God’s branching points
Think for a bit about the first descendants of Abraham. Remember their names? Isaac and Ishmael, right? Actually, it would be better stated as Ishmael and Isaac the former being the result of Abraham’s effort at a child and the later God’s. After Isaac arrived the mothers in that family1 became intolerant of one another Sarah demanding Abraham send away Ishmael. Abraham loved Ishmael and asked God to make a nation of him, and God assented to a point. While he agreed to make Ishmael into a nation, God said that it was to be through Isaac that the promises would come. Don’t miss the branching that split the generations at this point.
Another branching happened with the life and times of Jesus Christ. He came and showed the way God intended us to live, and they ended up killing him.
In this vision that John the Apostle is recording the Jewish Jesus connected himself to the most revered king of Israel. By tying King David to the churches, Jesus effects a second split. The Jewish nation would continue, but God’s intentions were to be carried on in the churches.
The Muslims claim Ishmael. The Jews still await their Messiah. Jesus arguably the flash point among all these Abrahamic faiths speaks from before, during and after all of them.
Just as Ishmael represented man’s efforts in Abraham’s day so do current Jewish messianic aspirations. God did not change the parameters of the promise he gave Abraham. Neither has he changed the parameters of the Passover. The Lamb of God was a foretelling of Jesus as the atonement. God may alter some things according to man’s desires, but not ultimate things.
17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17–ESV)
Jesus moves beyond Abraham and beyond David to the eternal relationship made possible by the atonement. That is what the mingling of Spirit and Bride means. They have togetherness, and from that togetherness, they call out to others. Those are the ones who are to hear the invitation and respond by saying, “Yes, come into my life.” The thirsty for God’s offer will find their satisfaction met in this relationship. It was paid for by God and offered freely to humanity.
Consider for a moment what we reviewed in verse 16 about branch points. Ishmael’s tradition continues, but God left it behind. Jewish ceremonialism also carries on, but just like Ishmael God left it by the wayside. Tucked into that in some manner would even be the purer manner of ceremonialism that John the Baptist espoused.
Another perspective on roots can be brought into the discussion here. Recognize how the root is a part of the plant. It does the things we mentioned above but is not separate from the plant. It is a vital part of it. Jesus as root is not separate from humanity; he is part of it. Marriage is the metaphor of verse 17.