This is the 1st part of a 3-part-piece covering The Great Pursuit. Please check out the other two here:
“Let us rejoice and exult and give glory, for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come, and the Bride has made herself ready;” Revelation 19:7 (ESV)
Jesus Christ is waiting for His bride to be prepared for him at this very moment. That means that we are in the time of the great engagement. The Church is betrothed to Christ. And Jesus Christ is in Heaven preparing a place for her. (John 14:3)
I would like to call this The Great Pursuit. And think of it as a “game” played between the Fathers, the Bridegroom, the Bride, and the Father’s household. (I will be focusing on this for the next while, as I feel is it vitally important for us to understand.)
Marriage can often be thought of as a dry and weary process whereby a man finds a woman to marry. Especially if one looks at Jewish tradition and thinks only along the lines of all the formalities that need to happen. I do not think that is what God intended it to be. In fact, I think He wants it to be the exact opposite. It should be FUN. Yes. Exciting, exhilarating, enjoyable. Like a game played between two teams. A game where there are no losers, only two winners.
The object of the game is not just to win, but to enjoy the process of winning. It’s what makes winning worth while. It creates expectation, it involves all our senses, feelings, time, effort, resources, and relationships. When we put our life into something we appreciate it. And that is why the marriage game is so important. It is what prepares both the bride and the bridegroom to appreciate each other within marriage.
Lets see how Jesus enters into the Great Pursuit, as related to Jewish marriage custom. (Adapted from Jewish Wedding Customs and the Bride of Messiah, available at http://messianicfellowship.50webs.com/wedding.html)
1) Shiddukhin: The Father selects a Bride for His son. This can be seen in Genesis 24 where Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. God has already done this for His son Jesus Christ. He has sent His servant/helper (the Holy Spirit) and selected her from the human race.
2) Ketubah: The ketubah was and still is today the – “marriage contract.” The ketubah includes the provisions and conditions of the proposed marriage. This has also already been written. Within the Old Testament there are many places that essentially spell out how the Lord (groom) promises to support His church (wife) to be. (Jer 31:31-40 is an example). It is the New Covenant! From the brides side she promises to pay her dowry – her financial status. It is that of her yielded life and to keep and prepare herself for Him (I Cor. 6:20).
3) Mohar: The Bridal Payment. This is sometimes called – the Bride price. It is a gift paid by the groom to the bride’s family – but ultimately belongs to the bride. It changes her status and sets her free from her parent’s household. In the case of Christ, the Father so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son… The Father gave his son’s life as a payment for the bride. It is what has set us free from the bondage of our previous Father’s house. (the Father of lies)
4) Mikveh: To prepare for betrothal it is common for the bride and groom to separately take a ritual immersion. The ritual is prior to actually entering into the formal betrothal period, and is symbolic of spiritual cleansing. We see that Jesus Christ is immersed in the river Jordan when John the Baptist performs his duty as the friend of the Bridegroom. And this is why, Jesus asks that every believer is baptized. It is the Brides immersion and cleansing for betrothal and represents that she is washed and sanctified by the Spirit of God.
5) The Testimony of the Servant: I’d like to add an element to this story for which I have not found a Jewish word. It can be seen in Genesis 24 where Rebekah decides to leave her Father’s house to marry a man that she has never met, in a foreign country she has never been. Why? Because of the testimony of the servant. He told her everything about Abraham, his riches, his land, his wealth. He told her about Isaac, his character, his honour, his stature. The servants testimony was so profoundly convincing that Rebekah began to fall in love with Isaac before she ever laid eyes on him. (Viola, 2009). By the Spirit, Jesus Christ came and told and showed the bride everything about His Father’s house. Every miracle, every parable, every story, every action, was meant to reveal the beauty and majesty of His Father’s house and wealth. A house that he would one day inherit. Everything He did, was to entice and excite this human woman to leave her Father’s house (the kingdom of darkness) to be with Him in His Father’s house (the kingdom of light).
(This piece is adapted from From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola. Available at http://www.frometernitytohere.org/ It is a powerful exposition of God’s eternal love story. The chapter in the book from which I got this piece is called The preparation of the Bride. You can read it at Google Books here:
All five of these stages must all take place before a Bride can be Betrothed to her Bridegroom. In the case of Christ, all of this has already taken place. We are currently betrothed to be with Him forever. We have already entered into the “marriage game.” And isn’t it wonderful! Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. We are set to be married and nothing can annul the contract. But we will go into this in more detail in the next post. We will consider what it really means to be betrothed to Jesus Christ…
Father, give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ Jesus and the reality of our betrothal to Him. Open the eyes of our understanding so that we can truly see the mysteries that are in Christ Jesus. May we begin to perceive in our spirits the nature of who we truly are. Help us embrace our Bridal reality, so that we can begin to live in a way that prepares for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Amen