“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).
Biblical marriage always involves two steps; a betrothal and then, following a betrothal period, a marriage celebration. In Deuteronomy we find evidence that betrothal is more than a cultural practice; beginning at verse 22, God specifies the penalties for immorality. If a married woman is immoral, she and the man are to be executed for the sin of adultery, which is a violation of the marriage covenant. However, if a single woman, not betrothed, is immoral, she and the man are required to marry, although the father of the woman may refuse the man and the man will still have to pay the bride price, whether or not he gets the bride. The difference here is that, in the latter case the two are guilty of the sin of fornication, not adultery; it is the same physical act, but adultery involves the violation of the marriage covenant.
The third relationship referred to in this passage of scripture on the moral law is betrothal; a betrothed woman who lies with another man is guilty of adultery and both are to be stoned to death under the Law, since God regards the marriage covenant as beginning with betrothal.
In scripture, Israel is described as God’s woman or the betrothed of God and, in like manner, the New Testament describes His people as the Bride of Christ. God’s relationship with the Jews began when Abraham believed God and, believing Him, obeyed. God thereupon made a covenant with Abraham but it was not until 430 years later that the Law was given in which the fulfillment of the promise was realised. This is a midrashic picture of betrothal and marriage that became part of the Jewish culture and tradition.
In the Jewish culture, the father chose a bride for his son and negotiated a bride price with the intended bride’s parents; this we see in the story of Isaac and Rebecca in which Abraham sent his servant back to the people from whence he had come to choose a bride for his son Isaac. The servant vowed to do as Abraham wished but he was told that if the chosen woman did not want to come he was freed from his vow. In midrashic typology, Abraham is a type of the Father, Isaac a type of Jesus and Rebecca a type of the people called by God. She did not have to come unless she chose to respond to the Abraham’s invitation.
This is the pattern that was reflected in the Jewish tradition; the father selected a bride and paid the bride price, the bride agreed and the betrothal covenant was entered into; they became of one mind. The son went away to prepare a place for the bride and the bride was free to give her heart to the groom; emotional union rather than physical union was permitted during this betrothal period; they became of one heart.
When the groom had finished preparing a place for the bride he came to collect her and the marriage supper took place. After this, physical union was completed; they became one flesh. That is the divine order; one mind, one heart and one flesh.
This is the relationship that God desired with Israel; He chose them to be His bride and they were betrothed to Him, but their spiritual adultery led to them falling away into apostasy and breaking the covenant, finally being carried off into captivity and slavery by Assyria. Judah too, ignored the warnings of God and did not draw the right conclusions from the captivity of Israel and eventually they, too, fell into apostasy and were carried off into captivity to Babylon. So this was the pattern set by the Jews; chosen by God and betrothed to Him in covenant, adultery and apostasy, followed by death. However, God did not leave them without hope, pointing to a new covenant that He would make with the houses of Judah and Israel:
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Those days have come, of course and the new covenant was inaugurated and Jesus Christ appointed as the mediator of that new covenant (Hebrews 9:15). The Jews however, have rejected that covenant and chosen to remain in a covenant that scripture describes as obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Thus, for a season, they are outside a covenant relationship with their God, although they are still His people.
All of this speaks prophetically to the relationship of a believer to the Lord Jesus Christ. Firstly, we are chosen by the Father: “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). The bride price has been paid, the blood of the Lamb of God; but having been called, we are free to refuse the call, however; if we accept, then we can be said to be of one mind with Him at this point. The covenant has been entered into and we are betrothed to Christ.
During the betrothal period, we grow in love for our Bridegroom, becoming one heart with Him, while He goes to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house:
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2).
This is an important time of preparation for the believer as we learn more about the Bridegroom and His Father and are made suitable to take our place in the house of the Bridegroom’s Father.
The Bridegroom will return to take us to be with Him at the prophetic time set by His Father: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
When that happens the marriage supper will be celebrated:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride is herself made ready.” (Revelation 19:7).
If we are to take part in that marriage supper we must avoid the adultery that the Jews fell into. Spiritual adultery is fornication with other spirits, significantly and most commonly the spirit of the world and the spirit of anti-christ, but there are legions of demons whose task it is to turn God’s people away from Him to give themselves over to other spirits; Christianity is full of these religious spirits.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“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 pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).
We are betrothed to Christ, but the entire world of darkness is devoted to intruding upon that relationship and deceiving us into spiritual adultery and, consequently, the designated punishment of death – eternal death. The answer is pure devotion to Christ Himself and Christ alone.