Excerpt Taken from “Pattern is Prologue” by Chuck Missler
All through the Gospels, Jesus relied on the ancient Jewish wedding pattern for many of His parables, climaxing in His promise in the Upper Room in John 14 (as reviewed in our previous article). Many of us miss the full import of these allusions if we aren’t familiar with the model of ancient Jewish wedding practices.
The first step, the Ketubah, or Betrothal, was the establishment of the marriage covenant, usually when the prospective bridegroom took the initiative and negotiated the price (mohair) he must pay to purchase her.
Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified – set apart – exclusively for her bridegroom. As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the groom and bride drank from a cup of wine over which the betrothal had been pronounced.
After the marriage covenant was established, the groom left his bride at her home and returned to his father’s house, where he remained separated from his bride for approximately 12 months. This afforded the bride time to gather her trousseau and prepare for married life.
During this period of separation, the groom prepared a dwelling place in his father’s house to which he would later bring his bride. At the end of the period of separation, the bridegroom came – usually at night – to take his bride to live with him. The groom, the best man, and other male escorts left the father’s house and conducted a torch-light procession to the home of the bride. Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the time of his coming. As a result, the groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, which announced her imminent departure to be gathered with him.
After the groom received his bride, together with her female attendants, the enlarged wedding party returned from the bride’s home to the groom’s father’s house, where the wedding guests had assembled.
Shortly after their arrival, the bride and groom were escorted by the other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber (huppah). Prior to entering the chamber, the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. While the groomsmen and bridesmaids waited outside, the bride and groom entered the bridal chamber alone. There, in the privacy of that place, they entered into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted approximately one year earlier.
After the marriage was consummated, the groom came out of the bridal chamber and announced the consummation of the marriage to the members of the wedding party waiting outside. Then, as the groom went back to his bride in the chamber, the members of the wedding party returned to the wedding guests and announced the consummation of the marriage.
Upon receiving the good news, the wedding guests remained in the groom’s father’s house for the next seven days, celebrating with a great wedding feast.18
During the seven days of the wedding feast, the bride and groom remained hidden in the bridal chamber (Cf. Genesis 29:21-23, 27-28) for the seven days of the huppah. Afterwards, the groom came out of hiding, bringing his bride with him, but with her veil removed so that everyone could see her.
The Ultimate Bride
The New Testament portrays the Church as the Bride of Christ in Ephesians 5:22-33 (Paul even quotes Genesis 2:24 as the union at the Parousia of the Bridegroom in v.31!); cf. Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2; James 4:4. In the opening verses of John 14, the marriage covenant is confirmed. Paul continually reminds us of the purchase price and the covenant by which we, the Bride, are set apart, or sanctified.
The Departure of the Bridegroom
The Bridegroom has departed, and His return to gather His Bride is imminent. He has gone to prepare a place for you and me. (He has been at it for 2,000 years! It must be a spectacular abode!)
This very doctrine of “imminence” is taught throughout the New Testament and is a cornerstone of the “pre-tribulational” view: there is no event which is a prerequisite condition for His gathering of His Bride.
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