Preparing for the Wedding Day, Part 1
There is a lot to do to prepare for a wedding: dresses and tuxedos, flowers and cake, invitations and menus, and of course, there is the honeymoon and the house where the couple will live. There is so much to do to prepare for a wedding that now we hire wedding planners to keep it all straight. Every bride wants her wedding to be perfect for her and her new husband and every parent wants the best for their children. We know that the Bible speaks about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We want to take a closer look at all of this because we have been taught that the church is the Bride of Messiah, but are we? First we need to lay some groundwork so we can build upon it.
My Own Special Possession
We see in Exodus 19:4-6 that God proposes to his people: "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle's wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." The word here for "possession" in Hebrew is "Segulah," which is a word of endearment. God is saying to Israel that they will be someone who will be cherished by God. When we look at the book of Deuteronomy we clearly see two things: (1) it is written like an ancient treaty (this is something that God's people would have understood) and (2) it is written like a wedding contract, a "Ketubah" in Hebrew, which the people would have also understood at the time, for both were very commonplace in their day. So God actually betrothed the people of Israel to Himself at Mt. Sinai.
God tells His people that they will be to Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. We see that the Levitical priesthood did come about, but you had to be from the tribe of Levi to be a priest; yet in Exodus 19, God was referring to all of His people as being priests. We find the Apostle Peter brings this forward in time in 1 Peter 2:4-10 when he, too, makes this reference. He says, "And coming to Him as a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah." Then He goes on, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God." Now I know that the church thinks that this refers to them, but the church is not a chosen race and the covenants (yes, even the New Covenant) were made with the people of Israel (Romans 9:4). But we will see how all of this ties in as we go along.
2 Corinthians 11:1-3 tells us, "I only wish you were able to tolerate a little foolishness from me. But of course; you tolerate me. You see, the jealousy that I feel for you is God's own jealousy; I arranged for you to marry Messiah so that I might give you away as a chaste virgin to this one husband." Paul likens himself to a matchmaker who arranged for a marriage and now the bride has become unfaithful. Paul was referring to Hosea 2:19-20, "And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, then you will know the Lord." Paul was talking about being devoted to Messiah and without a doubt, we who follow in His footsteps have to be devoted to Him without question.
So, we really don't see anywhere in the Bible where it tells us specifically who the bride is except for at Mt.Sinai, for we know that God betrothed Himself to Israel. People will point to Ephesians 5:22-33, but taking a closer look, you will see that he is referring to the body, as in verse 23: "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Messiah also is the head of the congregation of believers, He Himself being the Savior of the body." Verses 28-29: "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it just as Messiah also does the congregation of believers, because we are members of His body." We will be looking at the rest of this passage next month to help answer the question of the bride. This passage does not come out and tell us that the believers are the bride, but that our relationship to Messiah is like a relationship with a husband and wife in regards to love and authority. One thing that is clear is that Yeshua (Jesus) and others refer to Him as a Bridegroom.
Yeshua the Bridegroom
Yeshua, in Matthew 9:14-15, answers the disciples of John the Immerser about why His disciples don't fast. He tells them, "The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast." John the Immerser himself makes reference to Yeshua as the bridegroom in John 3:29 when he says, "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice." We do have a reference to the bride in the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:11-13: "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom."
It's interesting that the bride is compared to the kingdom. In Revelation 21:2, it also speaks of the bride: "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband." So now the bride has been compared to the kingdom, which we know will consist of a holy priesthood, and the new city of Jerusalem with its twelve gates and twelve foundation stones made of precious stones. But we also see in Revelation 19:7-9 the Marriage of the Lamb.
Yes, we come to the end of the Word of God to find that there is actually a bride. "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean, for the linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, ‘Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.' And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.'"
We want to take a closer look at this next month: how does the bride get herself ready, and what are those righteous acts of the saints, and who are those who will be invited?