Tuesday, December 15, 2015

THE BRIDE OF CHRIST 4: THE BRIDEGROOM RETURNS!



ANCIENT JEWISH WEDDINGS
In ancient Jewish times, the father of the groom would determine when his son would return for his bride. This was usually decided when the father saw that the bridal chamber the groom was preparing was ready for his future daughter-in-law. Once the approval was given the groom set off to claim his bride and bring her back to their future home together.

The groom’s return was always a surprise to the bride, who had to keep herself in a constant state of readiness. You see, the groom's return was not based on whether she was prepared or not! Although she had a general idea of how long he would be gone, she was never sure of the exact day and time of his return. 

The groom, along with his friends and attendants, would usually travel at night to increase the element of surprise. When they got close enough to the bride's home someone from the group would shout aloud, "Behold! The bridegroom comes!" A shofar (ram's horn used like a trumpet) would then be sounded, and they would all proceed to the bride's home, expecting to see her ready to be whisked away to her new home with her beloved!
The groom would take his bride into the marriage chamber he had prepared, and the marriage would finally be consummated. They would be one flesh, and live together from then on.

A wedding feast would then follow, with music, dance, food and much celebration!

JESUS WILL RETURN

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us clearly that Jesus, our Bridegroom, will do the same…
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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.
In the parable of the ten virgins, (Matthew 25:1-13) Jesus illustrated how we, the Bride of Christ, must be ready at all times for His imminent return.

All 10 women were to be part of the wedding. They all started off with oil in their lamps. However, only 5 of them had enough oil to last till the groom made his appearance again. The other 5 – called the foolish virgins – had run out of oil by the time of his return! As a result they were shut out of the wedding!

Oil represents the active presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  He teaches us all the things that Jesus wants us to remember. We must be sensitive to His promptings as He guides us in our relationship with the Lord.

As a believer, you and I are either like the wise virgins or like the foolish ones. This is determined by whether we live our lives on a day to day basis in a state of alertness, preparation and eager anticipation of Jesus’ return.

At a time that is only known to our heavenly Father, Jesus will return for His bride. It will be sudden, and He will come like a thief in the night. It is only those who are prepared that will go back with Him....those who have maintained an intimate relationship with Him while they waited.

John was given a glimpse of the wedding of weddings to happen in heaven…
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!  Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 

  • Is the Holy Spirit active in your daily life? 
  • Do you keep your “love flame” for your Lord lit? 
  • Is it flickering and about to go out?? 
  • If Jesus were to return today would you be ready?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

THE BRIDE OF CHRIST 3: SEPARATED FOR A SEASON



THE JEWISH GROOM’S PREPARATION
In ancient Jewish society, once the bride had said yes to the groom’s proposal of marriage he would return home to his father’s house, but not before promising his beloved that he would come back one day for her. 

On arrival back home the groom would set about preparing a marriage chamber for himself and his bride. This was not a detached house, but rather was an addition to his father’s home. It would often have to be built to the father’s specifications, and would not be deemed ready until the father declared it so. Therefore, only the groom’s father would know when the groom would return for his bride!

JESUS HAS GONE BACK TO THE FATHER
Jesus said to the disciples, and to us by extension…
“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


Jesus also said this concerning the time of His return…
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” – Mark 13:32-33
Jesus is right now preparing a place for His bride – the true church!

THE JEWISH BRIDE’S PREPARATION
While her groom was away the Jewish bride of old would be considered consecrated…set apart. She had been bought with a price! When in public she would wear a veil as an outward sign that she was spoken for, and that her life had changed.

She would also be busy preparing herself to be a wife. There was a wedding garment that needed to be made and kept pure and spotless until the great day!

THE CHURCH PREPARES
Every one, male and female, who is part of the true church of Jesus Christ should follow the pattern set by the ancient Jewish bride.

Although no veil is needed today, the world should be able to detect that we are spoken for. We are betrothed to our beloved Bridegroom Jesus! Additionally, we should be busy preparing our wedding garment. This is not a physical piece of clothing, but rather is spiritual in nature. Jesus is returning for a bride without a spot or wrinkle.

Those “spots and wrinkles” are the sins that so easily beset us…the hidden flaws of the heart that, if left untreated, can be detrimental to our relationship with our Lord.

Now, you wouldn’t go out knowingly wearing clothing that is soiled and crumpled, would you? How much more do we need to be diligent in making sure that we remain clothed in humility, gentleness, love, the joy of the Lord, patience, goodness, kindness etc. As soon as the Holy Spirit shows us an area that needs to be cleaned up, let us be diligent in setting things right, so that our relationship with our Lord is not broken!


Finally, we must remain alert, remembering that our Lord could return at any moment to take His bride away!
  • Have you accepted the invitation to accept Jesus into your life?
  • Do people in the world know that you are set apart....consecrated....that you belong to Jesus, and to Him only?
  • Are you preparing your wedding garment...dealing with sins as the Holy Spirit reveals them?
  • Are you remaining alert and expecting the Bridegroom to return at any moment? 
To be continued…
NEXT: The Bridegroom Returns!

Monday, December 7, 2015

THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. 2. THREE THINGS GIVEN


In ancient Jewish culture the groom, after his father has chosen a bride for him, sets off to the bride’s home taking three items with him.

1. BRIDE PRICE
The groom’s father would determine the value that he placed on the bride he had chosen for his son. The higher the value, the more money he would give as the bride price. This would also serve as an expression of the groom’s love for his potential bride.

2. MARRIAGE COVENANT
This was often a written document in which the groom stipulated how he would take care of his bride by providing for her needs. 

3. WINE
The groom would have with him a wine skin with wine. If the woman accepted the proposal she would share the wine with the him. This would signify the beginning of their betrothal. Unlike western cultures, the betrothal was considered to be a binding covenant, and the bride and groom were, in essence, married…committed to each other, although they were not yet living together.

JESUS OFFERS US THREE THINGS

1. HIS BRIDE PRICE
 When we look at John 3:16 we can see the value that the Heavenly Father placed on you and me, as potential brides for His only Son.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.
The combined wealth of all the richest nations in this world are not enough to express the Father's and Jesus' love for us. Paul reminded us through his letter to the Corinthian church…”You were bought with a price”!

Jesus paid for us with His very life! What a love!!

2. HIS MARRIAGE COVENANT
I challenge you to read the Scriptures from now on, seeing them from the perspective of Jesus being
our Bridegroom. What wonderful promises He has given to us! The Word of God is Jesus’ marriage covenant to His prospective Bride…expressions of His love and devotion to her, with precious promises to care for, protect, lead and guide her. He even assures us that we can use His Name. There is nothing that Jesus’ bride has need of. Is it any wonder then, that He said in Matthew 6:33 that when we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all the things we need will be given to us?!

3. HE OFFERS US WINE
The Last Supper that Jesus had with His disciples is a perfect portrayal of our Bridegroom speaking to His bride.
Here Jesus is telling them that He has already paid their bride price…and ours!
He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” – Luke 22:19
Now see the covenant! By accepting the wine the disciples were the first to enter into a marriage covenant with our Lord. 
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” – Luke 22:27-28
Each time we partake of communion (the Lord’s Supper) let us see it as a memorial of our marriage covenant with Christ.

Have you accepted Jesus Christ’s proposal to you? He wants to be your Savior, your Lord and your Bridegroom!

To be continued... 
Next: Part 3 - Separated for a Season

Copyright © 2015 AudreyCharles. All rights reserved.