigh; but it was ignored, and the people were not ready when Christ did appear.
And, in this same respect, Christians today, immediately preceding Christís return, also have a chronology that can tell them that the time is drawing nigh once again; but it is being ignored, and Christians ó as the Israelites ó will not be ready when Christ reappears.