Here Comes the Bride of Christ

In Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins recorded in Matthew twenty-five, verses one through twelve, He depicts Himself as a Bridegroom coming for His bride; His church, which is represented by the virgins.This parable is based on the Hebrew marriage customs in Jesus’ day. When a couple was going to be married, they were formally engaged in a betrothal ceremony. As part of the betrothal, the bride and groom would separately perform a ceremonial washing called a mikveh. After the betrothal, the bridegroom would return to his father’s house and construct a new home for his bride. It would have to be better than her current home. This process usually took about a year. In the meantime, the bride anxiously awaited the coming of her husband to be. When her new home is finally completed, the bridegroom comes for her and they are formally married.

During the engagement period, if either one of them was found to be unfaithful, then a formal divorce would have to be obtained, even though they were not actually married; the betrothals were that binding.

When Jesus told His disciples He was going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them, in John, chapter fourteen, verses one through three, He also said that He would come again to receive them to Himself. He was again relating this to the Hebrew marriage customs. Jesus is our Bridegroom, and His church is His anxiously waiting bride.

God uses the Hebrew marriage customs as a parallel to our salvation. In II Corinthians chapter one, verses nine and ten, the Apostle Paul shows us that we are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved when we receive the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls. -

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us (II Corinthians 1:9, 10 KJV).

We are saved when we believe the Gospel: Jesus died for our sins and He rose from the dead (Romans 10:8,9, Ephesians 2:8 ). We are betrothed by baptism which is adapted from the mikveh. Baptism represents the commitment we must maintain in order to be accepted by our Bridegroom. We must be found faithful during our engagement period while we are waiting for His return. During this period we are “being saved,” or discipled. This is the time when the bride prepares herself to meet her Beloved. She responds to the Holy Spirit working in her to conform her to her Lord’s image.

As the bride yields to the inner workings of His Spirit in her life, she is adorned with the beautiful jewels of virtue so she will not be ashamed at His coming (I John 2:28). She wants to be as beautiful as she can be for Him, because it is her desire to please her Husband. She wants to remain faithful and she guards her heart, refusing to be allured by another. There is only one way to our Father’s house and it is only through our Bridegroom Jesus, who is the only Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). If we deny Him during this time of waiting, we have committed spiritual fornication and the engagement is broken, for if we deny Him, He will deny us (Matthew 10:33). He will not marry an unfaithful bride.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end (Hebrews 3:14).
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (I Peter 1:9).

The five virgins in Jesus’ parable that took no extra oil with them while they waited, were left behind in the darkness when the Bridegroom came. The oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, which is also the Spirit of Truth (I John 5:6). The Holy Spirit can only be received by faith in the blood atonement of the Messiah Jesus. The foolish virgins had allowed the truth to dwindle in their lamps of faith. Even though they were waiting for Jesus, they had fallen victim to “another gospel” and no longer believed that He is the only way to the Father, and the only provision for their salvation. Thus when the Bridegroom came He did not recognize them as His own, the truth was no longer shining in their hearts to guide His way to them. And because of their unfaithfulness, the engagement was broken and they were rejected.

The five virgins who took extra oil with their lamps, had maintained the purity of their faith through the dark times and never compromised. They were received by the Bridegroom and rewarded for their faithfulness. Likewise, when our engagement period is completed and our Bridegroom comes, our lamps will be burning with truth, zeal and passion for our Divine Husband.

Our salvation will be completed when He comes to get us and we are finally gathered into His embrace. We have endured to the end and someday we will joyfully celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7). This is the time when the Father gathers all who are in Jesus as one (Ephesians 1:10) and we become the New Jerusalem, the married wife (Rev. 21:9,10), the habitation of our God in perfect union.

He beautifies us with His love, exemplified in the sacrifice of the Bridegroom who willingly gave His life to rescue the objects of His desire and passion. We hold up our lamps of Truth shining so brightly through these dark times. His true bride will remain faithful until the long engagement period is over, and her marriage is joyfully consummated.

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white, which is her righteousness, the wedding gift that is imparted to her through her faith in her Bridegroom.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

Copyright 2018 by H.D. Shively

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