Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Bride of Christ: Are We Ready for the Bridegroom?

The process of marriage in the Jewish heritage has striking similarities to the relationship between Jesus and His church as mentioned in the Scriptures.

The Choosing of the Bride

Jewish: Following the lead of God the Father when he chose a bride for Adam, Jewish fathers considered it their duty to secure wives for their sons.

Church: In the same way, God chose a bride for His only beloved Son, Jesus, namely the church. This plan was ordained in eternity past.

John 15:16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”

Espousal and Dowry

Jewish: A formal proceeding, called an espousal, followed in which oaths were made and presents were given to the bride called a dowry. The dowry was given in respect for the bride and a form of guarantee that the bride would be taken care of in the event of an untimely death of the bridegroom. The marriage arrangement was then sealed forming a binding contract between the father and the bridegroom.

Church: In the same way, God established an oath out of love for the bride and offered up His Son to pay for her sins. God promises the bride security in His Son. Jesus agreed to this plan with His Father.

John 3:16, 6:38-40 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life…For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

Acceptance by the Bride

Jewish: Following the agreement, the bride to be offered a glass of wine by the bridegroom. By drinking the wine she accepted his proposal and came under his authority, forfeiting her rights as an individual. By refusing the wine, she declined his proposal.

Church: Jesus shed His blood in sacrifice on the cross to pay for the sins of all humanity. He offers eternal life to those who believe in Him, that is accepting His invitation of salvation by faith. Believers are placed into the body of Christ are called to offer their bodies in return as a living sacrifice, that is dying to ourselves and submitting to the will of God for our lives.

John 1:11-12 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Betrothal Period

Jewish: A betrothal period followed the bride’s acceptance. During this time, the bride and bridegroom were separated, yet promised to each other for a future marriage. During this period, the bridegroom prepared a place for his bride to be, usually building an extension on to his father’s house. The bride was to remain pure and prepare herself for the return of the bridegroom.

Church: In the same way, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, He ascended into heaven promising to return again for his purchased bride. Jesus is currently in heaven preparing a place for us in His Father’s house. Shortly after His ascension, He gave the church the Holy Spirit, sealing and guaranteeing our future inheritance and providing them with the power to live in holiness. The church is currently in the betrothal period.

John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for 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.”

Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory

Nearing the Time of the Return of the Bridegroom

Jewish: Neither the bridegroom nor the wife would know when he would return, but only the father. His father would appraise the built addition and after meeting the required specifications, he would allow his son to go get his bride. As the time grew closer, the bride would prepare herself. In fact, the bride often slept in her wedding dress when she knew the time must be drawing near.

Church: In the same way, the church and Jesus Himself does not knows the time of His return. The Father will allow Jesus to return at the proper time when our dwelling places are ready. This could very well be the new Jerusalem/new heavens and new earth. While Christ is away, we must remain pure and holy, being unstained by the world, while eagerly anticipating His imminent return.

2 Peter 3:10-14 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

The Return of the Bridegroom

Jewish: After receiving the father’s approval, the bridegroom would gather together a group of friends. At midnight, the group would march through the town, preceded by a group playing musical instruments, singing and shouting in loud voice, “Make way for the bridegroom!” and accompanied by those bearing lamps. If the bride was not ready for his return, it was an embarrassment to her. They would still get married, but she would be ashamed. A wedding celebration followed.

Church: In the same way, Jesus will descend from heaven to meet the church in the clouds and take her to heaven to be with Him forever. The church is to eagerly anticipate this return with hope and confidence, remaining faithful rather than greeting His return with shame for a life wasted on sin and self.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

Wedding Celebration

Jewish: The wedding celebration usually lasted seven days and was a time for immediate family to feast and celebrate the new couple. The marriage was also consummated during this time.

Church: The church will be in heaven with Christ during the seven years of tribulation on earth. During this time, we will enjoy the presence of the Lord, be judged according to our deeds, recompensed accordingly and glorified to the image of Christ Himself, having received new eternal bodies.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

Wedding Feast

Jewish: Following the wedding celebration, a wedding feast was held which was the main event. It usually lasted anywhere from seven to fourteen days, but could be longer depending upon the wealth of the bridegroom. This feast was opened up to the friends of the bride and bridegroom. The guests at the party were provided with special wedding clothes to identify them as being accepted to the feast.

Church: Following a time of seven years in heaven, Jesus will come a second time to earth to establish His millennial kingdom and reign upon the earth as KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS . Following the judgment of the world, Jesus will host the marriage supper of the Lamb for 1000 years.

Matthew 22:2-14 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited," Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him,' Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

Matthew 24:29-31 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

Matthew 25:1-13 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the prudent answered, saying, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Revelation 19:7-16 "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 fine 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." And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

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