I heard a guy (Dan Kimball who wrote “The Emerging Church” – www.vintagefaith.com ) talk the other day about what a Jewish Wedding back in Jesus’ day was like. He related the Jewish customs to our relationship with Christ as the groom. We are the bride. He is the groom. Here’s my take on it all:
1. Selection of the Bride – The first step in the process was when the father of the groom selected the bride. Young Jewish girls had little say in who they would marry and would dream about who would select them. The groom committed his love the the bride based soley on his father’s decision. The bride loved her groom simply because He had loved her first.
It’s good for us to remember that God chose us. Even in the midst of our sin against Him, He still loves us. Romans 5:8 “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Of course it is out of our response to the love that He offers us that we are able to love Him. 1 Jn 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”
2. Mohar – The second step in the process is called the “mohar.” This is the price that was paid to the bride and her family. It represented the magnitude of how the groom valued her. The greater the price, the more value they had ascribed to her.
For us, we should remember that Jesus (the groom) paid the ultimate price for us with His own life. This is proof that we are incredibly valuable to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “You are not your own; You were bought with a price.”
3. Engagement Contract and Gifts – After paying the “mohar,” the groom would offer the bride a list of promises which he was committing to her for the life of their marriage. This is list was called the “ketubah.” In addition, he would give her gifts to remind her of his love while he was away. (see next step) He would also offer a cup of wine to his girl. If she accepted his offer, then she would drink of the cup without saying a word. This act ceremonially sealed the engagement before he left. (check #5)
We were given a “ketubah” (list of promises) called the Bible, and many gifts (Romans 12:6-8 – spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit, the church, etc.) to remind us of Christ while He is away. Mark 14:25 Jesus says, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine again until the day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” The last supper represents the seal that Christ has on us.
4. “Mikvah” – The fourth step in this process is called “mikvah” which is a ritual bath that the bride would take to “set her apart” from the world and “for” this man. She would symbolically say – my old life is gone and the new has come.
Our baptism is our “mikvah.” It is the time when we decide to “set ourselves apart” for Christ. It is during this time that we are made “new” again. Jeremiah 1:4-5 – We are set apart for God.
5. Groom leaves to prepare the wedding chamber. Typically this would last about a year, but the groom could not decide when he was ready to come back for his bride. This decision was made by his father. Most grooms would typically want to rush through the preparations to “get on with” the wedding, so their fathers would decide when the chamber was ready. When the day finally came, the groom would gather his friends and together they’d march into town blowing a “shofar” to announce their arrival. They’d make all kinds of noise to show how proud they were for this union. It was the bride’s job to be ready (to have her lamp trimmed) for when he came.
John 14:2-3 – Jesus speaks of leaving to prepare a place for us in heaven.
Matthew 24:36 – Not even Jesus knows when He is coming back, only the Father does.
Matthew 24:31 & 1 Thessalonians 4:16 – Jesus will come to get us loudly – with a loud trumpet call.
Matthew 25:1-13 – It’s our (we are the bride) job to be ready for His arrival.
6. Wedding Ceremony – In most cases a “chupah” (canopy) was built for the ceremony to be performed under. It symbolized the “covering/blessing” of God on this union. The bride would receive a crown and the couple would drink another cup of wine. (Another custom which was added later is that this cup would then be broken as a symbol of the “bittersweetness” of the day – sweet for the couple, but bitter for their people whose temple had been destroyed.)
When Christ returns and gives us our crowns, our union will be complete and we will be with Him forever. As the cup is destroyed, we can remember that we will no longer need it for communion – we’re already communing with Him.
7. Wedding Feast – There was one final step in the wedding process. The party time!
This is the time after we are joined with Christ forever and begin the eternal party with Him. Rev 19:6-9 and check out who is invited to the wedding – the normal/poor people – Rev 3:20.