By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. – Revelation 19:7
Everyone loves the imagery of a beautiful bride. I remember the day I was married, standing at the altar waiting for that first look at my bride as she began to walk down the aisle to the altar. I remember the length of time it took for her to prepare for this moment and then it finally arrived.
The doors at the back of the church opened...and there she was. For me, one word came to mind when I first saw her: breathtaking. She was absolutely beautiful. (By the way, if you don’t believe me, I have the pictures to prove it.)
However, what do weddings and brides have to do with you and me?
Within the pages of Scripture, there is a comparison made between an earthly bride and the church. Within this comparison, we are commonly referred to as ‘the bride of Christ.’ But have you ever wondered what that means? My goal is to help you understand clearly who is the bride of Christ in the Bible—but also for you to know why it matters so much.
To understand this analogy fully, it helps to understand marriages during biblical times. This will shed some light and help you see the imagery of the bride of Christ...possibly in a way you haven’t seen before.
Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Alejandro Avila
How Did Marriages Work in the Bible?
There were a series of different events culminating in a marriage ceremony. Let’s consider them:
The Betrothal – This was more than an engagement like we think of today. The betrothal was actually just as binding as being married. The woman who was betrothed to her future husband was bound to the husband.
She was considered married even though the actual wedding ceremony would probably not take place until later; likely for another six months to a year. In fact within the Mosaic law, a husband who was betrothed to his “wife” was exempt from military battle.
Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her. – Deuteronomy 20:7
The Friend of the Bridegroom – The bridegroom would choose a close and loyal friend whose responsibility was to assist the bride in preparation for the wedding. He would stay by her side throughout this entire betrothal period and make sure she was ready for the bridegroom on the wedding day.
The Procession – On the day of the wedding, the bridegroom would leave from his father’s house and proceed to the house of the father of the bride to receive his bride. The bridegroom would not announce in advance the exact moment when he was coming, so the bride had to be prepared, ready, and waiting for the bridegroom.
The Ceremony and Feast - Once the bridegroom had received his bride, they would proceed to the house of the father of the bridegroom. They would then have a wedding ceremony followed by a spectacular wedding feast. These feasts could last up to a week and sometimes even longer.
So, Who Is the Bride of Christ?
The answer to this question is pretty straightforward—you are.
If you belong to Jesus Christ...if he is your Savior...then you are his bride. (Don’t worry, men, we don’t have to put on a wedding dress; it’s an analogy.)
Biblical weddings offer parallels you can apply today, to see how you fit in. Let’s do just that.
You Are Betrothed to Christ
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit – Ephesians 1:13
The moment you heard the message of the gospel and received salvation you were in a sense betrothed to Christ. Your eternal life began that very moment. There is a space of time between now and when you reach your eternal destination. However, as the betrothed bride is considered married to her bridegroom, the same principle applies to you.
Even though your faith has not yet become sight, and you have not experienced heaven in its fullness, you can be confident that your eternal home with Jesus is secured. You belong to him both now and forevermore.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. – John 14:3
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images Plus/sakepaint
The Holy Spirit Is Your Friend of the Bridegroom
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:26 (ESV)
One of the most beautiful roles in my opinion in this wedding process is that of the friend of the bridegroom—which in our case is the Holy Spirit. This shows you how much Jesus loves you and how committed he is to helping you get to the ceremony.
Jesus didn’t just say, “I am going, and I’ll be back.” He said I am going to give you a helper who will make sure that you are ready for me when I return. What an incredible gift Jesus the bridegroom has given to you who are the bride of Christ.
In the Bible, when the Holy Spirit has done his job, here is the result of his work:
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. – Jude 1:23-24
You are the bride of Christ and the Holy Spirit will help you until the bridegroom comes.
There is another example of the friend of the bridegroom in scripture. Here is what Paul says: in
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:2, NKJV
In Paul’s love for the Corinthian church, he took on this role as friend of the bridegroom. While ultimately this is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit, in God’s wisdom he will sometimes send people into your life to help accomplish this task.
Your Bridegroom Proceeds from the Father’s House
Understanding the biblical wedding process, let’s look at a parable that will help it all make a little more sense to you:
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. – Matthew 25:1-13
The part I simply want to draw your attention to is the moment the bridegroom appears. No one knew when it would happen, so they had to prepare themselves and wait for his appearance. This is true of our bridegroom.
Jesus is coming again. At the appointed time, he will set out from his father’s house, to get those who are his bride.
I encourage you, as Jesus did, to keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour. Make sure there is oil in your lamps and that you are ready for his appearing.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/coolnina
As the Bride of Christ, Prepare for a Ceremony and Feast
After all the preparation and getting ready, we finally will get to the ultimate culmination and the true reward for you who are the bride of Christ.
In the Bible, we see a picture of a great celebration called the wedding supper of the Lamb:
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” – Revelation 19:6-9
This celebration is for the bride (you and I) who have made ourselves ready for the appearing of the Lamb. Remember you have help from the friend of the bridegroom (the Holy Spirit) to help you get ready.
This celebration is one of the glorious moments in the triumph of our faith.
In fact, there is a blessing attached to those who have an invitation. I know there have been great celebrations that you have probably seen in this world, but I promise you they will all pale in comparison to the glorious celebration God has prepared for those who love him.
This is why we live the way we do, and make the sacrifices we make—because there is a glorious day coming that will make it all worth it.
Knowing that you are the bride of Christ, and the Bible clearly states that the bridegroom or Jesus is coming again, stirs this question: How is your wedding prep going?
You are already betrothed to Christ and he has given you a friend to assist you, but how are you preparing for that day? My prayer for you is that you would not get distracted by other things...and our world is full of them.
I pray that you and I would remain committed and conscious of the reality that the bridegroom is coming. I don’t know when that day will be, but I can assure you it will happen. Let’s stand devoted to our betrothed, so that on the day of his coming there will be much oil in our lamps and we will be ready to meet our bridegroom.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/mictian
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our People from the Bible Series featuring the most well-known historical names and figures from Scripture. We have compiled these articles to help you study those whom God chose to set before us as examples in His Word. May their lives and walks with God strengthen your faith and encourage your soul.
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