You Can Learn a Lot From a Bride by Penny Rice
(Originally published in the Zoa Free Paper, 1988.)
The glow was unmistakable on my friend’s face as she spoke of her forthcoming marriage. As we drove along the highway together, her enthusiasm about the wedding day was highly contagious–and we discovered that even a splitting radial tire on my little Toyota could not cool the fever of our excited plannings. We laughed like silly schoolgirls while we knelt on the wet shoulder of the highway. . . and quickly realized how differently the Japanese think when it comes to designing car jacks
And yet what a difference our mood of excitement made in the way we faced our unexpected car trouble. (Usually I am not the most patient nurse in treating ailing cars.) Needless to say, I was glad there was a happy, bride-to-be with me on this trip.
This little incident has made me wonder how many more brides all over the world right now are brightening the days of family and friends in an otherwise discouraged and lonely world. To be around someone who is happily awaiting the day when her beloved one comes for her. . . to see the sparkling eyes. . . the blooming cheeks. . . the lilt in her walk. . . is a feast for the eyes.
Pondering these thoughts has brought me to another dimension–because I’ve usually found that the simple truths of life always seem to point to some deeper truth that God is trying to reveal to us. Could it be that what God Himself desires is for His people to love and long for Him like a bride longs for her bridegroom?
That idea does not appear too far-fetched according to Hosea 2:19-20: “And I will betroth you to Me forever; yes I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, and in steadfast love, and in mercies. And you will really know Me then as you never have before.” And in Isaiah 54% we find: “For your Maker is your husband–the Lord Almighty is His name–“From Jeremiah 3:3 comes this: “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with lovingkindness.'” THe Apostle Paul even told the Corinthian Christians: “I (Paul) promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” (2 Cor. 11:2)
What really grips my heart about this deeper truth is that I’ve discovered that Jesus behaved just like a bridegroom when He lived on earth! No–Jesus never married–but instead He actually betrothed Himself to all those who believe in Him and give their hearts to Him. It was easy to understand how Jesus became our Bridegroom, when I learned about the following seven steps in the traditional Jewish Wedding:
1. Before the bridegroom could pick a bride, he must have his father’s approval. (John 17:24, 1 Cor. 1:9)
2. At the betrothal (engagement) ceremony, the bridegroom must do three things:
a)drink a cup of covenant (wine) (Matt. 26:27-29)
b)pay the price (1 Peter 1:18-19, 1 Peter 2:24)
c) make this speech: “I am going to leave you for a long time and go back to my father’s house. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2,3)
3. The bridegroom must then begin building the bridal chamber and make provisions for a seven-day honeymoon. It had to be just right to win his father’s approval. If anyone asked him when the chamber would be finished, he was supposed to say, “I don’t know, only my father knows.” (Acts 1:7)
4. Meanwhile, the bride would wear a veil whenever she went out and she was called “set apart,” “consecrated,” or “bought with a price.” She always waited at home every night for the traditional “catching away” by her bridegroom to the bridal chamber. She would be waiting with her bridesmaids who would all have their oil lamps filled and waiting for the important moment. (John 17:16,17; Jude 1:24)
5. When the bridegroom and his party came close to the bride’s house, they would shout. Then the bride and her party knew they were coming. The bridegroom would literally grab his bride and run by the light of the oil lamps to his father’s house. (1 Thess. 4:16,17)
6. As all the wedding guests watched, the bride and groom went into the bridal chamber and would not reappear until the seven days were over. There was feasting going on during the seven days among the wedding guests. (Rev. 5:5-14)
7. The couple then emerged as husband and wife from the bridal chamber and the marriage supper was celebrated. The veil was gone from the new wife and the couple then lived in the place prepared for them beforehand. (Rev. 19:7-9, 1 Cor. 2:9, Isa. 25:6,7,8)
[Source: Zola Levitt, An Israeli Love Story]
The corresponding Scriptures I’ve chosen for these seven steps reveal how Jesus will come to claim His Bride–all those who truly love and obey Him with all their hearts–and we will live with Him forever.
What occurs to me next is that if we are betrothed to the most wonderful Bridegroom in all the universe, Jesus Christ, shouldn’t we be a little excited about it? In fact, just thinking about our Bridegroom coming in the clouds to get us ought to put a sparkle in our eyes, a glow on our faces, and a lilt in our steps as we look up and say “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” Perhaps it is time that the Bride of Christ awakens from her slumber, fills her lamp with the oil of the Holy Spirit, watches and prays for her Beloved One’s soon, and brightens up the darkness all around her as she waits.
I don’t know about you, but even in the midst of a busy schedule, I’m listening for my Beloved Bridegroom’s shout and I can’t wait for Him to sweep me off my feet!