Summary: This message explores paradigms in the Bible for the Kingdom of God, giving special attention to the Bridal/Marriage Paradigm.
(Significant inspiration for this message received at the International House of Prayer Pastor’s and Leaders Conference & the leadership team at IHOP).
Opened with a review of my background in an ATS Philosophy Class reading and studying Paradigms
Definition of Paradigms – Frames of Reference. Patterns or models for how we think.
Even when we are not aware of the paradigms, they color every aspect of our life: what we think, how we talk, how we interpret events, what we anticipate about the future. Everything is colored by our paradigms. Our frames of reference. Our patterns of thinking and influence.
i.e. Family holidays and events, Worship Services
Experienced Paradigm Change – The Nationwide Logo
The old eagle logo was tattooed on employees’ arms and inlaid in home pools. There were actually two eagles that Nationwide owned. With names and everything. But the company had a new strategy, and management had a new brand to introduce. The paradigm shifted to “Picture This.” Shirts become obsolete. Frames of reference were shattered, and not everyone was happy, to say the least.
We can cling very dearly to our paradigms. Our way of seeing life. Our view of how things “ought to be.”
Biblical Paradigms of the Kingdom of God –
- Fishing: linked to the fishing industry and evangelism
- Agriculture: linked to farming and discipleship
- War: linked to soldiers and spiritual battle
From a paradigm of who we are, how we often see ourselves (soldiers, fisherman, laborers in the field) to another paradigm of who we are created to be –
Revelation 19:6-9, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure"—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
The culmination of all history will take place at this marriage supper of the lamb: all of history from the fall of Adam through the cross of Christ, and every instance of sin and redemption in between is building towards this great event.
And in this paradigm, which we might call the “Bridal Paradigm”, we can begin to draw a picture of a God who enjoys us, who is filled with affection for us, and who desires to embrace us. Even in our weaknesses and stumbling.
The “Bridal Paradigm” gives us a picture of a bridegroom, Christ, who is longing for His bride, you. . .me. . .us. And when it is all said and done, the marriage supper of the lamb will fulfill and consummate this paradigm, this frame of reference of who we are in Christ.
Let me give you some background to this paradigm. This was the paradigm Jesus utilized in what was probably His final sermon on earth.
Matthew 22:1-2, “And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.”
Jesus draws a picture, provides a frame of reference for considering the Kingdom of God, and uses a “Bridal Paradigm” of a king – God – throwing a wedding feast for his son – Jesus.
This is the same paradigm used to point us to the return of Christ
Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come."”
You see, there are plenty of paradigms we can operate from within the church. But notice that in Revelation 22:17 it is not the “Spirit and the family of God.” That would be another Biblical paradigm, but not the one that we are being pointed to as eternity approaches.
It is not the “Spirit and the Army of God.” Stemming from a war paradigm. Spiritual battle is real. You know I am a firm believer in spiritual warfare. But when looking towards the consummation of the second coming, that isn’t the paradigm we will be living in.
Those are acceptable, good, even Biblical paradigms. But the paradigm we are moving towards, the paradigm that will culminate God’s plan for His people is the calling of the second coming of Christ, the calling of all people to one final shot at repentance, to join in the wedding feast, the call that goes out by the “Spirit and His Bride.”
You will find this in other places throughout God’s Word. Paul spoke from this frame of reference. In 2 Corinthians he writes, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2, ESV) Paul is reinforcing this frame of reference that the church, the people of God, we are set for marriage to one husband, that being Christ. That’s the “Bridal Paradigm.”