The following is a manuscript of a radio broadcast of Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, director of Ariel Ministries. The text is copyrighted material being reproduced with the permission of the Board of Directors of Ariel Ministries. This material may be distributed free of charge, but it is asked that the text not be modified in any way. Your cooperation in this matter is much appreciated.
Ariel Ministries is an independent faith mission dedicated to the work of evangelism and discipleship of Jewish people.
This manuscript will look into the how the Jewish wedding system corresponds to the program that God has between Christ as the groom and the Church as the Bride of Christ. This subject will be covered in six parts
I. The Arrangement
The first step in the Jewish wedding system is the arrangement. In the arrangement the father of the groom makes the arrangement with the father of the bride and pays the father of the bride the bride price.
This stage may occur when the bride and groom are children and often they did not even meet each other until the wedding day. In fact, that was true in the case of my own grandparents who first met each other on the wedding day.
The application to the Bride of Christ is that God the Father, the Father of the Groom, made the arrangement, and then paid the bride price. The bride price was the blood of His Son. Ephesians 5:25 states:
''Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;''
''For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,''
By giving up the Son and by shedding the blood of the Son the bride price was paid and so the arrangement was sealed with blood.
II. The Preparation
The second step in the Jewish wedding system is known as the preparation. That is the period of the betrothal. It lasts for at least a year but could also last for many years especially if the arrangement was made when the bride and groom were only children. During the period of the preparation the bride is being prepared and she prepares herself to be a fitting wife for her mate. This is the period of time that the bride is being trained and prepared to take on the role of a wife and she prepares herself to be a fitting bride for her mate. This is the period of time that she is observed for her purity. That is why the betrothal always lasted for a minimum of one year, to allow at least a full nine months to pass to make sure that at the time of the betrothal the bride was a virgin. If she gives birth before the year is up then it is known that she was in a state of immorality.
Again, the period of preparation, the period of betrothal, may be of a long or of a short duration. It might be as short as a year, but it might be many many years because often the arrangement that led to the betrothal would occur when the bride and groom were children.
The application of the stage of the preparation to the Bride of Christ, the Church, is that the Bride is even now in the process of being perfected for the Groom. Two passages deal with this stage. The first is II Corinthians 11:2:
''For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.''
Paul states that the Church has been espoused, or betrothed, to one husband. The goal is that she might be presented a pure virgin to Christ. She is now in the period of preparation where the bride is being prepared to become a fitting wife for her husband. When that day comes she will be presented as pure virgin to Christ.
The second passage is Ephesians 5:26-27:
''that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.''
Then verse 29 states:
''for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church;''
According to verse 26 the Church is now undergoing a process of sanctification. The word ''sanctification'' means to be set apart. So the Church is now being set apart for Christ to eventually, in accordance with II Corinthians 11:2, be presented a pure virgin to Christ. Furthermore verse 26 points out that she is being cleansed by this means of sanctification. The means of sanctification is by the washing of water with the Word. It is not by water baptism, but by the water of the Word of God. As the Church becomes more and more conformed to what the Word of God teaches, she becomes more and more that virgin to be presented to Him.
Then in Verse 27 gives the purpose for the process of sanctification in verse 26. The purpose for this process of sanctification is to present the Church a glorious Church. This is just another way of saying what he said in II Corinthians 11:2, that the intent is to present the Church as a pure virgin to Christ. Here it is put in terms of being presented as a glorious church.
He then gives the four characteristics of a glorified church. First, it will have no spot, meaning that there will be no outward defilement. Secondly, there will be no wrinkle, meaning that there will be no evidence of age. Third, it will be holy, meaning that it will eventually reach full sanctification. Fourth, there will be no blemish, there will be no inward defilement. The time that this is going to take place ultimately and finally is at the Judgement Seat of Christ where the members of the Church in this judgement will have the wood, hay, and stubble burned away and the gold, silver, and precious stone purified by that fire of judgement.
Then in verse 29 he reveals one the way that the Church is being made into a glorious church. The Church is being nourished, meaning the Church is being built up and given strength. Secondly, the church is being cherished, meaning tender care with warmth and tenderness.
III. The Fetching of the Bride
In the Jewish wedding system on the wedding day the groom would go to the home of the bride to fetch her to his home. This would lead to a bridal procession and that is what is found in Matthew 25:1-13, for example. The groom had left and he is now coming back with the bride. The virgins do not represent the Church. The virgins go out to meet the groom as he is returning to his home with the bride.
The application to the Bride of Christ is the Rapture of the Church. The fetching of the Bride of Christ will be by the Rapture of the Church. The main scripture is I Thessalonians 4:13-18. In verse thirteen the question is asked, ''What about dead saints? Will they miss out on the benefits of the Rapture? Will only living ones benefit?'' In verses 14-15 Paul states that they will not miss out on the benefits of the Rapture but they will begin to receive the benefits even before the living believers do. Then in verses 16-17 he spells out the seven steps by which the Rapture will occur.
First, Christ will come from heaven into the earth's atmosphere and in that sense will enter into the realm of the home of the bride. Secondly, he will then give a shout. The Greek word used is the word that means a military command. He will issue the command as a military general does for the process to begin. Third will be the voice of the archangel. The archangel is Michael and here he is pictured as the sub-commander who will repeats the order of the chief commander. Then the fourth stage will come the trump of God. After the sub-commander issued his orders the trumpeter would issue his calls so the soldiers could know what to do: to attack, to retreat, to go forward or right or reverse or whatever. So the trump of God will sound. Then fifth, the dead in Christ will rise first. This is why the dead will not miss out on the benefits of the Rapture because they will receive it first by being raised first. Sixth, those who are alive will be caught up or Raptured to meet Christ in the air. Seventh, the believers will ever be with the Lord. From then on the believers will be with Him because He is the believer's husband. So in verse 18, that is a word of comfort for those of us who have believing friends and relatives that have now passed away; they will someday be resurrected. If we are alive then we will join them in that Rapture.
It is after the fetching of the Bride into heaven that will come the final point of cleansing and sanctification. In First Corinthians 3:10-15 describes the Judgement Seat of Christ when the wood, hay, and stubble will be burned away and the gold, silver, and precious stone will be purified.
According to I first Corinthians 15:50-58 the Church will indeed be glorified because at that point mortality will put on immortality and corruption will put on incorruption.
IV. The Ceremony
The ceremony was conducted in the home of the groom. Only a few, usually the immediate family and two witnesses, were invited to come in and observe the wedding ceremony.
The application to this fourth step to the relationship of the Church as the Bride of Christ is that there will be a ceremony in heaven and the few that will be invited to this ceremony are the few that will already be in heaven and not all the others. Only those that have already been resurrected will be able to participate in the wedding ceremony.
The main scripture for the wedding ceremony is Revelation 19:6-8:
''And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reignrth. 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 righteousnes of the saints.''
This scripture contains the fourth step, the ceremony. The ceremony is in heaven and it is followed by the second coming of Christ because he discusses the second coming in verses 11-16. Just preceding the second coming to the earth will come the marriage ceremony in heaven. As in the Jewish system only a few will be invited, those already in heaven and not others.
In these verses there are three main things. First, the marriage of the Lamb is come. Here he is dealing with the marriage ceremony of the Lamb and it will occur in heaven just before the second coming. Secondly the wife had made herself ready. She is now glorified. There is no spot, no wrinkle, no blemish nor any such thing. Third, she is arrayed in fine linen clean and white and he interprets the fine linen to represent the righteousness of the saints. The fine linen is the righteousness of the saints and it shows that by this time the Judgement Seat of Christ is over with, the sanctification process is complete, and she is indeed a pure virgin now being presented to Christ at this wedding ceremony.
V. The Marriage Feast
In the Jewish wedding system the marriage feast has many more people invited. Whereas a few are invited to the wedding ceremony, many others are invited to the marriage feast to celebrate the marriage of the son. Often the marriage feast lasted for a total of seven days.
The application to the Church as the Bride of Christ is that the marriage feast will take place on earth. As a matter of fact, the Kingdom will begin with the marriage feast. Also, at the marriage feast many are going to be invited. Many more will be in the marriage feast than were at the marriage ceremony. For example, the Old Testament saints are going to be at the wedding feast because the Old Testament saints are resurrected after the Tribulation (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2). In John 3:28-30 John the Baptist classed himself as being neither the groom nor part of the bride but classed himself in a third category known as the friends of the bridegroom. The friends of the bridegroom are the Old Testament saints and they will be the many more invited to the wedding feast.A second group that will not be at the ceremony but will be at the marriage feast will be the Tribulation saints. The Tribulation saints will also be resurrected after the Second Coming (Revelation 20:4-6). They will also be guests at the wedding feast.
A third group will be Israel. The living Israel that survives the Tribulation and enters into the Messianic Kingdom, they too will be the invited guests of the wedding feast with which the Kingdom begins.
The fact that the Kingdom begins with the wedding feast is taught by Isaiah 25:6. In the context of the Kingdom he writes:
''And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.''
So the Kingdom does begin with a feast, specifically with a wedding feast and that is where these others are going to be invited to participate.
Just before the Second Coming the invitation to the wedding feast is sent out. Revelation 19:6-8, it was noted, talks about the wedding ceremony. Then in verse nine he talks about the wedding feast:
''And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.''
The marriage supper of the Lamb is not served at this point. At this point he simply sends out the invitation. The invitation goes out just before the Second Coming. Then verses 11-16 describe the Second Coming and then after a 75 day interval the Kingdom will established. The Kingdom will begin with the marriage feast. Just as the wedding feast could last for seven days, even so the wedding feast might last for seven days or perhaps even for seven years. During that 75 day interval, there will be a resurrection of the Old Testament saints and a resurrection of the Tribulation saints who are the many more that will partake in that wedding feast.VI. The Home of the Bride
In the Jewish context, the groom is responsible to provide a suitable home for the bride and he does this during the preparation stage, the second stage.
When Jesus went back to heaven at the Ascension, one purpose he went back to heaven was to prepare a place for the bride (John 14:1). The place He is preparing for the bride is elsewhere known as the New Jerusalem. That is the application: that Jesus is even now preparing a suitable home for the Church and the believers will move into that home in the eternal state, in the eternal order. The main scripture is Revelation 21:9-22:5 where John is able to see the home of the Bride. Verses 9-10 state:
''And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues; and he talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain , and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,''
According to verse nine the bride is now also the wife of the Lamb because by this time the wedding ceremony and the wedding feast have taken place and they have been married for a thousand years. After the thousand year Kingdom, John next sees the eternal home of the bride (vs. 10) and the eternal abode of the bride is the New Jerusalem.
Then beginning in 21:11-22:5 he spells out the details of the New Jerusalem which will be the home of the bride.
That is the relationship between the Jewish wedding system and the Church as the Bride of Christ. Some things have been fulfilled, some things are in the process of being fulfilled, and others are still in the future. There is a great future for those who have believed in the Messiahship of Jesus.
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