Like the sacrament of Holy Baptism so also that of the Holy Supper concentrates, as far as its significance is concerned, around the idea of the covenant as a relation of friendship between God and His people in Christ. This second sacrament, therefore, has not inappropriately been called the Supper of the Lord or the Table of the Covenant or the Communion Table. And this idea of the covenant as a relation of friendship between God and His people is, as we said in our last chapter, beautifully symbolized in our eating and drinking with God at His table.

This truth is also suggested in the Form, for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper: “And that we might firmly believe that we belong to this covenant of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, in his last supper, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and give it to his disciples and said, Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you, this do in remembrance of me; in like manner also after supper he took the cup, gave thanks and said, Drink ye all of it; this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins; this do ye as often as ye drink it in remembrance of me: that is, as often as ye eat of this bread and drink of this cup, you shall thereby as by a sure remembrance and pledge, be admonished and assured of this my hearty love and faithfulness towards you; that, whereas you should otherwise have suffered eternal death, I have given my body to the death of the cross, and shed my blood for you; and as certainly feed and nourish your hungry and thirsty souls with my crucified body, and shed blood, to everlasting life, as this bread is broken before your eyes, and this cup is given to you, and you eat and drink the same with your mouth, in remembrance of me.”

This is also expressed in Question and Answer 76 of the Heidelberg Catechism: “What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ? It is not only to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven and we on earth, are notwithstanding “Flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone; and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, as members of the same body are by one soul.” The reference here is evidently to Ephesians 5:30. The whole passage from which this text is taken speaks of the relation between Christ and His Church as a marriage relation as for lows: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” This passage, therefore, refers to the marriage relation. And the covenant of marriage is the earthly symbol of the covenant of friendship between God and His people.

That the covenant of God is reflected in the marriage relation between man and wife is also very evident from the Old Testament. The relation between God and His Old Testament people Israel is called a marriage relation. Thus we read in Is. 54:5: “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” And in Jeremiah 3:14: “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” And in Hosea 2:18-23: “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth: And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”

Besides, it is well known that all apostacy from Jehovah, and especially idolatry, are characterized as adultery. Thus we read in Numbers 25:1-3: “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and they bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” It is evident that the violation of the covenant with God on the part of Israel is here called adultery or whoredom. The same idea is expressed throughout in the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, of which we quote the following: “How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord God, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman; In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire; But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband! They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom.” Here Israel is presented as a faithless wife committing adultery. The same idea is expressed repeatedly in the prophecy of Hosea, as, for instance, in Hosea 2:2: “Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts.”’ Again, in chapter three, vs. 1: “Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.” And in Hosea 4:17, 18: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone. Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye.”

Also in the New Testament the relation between Christ and His Church, and therefore the relation between God and His people, as a covenant relation of friendship, is presented under the figure of marriage and of the wedding feast. Thus we read in Matt. 22:1-14 of the parable of the king which made a marriage feast for his son and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding. The same figure lies at the basis of the parable of the ten virgins, the heart of which is expressed in vs. 10: “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage : and the door was shut.” Matt. 25. The same idea is expressed in Rom. 7:4: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” In Eph. 5, the text we already quoted above, this is so strong that when the apostle writes, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh,” he explains these words as being chiefly and directly applicable to the relation concerning Christ and His Church. Eph. 5:31, 32. And in Rev. 19:7 we read: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”

Now it should be plain that in these passages from the Old and the New Testaments there are no two different relations symbolized by the covenant of marriage, the one the covenant between God and His people, and the other the love relation between Christ and His Church as His bride. On the contrary, the same covenant relation is expressed in all these passages. The relation must rather be understood in such a way that through Christ the Son of God in human nature, who died for His church on the accursed tree and rose again, who was exalted in the highest heaven, and Who received the Spirit of promise and poured Him out into the church, God establishes His eternal covenant of friendship with His people. For Christ is the Son of God in human nature, Immanuel, God with us. In Him centrally God and man are forever united in the most intimate covenant relation of friendship. In Him therefore the bride of the Lamb is the same as the wife of Jehovah. In union with Christ, the Son of God in the flesh, we have access to the Father as the Triune God and stand, in eternal covenant relation of friendship with Him. This truth is evident from many passages of Scripture. In John 14:6, 7 we read: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” And again, in the same chapter, vss. 9-11: “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believes! thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” And once more, in vs. 20: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” And in vs. 28 of the same chapter: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” And in the sacerdotal prayer of Christ, recorded in John 17, we read in vss. 22, 23: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” From all these passages and many others it is very evident that the bride of Christ is the wife of Jehovah, and that the same covenant relation of friendship with the everlasting God is symbolized by the covenant of marriage between man and wife.