Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Here Comes The Groom

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"Here Comes The Bride"
Modern weddings make a production about the entrance of the bride, inspiring music and lyrics we're all familiar with. Not so much for the groom. However, in the customs of ancient Jewish weddings, the arrival of the groom was the anticipated event. And many recognize that the arrival of the groom in ancient Jewish wedding custom parallels the (second) coming of Jesus. Many of these Jewish wedding customs from betrothal to the marriage supper foreshadow events in the Bible, past, present, and future. Many events and sayings in the Bible make more sense when viewed through the lens of a wedding. How do we know the parallels with Jesus? The Bible says so.

Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.
2 Cor 11:2  For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
Eph 5:31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 

It is not just New Testament teaching however. When Israel entered into covenant with God after deliverance from Egypt, it was, among other things, a marriage covenant.

Jer 31:31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

Let's look at some of the elements of a Jewish wedding and how the groom (Jesus) and the bride (the church) fulfill the typology.


The groom's father had the responsibility of finding a wife for his son. Matchmaking took place between the groom's father and the bride's father, ideally with input from the bride and groom. The groom and his father would visit the bride's family for formal negotiations. The groom, armed with the bride price and wine, would knock.  If the bride agreed to open the door, everyone would share the first of four glasses of wine, after which the couple was considered married - some say it was after the third glass. It was binding on the groom but not the bride who could back out at anytime. Otherwise, the groom could only  back out by divorce, recall the story of Mary and Joseph. Next, the fathers and the couple worked out the marriage contract, called a ketubah, paid the bride price, and the four of them would share a second glass of wine. At the conclusion of the ketubah, the bride and groom would
Ketubah [1]
drink a third glass of wine. The groom would not drink wine again till the wedding ceremony, where they would share the fourth glass. Notice the parallels with the "last supper", which was actually a Passover service.  A meal would follow the ketubah. The groom returned to his father's house to prepare a bridal chamber for her, this took from one to two years.

knock - Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

bride price Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 

wine - Mt 26:29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

bridal chamber - John 14:2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Passover - Jesus Christ, our Passover, formally presented the New Covenant to His Bride, at Passover, in the format of a first century Jewish marriage proposal - Golden Sheaves [2].

Preparation Period

After the ketubah is worked out and dinner is eaten, the groom and his father go home. The groom gets busy preparing a place for his bride, while the bride prepares herself. They both do a mikveh, (baptism) symbolizing a major change in their lives. The bride would sew her wedding dress. The groom might send gifts to the bride to keep her interest alive.  When things were ready, the groom's father would send the groom to fetch his bride. The groom and the bride would know approximately but not exactly when, only his father. The bride waited with her friends. The groom friends would go before him blowing the shofar, and shouting.

prepare a place - John 14:2  for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

bride prepares herself - Rev 19:7 for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.

mikveh - Acts 1:4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

wedding dress -  Rev 19:8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

gifts - 1 Cor 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.

fetching the bride
Mark 13:32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 
Mt 25:6 At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' 
1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Wedding Day

When the groom's father decides the time is right, he sends the groom to fetch the bride. She waits with her friends for the sound of the groom's friends announcing his arrival. They travel back to the groom's father's house where a wedding canopy (called a chuppah) is set up. The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah, where they drink the fourth glass of wine together. They smash this glass underfoot symbolizing that no one else may drink from this glass, that is no one else may partake of this special relationship. After the ceremony, the wedding is consummated, and the seven day feast begins.

bridesmaids - Since bridegrooms typically came for their brides in the middle of the night, to "steal them away", the bride would have to have her lamp and her belongings ready at all times. Her sisters or bridesmaids would also be waiting, keeping their lamps trimmed in anticipation of the late night festivities - ReturnToGod  [3]

groom's friends - As the bridegroom approached the bride's home, he would shout and blow the shofar (ram's horn trumpet) so that she had some warning to gather her belongings to take into the wedding chamber - ReturnToGod  [3]

canopy - Isaiah 4:5 then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy (chuppah).

glass - Also a sign that the covenant broken can not be put back together - TASC [4].

consummation - On the wedding day, the bridegroom is seen as a king and the bride as a queen. During the consummation of the marriage, the bridegroom (Jesus) will be crowned King over all the earth and the bride (believers in Christ) will live with Him and rule with Him forever - Layman's Watch [5]. In other words, the consummation is a coronation.

feast - the newly weds went into the wedding chamber for a seven day honeymoon - Wild Olive [6], while the guests feasted for seven days.

Marriage Supper

After the seven days, the bride and groom emerge to share the marriage supper with the guests.

Rev 19:9 Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”

That is good news (gospel) indeed.

From the betrothal where a ketubah is written, through the time of preparation where the groom prepares a place and the bride prepares herself, to the wedding day, a coronation as it were, the Bible in many ways pictures Jesus as marrying a bride*.

If you liked this, be sure to check out my other blog articles. The archive at the right side of this page is complete, but it does not give titles or summaries, it is more convenient to use my custom BLOG INDEX which does have titles and summaries of my blog articles. 



* Some object to aspects of the wedding analogy because of ways the analogy breaks down.  To give some examples: The Church is called the body of Christ, does that imply Jesus will marry Himself? God is already our Father, will He then become our father in law? If a man is to leave his father and mother, how is it Jesus goes to prepare a place for us in His Father's house? Every analogy eventually breaks down, but I see many more types fulfilled in the Jewish wedding analogy than I see contradictions.

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