BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH!

John 14:1-3. "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.
2: 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.
3: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

Jesus spoke these words on the night He was betrayed. He had been telling His disciples He was going to be killed and they were troubled and didnít understand. They were gathered in the upper room. Over the last 3Ĺ years He had led them and now He was to leave. He told them of this earlier.

John 12:31-33." Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33: This he said, signifying what death he should die."

We in the Western world today donít understand the full significance of Jesusí promise of John 14. This is because Jesus was drawing an analogy from Jewish marriage customs of the times. This was researched and verified by a Christian Jew and he cited 20 references from history books that verified these customs of Jewish marriage. If we are to catch the full significance of this analogy we have to examine these customs and then relate them to what Jesus said.

Jesus often used the everyday things common to man to illustrate a point He was making. This is one of them. Another was the one in John 4 about the woman at the well and the water. Many other times He used comparisons to marriage, but this certainly gave me a new look at this scripture. I had heard this scripture spoken on at funerals many times and it is a source of comfort and promise from our Savior.

The first step in Jewish marriage is betrothal. Betrothal involved establishing a marriage covenant. In Jesusí time the prospective bridegroom took the initiative and traveled from his fatherís house to the home of his prospective bride. There he would negotiate with the young womanís father to arrive at a price he must pay to purchase his bride.

Once the bridegroom paid the price, the marriage covenant was established and the young man and woman were betrothed as husband and wife. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified, that is, set apart exclusively for her bridegroom. As a symbol of this covenant relationship the bride and groom would drink a cup of wine that had been blessed with a betrothal benediction. After this, the groom would leave his bride's home and go back to his fatherís house. He would stay there separated from his bride for 12 months. During this time, the bride prepared her trousseau and got ready for married life. Meanwhile the groom was busy adding a room to his fatherís house to make a place for him and his bride.

At the end of the separation period the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. This usually took place at night and the groomís best man and all the male attendants would leave the groomís fatherís house and, with a torch light procession, go to the home of the bride. At the groom's arrival there would be a shout to announce that the bridegroom was there to receive his bride. Although she expected him, she didnít know the exact time he would come, so she had to be ready at any hour, day or night.

After the groom received his bride, all her lady attendants and the groom's party would return from the bride's home to the groomís fatherís house. When they got there they would find that all the wedding guests were already gathered and waiting.

The bride, who wore a veil so no one could see her face, and the groom would shortly be escorted into the bridal chamber by the other guests. While the wedding party waited outside, the bride and groom entered the bridal chamber alone. There in the privacy of the bridal chamber they would enter into the physical union for the first time and consummate the marriage that had up to now been a covenant.

After the marriage had been consummated the groom would announce the consummation to the wedding party waiting outside the chamber. These people would pass the news on to all the wedding guests waiting outside. When they heard this good news they would have a feast and make merry for seven days.

John 3:29. "He that has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled."

During these seven days of the feast the bride remained in the bridal chamber hidden from view of the guests. At the end of the seven days, she and the groom came out of the bridal chamber with her veil removed so all the guests and wedding party could see who the bride was.

Earlier I stated that in His promise in John 14, Jesus drew an analogy from Jewish marriage customs in Bible times. It is quite different from the usual message we hear from this passage but is a beautiful comparison to Christ and His bride.

The scriptures regard the church (Believers in Christ) to be the bride of Christ. Also, just as the bridegroom took the initiative in marriage by leaving the fatherís house and going to the prospective bride, in the same way, Jesus left His Fatherís house and came to earth, the home of His prospective bride, over 1900 years ago.

In the same manner as the Jewish bridegroom came to the brideís home to obtain her by establishing a marriage covenant, Jesus came to earth for the purpose of obtaining His bride, the church, through the establishment of a covenant. On the same night that Jesus made His promise in John 14 He instituted communion. As He passed the cup He said, in "Luke 22:20. "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ďThis cup is the new covenant in My blood.Ē This was His way of saying that He would establish a new covenant through the shedding of His blood on the cross.

As a parallel to the Jewish groom paying a price for his bride, Jesus paid a price to purchase His bride, the church. The price He paid was His own blood.

It was because of this purchase price that Paul wrote, in I Corinthians 6:19-20. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20: For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

The Jewish bride was declared sanctified or set apart exclusively for the groom once the marriage covenant was established, and the church has been declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for Christ by His covenant.

In the same way that the cup of wine was served as a symbol of the marriage covenant, the cup of communion at the Lordís Supper is a symbol of the testament or covenant through which Christ has obtained the church.

I Corinthians 11:25. "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."

The Jewish groom left his bride's house and went back to his fatherís house after the marriage covenant had been established and prepared a place for her. Jesus left the earth, the home of His bride the church, and returned to His Fatherís house in heaven to prepare a place for His bride. He established the new covenant and has risen from the dead. John 20:17 b. "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."

Christ has remained separated from the church for over 1900 years. That is the period of time we are now living in. This corresponds to the period of separation between the Jewish groom and his bride before the wedding took place.

The parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom preparing living accommodations for his bride in his fatherís house during the time of separation is this; Christ said, in John 14:3, He was going to prepare a place for us in His Fatherís house in heaven during His separation from His Bride, the Church.

At the end of their separation period, the Jewish groom came to take his bride to live with him. Christ will come and take the church to live with Him at the end of His separation period. His return is called the Rapture.

Also, just as the taking of the bride was accomplished by a procession of the groom and male escorts from the groomís fatherís house to the home of the bride, so the taking up of the church will be accomplished by a procession of Christ and the Angels coming to escort the church to the Fatherís house in heaven.

The bride did not know the exact time of her bridegroom's coming for her, she just knew he would come. The church does not know when Christ will come for His bride, we just know for sure He will come.

The bridegroomís arrival was announced with a shout, and the coming of the Lord will be announced with a shout. I Thessalonians 4:16. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:"

The Jewish bride went with the groom to his fatherís house when he came for her. The church will go with Christ to His Fatherís house in heaven when He comes to meet us in the air.

Notice that in Jewish custom the groom never came back into the brides house and Christ wonít come back to earth for us. He will meet us in the air.

The wedding guests were assembled and waiting when the groomís party got to the fatherís house. The souls of the 0ld Testament saints will make up the wedding guests and greet us when we reach heaven with Christ.

The Jewish bride and groom entering into the physical union after they arrived at the grooms fatherís house, to consummate the marriage that had been covenanted earlier. Christ and the church will experience spiritual union after the arrival at His fatherís house, consummating the spiritual relationship that had been covenanted earlier.

The Jewish bride remained secluded for seven days in the bridal chamber after arriving at the groomís fatherís house. The church will remain hidden for a period of seven years after arriving in the Fatherís house in heaven. The church will be in heaven and totally hidden from the sight of those living on earth during the seven year tribulation period on earth.

After seven days, the Jewish groom brought his bride out of the bridal chamber with her veil removed so all could see who she was. At His second coming, which will be at the end of the seven years tribulation period, Christ will bring His church into full view of all who are alive, so all will see who the true church is.

Colossians 3:4. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

This is a beautiful thing, the analogy between the Jewish marriage customs and Christís relationship to the church, but what connection is there for us today?

The answer is twofold.

1. First, if you have never taken Jesus Christ personally to be your Savior it is very important to you to do so today. Christ came to the earth and died on the cross for the purpose of paying the penalty for our sins. Through the shedding of His blood He paid the price for His Bride, the church. That established the new covenant that allows us to enter into a special relationship with Him.

Every time you hear the gospel it's like a marriage proposal. Christ is proposing to you that you enter this special relationship with Him. Just as the Jewish bride could accept or reject the marriage proposal, you can accept or reject Christís proposal. If you do not accept it, you will spend a lifetime of never being rightly related to Christ and will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.

If you accept Christís proposal, your sins will all be forgiven, you will be a member of the body that makes up the bride of Christ, and someday He will come and take you to remain forever with Him and to enjoy the great blessings in His Fatherís house.

If you sincerely believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to earth, died for your sins, and rose again from the dead you will be saved.

2. Second, this analogy is meaningful to those who are saved. During the time of separation between the marriage covenant and the coming of the bridegroom for the bride, it was possible for the bride to commit adultery by giving herself to another man.

It's possible for believers to commit spiritual adultery against Christ before He returns to take His bride to His Fatherís house. Paul expressed his concern over this possibility when he wrote to the Christians at Corinth.

II Corinthians 11: 2-3. "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
3: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."

James expressed the same concern in some very strong language earlier. James 4:4. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

Spiritual adultery is committed when a believer becomes devoted to the things of the world. I think we see as much spiritual adultery in the world today as we do physical adultery. We all need to examine our lives and our motives and direct them to the things Christ would have us to do.

If we have been unfaithful to our heavenly bridegroom, we need to confess it and trust the Holy Spirit to renew our devotion to Him. Meanwhile we wait for the Rapture when our Savior will come with a shout and take us to be with Him. That can be at any moment.

Revelation 22:20: "He who testified these things said, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

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