Our marriage to Christ (Teach your children godly sexuality part 10)

godly sexualityWe saw in our previous post that marriage is an exclusive covenant relationship between a man and a woman which reflects the intimate relationship between the father and the son.

However, it is also a prophetic declaration of the relationship that Jesus wants to have with us:

For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;he is called the God of all the earth. Isa 54:5

This is why Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom (Lk 5:34-35 also Mt 9:15; Mk 2:19-20) and John the Baptist refers to himself as the friend of the bridegroom (Jn 3:29).  And we, the Church, are his promised bride:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Eph 5:31-32

Jesus proposed to us using the traditional Hebrew wedding ritual:

The arrangements preliminary to betrothal (Shiddukin)

The father approves a bride for his son often long before the couple were of marriageable age .  In our case God the Father chose us to be His Son’s bride before the Creation of the world (Eph 1:4, Jn 6:44).

The rite of betrothal (erusin)

When the groom comes of age he would go to the young woman’s home and present to her and her father the written marriage covenant (ketubah), which details the terms of the proposed marriage.Jesus came to the home of his bride (Earth) to present his marriage contract – the new covenant, which provides for the forgiveness of sins (Jer 31:31-34) written on our hearts.

This also includes the bride price (mōhar).  In our case Jesus pays for us with his life (Lk 22:20; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 1 Cor 6:19b-20a).

The prospective groom then pours a glass of wine (the cup of the covenant) for the young woman.  By drinking it she indicates her acceptance and the couple are now betrothed.  This is legally binding, like marriage, but is not yet consummated[1][1].  Jesus sealed is betrothal to us with the cup of the covenant at the last supper (Lk 22:20).

Before the groom left he would give a speech to his bride (the engagement promise) that he would come to claim her soon after he has prepared a new home for her.  Hence Jesus says:

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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.” Jn 14:2-3

Finally, the groom gives a bridal gift (matan[2]), to his wife as his pledge of love for her and a reminder that he is thinking of her and will return to receive her as his wife.  For us, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:7-8; Acts 2:38) as he returns to his father’s house.

The betrothal period (kiddushin[3])

During this period of typically a year the groom will prepare the bridal chamber where they will consummate their marriage and build a new dwelling place for his bride.

The bride will undertake a ritual immersion (mikvah) to symbolise her turning aside from all the former things and starting a new life with her beloved.  Our ritual immersion is baptism (Rom 6:3-6; Eph 5:26-27).

She would also make her wedding garments (kittel).  Our garments are robes of righteousness (Isa 61:10; Rev 19:8).

The wedding ceremony (nisuin[4])

When the father of the groom approves the bridal chamber and new home, the groom would go to fetch his bride.  Whilst the bride knew the approximate timing, the exact day or hour was uncertain, so she and her bridesmaids had to be continually ready for his arrival.  One of the bridegroom’s party would go ahead and shout “Behold, the bridegroom comes” followed by the sounding of the ram’s horn trumpet (shofar).

When the wedding procession reached the bride’s house the groom would “steal” the bride and carry her back to his father’s house to meet the guests, share a second cup of wine and then enter the bridal chamber to consummate their marriage under the chuppah[5].

The groom tells the best man when it is consummated who then announces it to the guests waiting outside.  The guests would then celebrate for 7 days until the bride and bridegroom emerged from the wedding chamber honeymoon at which point they would participate in the marriage supper given in honour of the newlyweds.  Finally, the couple would leave for the home that bridegroom had prepared.

When the Father chooses (Mk 13:32-33) Jesus will return for his bride with a shout and a trumpet (1 Thess 4:16) return to His father’s house where we will share the second cup of wine (Mt 26:28-29) and He will take us to His chuppah and we will become fully known (1 Cor 13:12) – the language of one flesh (Eph 5:31-32).

Our greatest moment is described as the ecstasy of sex when we shall say “I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine” (SOS 6:3) and experience the “pleasures at His right hand” (Ps 16:11b) where “our souls will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps 63:5a)

We will then emerge from the wedding chamber and participate in the wedding supper (Rev 19:9) and go to our home in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-4).

There will no longer be marriage between people (Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:35) as we are married to the Lamb.  Our sexuality will find its ultimate fulfilment in Him, the Desire of all nations (Hag 2:7 NKJV).  Hence in this world we will not find ultimate satisfaction in our spouse (or any other part of creation):

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
C. S. Lewis

So every act of sex prophetically points to this beautiful wedding consummation with our Beloved.  How much more holy can it get?

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Rev 19:6-9


[1] The man would need a religious divorce to annul the contract. For example Joseph seeking to divorce Mary, his betrothed, in Mt 1:18-25.
[2] The bridal gift, matan, is Charismata in Greek, which is used for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
[3] This means “sanctification”, ie to be “set apart” (1 Pet1:2; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Cor 6:11).
[4] This means “lift up” or “carry” since the bride was carried to the ceremony during the “home taking” in a carriage lifted by poles or on an animal.
[5] This was a rectangular piece of material, often the Jewish prayer shawl (tallit from Num 15:38), that would be attached to four poles above the bed. Representing God’s presence hovering over them witnessing the covenant.

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