One of the most profound analogies about Jesus
second coming is the evocative paradigm set forth by
the traditional Jewish marriage customs.
The typical marriage of modern day custom is far different than that practiced by first century Israel, when Jesus was a young man.
To truly and fully understand what Jesus attempted to convey to his disciples, and also to us; when he used marriage metaphors to pictorialize his imminent return; then we need to understand what a courtship and marriage were like in first century Israel.
When we compare the aspects of a typical Jewish marriage to the present dynamics of the church, we can view an amazing parallel. It portrays that God was willing to pay an exceptionally costly price to secure a highly-valued bride for his Son, and having paid such a price; will by no means fail to send his Son to claim that Bride at the most optimum time!
The first step in the Jewish wedding system was the "Shiddukhin", or the arrangement, or the making of the match. The father of the Groom usually took the innitial steps, by evaluating or approving the girl that would be the best match for his son. This step could be taken at any time, either when the couple were still children, or later when a son might choose a prospect and seek his father's wisdom. Additionally the father could employ an agent, or send some of the servants of his house to conduct a search for a suitable match from among a desirable ideal. Likewise, all children of God are instructed by the father to seek for complicity in their Shiddukhin, or arrangement, with the ideals of their Heavenly Father.
In Deuteronomy 7:1-4, God instructed the fathers of Israel to refrain from entering into any marriage covenants with the pagan peoples who already dwelt in the promised land, because these marriages would only serve to turn them from following the Lord.
In the Old Testament, Israel is represented as the wife of Jehovah. Israel was unfaithful to Jehovah, and thus was dispersed by the Father to the wilderness of the world, but Israel will one day be restored to favor when Jehovah cleans her up. On the otherhand the Church is presented as the Bride of Christ, the son; and he has returned unto his Father to prepare a place for her. In the interim, the bride is making herself ready for his return.
To Israel, the Father says:
Isaiah 54:5 For your husband is your maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth.
For the Lord has called you, like a wife forsaken and being grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected:
To the Church the Father says:
II Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a Godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a virgin.
The Bible reveals that Jehovah God is the Lord of the universe, and refers to him as Father in both the Old and New Testament. He has been raising sons and daughters for thousands of years. We all readily recognize the value of a human father; but the need for a Creator father is far greater!
Our Heavenly Father designed us to have a spirit relationship with him, and implanted within each of his children a soul that needs love. He continually expresses that love toward his children by imparting his active involvement in arranging a love contract!
Many children in America today are growing up in situations where there is no father present in their lives. Children need caring and loving Fathers! One indication of a society in decline is the absence of Fatherdom. In cultures where the role of fathers has deteriorated, to the point where he is either absent, preoccupied with work, or is uninvolved or detached for whatever reason, the tendency is that the Great Mother personna seems to abound to an extreme. A whole religion of Great Mother envelopes our society today. This tendency leads to glorification of the old Queen of Heaven fallacy exhibited in Jeremiah 44.
Remote, indifferent, unavailable human fathers can lead children to perceive that God is also detached and uninterested in them. On the contrary, God in Heaven is not uninterested in his children. He has in fact provided the ultimate example of love!
The "Shiddukhin that our Heavenly Father paid for us; his sons and daughters; is that he made a John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life!
"Our Heavenly Father has already followed through by making the necessary arrangements"!
Then comes step two:
The next step is the giving of gifts, accompanied by a promise from the groom.
The father of the groom would transfer the bridal price and a gift from the groom himself over to the father of the prospective bride. This gift was called the "Mohar".
The Mohar was simply an object of value that was presented in order to reflect the prestige of the giver. The gift established a bond not merely by creating a sense of obligation or intentions, but rather conveying something of the life of the giver to the recipient. In this way a gift would serve to establish a comparable blood-covenant between the two involved.
A marriage wasn't simply an incidental transaction between the two families; rather it intended to create or cement a relationship or alliance between them. One family gave away a very precious possession, a loved daughter; while the other family compensated by the giving of an esteemed and valuable present.
The bride-price was high as a means of repaying the family for raising their daughter; as well as being an expression of the bridegroom's love for his bride; and his immense desire for her.
The gift from the bridegroom to the bride was known as the "Mattan". This gift specifically showed the enormous love the groom held for his adored one.
The final gift was called the "Shiluhim". This gift was given by the father of the intended bride to his daughter. It was usually a portion of an inheritance. Specifically, it was intended to enable the daughter to make preparations for herself for the inevitable event of her marriage. Traditionally a father's sons would succeed their father, while a daughter would leave her father's estate, and go to live with her husband.
Contrastingly, there seems to be no scripture in the Bible which makes any allusion to a dowry. A bride was considered to be most precious, far more valuable than rubies; particularly of course when she had the love of her father.
Please notice that everyone involved with this step gave gifts, except the bride! She was the sole reason that a marriage would even take place. She was the object of love and desire! Neither does anyone have to give something to Jesus for him to love us. We simply have to do what the Jewish bride would do in the next step.
The next step was called the "Ketubah".
Jewish marriages were legally formalized by using a written marriage contract. That contract called the "Ketubah" stated within it the bride-price, and it included all the promises of the groom made to the bride, and also clarified all the rights extended to the bride.
"Wow! It almost makes me wish I were a woman!"
Who says that a piece of paper doesn't make for a nice marriage? It surely wasn't a good Jewish woman!
But seriously now, any man might well envision himself making this kind of contract if they had found such a bride as Proverbs 31:10-13 speaks of:
Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.
Proverbs 12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband. The Ketubah, in essence served to put a high premium on untainted, spotless, perfect, righteous and Godly young Jewish women!
There are always three concerned parties interested in a marriage. Today it is the Husband, Wife, and the State. In Jewish tradition it was the groom, the bride, and the families. The marriage was solely a voluntary arrangement between a male and a female, and their guardians.
A Jewish husband was held responsible for all of his wife's medical needs, for the constant support of her daughters, and the provision of an inheritance to the sons, and also to provide a proper resting place and a respectable funeral upon her passing.
The Jewish Bride's sole compliance was to love her husband and make a home with him.
Upon finishing the written marriage Ketubah, the groom would make a promise to the bride to return to abduct his bride after he had gone back to his father's estate and completed building a place for the two of them to live. The bridegroom, upon signing his name to the Ketubah, would present two cups of wine. He would drink the first cup, an act depicting his love for the young lady. The second cup would remain on the table while the bridegroom prayed, extolling honor and praise upon the Eternal God of Israel.