You ladies out there probably remember very well the days of preparation before your wedding, all the plans, schedules, parties, work, stress, guest lists, etc... And of course buying that wedding gown. It had to be absolutely perfect and make you look more beautiful than you ever had. Everything about that day had to be perfect. This was your day, your special day!
I never had a big wedding for reasons I won't go into, but I played a huge part in preparing for my daughter's wedding, so I fully understand the amount of time and planning that goes into every little detail.
The Bible alludes to the fact that we, as believers in Jesus, are His bride and that someday we will marry Him in a grand ceremony in Heaven. (I apologize to the men out there because I know they get uncomfortable with this topic. However this is a union between God and His people and certainly not like our version of marriage here on earth)
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:7-8
For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ 2 Corinthians 11:2
The entire ancient Jewish marriage traditions actually mimic perfectly the Gospel.
- The Father arranged the engagement between his son and the bride
- The Son and the Bride meet and if both agree, they share a glass of wine (communion)
- The Son pays the Bride and her family a huge bride price (Jesus died for us)
- The Son and Bride separate for at least a year while He prepares a home for her in His Father's House (John 14:2-3)
- During the time, the Bride spends every waking moment preparing herself for the wedding and to be a good wife. She was set apart and could have no other lovers
- At a time unknown to the Son, the Father would tell him to go get the bride
- The Son would come get His Bride with a trumpet blast and in a procession and carry her back to His house
- The Bride and Groom would go into their chambers for 7 days to consummate the marriage
- After 7 days, they would emerge and have a great feast and party
If you wish to know more detail about this, Click on this Article which explains it nicely
So, what did the bride do while she was waiting for her groom to arrive and sweep her away?
According to ancient traditions, she spent her time making herself more beautiful, sewing her wedding gown, learning how to cook, clean, etc, essentially learning how to be a good wife. She was considered "set apart, bought with a price." And if she went out, she had to wear a veil to signify she was betrothed.
If we relate this preparation to the Bride of Christ, which is us, what are we doing to prepare for His coming? What should we be doing?
1. Remain a chaste virgin. Which means we should not put anything or anyone above our groom. Jesus should always be first in our lives. Remember how the Israelites went after other gods time and time again. God considered this to be adultery and them to be unchaste. He eventually divorced them.
Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. Jeremiah 3:8
Therefore, we should have no other gods above our Lord. You may not be bowing to an idol, but you may be bowing to the idols of self, money, beauty, sex, power, and fame. Be careful, Bride.
2. Making our wedding gown.
But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth Matthew 22:11-13
It would therefore seem that having the appropriate wedding clothes are very important to God! So how do we make our own wedding garment?
And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:8
We make our wedding garments, piece by piece, by committing righteous acts. What are righteous acts? I would guess they are anything we do in faith and for God's glory and not our own. They could also include things like feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, ministering to the sick, sharing the Gospel, denying ourselves and giving to others. Essentially loving our neighbor as ourselves.
3. Learn the skills to be a good wife
Ask yourself, what skills or qualities would be beneficial to serve Jesus? Off the top of my head, I can think of a few:
Faithfulness, Goodness, Kindness, Self-Control, Perseverance, Gentleness, and Selfless Love
How do we learn these skills? They are attributes of the Holy Spirit and can be cultivated within each Saint by the process of sanctification. Sanctification is a big word that means allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us from selfish caterpillars into beautiful butterflies, from sinful people into images of Christ. Notice the word ALLOW. God is a gentleman and won't do this without our permission and our help.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8
4. Make yourself presentable and beautiful
Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4
This is similar to learning the skills to be a good wife. How do we make ourselves beautiful to Jesus? By developing a gentle, humble and quiet spirit.
5. Watch and be ready at all times
Because the Jewish bride had no idea when the groom would come for her, she had to be ready at all times. If she got tired of waiting, slacked off, neglected to sew her dress and learn the skills to be a wife, and if, God forbid she went after other lovers, then when the groom came for her, he would reject her and leave without her.
Likewise, if we, as the Lord's Bride do not keep a watch out for His return. If we neglect our walk with Him and don't allow His Spirit to transform us into His image. If we don't obey Him and do the things which He has called us to do. If we get entangled in the things of the world and put other things ahead of Him, He will come at an hour we don't expect Him, and it will be too late for us.
Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3
Yet, I find that MOST Christians are not watching! Most churches are not watching. Most believers are not preparing!
This is why I've written this post. God does expect something from us. Yes, He's done most of the work. Jesus died for us. He paid the Bride price, and He's now preparing a place for us in Heaven. But His awesome Grace doesn't give us license to live as we please. He's coming back, and soon, for a bride who is looking for Him, a bride who has made herself ready!
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8
Do you long for Jesus to return? Are you watching for Him, looking for the signs He gave us of His return? Are you making yourself ready in every way possible?
I encourage you to do so before it's too late.
If you're reading this and you aren't sure you're even part of the Bride, Click HERE to learn how to be saved.