The Jewish Wedding Ceremony and the Bride of Christ

The rapture is positioned to happen before the seven years of tribulation. This study clearly shows this. 

Both the Old and the New Testaments describe how God through Christ, the Bridegroom, is in the process of marrying His bride, the believers in Him, who will ultimately live and dwell with Him forever.

God ordained and established marraige and its divine sanctity in Genesis, when He brought Adam and Eve together to become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24)  Adam is a type of Christ here. (Rom 5:14)  God had a deep sleep fall upon Adam.  Sleep is synonymous with death. (Eph 5:14)  The deep sleep that God caused to fall upon Adam is a picture of the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  God brought a deep sleep upon Adam so He could take a rib from the side of his flesh.  This required the shedding of blood.  This is a picture of Christ who was pierced in the side of His flesh, shedding His own blood when He hung on the tree. From the rib of Adam, God made Eve.  By the death of Jesus and our faith in Him we become wedded to Him, and thus the Bride of Christ.  By accepting, trusting, and believing in Jesus, we become one with Him.

[Eph 5:31] For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. [Eph 5:32] This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

[2 Cor 11:2] For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

The ancient Jewish wedding ceremony God gave to the Jewish people was to teach us also about the wedding of the Messiah.  This ceremony consisted of 12 steps.  Notice the complete similarities to this wedding ceremony and the Church, or Bride of Christ today.

1.  The selection of the bride.

The bride was usually chosen by the father of the bridegroom.  The father would send his trusted servant, known as the agent of the father, to search out the bride.  Read Gen 24.  In this chapter, Abraham (a type of God the Father) wishes to secure a bride for Isaac (a type of Messiah) and send his servant Eliezer (a type of the Holy Spirit) to do this task.  It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and lead them to God.(John 16:7-8)  Just as the bride was usually chosen by the father of the bridegroom, so the believers in the Messiah are chosen by God.(John 15:16)  The bridegroom chose the bride and lavished his love upon her and she returned his love.  This can be seen in Eph 5:25.  Rebekah consented to marry Isaac even before she ever met him.  Today, the believers in the Messiah consent to become the bride of Christ even though we have never seen Him. (1Pet 1:8)

2.  A bride price was established.

A price would have to be paid for the bride.  Jesus, being our bridegroom paid a very high price for His bride, the body of believers. The price He paid was His life. (1Cor 6:20)

3.  The bride and groom are betrothed to each other.

Betrothal is the first of two steps in the marraige process.  Betrothal legally binds the bride and the groom together in a marraige contract, except they do not physically live together.  Whenever you accept the Lord into your heart and life, you become betrothed to Him while living on earth.

4.  A written document is drawn up.

This contract states the bride price, the promises of the groom, and the rights of the bride.  The groom promises to work for her, to honor, support, and maintain her in truth, to provide food, clothing, and necessities, and to live together with her as husband and wife.  This contract was the unalienable right of the bride.  It must be executed and signed prior to the wedding ceremony.  The Bible is the believers contract.  All the promises that God provided for the believers in Christ are legally ours.  (2 Corinthinas 1:20)

5.  The bride must give her consent.

The personal application to those who desire the Lord to come into their hearts and lives is to accept his invitation to do so by faith.  As His bride, we are saying 'I do".

6.  Gifts were given to the bride and a cup called the cup of the covenant was shared between the bride and the groom.

The rite of the betrothal is completed when the groom gives something of value to the bride and she accepts it.  Today, the gift that is given is usually a ring.  When the groom places the ring on the bride's finger, the rite of betrothal is completed.  This completed rite is known in Hebrew as kiddushin, which means "sanctification."  The gifts to the bride are symbols of love, commitment, and loyalty.  The gift God gives to those who accept Jesus is the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus accended to Heaven, He gave us gifts, including righteousness, eternal life, grace, faith, and other spiritual gifts. In addition, at this time the cup of the covenant was shared and sealed between the bride and the groom with the drinking of wine.  In doing so, the couple drinks from a common cup. The cup is first given to the groom to sip, and then is given to the bride.  This cup, known as the cup of the covenant, is spoken of in Jer 31:31-33, and in Luke 20, 22.

7.  The bride had a water immersion, which is a ritual of cleansing.

This indicates a separation from a former way to a new way of life.  In the case of marraige, it indicates leaving an old life for a new life with your spouse.  Jesus said, in John 3:1-7, that we must be born anew to enter into the Kingdom of God.  Believers are to be immersed in the name of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is the immerser of God. (Luke3:16, Acts 1:5, 11:15-16)

8.  The briegroom departed, going back to his father's house to prepare the bridal chamber.

[John 14:2] In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

At this point, the bridegroom leaves for his father's house to prepare the bridal chamber for his bride.  It was understood to be the man's duty to go away to be with his father, build a house, and prepare for the eventual wedding.  Before he goes, though, he will make a statement to the bride, "I go to prepare a place for you; if I go, I will return again unto you."

9.  The bride was consecrated and set apart for a period of time while the bridegroom was away building the house.

[Rev 21:2] And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Before the bridegroom could go and get the bride, the groom's father had to be satisfied that every preparation had been made by the son.

[Mat 24:36] But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Only then could he give permission to the son to go and get the bride.  In other words, while the bridegroom was working on the bridal chamber, it was the father who "okayed" the final bridal chamber.

The bridegroom did not know when his father would declare the bridal chamber fit and send him to go get his bride. Note the parallels:

[Mark 13:32] "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [Mark 13:33] Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. [Mark 13:34] It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. [Mark 13:35] Watch therefore--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning-- [Mark 13:36] lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. [Mark 13:37] And what I say to you I say to all: Watch."

Meanwhile, the bride was to wait eagerly for the return of the bridegroom.  In the mind of the bride, the bridegroom could come at any time, even in the middle of the night or at midnight. Therefore, she had to be ready at all times.  Jesus referred to this in the same verses in Mark above, and in Mat 25:1-13.

10.  The bridegroom would return with a shout, "Behold, the bridegroom comes" and the sound of the ram's horn would be blown.

The time of the return of the bridegroom was usually at midnight.  When the bridegroom did come, he came with a shout (Mat 25:6) and with the blowing of a trumpet (1Thess 4:16-17; Rev 4:1).  The marriage between the bride and the groom would take place under a wedding canopy.  Since Heaven is a type of canopy, we can see that when Jesus gives a shout for His bride, accompanied by the blowing of a trumpet, the marriage between Christ and his bride will take place in Heaven.  The marriage ceremony will have a sacred procession.  For this reason, the bridegroom (Jesus) will be led to the canopy first.  When the bridegroom approaches the canopy, the cantor chants, "Blessed is he who comes."   This expression means "welcome."  Jesus said that He would not return for His bride until these words were said. (). The groom is greeted like a king under the canopy.  During this time Jesus, the bridegroom, will be crowned King under the canopy, which is Heaven.

11.  He would abduct his bride, usually in the middle of the night, to go to the bridal chamber where the marriage would be consummated.  This is the full marriage.

The bride and groom will go to the wedding chamber, where the marriage will be consummated.  They will stay in that wedding chamber for seven days, or a week.  At the end of the seven days, the bride and groom willcome out from the wedding chamber.  This can be seen in Joel 2:16.  The word week in Hebrew is shavuah.  It means a "seven".  It can mean seven days or seven years.  An example of the Hebrew word shavuah for week meaning seven years can be found in Dan 9:24,27.  From this we can see that the believers (bride) in the Messiah (bridegroom) will be with the Messiah in Heaven for His wedding while the earth will be experiencing the seven-year tribulation period.  Also in the biblical wedding sevice that God gave, after you are married, you have a honeymoon.  The honeymoon lasts a week, having the same meaning as the above. Seven days or seven years.  So this also can refer to Heaven where the previously raptured believers have been enjoying a seven-year honeymoon with the Lord while the earth is experiencing the tribulation.

12.  Finally, there would be a marriage supper for all the guests invited by the father of the bride.

The bride and the groom would be in the wedding chamber for seven days. When the bride and the groom initially went into the wedding chamber, the friend of the bridegroom stood outside the door.  All the assembled guests of the wedding gathered outside, waiting for the friend of the bridegroom to annouce the consummation of the marriage, which was relayed to him by the groom.  John referred to this in John 3:29.  At this signal, great rejoicing broke forth.  The marriage was consmmated on the first night.   The bloodstained linen from this night was preserved.  It was proof of the bride's virginity. (Deut 22:13-21)  On the wedding day, the bridegroom is seen as a king and the bride as a queen.  During the consummation of the marrieage, 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.

Jesus will be returning with His bride and we will rule and reign with Him physically during the Millennium (Rev 20:4)

Is this awesome stuff or what?  Wait till you read what I've learned about the Feasts, which, once you understand the ceremonies of God, what they meant in the past, their prophetic implications and their perfect fulfillment in Christ, I believe you will have the comfort of knowing that we will not be here during the tribulation, which is reserved for those who do not take part in being the Bride of Christ.

In His Most Awesome Promises, Jackie

Here is another study, from a different source, saying basically the same thing.  I suppose I could combine the steps, but then I would be changing each author's work. 
Ancient Jewish wedding ceremony is a perfect type of the pre-trib rapture(long). Thursday, 03-Aug-2000 14:29:37  From Marjims Board

This is a repost of one that was made almost a year ago. It is one of the reasons that I believe in pre-trib.

Thanks to Bill G for the original post...

Tuesday, 31-Aug-1999 14:15:02

"Weddings of Ancient Israel"

What does Scripture mean when it refers to the church as a bride and Jesus as a bridegroom? Is this just flowery language? Is it merely indicating God's love for His people? Understanding ancient Jewish wedding practices makes the meaning of Scripture clear. The wedding is a picture of the covenant Jesus made and reveals His plans to return for His bride, the church. The people of ancient Israel understood what Jesus was going to do because they understood the model of the wedding. The analogy between a wedding and Christ and the Church is described in Eph 5:31-32 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery -- but I am talking about Christ and the church."

The following overviews the practices of an ancient Jewish betrothal and wedding. In parallel, it shows how Jesus has fulfilled the betrothal portion of the wedding and how He will fulfill the remainder when He comes again for His bride, the church.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: MARRIAGE COVENANT AND BRIDE PRICE When a young man desired to marry a young woman in ancient Israel, he would prepare a contract or covenant to present to the young woman and her father at the young woman's home. The contract showed his willingness to provide for the young woman and described the terms under which he would propose marriage. The most important part of the contract was the bride price, the price that the young man was willing to pay to marry the young woman. This payment was to be made to the young woman's father in exchange for his permission to marry. The bride price was generally quite high. Sons were considered to be more valuable than daughters since they were physically more able to share in the work of farming and other heavy labor. The bride price compensated the young woman's family for the cost to raise a daughter and also indicated the love that the young man had for the young woman -- the young woman was very valuable to the young man! The young man would go to the young woman's house with the contract and present his offer to the young woman and her father.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: MARRIAGE COVENANT AND BRIDE PRICE Jesus came to the home of His bride (earth) to present His marriage contract. The marriage contract provided by Jesus is the new covenant, which provides for the forgiveness of sins of God's people. Jesus paid the bride price with His life. At the last supper, when breaking bread, He spoke of the price He was paying: "...This is my body given for you..." --Luke 22:20. Heb 8:15 makes it clear that Jesus died as the price for the new covenant: "...Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance -- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: THE CUP If the bride price was agreeable to the young woman's father, the young man would pour a glass of wine for the young woman. If the young woman drank the wine, it would indicate her acceptance of the proposal. At this point, the young man and young woman would be betrothed. Betrothal was legally binding, just like a marriage. The only difference was that the marriage was not yet consummated. A typical betrothal period was 1-2 years. During this time the bride and bridegroom each would be preparing for the marriage and wouldn't see each other.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: THE CUP Just as the bridegroom would pour a cup of wine for the bride to drink to seal the marriage contract, so Jesus poured wine for His disciples. His words described the significance of the cup in representing the bride price for the marriage contract: Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." -- Mat 26:28-29 The disciples drank of the cup, thus accepting the contract.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: GIFTS FOR THE BRIDE Next, the bridegroom would present the bride with special gifts. The purpose of these gifts was to show the bridegroom's appreciation of the bride. They were also intended to help her to remember him during the long betrothal period.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: GIFTS FOR THE BRIDE The gifts that Jesus gave us are the gifts of the Holy Spirit: We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit -- 1John 4:13.

Jesus described this gift in John 14:26: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: MIKVEH The bride would next partake of a Mikveh, or cleansing bath. Mikveh is the same word used for baptism. To this day in conservative Judaism a bride cannot marry without a Mikveh.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: MIKVEH The Mikveh, or baptism that Jesus provided for His bride was baptism by the Holy Spirit. On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." -- Acts 1:4.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: PREPARING A PLACE During the betrothal period, the bridegroom would prepare a wedding chamber for the honeymoon. This chamber was typically built in the bridegroom's father's house. The wedding chamber had to be a beautiful place to bring the bride. The bride and groom were to spend seven days there. The wedding chamber had to be built to the groom's father's specifications. The young man could go for his bride only when his father approved. If the bridegroom was asked when the wedding was to be, he might well say "it is not for me to know, only my father knows".

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: PREPARING A PLACE Just as a bridegroom would have told his bride that he would go to prepare a place for her, so Jesus told His disciples: "...In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. -- John 13:1-3.

In ancient Israel the bridegroom could get his bride only after his father approved. Similarly, Jesus said: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come -- Mark 13:32-33

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: A WAITING BRIDE CONSECRATED While the bridegroom was preparing the wedding chamber, the bride was considered to be consecrated, set apart or "bought with a price". If she went out, she would wear a veil so others would know she was betrothed. During this time she prepared herself for the marriage. She likely had saved money all her life for this time. She would purchase expensive cosmetics and learn to apply them to make herself more beautiful for the bridegroom. She wouldn't know when her groom would come for her, so she always had to be ready. 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.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: A WAITING BRIDE CONSECRATED We, God's people, are now consecrated, or set apart, waiting for the return of our bridegroom. We should be spending this time preparing ourselves for Jesus' return. Jesus used a parable of ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom to describe the need to be alert for His return. "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom...The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' "'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: BRIDEGROOM COMES FOR HIS BRIDE When the bridegroom's father deemed the wedding chamber ready, the father would tell the bridegroom that all was ready and to get His bride. The bridegroom would abduct his bride secretly, like a thief at night and take her to the wedding chamber. 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. The bridegroom and his friends would come into the bride's house and get the bride and her bridesmaids.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: BRIDEGROOM COMES FOR HIS BRIDE Just as the bridegroom would come for the bride in the middle of the night, with a shout and the sound of a shofar, so the Lord will come for us. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. -- 1Thess 4:16-17.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: SEVEN DAYS IN WEDDING CHAMBER The bridegroom would take his bride to the wedding chamber where they would spend seven days. The bridegroom's friend would wait outside the door of the wedding chamber. When the marriage was consummated, the bridegroom would tell his friend through the door, and the friend would announce it to the assembled guests. The guests would celebrate for seven days until the bride and bridegroom emerged from the wedding chamber.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: SEVEN DAYS IN WEDDING CHAMBER Ancient Jewish eschatology taught that a seven year "time of trouble" would come upon the earth before the coming of the Messiah. During that time of trouble, the righteous would be resurrected and would enter the wedding chamber where they would be protected from the time of trouble. Today that seven year period is referred to as the tribulation.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: MARRIAGE SUPPER After seven days in the wedding chamber, the bride and bridegroom would emerge and participate in a feast with friends and family. There would be joyous celebrating during this feast. The feast would conclude the wedding celebration.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: MARRIAGE SUPPER As the bride and bridegroom celebrated with a joyous wedding supper, so Jesus and His bride, the church will celebrate the marriage. Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our

Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" -- Rev 19:6-9.

ANCIENT WEDDING PRACTICE: DEPART FOR HOME After the marriage supper, the bride and bridegroom would leave the groom's father's house where the groom had built the wedding chamber. They would go to their own home, which the bridegroom had prepared.

JESUS' FULFILLMENT: DEPART FOR HOME Just as the bride and bridegroom left the marriage supper to go to the home that the bridegroom had prepared, so Jesus and His bride will depart for their new home. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes... One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. -- Rev 21:1-4.

From the pattern of the ancient wedding practices, we see that, like the bridegroom of ancient times, Jesus came to the home of His bride for the betrothal, made a covenant with His bride and sealed it with a glass of wine, paid the bride price with His life and sent His bride gifts of the Holy Spirit. We, the betrothed (the Church) currently await the return of our Bridegroom to take us to the wedding chamber (the rapture) to spend seven years (while the tribulation occurs on Earth). We will then celebrate the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and depart with our Bridegroom for our new home, the new Jerusalem.