In continuing our study of some of Jesus’ parables and what they teach us about events that are about to unfold, this would be a good time to discuss the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. It will however be beneficial to examine the Jewish wedding and how many of the historical traditions are intertwined in some of Jesus’ teaching, especially because they are so prophetic in nature. Again, we are the generation that will see all these things come to pass.
Of the major events soon to come to pass, we have touched on the Rapture (or harpazo, as it is in the Greek) of the Church, and we have discussed the Judgment Seat of Christ, which is called the “Bema Seat Judgment”. The Rapture is a subject which we will have to revisit in more detail at another time soon.
For anyone that has read much in the Scriptures, you’ve likely run across the “Marriage of the Lamb”. Many wonder what this is all about and where we fit into this scenario. I have found this to be an especially difficult subject for men because men can’t conceive of being part of any “bride!” This relationship however obviously has nothing to do with a relationship between genders. It is a deep relationship between the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, and His Church which includes men, women, as well as many children.
There is another spiritual relationship mentioned many times in God’s Word that is much like the one between Jesus and His true followers, and that is the relationship between God the Father and Israel. We find this referred to especially in the Old Testament. God speaks through several of the prophets, especially Hosea, and how the nation Israel had prostituted itself again and again with pagan gods, soiling their relationship with Jehovah God. We find that as prophecy is fulfilled in the New Testament, particularly in Revelation, the nation Israel is once again brought back to her marriage covenant relationship with God the Father. This is by the way, another proof of the fact that Israel had never been cast away permanently by God, and all the promises she had received cancelled and transferred to the Church. We, the Church, were blessed to be grafted in to the vine, joining the original branches, not replacing them.
The marriage we are discussing between Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church will have an actual wedding ceremony. The Greek word for marriage is “gamos” (Strong’s #1062), and unfortunately allows for some confusion because it can refer to both the wedding ceremony and also the wedding feast, which happens at a later time. By taking an in-depth look at the entire Jewish wedding celebration, hopefully this confusion will be cleared up.
After the Rapture of the church has occurred, the Church members will all be brought before the “Judgment Seat of Christ.” The next major event will be the “Wedding Ceremony”, or “Marriage of the Lamb.” This ceremony will be at the Father’s house in heaven but will not be attended by everyone that is part of the church body. From what I gather from my studies, it will be a small group in relation to the multitude having been raptured and brought into God’s presence in heaven.
After the marriage ceremony there is all kinds of celebration. What all happens, we don’t know a great deal about, but we can count on it being beyond anything we can ever possibly imagine. This is our loving God we are talking about and His enormous love for those who have been His faithful ones!
The Bridegroom then brings His Bride back to earth where the Millennial Kingdom will be set up. This brings us to the next event which also happens in a traditional Jewish wedding, the “Marriage Supper” which has many in attendance and includes friends of the groom as well, which will by then have been resurrected from the dead.
It is pretty difficult for most of us to even comprehend the magnificence of the events soon to transpire, but we need to see how very important it is for us to put our all into our walk with God—not just the part that shows to those around us, but especially our private intimate 24/7 relationship with the Bridegroom. It will be a great honor to be invited to the marriage feast where many will be in attendance but the greatest honor will be to be part of the much smaller crowd at the wedding ceremony itself. Matthew 22:1-14 reads like this:
“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner. My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Over the years I have read from many sources describing the Jewish wedding. Some of the authors I’ve read and researched are Perry Stone, Chuck Missler, and Barney Kasdan, who wrote the book, “God’s Appointed Customs.” The more I read the details of these customs, the more I see these same details written into the Word of God and how they have to do with our betrothal and marriage to our Bridegroom, Jesus. The more I understand the timing of all the parts of the entire ceremony, the more excited I get about what is about to happen, because we’re right on the threshold of the greatest events any of us have ever experienced!
Marriages between the future bride and groom were generally arranged by the parents. Romantic unions were pretty rare and were based upon contract instead. The story of Abraham securing a wife for Isaac his son in Genesis 24 is a great example of how a traditional marriage was arranged. It is interesting to note that even back then the potential bride had a say in whether she was in agreement with the arrangement that was being made for her. But, as stated above, love was not a part of this arrangement. Love came later through the relationship.
The betrothal was called the “erusin” or the ‘kiddashin.” An object of value was offered as a bridal price and it was the father who paid this price. It was a legal document and could not easily be broken.
After the betrothal ceremony, the bride would stay at her father’s place to begin preparing herself for the day when the groom would come for her and take her back to his father’s house—or more often a place he had built for her on his father’s property or attached to the main house. The two were legally married by contract but were forbidden to cohabitate. The bride must also remain a virgin while she prepared herself for the coming marriage. This usually included making her own wedding gown. It also included gradually preparing herself to please her soon to be husband and learning to love him. The bride, during this preparation period, was considered “consecrated” or set apart (sanctified). She was never without a veil, so it was obvious to others that she was engaged.
The next part of the ceremony was called the “nissum” or the actual marriage ceremony. It is interesting to note that it was very common for the groom to surprise the bride by showing up early, when least expected. Jewish brides are all said to be “stolen, caught up, or snatched up by surprise.” Did you catch that?? Then, much like the parable of the ten virgins, the bride is led to the groom’s father’s house; in fact traditionally quite often literally carried by the wedding party in a procession of the wedding party holding lighted candles. Part of the bride’s preparation was always to have lit candles in case the groom came at night, which he often did. The bride was always dressed in pure white clean linen that was allowed no wrinkles. The ceremony itself was at the groom’s father’s house and included relatively few guests. After a series of benedictions, the couple was made man and wife.
The marriage ceremony was then followed by seven days of celebration and rejoicing. At the end of this time came the wedding feast. This was traditionally held somewhere else and there was a great invitation list, much larger than the guest list for the wedding ceremony itself.
Let’s now take a look at all we’ve just gone over and apply it to our Christian life. The betrothal happens at the time of our salvation when we were justified. At that time our spirits were united with Christ and the Holy Spirit was given to us as a pledge. Our covenant with the Bridegroom is a true legal document and we have been given a promise for our future. Hosea 2:19 says this:
“I will betroth you to me forever, I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.”
2 Corinthians 11:2 says:
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him.”
The Bridal Preparation is much like the process of sanctification as we wait for our Lord’s return. This can also be compared to the long wait between when the groom leaves to prepare a place for his bride and the time when he comes to get her. It’s important that we see the importance we find in God’s Word put on the Jewish bride to prepare herself during this waiting period for her groom’s return. Traditionally she was to make her own gown and wedding garment. This speaks to our own preparation to make ourselves ready, worthy, and qualified for our Groom’s return.
Too many Christians today have only gone as far as the betrothal but have not seen any need to go any further in their walk with God. How many even know what the word “sanctification” means, yet it is all over in the Scriptures? How many believers see the need to prepare themselves for their Bridegroom? Many wonder, “What’s there to prepare?” Too many also don’t realize how we allow ourselves to become defiled by our interactions with the world around us. There are even those who think nothing of committing spiritual adultery, thinking that all their actions are forgiven anyway! Many religious leaders even teach this today. This, according to the Word of God, leads to apostasy, and apostasy is becoming rampant today. We must present ourselves to our Lord without stain or wrinkle. Just as a bride must be pure, we must be as well. If we’ve already defiled ourselves with the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, or the pride of life that the Bible speaks of, we need to humble ourselves before our God and ask His forgiveness. We then must go and sin no more.
One thing about the Jewish wedding tradition that is so exciting to me is the traditional early show-up of the Bridegroom. The bride knew the time was very close, but never knew the exact time. The groom made it a point to catch her by surprise! This is an exact picture of the Rapture or “harpazo.” Jesus is likely to call us out of here before we expect Him to. What if it happens today? Would you be ready? Would He be able to say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant?” Now is the time to correct anything amiss! Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
The parable of the ten virgins makes it crystal clear that only five of the ten were ready for the Bridegroom. They had kept their lamps lit with oil (the Holy Spirit). The other five had let their oil run out through negligence and so their lamps had gone out. Because of this, the “foolish” virgins were not allowed to be part of the wedding ceremony. I don’t believe that they were lost souls on account of this, but they did miss out, as the context shows. It’s up to you and I whether this happens to us or not!
The traditional Jewish wedding celebration lasted for seven days after the ceremony. Could it be that the celebration of the “Marriage of the Lamb of God” will last through the entire seven years of tribulation upon this earth? I strongly believe so. There is an abundance of Scripture that seems to make this very clear. As said earlier, we will revisit this whole controversy of the timing of the Rapture soon.
I find that God’s Word has been laid out very carefully. It is exact; it has been supernaturally protected; the writers spanned nearly 1600 years in time; were from several continents; spoke different languages, were from different cultures; most didn’t know each other, or even about each other, and yet God preserved for us a roadmap that leads us in a complete cycle. The storyline ends up right back where it started—at paradise. Our God is very much alive; He is in absolute control, and is bringing all things to a conclusion—His conclusion, and we get to take part in it! So…Choose you this day whom you will serve…
God Bless and KEEP LOOKING UP!
To be continued in Part 6