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Behold the Bridegroom Cometh

Source: Art Sadlier, Sunday July 1st 2012

In the upper room Jesus had been warning His disciples of His pending death and departure. They understood enough of what He said to cause them to despair. In a few hours He would be dead on a cross, and the disciples despair would be complete.

In order to calm their troubled hearts Jesus made some promises to them. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

It was a promise to all believers. It has been ringing in the ears and hearts of all believers down over the long centuries. We in our 21st century culture do not catch the full significance of these three verses.

In verse three Jesus was making an analogy with the Jewish marriage custom of that day. In order to fully understand these verses we need to understand the Jewish marriage customs of the time.

The Establishment of the Marriage Covenant

This was called the betrothal, also called the espousal or engagement. The groom would leave his father’s house and travel to the home of his prospective bride. The groom would negotiate with the bride’s father concerning two matters.

He would ask her hand in marriage. She would be consulted by her father and a decision would be made.                                                                                                                                                                   Then purchase price of the bride would be negotiated. Jewish young men had to buy their wives. The money would normally be held by the father in case the marriage was disolved. It would be a fund to guarantee her future. The payment of the purchase price would establish the Marriage Covenant and obtain the young lady as his wife. Now they would be regarded as husband and wife even though the marriage was not yet consumated.

We have an analogy in 1 Peter 1:18-19; “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The Jewish bride was a picture of the bride of Christ. Redeemed means to be purchased, we believers have been purchased as the bride of Christ.

When the price was paid and the covenant established, the bride and groom would take a cup of wine and drink from it. Once they had partaken of that cup the bride was officially sanctified. This meant that she was now set apart as belonging to her groom and no other. No other young man could lay claim to this young woman.

Again we have an analogy of the bride of Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:1-2, “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

Paul pictures salvation as the believer being espoused to Christ as His bride. The relationship of the Christian to Christ is a love relationship based on the price that was paid. Ephesians 5:25; “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” 

May I respectfully ask you, is your heart burning with love for Christ?  Or have you lost your burning white hot love for Christ?

Paul Said; “Let a man examine himself to see if he be in the faith?” That’s the other possibility, if your heart does not burn with love for Christ, perhaps you have never truly been saved?

After the Marriage Covenant had been established and the ritual completed the bride and groom did not begin to live together at this point. The groom would leave and return to the father’s house. They would remain separated from each other for approximately one year.

During that year of separation the groom would be busily engaged in his father’s house preparing an apartment to which he could bring his bride.

Remember the words of Jesus; “I go to prepare a place for you.” We as believers today are living in the time of separation. The bride groom is now preparing a place for us in the Father’s house.

At the end of the year of espousal (engagement) on an unannounced night, unknown to the bride, the groom would call to himself his best man and his friends. Those young men would begin a torch light procession through the streets of the city. This procession would be from the father’s house to the home of the bride. He was coming to take his bride to be with him in the father’s house.

As the procession weaved through the streets bystanders would realize what was happening. They would begin to follow and shout over and over again, “Behold the bridegroom comes.” Eventually the shouts would be heard at the bride’s home. The purpose of the shouts was to warn the bride that she had better get herself ready in a hurry. Her groom was on his way and tonight was the night her marriage would be completed. Actually she would be living in a state of constant readiness.

My friend I am telling you that the bridegroom is coming! the coming of the lord is near!

Jesus said in Matthew 24; “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man.” But if you look closely Jesus said in the preceding verse there will be a generation that can, “know that it is near, even at the very doors.”

We are that generation and I believe the scriptures make that clear. Are you ready for the trumpet to sound?

When the bridegroom arrived outside the home he would not enter the home. He would wait outside the home until the bride came out and the enlarged group would have a return torchlight procession back to the father’s house. The analogy is very clear, verse 3 says; “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

We also see the parallel in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

When the wedding party arrived back at the father’s house they would find the wedding guests had already assembled there.

In the privacy of the bridal chamber the marriage would be consummated. The guests would remain there for seven days. We have the parallel in the seven years the church is in heaven after the rapture..

During that seven day period (a type of the seven years the church is in heaven prior to Christ’s second coming) the bridegroom would leave the bride hidden in the bridal chamber until the seventh day of the wedding feast.

You cannot help but see the analogy Jesus drew in John 14:1-3. Over 1900 years ago Jesus Christ, the divine bridegroom, left His Father’s house and came to earth to pay the price to purchase a bride for Himself. At that time He established a covenant for His bride. That marriage covenant Jesus established is called the New Covenant. Remember what Jesus said that same night, at the first communion service, as he passed the cup of wine to His disciples; “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.”

Jesus was saying, tomorrow when I shed my blood on the cross I will establish the “New Covenant” through which I will obtain my bride, the church. The purchase price was His blood! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”

Just as the Jewish bride and groom drank the cup of wine to unite them together as one, so Christ has given to His bride (the church) the cup of communion as a symbol to remind the bride that she is united to Christ as His bride and she belongs to Him.

Just as the Jewish bride, after drinking the cup was officially declared to be sanctified, set apart to her bridegroom. So the church is set apart officially as being separated only to Christ. Believer you belong to Jesus Christ and to no one else or nothing else. “You are not your own, you are bought with a price.” No one else and nothing else has rightful claim upon his bride, the church. He alone owns the church, she belongs to totally Him. God help the man who usurps ownership of the church! Believer, you belong to Christ, don't give your heart to anyone or anything else. 

The analogy continues: The Jewish bride groom left his bride after the covenant price had been paid. He then returned to the father’s house and left his bride alone in her home. The Lord Jesus, fifty days after He paid the price and established the New Covenant through which He obtained His bride, the church. He also left the home of his bride and returned to His Father’s house in heaven. And He has been gone ever since. You and I, the bride of Christ of Christ are now living in a period of separation.

The analogy continues: Just as the Jewish bride groom came at the end of the period of separation and took his bride back to the father’s house to live with him. So also the word of God makes it very clear, that Jesus at the end of the present period of separation in which we are now living will come for His bride. Christ will come to the clouds of the sky and wait for His bride to come out of her earthly home. Then she will accompany Christ the bridegroom, to the Father’s house.

The analogy continues: Just as the Jewish bridegroom kept his bride hidden for seven days in the bridal chamber; so also for seven years the Lord will keep His bride hidden in heaven from earth’s view. She will be hidden while the seven years of tribulation takes place down here on earth. She will be hidden with Jesus in the Father’s house in heaven.

While the true bride of Christ is hidden in heaven, God will be working on earth for seven years in three areas. Judging the nations. Judging the counterfeit religions. Judging and chastening Israel.

When the seven years are finished, the Lord will bring His bride out of the bridal chamber of heaven for all to see her. This time in His second coming He comes all the way down to the earth to establish God’s kingdom rule on the earth. He will bring with Him, his Bride, the church, out of her hiding place in heaven.The marrriage has been consumated in heaven and now the Bridegroom brings His bride out of her seclusion in heaven to earth.

In heaven at the judgment seat of Christ the Bride has received her rewards for the righteous acts she committed in her earthly pilgramage. These are the righteous deeds produced in her by the Spirit of Christ. We see her in Revelation 19 ready and prepared for the marriage supper which will take place on earth before the friends of the bridegroom. The marriage is cosumated in heaven but the marriage supper takes place on earth.

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:7-9).

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” verse 11.

“And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” verse 13-14.

The bride comes down from heaven with the bridegroom ready for the marriage celebration.

Now the bride will be put on full display for everyone on planet earth to see. All will see her in her wedding garments, clean and white. All will finally see who the true church is. The Jewish faithful will be raised from the grave at that time to take part in the marriage supper. They will be the friends of the bridegroom as Christ is glorified in His saints. "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ" (Ephesians 1:12)

What time of rejoicing as the bridegroom is glorified and the friends of bridegroom rejoice with Him.

The harlot of Satan has been cast into hell and the way is now open for true bride to be displayed on earth.

This is the beautiful analogy that Jesus was inferring to His disciples that night in the upper room.

But what does this mean to us right now? Does this analogy have anything of practical application to us? Yes it does! In fact this analogy has something to say to both believers and unbelievers.

If you have never personally faced your sins and taken Christ to be your only Saviour from sin, listen to what this analogy has to say to you. Do you understand that every time the gospel is preached to you that Jesus Christ is making a proposal to you? Here is the essence of what Christ is saying to you.

I Jesus want to take you sinner to be a part of my lawfully wedded bride, the church, and I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be your faithful and loving Saviour.

Just as the Jewish girl could accept or reject the proposal of marriage made to her, so you also, as an unsaved person can either accept or reject the proposal that Christ makes to you through the gospel. If you reject that proposal and you continue to reject to the time of your death, you will pass out of this life without a saviour. You will pass into an eternal hell with no forgiveness of sins. You will be forever conscious that you rejected the eternal life that was freely offered you.

However if you respond in simple faith to the proposition of the gospel, God will grant you full forgiveness of all your sins, past, present and future. Will you respond to God’s invitation to be born again?

This analogy has something significant to say to those who are believers. Sometimes during the year of separation between the bride and groom, the bride would become unfaithful. She would enter into a relationship with another man.

The Analogy: There is a warning to believers who have been espoused to Christ, during this time of separation from Christ, while we are waiting for Him to come and take us to be with Him. We are warned not to be unfaithful to the lord Jesus. To be unfaithful is to be guilty of spiritual adultery.

Paul expresses this concern in 2 Corinthians 11:2; “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy......”  Why Paul? “for I have espoused you to one husband,” Paul goes on to say that when he came and preached the gospel to them they took Christ and became a part of the bride of Christ. Paul goes on to express his concern for them; “..that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Now that you are married to Christ keep yourselves spiritually pure until Christ comes. Remain totally devoted to Him. Don’t give yourselves to anyone else or anything else. We need to be pure, spiritual virgins, pleasing to Him when He comes.

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Question, would you be satisfied with a wife who is faithful 95% of the time? The Lord requires and desires the same from you.