A Wedding and A Feast, #3
by Connie Chamberlain
So far we have seen that the bridegroom leaves his home and visits the home of the bride to set in order the bridal arrangements. Jesus left his heavenly home to visit the home of His bride on earth to do just that for His people. The completion of the rite of the betrothal is known in Hebrew as “kiddushin”, meaning sanctification. From this time until the time of the actual wedding there is a time of separation, of being set apart for the purpose of preparation, both on the part of the bridegroom and on the part of the bride.
Since the time that God established covenant with Israel, when God appeared with thunder and lightning and smoke on Mount Sinai to betroth a people to Himself, the process of preparation began. It is this metaphorical betrothal period into which Jesus was born. And those who were watching and waiting did not miss Him.
I’m thinking of Simeon who, after his diligence in “waiting for the Consolation of Israel”, rejoiced to hold the anointed Infant in his arms, and beheld the promise made reality. Anna, also, in the time of waiting, did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers.
A Place Prepared for Us
The bridegroom then returns to his father’s house to prepare a home for the bride, the bridal chamber. In Jewish tradition, the groom is responsible to provide a suitable home for the bride. Jesus returned to His Father’s house at the ascension. Before He returns, however, he informs his disciples of the purpose of His mission.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
It was apparently the bridegroom’s father who would give his approval as to when the bridal chamber was fit and ready for the bride. Jesus makes reference to this when He says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
Watching and Waiting
Here in this time of preparation is where the Church finds herself today. What will she be found doing while she is waiting for her bridegroom to return for her? What will the bridegroom be expecting of His bride? The following passages help us to realize that the time of waiting is not to be spent in indifference and idleness.
“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2)
“…Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present Her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27)
The process of sanctification is what the Bride is currently undergoing to produce those qualities that the Bridegroom is longing to see – purity, righteousness, and faithfulness.
Faithfulness, in the literal sense of the word, is really full of faith. Jesus pointedly asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Once married, a bride assumes her husband’s name. We know that name is representative of character. Jeremiah 23:6 tells us that “this is the name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” Further on, the prophet says, “And this is the name by which she will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” (Jer. 33:16) We will take on not only His name, but also His nature.
How are we to watch and wait? The word “wait” implies to continue. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2) Being mindful that we do not know the day or hour, we should be expecting His coming at any time. (Matt. 24:42)
Waiting and patiently are like twins, one seldom seen without the other. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Rom. 8:25) “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8)
It is also the Lord who is waiting for the appointed time of the restoration of all things. “Therefore, the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you.” (Isaiah 30:18) What we might perceive as interminable delay, He sees as His longsuffering toward us, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)
And when that midnight cry is heard, those who are ready will go in with Him to the wedding, as illustrated in the parable of the ten virgins. (Matt. 25) That readiness will mean being full of the oil, the anointing of His power, doing the works that mirror His name and character.
“Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thess. 5:6)
“Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:40)
Spotless and Faultless
We’ve heard the scoffers, saying, “Where is He, if He is really coming back?” We’ve encountered the distractions that lull us to sleep. We’ve been ensnared by the devil’s schemes that seek to disrupt our union with our Bridegroom. But it is time to throw off the blanket of complacency and rise up in readiness, with new fervor and desire, in eager anticipation of His return for us.
Will there really come a day when the church is found operating in the degree of purity and holiness in which He expects? We can surely take heart to know that God, with our utmost cooperation, will complete the good work He began. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…” God will have a pure bride, and that is cause for celebration!