A Marriage Made in Heaven
March 18, 2018
Most of us love to go to the wedding of someone we know and love. Women especially love the significance and emotion of a touching marriage. And certainly, marriage is special, not just to us, but to God also. Marriage is the wonderful union of a man and a woman, as creatures made in the image and likeness of God. Often this is the most spectacular event in a couple’s life. And it should be. Many months and sometimes even years go into the planning of this wonderous event. It seems that many women dream about that ideal wedding and exactly what they want it to look like. Even as a child they dream of their prince charming and castle wedding. This is such an important and momentous event that thousands of dollars are spent trying to make the perfect moment.
When I think what young people spend today to get married I am amazed. I am not sure if they take out loans, put it on credit cards, or what, but when I researched wedding costs for today, I just about passed out. Average wedding costs for marriages today is about $28,000. Of that $28,000 almost $5,000 in wedding rings, $3,000 in wedding dress and tux, $3,000 in photography and video, $10,000 in food, booze, entertainment, and venue, $2,000 in invitations and planning, and about $5,000 for a honeymoon. Keep in mind that these are average costs. I have heard about weddings costing 3-4 times that much.
Now I know many of you did not spend near that much for your wedding and we didn’t either. When we were married forty years ago, we did not have money to spend on a wedding. Our parents did not have money to spend on a wedding. We could have been the poster children for Alan Jackson’s song “Livin’ on Love.”
Two young people, without a thing
Say some vows and spread their wings
And settle with just what they need
Living on love
She don't care 'bout what's in style
She just likes the way he smile
It takes more than marvel and time
Living on love
Two old people, without a thing
Children gone but still they sing
Side by side on that front porch swing
Living on love
He can't see anymore
She can barely sweep the floor
Hand in hand they walk through that door
Just living on love
We were talking one day and Carrie thinks we spent about $300 on our wedding. I paid $85 for the wedding ring. She borrowed a wedding dress. Her sister-in-law made the wedding cake from boxed cake mixes. Friends in church brought house plants and made a garden scene for us at the front of the church. Our reception dinner was put on by the church ladies as a potluck. Our honeymoon was a couple of days at a motel in Colorado Springs. I guess we were just living on Love!
Here we are, still married after forty years of pure bliss. Never a fight or argument. Never said anything we regretted. Now you know I am lying, don’t you? Any marriage is work, it is a growing relationship that only gets better the more we learn to confess, repent, and most importantly, forgive one another. It is truly about the relationship, not about ourselves as an individual.
For the Christian, the marriage covenant with one another is truly a marriage made in heaven, because God is our witness. But every marriage, even those that are confirmed by the witness of the Almighty Creator of the Universe, every marriage must be lived out here on earth. That makes them less than perfect. But I believe that the more we can understand our relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the better we can understand our marriage relationship with our spouse here on earth.
The Heavenly Pattern (Ephesian 5:22-33)
We are not going to take the time to read this passage in Ephesians 5 because it was a part of our marriage series back in July and August. You can go back and refresh your memory about what we learned from the sermon archives on Chapel website. But what is made clear in Ephesians 5 is that marriage is to be patterned after the relationship we have with Jesus Christ.
Husbands are to lead the home by godly example. They should be living examples that the wife and children can feel secure in submitting themselves to. Husbands are to love sacrificially like Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her. As the husband leads the home spiritually, the wife ought to show respect to her husband, and children ought to obey their parents. And all of this is patterned after the love, leadership, protection, and provision of Jesus Christ for His bride, the church.
We read through this passage in Ephesians and we focus so intently on the husband-wife relationship, that we really pay little attention to the Jesus-church relationship it is to be like. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become one in Him through our commitment to Him. We are one with Him and as we submit to Him and grow in our relationship with Him, we become more like Jesus Christ every day. In the same way, when two individuals commit to one another in a marriage relationship, they also become one in their relationship, the submit to one another and live for each other.
My desire to today is to refresh our understanding of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Just like our marriage to our spouse needs times of refreshment and encouragement, my hope and prayer is that your relationship with Jesus will be renewed, refreshed, and encouraged today.
To help us understand our relationship with Jesus Christ better, I want to first examine the marriage customs of the Jews in Jesus’ day.
Jewish Wedding Customs
~ Betrothal – Marriage covenant or agreement
Sometimes the parents of the bride and groom would make an agreement for their children to marry even while they were very young. How would you like for your parents to pick out your spouse for you? But often the marriage was agreed upon by the parents first.
When the time came for the groom to initiate this process of marriage, he would travel from his house to the prospective bride’s house. There the groom would pay the price required by the bride’s father and then they would enter into a covenant agreement to marriage. From that point on, the couple were considered husband and wife, though they were not officially married as yet. But this was such a legally binding contract, that it required divorce to get out of the marriage covenant they made with each other.
The bride was set apart for her bridegroom and they would seal the new covenant with each other by drinking together a cup of wine. You may remember the situation of Mary and Joseph when Mary became pregnant with Jesus. Though they were only in their betrothal period, Joseph said he might consider quietly divorcing her (Matthew 1:18-19). But as you know, an angel appeared to Joseph and explained what was going on.
Well, once the bride and groom have entered a marriage covenant with each other, the groom then informs the bride that he must go now and prepare a home for her. Often this only meant the groom had to return to his father’s house and build on a room to the father’s house, a honeymoon suite as it were. But even if it was only in the father’s home, he could not skimp on the work of building it and Jewish customs required his Father’s approval before it could be considered ready. Typically, this would take a year before the groom was ready to come back for his bride.
Meanwhile the bride would make herself ready so that she would be pure and beautiful for her bridegroom. During this time, she would typically wear a veil when she was out in public to show that she was spoken for and that she was bought with a price.
~ Presentation – Groom comes for His Bride
When the room or wedding chamber was prepared, and all things were in order, the groom would go to the bride’s house to get his bride. He could do this at any time, there didn’t need to be any arrangements made for when he would appear at her house. It was custom that a bride would keep a lamp, her veil, and other things that she would want to have ready when her groom shows up to get her by her bedside. She had to live everyday prepared for his return. She also had bridesmaids that were to be waiting and ready also.
The groom, and a few of his close friends with him, would travel to the bride’s house and as they approached the house they would announce his presence with the blowing of a ram’s horn and giving a shout to her to come with him because he is ready. It is the presentation or announcement that the time has come for the wedding.
~ Wedding – Consummation of the Union
They would travel back to the groom’s newly prepared home with the wedding party and there they would celebrate for 7 days during which time the bride and groom would consummate their marriage. It would be like a 7-day honeymoon with the wedding party just outside. The groom’s best friend would remain outside the wedding chamber waiting to hear from the groom that the marriage had been consummated. Then the friends would really begin celebrating during the seven days that the couple were honeymooning. At the end of the seven days of honeymoon the couple would emerge with much congratulations and bride’s face is no longer veiled. it is now time for the wedding feast, or the marriage supper.
~ Marriage Supper – Celebratory Feast
The couple join with all their guests in a great feast of celebration. This marriage supper was not just for the wedding party and their families, but many guests are invited to celebrate the marriage of this man and woman.
Though this is not how most marriages look today, especially in our western culture. Though there is an element of beauty and wonder involved in today’s marriages, the Jewish wedding spoke clearly about our relationship with Jesus Christ. God has often depicted His relationship with His people as a marriage. Under the Old Testament covenant, God refers to Israel as His bride. Then when they worshipped other Gods, He said they were His unfaithful bride. When we come to the New covenant because of the cross of Jesus Christ, once again, believers are depicted as the bride of Christ as we saw earlier in Ephesians 5. I want to spend our final moments looking at several Scriptures which show us the grand picture of our relationship with Him.
A Marriage Made in Heaven
~ Betrothal - Salvation
The betrothal clearly pictures salvation. Like the Jewish marriage, Jesus the groom offers Himself to the world. Jesus has paid the price, the price for us to enter into a covenant agreement with our Lord. The price was his shed blood upon the cross of Calvary for our sin. The price to redeem His prospective bride was His suffering and sacrifice on the cross.
1 John 2:2
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
This is the bride price that must be paid for us to become a part of the family of God. Propitiation is the satisfaction of the demands of holiness . . . As sinners, we cannot be in the presence of God, much less be a part of His family, but Jesus pays the price for sin and thus makes this new covenant between us possible. Remember, the covenant is an agreement between the bride and groom, a marriage contract.
Jesus refers to this covenant as He looks to His death on the cross to pay the price to make this covenant possible.
For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
This is different from the Old Covenant that God had with Israel. This is a new covenant that is for all who will believe in Him as their Lord and Savior. We still come by faith believing His promises like that of the Old Testament believer, but the new relationship is that we become the body of Christ, his bride. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 talks about how we become one in His body; the body of Christ.
So, Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom offers us a new covenant, with the price already paid to satisfy the holiness of the Father. But the proposal is conditional. It is conditioned on the bride’s acceptance of the proposal. There will be no wedding if the bride does not enter into this covenant relationship with Christ.
But the wonder of this proposal is that the bride does nothing, all that has to be done is receive it. If the we accept His proposal then we becomes heirs of eternal life with Him.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
If we accept the proposal Jesus has made to us by our faith, believing in His sacrificial death for us, we become a part of the family of God as the bride of Christ. But we must receive or accept Jesus’ proposal to us.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Once the proposal is accepted, like the groom in a Jewish wedding, Jesus goes to prepare a room for us, a place for eternity.
In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Notice that Jesus says He will come again to take us to Himself. Where the Bridegroom is, there will be His bride with Him. So, the proposal of marriage has been made to the Father, the price has been paid, and if the bride (that is all of us) accept the proposal, we become sanctified or set apart to Jesus as His own. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says that we are not our own any more “for we have been bought with a price.” Just like our earthly marriages, we no longer live unto ourselves, we live for our spouse.
The Jewish bride would spend the time she has in preparing herself to become the groom’s wife, remaining steadfast and faithful to her man. We also prepare for that time when we will be with our Bridegroom for eternity. We watch, we stand fast, and we do not yield to the temptations to be unfaithful to Christ. And just like the Jewish bride who did not know the exact timing of the Bridegroom’s return, we do not know when He will come and call for us either. So, we must be ready at all times.
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
~ Presentation – Rapture of His Bride
One day, Jesus Christ will come and present Himself and call for His bride. We call that the rapture of the church. Like the Jewish groom, He will arrive with a shout and call for His bride to come.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
The bride must be ready for His presentation because we never know when He will call for us.
~ Wedding – Union with Christ
Like the 7 days that a Jewish Bride and Groom spent together, Jesus and His bride, the church, will spend 7 years in a special kind of intimacy. Now don’t get weird and have some sort of sexual intimacy in your mind here. Genuine intimacy is not sexual as we often think in our world today. The purest and deepest level of intimacy is formed in the bond of the love of our Savior for us and our love for Him.
It is during this time that all believers will receive the rewards or crowns offered us for the works we do. Something we refer to as the BEMA seat judgment.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
But it will be a grand time of celebrating all that Jesus has done in us and through us during our lives on earth. We will be given a special place of leadership and authority to rule by His side in the Millennium, and of course the place that He has prepared for us in Heaven. This is the picture of the wedding that takes place between Jesus the groom and His bride the church. After the Jewish bride and groom come out from their chamber, there is the great wedding feast, the marriage supper.
~ Marriage Supper – Celebration of Marriage
There will be such great celebration of Christ with His bride, the church. In our study in Revelation we have had some tremendous conversations about what this will be like. Look with me at how Revelation 19 describes this event.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
What a grand and glorious celebration this will be. The bride of Christ, celebrating not only this union with Bridegroom, but celebration that Christ has clothed us with His righteousness and that we stand pure before the Lamb. It is a celebration for Jesus’ treasured possession, the church. It is a celebration where Old Testament Saints and Tribulation Martyrs are the guests of this great celebration.
I don’t think we can fully comprehend what this will be like. If we celebrated our marriage to our spouse here on earth, think what it must be like when we celebrate our relationship with Jesus Christ as our Bride in the glories of heaven. And then to enter the thousand years with our Savior to rule and reign with righteousness.
We live in a world that many Christians we talk to say they believe in God, they believe in Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for us, and maybe even have a ritual of Sunday worship. But is that the kind of relationship Jesus is offering to us?
Much like what makes our marriage to our spouse work, there are things that should be happening in your life.
~ You love should be growing as you get to know Jesus more
~ You should be spending time talking to Him and allowing Him to speak to you through His Word.
~ You should be making Him the priority in your life.
~ You should be speaking about Him, praising Him.