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Here Comes The Groom
Will You Be Ready For Christ's Return?
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In comparison with the wedding planning of ancient Israel, our wedding planning customs are actually quite simple, mundane, and even robotic. In the antient Israel wedding custom, we find a very different procedure in how a wedding banquet comes together. When a young man was in pursuit of a bride, he would go directly to her father’s house and have a little talk with him. It does seem all business, but deep down under the surface I do think it is wildly romantic. Even if in some cases this was arranged by their families. He would bring along with him a legal agreement in which he would make a presentation to the father, and present to him the price he was willing to pay in exchange for the bride. This can be referred to as “The Bride Price.” Back then a man with daughters was sort of a disadvantage. It meant that they would have less strong able-bodied sons to help in their survival, to help with providing the labor, and funds for living. Daughters simply had a different roll back then, and I’m okay with that. Her value surfaced when the potential bride groom was willing to pay up. If her father approved of the groom and the price that he was willing to pay, he would then invite the potential bride to the table, and in most cases, she could then decide if she was a willing vessel to make a covenant contract with the groom. If she agreed, then deal was sealed, and the contract was in effect. This was basically their marriage license. A legally binding agreement. A covenant. Should she decide to opt in and become his bride, are they able to run off as husband and wife and begin honeymooning at a resort near the Mediterranean Sea? Not exactly. She then had to bid farewell to her bridegroom and enter into a waiting period of in some cases up to an entire year. Can’t you just imagine this goodbye playing out like a scene on a big movie screen? Maybe they were able to have a moment and embrace in a long passionate, heart pounding, goodbye kiss. Maybe the handsome groom would look upon his beautiful bride and in a movie scene one liner way declare, “I will be back for you, my love.” Then he’d swing from a rope off her balcony, drop to the ground and scurry off into the night. I could see that happening. Now that she was spoken for, she then would wear a veil placed over her face every time she went out in public. This communicated to the world that she was spoken for. This is a lot like the engagement rings that brides wear today. This veil separated her from the world as she declared that she belonged to someone else. She belonged to her bridegroom only. Okay, are you wondering why her groom would leave her? Why didn’t he stick around? Is he the wondering type? The answer is that he simply had to go back to his father’s house and build a bridal chamber. His one desire is to make sure that it will be a place where he can love her and cherish her. Well, this is beginning to sound a lot like a New Testament scripture I’ve heard in John 14:2-4(NIV) My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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. You know the way to the place where I am going. It sounds so obsolete but yes, he had to prepare a special place to return to with his bride. He wanted it to be special and exactly to her liking, making sure it would suit her every need. This would be a special place where they would begin their wedding celebration. While waiting for her bridegroom to return for her, the bride had some preparing of her own to do. You see she really had no idea when he would be back for her. It could be any night now. “Could it be tonight?” she wonders. “Could it be six months from now?” she second guesses. If he tarries for long, she may begin to get frustrated or even fearful. “Did he forget about me?” she may fret. “Did he find someone else?” she may wonder. “Should I find someone else?” All she has to do if these thoughts plague her mind, is go and look at the agreement they made together. She needs to be reminded by the covenant she entered into with him. This settles her mind and reassures her that he will return. As she continues to make preparation, she is only focused on her groom. She thinks of him often. This reminds her that she needs to be prepared to go with him whenever he returns for her. How exciting this must have been. She will need her bridal clothes ready; she will also need her bridal attendants ready. Her brides’ maids also need to be as ready as she is. Another very important item that will need to be in place it her oil lamp since it was custom for the groom to return at the midnight hour. Take into account that antient Israel did not have any electricity. No streetlights, no motioned sensor on the front porch or the garage door. They relied on their lighting by fire. The oil lamp could only burn as long as there was oil in it. If her oil was low, she could not find her way. When the time finally came, and the bride groom was all set to go and romantically steal his bride away in the night. As he and his groomsmen would enter near her home, they would let out a shout. This shout was their fare warning that the time was approaching, and he would soon be in her presence, and take her away with him. As the bridal procession went to where he had prepared a place for her, and also prepared the marriage supper arrangements, onlookers would watch and cheer along with the whole wedding party. What a celebration! This is a beautiful portrayal of what a pledge of love and loyalty looks like. As soon, and I do mean as soon as they got to the destination, all the wedding guests would begin the celebration while the bride and groom would privately enter the marriage bed and consummate their marriage. The bride and groom would spend the next seven days here alone, together, while the celebration was going on. Imagine the intimacy taking place while finally getting to really know one another. They got their fill of knowing each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually. No distractions and locked away from the world. Only the two of them becoming one flesh.
Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
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About the Book
Discover your very own journey to the wedding banquet. Learn how the Ancient Israeli wedding customs foreshadow the return of Christ to His Bride, The Church. Find out what preparations you can be making in order to be a part of this exciting event
About the Author
Angela Higgs and her husband, Will, live in Oklahoma. She is a proud mother of three sons.