Patterns in Jewish Celebrations – Part One

There are several steps or parts to a traditional Jewish wedding. Some are specifically found in Scripture, others have simply been around for thousands of years. What are fascinating are the parallels between the Jewish wedding and the Lord’s Plan for His Church!

An interesting example of a portion of the traditional wedding is found in Genesis 24:42-57. In this scripture Abraham, the father, sends Eliezer (which means “God’s helper”) to find a bride for Isaac, the son. The picture of the Father sending the Holy Spirit to obtain a bride for the Son is found here. In this passage Eliezer is led to Rebekah and gave her gifts. He received permission from her family to take her back to Abraham and Isaac. He gave gifts to her family. And Rebekah agreed to go with Eliezer.

All of these are part of the traditional Jewish wedding process.

Here are the major points of the wedding. You can see how they show the Church as the Bride of Christ.

  1. The bride was selected. Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16)
  2. The bride price, or dowry, was established. “For you were bought at a price.” (I Corinthians 6:20)
  3. The betrothal. What we consider an engagement was deemed a marriage in the ancient Jewish culture. An example is Joseph and Mary. Joseph was going to divorce Mary, his betrothed, even though their marriage had not been consummated.
  4. The marriage contract. Bible scholars consider the Ten Commandments and the Law to be a marriage contract between the Lord and the Nation of Israel. A contract is an agreement where conditions are set and promises are made. For the Christian, the entire Bible is a set of promises made by the Lord. It is a marriage contract.
  5. The bride gave her consent. The Lord Jesus does not force anyone to become His “bride.” We accept His love on our own free will.
  6. The bride was given gifts and the marriage contract, or covenant, was sealed by drinking a cup of wine. The Bride of Christ has been given a gift. On the Day of Pentecost Peter said, “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) The cup of wine that was drunk was called the Cup of the Covenant. It celebrated the marriage covenant. It reminds me of the Cup of Communion. Jesus said, “This cup [is] the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:20) Christians drink this cup to acknowledge the price Jesus paid for us.
  7. The ceremonial purification of the bride. The bride was immersed in a pool of water. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)
  8. The groom prepared a room for the bride. In that culture, families lived in the same house. The groom added a room to his father’s house. The father would determine when the room was properly complete. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself.” (John 14:2-3)
  9. The bride was consecrated and set apart. She and the groom were committed to each other. The bride and groom did not see each other until he came for her. (Does this sound familiar?) Because the groom did not know when the father would decide the room was complete, he could not tell the bride. Therefore, the bride did not know when the groom was coming to get her. The existence of this tradition in the time of Jesus is confirmed by the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25.
  10. The groom returns with a shout! Part of his wedding party would shout, “Behold, the bridegroom comes.” Someone else would blow a trumpet or shofar. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” (First Thessalonians 4:16) To add to the surprise, this was frequently done late at night, even at midnight. “And at midnight a cry was [heard]: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming’”. (Matthew 25:6)
  11. The bride was taken to the room the groom had prepared. There they remained for seven days. There is a fascinating passage in Isaiah 26:19-21 which speaks of resurrection, then shutting yourself in a room until the Lord’s wrath passes by, and the Lord’s punishment of the inhabitants of earth for their rebellion. This Isaiah scripture fits the pre-Tribulation scenario of the Church being gathered up during the time of the Lord’s wrath, and it fits the pattern shown by the steps of the traditional Jewish wedding. This step could indicate that the Church, the Bride of Christ, will be safe with Him during the years of the Tribulation.
  12. The marriage supper. After being cloistered in their room for seven days, the Bride and Groom would be given a celebratory banquet. At the end of the Revelation the marriage supper of Jesus is described. “Blessed [are] those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9) This is the beginning of the Christian’s life with Jesus in His Kingdom!
All of these steps in the traditional Jewish wedding show us the Lord Jesus and His relation to His bride, the Church. There is more to this wonderful pattern, and it comes next week! Until then, praise the Lord for His goodness, mercy and grace to us.

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