Ephesians Study, Part 43: God's Design for the Family -
The Spiritual Basis for Marriage


First I want to thank Terry for filling in for me last week so that Pat and I could get away for the holiday weekend.

After teaching that last lesson in Ephesians, I would like to claim that I lived up to the biblical demand on the husband, but of course, I did not.  You have to pay attention to what I teach, not what I can execute.


Two lessons ago we dealt with Paul's admonition in Ephesians 5:22 that wives should be subject to their husbands.  Then our last lesson, we dealt with Paul's instruction to the husbands that they should love their wives as Christ loved the church.  You may remember that I described that kind of love as being sacrificial, sanctificational and satisfactional

Then fearing that someone might have read the notes, and happened to notice that I skipped that part, and also since I was feeling a little guilty about mentioning that aspect without discussing it, all leads me to now go back and just briefly touch on that issue, in case you caught me.

It turns out that if you study the New Testament concerning the teachings of the responsibility of the husband to satisfy his wife, you also find that the New Testament teaches about the expectation that a wife will satisfy the her husband. Of course these needs are broad for both partners.  But the most obvious and often asked question is:  How does that relate to physical relations, especially marital relations.  It turns out that there is a teaching for both parties.  In 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, Paul tells us:

So the withholding of marital relations by either party is clearly not what God had in mind.  And just like God's design that the husband should be the leader of the family, if we decide to do it our way instead of God's Way, don't expect the outcome that God had in mind.  This is another area, however, where if the wrong motivations are in play, if it becomes a matter of power instead of love -- or if it becomes a matter of excess or addiction, which we declared several versus ago to be contrary to God's plan, whether it's an addiction to food, wine, sex or anything else for that matter, it is no longer a part of God's plan.

The takeaway here that I want to leave with you, is that marital relations and mutual satisfaction are a part of God's plan for marriage.

You will probably also remember that I mentioned that there are three obvious reasons that God established marriage as an institution and that there was a fourth, less obvious.  We discussed first three:

I then ranted for several minutes about the failure of our society to protect this basic unit, and the dire state of affairs into which this failure to protect the family and marriage has led us.

Today's Lesson -- The Spiritual Basis for Marriage:

This morning a let me pick up that discussion and then jump into the fourth and a lot more obscure reason that I think you could argue that God established marriage as a human institution.

To tie back to the last lesson where we talked about sacrificial love and the critical importance to society called a stable marriage and stable minimal units, I ran across a few more statistics I want a pass along.

Jesus taught us servant leadership and a self-sacrifice as a virtue. That is true within a marriage as well as in our individual lives.  But of course today we have the "Me" generation.  Fewer then one half of all adults today consider self-sacrifice for another to be a positive moral value.

The adult quest for freedom and independence and choice in family relations conflicts with the child's need for stability and consistency and harmony and permanence in family life, and now we are paying the price.  Welfare dependency tends to be passed along from one generation to the next.  Daughters of single parents are

From a sociological standpoint every divorce is the death of a small civilization.  It inflicts wounds that never heal. Survey after survey after survey shows that Americans today are less inclined to value sensible fidelity and lifelong marriage and parenthood as worthwhile personal goals.

Why do you think Satan would so aggressively be attacking the concept of the family?  I think you would agree that he is attacking the family for the three reasons that we just went through plus one other that you might not have thought of.  It is the fourth basis for marriage.

There is:

It is interesting that God has chosen the marriage to communicate his most intimate truths.  We could try go through a long list of examples but let's just jump in and take a few well known ones.

Prophetic Types in the Old Testament

One of the ways to look at this is God's choice of marriage as a prophetic type or model.  Now to set the stage for this, turn to Hosea Chapter 12.

Let me guess that you are like I am and you have to hunt for a while to find Hosea.  Unless you are looking for Genesis, at the front, or Psalms in the very middle, or Revelation at the end, it is likely that you have to hunt.  Let me let you in on a secret way to become a Biblical expert.  You put a tab in your Bible at the table of contents.  This allows you to very quickly find any book in the Bible, even one as remote as Hosea.  And you get there so quickly that those around you will think you are a Biblical scholar, to be able to turn to Hosea so quickly.

In verse 10 God declares something that is worth your remembering.

One of the things that you will discover in the Scriptures, one of the ways that God communicates to us, is by what he calls here a parable.  You and I might use the word model or example or analogy.  The Biblical erudite term is a type, (like a prototype or an antitype).  If you do Biblical research you will often find scholars talking about a "type".  That is, for instance, where something in the Old Testament is a foreshadow or an example of something to come.  There are many of these, of course, throughout the Old Testament.

God will Provide the Lamb:

One of the classic examples of a type is Abraham's offering of Isaac in Genesis 22, where we have this bizarre story where God tells Abraham to offer his beloved son Isaac.  I'm sure we have studied that enough that everyone here is aware that that is an almost perfect picture of God's future sacrifice of Jesus.  The Bible tells us that Abraham knew he was acting out a prophecy.  A lot of people don't realize that the Bible tells us that Abraham knew he was acting out a prophecy but that's what it tells us.  Abraham is on top of the hill ready to offer Isaac and God intervenes and provides a substitute sacrifice.  And Abraham names that place "In the Mount of the Lord it will be provided".

What Abraham may not have realized, maybe he did and maybe he didn't, is that another Father, on that very spot, 2000 years later, would offer his Son for sin.  Abraham in his obedience to God was acting out an event foreshadowing or modeling the crucifixion of Jesus.  Abraham was on the very spot on which Jesus would be crucified.

The Bride:

What most people do not realize is that just two chapters later, in Chapter 24, Abraham becomes a type or a model of God the Father and Isaac is in the role of the son Jesus.  In Chapter 24 Abraham calls his eldest servant to go get a bride for his son Isaac.  The eldest servant goes and travels to their original homeland and finds Rebecca by a well and arranges for her to except gifts and then to come marry a bridegroom she has never seen.

The Comforter:

It is a very interesting story of Rebecca being gathered by this obedient servant.  When you read that story you can fall into some traps.  When we hear that the eldest servant was sent, we assume that it was a menial servant.  No on the contrary, it turns out that he was Abraham's most trusted servant.  We learned that if Abraham had not had a son, this servant would have inherited all of Abraham's possessions.  So don't regard this servant as a menial servant, but in reality it was almost as if he was Abraham's business partner.  You do not find his name in that chapter, but in Chapter 15 we found that his name was Eliezer.  Now what is Eliezer doing?  He is going to gather a bride for Isaac.  So if this is a model, Abraham being a type of the Father, the elder servant then is a type of whom?  The Holy Spirit.  Isaac is the son, Abraham is the Father and Eliezer is the Holy Spirit.  Notice that he was sent to gather a bride for Isaac, right?  It is interesting, if you do your homework, you'll find that the name of the eldest servant not mentioned in Chapter 24 but mentioned in 15, Eliezer means Comforter.  You suddenly realize that WOW!  There is another type.

Living Water:

Remember, he finds Rebecca by a well, asks her some questions and lets it be her decision.  And she chooses to go and he gives her gifts and they travel back to where Isaac meets her.  Then if you get back to Chapter 24, about verse 62, you'll discover that Isaac meets her by the well of Lahia Roi, which you will discover means the well of Living Water.  Another WOW!  That is a type.

No Mention for a Period of Time:

To show you just how far the Holy Spirit goes, remember that when Abraham took Isaac up on Mount Mariah in Chapter 22, to offer him as an offering for sin, (and of course the angel intervenes at the last minute and they substitute a ram for Isaac), if you look at Genesis 22:19 it says that Abraham returned to his young men.  There were two young men that traveled with them to the base of the hill and stayed at the bottom of the hill.  Earlier in the Chapter we were told that Abraham took too young men, a donkey Isaac and himself on a three-day journey to Mount Mariah.  After the ram had been substituted as a sacrifice instead of Isaac, Abraham comes back down the hill meets the two men and takes the donkey and they go home. 

You might write a question in the margin by Genesis 22:19 of your Bible,  Where is Isaac?  Isaac was just spared from sacrifice.  Did they leave him up on the hill?  Of course not.  I think it is obvious that he went home with these two guys and his dad.  But that's not the point here.  That isn't what it says.  The text is intentionally silent about where Isaac is at this time.  It says Abraham came down the hill to his two young men but says nothing about Isaac coming down.  If you read this chapter and the following chapter carefully you'll discover that the name, Isaac is omitted from being included in the record from the time he is offered as a sacrifice until the time he is united with his bride.  The Holy Spirit has omitted his name during this time.  If you read this carefully you'll find that Isaac is not there.  Again, don't get me wrong.  I think he obviously went home with his father and the servants, but that's not found in the text.  Here again this is what is often referred to as a type. The Holy Spirit goes through extensive gyrations in the Scripture, often, to on the one hand carry his story authenticity and at the same time he molds it so that had it has a second, third or even fourth level of meaning.  It is the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca that is foreshadowing the Holy Spirit gathering a Bride for the Bridegroom.  We find that in many places.  We find it here.

If you'll notice, we start to run into biblical types or parables in which God uses the institution all of marriage to relay deeper messages.  It is in this vein that I want to continue this discussion next week and look even deeper at how God seems to have implemented marriage as a human institution and then used that institution of marriage to help us understand other relationships between man and God.

Remember that in Ephesians 5:22-31, God, through Paul, describes the proper relationship between husband and the wife but then in verse 32 tells us:

What he really says is in verse 22 through 31 is, this is what a Godly marriage looks like.  And then in verse 32 says but I'm really talking about your relationship with God, referencing Jesus and the church.

Next Week:

With what I started this morning, and will follow with next week, I am going to try to show you that one reason God instituted marriage is to allow us as humans, in some small way, to understand the relationship between each of us as a believer, and Jesus and God.