Have you ever planned a wedding? We've now had three of our children marry and each wedding was different. Each one had it's own degree of preparation.
Our oldest married first and as the mother of the bride I had a lot of responsibility in the planning. However, when it came to the execution of those plans we had a dear family friend who took care of the decorating and catering. All we had to do on that day was enjoy the festivities.
Our second oldest married next and as the mother of the groom I didn't have as much responsibility. We were in charge of the rehearsal dinner and that was it. The day of the wedding we again simply enjoyed the festivities.
Our fourth child just married in May. Nikki and Justin were engaged in July 2020 so we've been planning this wedding for several months. The planning was a little more difficult than the other weddings as the pandemic had caused many 2020 weddings to be postponed and rescheduled for 2021. Finding a venue seemed impossible until our daughter decided she would like to get married on the family hay farm.
She choose a special childhood spot for the ceremony and decided the reception should be held in the field in front of our home. We began preparing by cleaning up the hidden hay field that had been neglected for several years. We addressed the problem of seating as Justin made sixteen sturdy benches and a beautiful arbor.
We spent months cutting and reseeding the ceremony field and making sure the reception area was cut and free of fire ants (they are terrible here in Georgia!). We rented a tent, tables, and chairs. We found a caterer and chose the menu. We planned the colors and the decorations. We ordered flowers and decided on music. And of course we needed to find the dress, which we ended up having custom made...twice but we won't go there!!
Then on May 22nd all those months of planning came to an end and the wedding took place. I rose early that morning to begin getting the tables decorated and set for the reception. There was a lot of work to be done but I paused under the tent for some much needed quiet time with God. I thanked Him for the beautiful day He had given us as we had no rain plan!
To call that day hectic would be an understatement and I would have never gotten it all done without the help of my sister and niece (Thanks Sarah and Katie!) But seeing the smile on Nikki's face was worth all the stress and work. The wedding was sweet and simple and the reception was a fun time for all. Those months of preparation were over and Nikki and Justin were married.
As we were planning and preparing for Nikki's wedding I began wondering about ancient customs and how they might point us to Christ. So I did what I love doing and began studying them. And I learned some interesting facts.
God refers to our relationship with Christ as a marriage and there is good reason for that. Many traditional things associated with biblical weddings parallels the Church's relationship with Christ.
First, there was a bride price. This was different than a bride's dowry because the bride price was paid by the groom's father to the bride's father. The bride price could be monetary or property of some sort, maybe land or a valuable family possession. The bride's dowry consisted of things she would need to help establish the new household. The interesting thing is, a good father would add the bride price to his daughter's dowry.
Think about this in terms of Christ.
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ paid the bride price for us. He paid it when He sent Jesus to earth. He paid it when He sent Jesus to the cross. He paid it through the precious blood of His Son.
First Corinthians 6:20 says this:
"You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body." (AMP)
And Peter tells us:
"For you know you were not redeemed from your useless [spiritually unproductive] way of life inherited [by tradition] from your forefathers with perishable things like silver or gold, but [you were actually purchased] with precious blood, like that of a [sacrificial] lamb unblemished and spotless, the priceless blood of Christ." 1 Peter 1:18-19 AMP
Our Groom paid the bride price with His own blood. But our good Father turned around and gave that gift right back to us in the form of forgiveness, redemption, and Christ's own robe of righteousness.
In Galatians 3:13-14 Paul says this:
"Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into Himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'? That's what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross; He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham's blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God's life, His Spirit, in and with us by believing - just the way Abraham received it." (MSG)
Our Bridegroom paid the bride price. He redeemed us by absorbing our cursed life into Himself, becoming sin and dissolving the curse of sin. And when we ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, He gives us His life through the Holy Spirit. He places His robe of righteousness on us.
We learn from Paul:
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 1 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
And Isaiah 61:10 says:
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." (NKJV)
Our Bridegroom has paid the bride price.
Our good Father has returned the gift to us.
Have you allowed the Bridegroom to cover you with His robe of righteousness?
If not, will you do so today? If you don't know the way to salvation please send me an email and we'll talk!
When Justin began coming around he was a bit straggly with his long, unkempt beard. He was first a friend of our son who was in another band. When Andrew's band broke up he, Justin, and a couple other guys formed another band and they practiced at our house. Over time we noticed changes in Justin and then one day he came into our living room and asked our permission to date Nikki. Then a couple years later we found him in our living room again, this time asking our permission to marry Nikki. Thus began the engagement period.
Our engagement period is much like the betrothal in ancient times. A young man's father would choose a bride for him and then the two families would have a betrothal ceremony.
A betrothal was more than simply an engagement. The betrothal was a binding agreement, a moral obligation between the man and the bride his father had chosen. It was a marriage not yet consummated.
The betrothal ceremony consisted of the two families coming together with a few witnesses. The groom would give the bride a token of some sort and say:
"See by this token thou art set apart for me according to the law of Moses and of Israel."
This is where we get our tradition of exchanging rings and the phrase: "With this ring, I thee wed."
The couple was now considered married though they were to live celibate ives until their wedding took place.
Did you know God has betrothed us to Himself?
He tells us through the prophet Ezekiel:
"And when I passed by again, I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows to you. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine." Ezekiel 16:8
We are betrothed but our marriage hasn't yet taken place.
In 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 Paul says:
"For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity of Christ."
Jesus betrothed us to Himself when He saved us. We are still living in a sinful world, yet we are to live a chaste life not being stained by the world.
Paul instructs us:
"And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ will be revealed." Titus 2:12-13
As we live in this world, God's Spirit enables us to remain faithful to Him until the day of Christ's return.
John's vision in Revelation teaches us:
"'Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.' For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's holy people. And the angel said to me, 'Write this down: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.' And he added, 'These are true words that come from God.'" Revelation 19:7-9
The consummation of our marriage will take place the day Christ returns. What a glorious day that will be!
We are betrothed to Christ and are to live chaste lives until the consummation of marriage the day He returns.
Have you accepted Christ's betrothal?
How can you live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God?
After we gave our blessing to Justin, he began planning the perfect way to pop the question. He chose to ask Nikki while our family was vacationing at the beach. He took her on a walk to "find shells" (a favorite activity of hers since she was 2). As they walked he bent down as if to pick up an shell, went to one knee, and pulled the ring box out of his pocket. It was perfect!
After our celebration of the engagement the planning of the wedding began! First, they chose the date, then we searched to no avail for a venue, Nikki tried on countless dresses trying to find THE one, and all the other details were planned.
In ancient times, after the betrothal ceremony, the groom returned to his father's house to prepare a place for he and his bride to live. He would work preparing this place anywhere from six months to a few years. When it was complete he would send a friend to prepare the bride for his coming, then he would go get his bride.
However, the groom could only do this when his father approved his work and declared it complete. A good son waited for his father to tell him the time had come to bring his bride home. Unlike our modern weddings with "save the date" cards, in ancient Israel the groom never knew when his father would approve his work and send him for his bride.
In John 4:3 Jesus tells us He is going to His Father's house to prepare a place for us. And in Matthew 24:36 He says:
"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows."
We can rest assured our Bridegroom is coming back. We don't have a set date for this event but God the father does.
Jesus is preparing a place for us and when the Father tells Him it is time He will return and take us there.
What's one thing you're looking forward to in heaven?
What do you image the place Jesus is preparing for you will be like?
A few months before the wedding Justin and Nikki sent out save the date cards and then several weeks before they sent invitations with RSVP cards. The save the date cards were simply to alert people that a wedding was going to take place and we would like them to attend. The invitation was formal acknowledgment of their presence being requested. And the RSVP card they were to send back helped us know how many guests to plan for.
In biblical weddings, after the father had approved his son's work, invitations were sent asking people to attend the wedding feast.
God has sent an invitation to all the world. His name is Jesus.
"For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life." John 3:16
"There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior we send our RSVP for the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Paul tells us in Romans 10:9-10:
"If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your hearts that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved."
"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends." Revelation 3:20
Jesus is God's invitation to heaven's wedding feast, we must RSVP through faith in Him.
When did you accept God's invitation? Have you? Do you know how? If not send me an email and we'll talk!
What are you doing to ensure you are wedding ready?
Until next time,
Keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy!
God bless and keep you,
P.S. If you would like a copy of my poem, Wedding Ready, please subscribe to my email list!