A number of years ago, I was asked to speak at a Retreat and the theme was “Preparing the Bride”. Below is part of the message I shared. It came back to my heart recently and I feel that it’s a current word for us.
Now I want to tell you the some of the steps in the Jewish wedding ceremony and tie it all together with this story from Genesis and your story.
To begin with, traditional Jewish marriage literature refers to the ceremony not as a “wedding” or “marriage” but as “Kiddushin”, which translated means, “sanctification” or “dedication”.
In the words of Rabbi Mordechai Becher, who wrote the article I read, “Sanctification” indicates that what is happening is not just a social arrangement and contractual agreement, but a spiritual bonding and the fulfillment of a ‘mitzvah’, a Divine precept. ‘Dedication’ indicates that the couple now have an exclusive relationship that involves total dedication of the bride and groom to each other.”
There are eight steps in the wedding ceremony, but I’ll only be covering 3 of them in my message. In Jewish tradition, the wedding ceremony actually starts at the Matchmaking called the ‘shidduch’. How many of you have seen the movie or the play “Fiddler on the Roof”? Does the song, “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…” ring a bell? Well, unlike the horrors of matchmaking portrayed in Fiddler, the matchmaking was usually done by the parents or close friends of the family, people who knew the couple and felt that they would be good together.
Would you like to have your marriage arranged for you? If you’re already married, how much input did you let your parents have in your decision on who to marry?
Do you remember how in our story from Genesis 24, Abraham sent his most trusted servant to be a matchmaker for Isaac? Well, our Heavenly Father has also sent His most trusted Helper to be a matchmaker for his Son. The helper’s name is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal to the bride how wonderful the Son is, what a great provider He will be, how all the wealth of the Father’s possession is His, how tender and kind He is, how strong He is, and how safe you will be in His home. The Father wants only the best for His Son.
Have you responded with willingness to follow like Rebekah did? Have you been willing to follow and trust in a man you have never seen but only heard about? If so, you will not be disappointed!
Can you just let the knowledge that you have been handpicked by God soak into your soul right now like the rays of the sun on a summer day? Just drink it in. you will never find your identity in the world or even in comparing yourself to other people. You are unique, chosen and highly sought after by God.
After the couple decide to marry, the bridegroom writes a contract called a ‘Ketuvah’ or ‘ketubah’. This is very important. The ketubah details the husband’s obligations to the wife. In it, he promises to care for her, to provide her with food, clothing, dwelling and happiness. It’s similar to the vows that we make at our weddings, but what is interesting is that the bride never makes any vows. The document is signed by the groom and witnessed by two witnesses. This document has all the weight of a legal document. In many cases, the ketubah is printed out very ornately and hung in the home as a family heirloom. From this time forward, the bride and groom are considered married although the final ceremony and consummation of the marriage won’t happen for some time to come. In modern times, the ketubah is usually signed on the wedding day just prior to the public ceremony.
If you recall when Mary was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit, Joseph was going to “divorce” her. They had not yet completed the time of the engagement and had not consummated their marriage, but yet, he had to give her a written divorce document because the engagement was considered as legally binding as marriage.
The fact that the ketubah is written down and given to the bride is very important. From now on, whenever she has doubts about whether or not she made the right decision, or questions, ‘Will he be good to her?’, ‘Will he provide for her?’, ‘Does he really care?’, all she has to do is refer to the ketubah and be reminded that he has pledged his all for her. If any other man comes along and tries to win her affection, she can look at the pledge of faithfulness and love hanging on her wall to remember that he has promised his all to her. She has access to these promises because she is allowed to hold him accountable for the execution of them as well!
Our ketubah is the Word of God which declares His provision for His Bride. This is a legal binding contract that God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth did not have to submit to, but did so in order to let His Son’s bride know that He is good, faithful, wonderful, strong, able, a matchless provider and the Lover of our soul!
Today you may be holding the ketubah given to you by the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you know that not only did he make all of those promises to you, but He and the Father are well able to come through on each and every one?
Now let’s go back to wedding day. After the presentation and signing of the ketubah, the bride-to-be sits in a chair that looks like a throne and the groom enters her presence and veils her. This stage of the ceremony is called the ‘bedekin’ or ‘veiling’. It signifies to everyone in the community that this woman has been spoken for and is not to be viewed any longer as a single lady. She is chaste and separated for one man only. Her response to receiving the ketubah is to allow him to cover her head as a symbol that he is covering her through his love and provision.
Remember how I said that Rebekah veiled herself when Isaac was still off in the distance? In Rebekah’s case, I believe that veiling herself signified to Isaac that she had said, ‘yes’, and that she had prepared herself to receive him as her husband. Her actions of preparing herself identified her as the bride and distinguished her from her maidservants who were traveling with her.
The Holy Spirit is calling us to separate ourselves from the crowd, and to find our identity as His chosen love. We respond to His passion for us by setting ourselves apart for Him alone. As the betrothed Bride of Christ, we are veiled and set apart for Him, covered in His righteousness, humbly displaying our submission to His authority by the way we conduct ourselves in the world. Yet in the secret place, we lift the veil to gaze upon our Beloved. “For we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
To be continued…
- Are you beginning to see the solidity of your position as the Bride of Christ? How does that make you feel? Do you feel more peaceful?
- Are you more aware now of the fact that it was love that caused the Father to send His Son to restore us to our place of fellowship and to our place as the Bride of Christ?
- If we are the Bride of Christ, what do you think His response is when we are under attack from the enemy? What do you think he will do to the spiritual foes that try to harm us?
One part of the tradition from ancient times that I didn’t mention in my message is that when the young man and woman decide to marry and he has signed the Ketubah, he goes away to prepare their home before the marriage. Part of the groom’s pledge in the Ketubah is that he will have a home to bring the bride to when they become husband and wife. Most of the time, the young man built his home on his father’s land as the son was expected to continue working with his father until the father’s death. At the last supper, Jesus told his disciples that he was going to be leaving them but that He was going to prepare a place for them. He explained that in His Father’s house are many dwelling places. Jesus used the analogy of the wedding process to describe the timeline for His departure from earth and His return for His Bride at the end of the age.
Let the truth that you are beloved by the Son of God give you stability in your prayer life and in your expectations that He will always be faithful to the promises that He has made to you!