(May 23, 1990)
Could this be possible: a bride who didn’t show up at the altar because she simply forgot she was supposed to be getting married?
We had a wedding in our home a while ago. For weeks before, I’m sure the bride’s mind seldom strayed from that special day. She reviewed the arrangements constantly. She carefully selected her dress. She looked after all the details, going over and over them to make sure nothing was forgotten.
The brides in Bible days were expectant and ready too, but the weddings were much different than our ceremonies. First the couple was betrothed to one another, similar to an engagement period, yet this betrothal was considered the same as marriage. A divorce was necessary to back out of it. After the betrothal period began, the groom went home with his father to prepare a place suitable for his bride. During that time, the bride waited for his return. He could come for her at any time, day or night. There would be a trumpet call but only minutes before; otherwise he arrived without warning at her door, took her to the home he’d prepared, and the marriage was consummated.
If I were a bride in those days, I doubt I would listen for any noise but the sound that trumpet. Surely I would think of nothing else but the arrival of my beloved. Everything would be ready at all times; clothing, linens, whatever else needed to be prepared, but more than that, I would be ready. I cannot imagine a bride forgetting such an event would happen.
In parallel to those wedding customs, Jesus Christ referred to Himself as the Bridegroom and those who believe in Him as His Bride. Obviously the betrothal period has begun but since the Bride is not with the Groom, the marriage ceremony is not finished. First He has to return for His beloved.
Before this Heavenly Groom went to be with His Father, He said to His disciples, “I go away to prepare a place for you, and if I go away, I shall return and receive you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.” He gave instructions that His Bride be ready for His coming and promised a future wedding feast to celebrate the forever-union of Himself with Her.
When the feast occurs, there will be great joy because the Bible foretells she will indeed be ready: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). The next verse, tells how: “she will be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” All who trust in Christ (the Bible also calls them “saints”) are given His righteousness, making them appropriately clothed for their eternal home.
And the Groom will come. He said He would and He has never broken a promise to His Bride. He only tarries because even though she may be ready for Him in one sense, she is not complete. Not everyone has heard the good news about being united with the Lord “through faith for salvation.” And not all who have heard, believe it. He tarries because He is “not willing any should perish but all should come to repentance.” (1 Peter 3:9) All who will be part of His Bride, the Church, have not yet become that.
What shocks me is that I know I am part of those people who make up His Bride and I look forward to sitting down at that great feast with Him, but too often, instead of being a normal bride intent on the arrival of the love of her life, I forget from time to time to listen for His call . . . and I’m not the only one that isn’t entirely ready.