- Friday, February 10, 2012
The Chosen Bride
If you have not heard about how my husband and I met, then you are about to get a slice of romance in its truest form. Wiesiek was the keyboard player for a mission trip of creative artists who were bringing the gospel to the people of Kiev, Ukraine at the time when it had just pulled away from the Soviet Union, as well as ministering in various Polish cities. I was a dancer with the group. The trip was two weeks long and by the end of the first week we both knew that God had brought us together; he was truly my other half. At the end of the second week, the day before I was to fly back to the United States, I got cold feet. Our thoughts were that after we were married, I would move to his apartment in Poland, work at an American based Christian school, become mom to his almost 8 year old daughter who didn’t speak English and live happily ever after. I was overwhelmed with the reality of taking on so much responsibility without any local support of family or friends. Wiesiek’s quick response was, “Then we will come to you”. I didn’t see him again until 17 days before our wedding when his visa was approved and he came to the USA.
The next few years were very difficult for Wiesiek and my respect and love for the man who sacrificed his life to take me for his bride grew enormously. I began to see the depth of his love for me as I realized that he had left his close, loving family and their traditional family gatherings forever. He left his friends who would travel 40 minutes by bus to visit him regularly, even though they didn’t know if he would be home (no phone at his apartment). He gave up his native language and extensive vocabulary and struggled to express himself fully in the English language. The fresh baked breads and farm fresh foods that he would purchase daily as he walked through the city were now substituted with preservative enhanced food. His flourishing music and recording career was set aside as he worked in any job he could find in the small Tennessee town where we lived. The people and things what made up his life in Poland, he laid down for me. He chose me. He loves me that much.
In our last newsletter I focused on the wonderful truth of God the Father having adopted us into His family because of His great love for us. But there is more. You weren’t just chosen to be His son and an heir to all that is His, He also chose you to be the bride to his only begotten Son. Double honor! Daddy God loves you and sees you as so precious and one with His heart that He wanted you to be united with His Son.
But, this isn’t just an arranged marriage in which the bride and groom have no say; Jesus was captivated by you before the earth was set in place. He said, “Dad, I am in love; my heart belongs to this one.” He chose you and pledged His love to you and then paid the highest bride-price ever recorded.
Let me explain this process as it is told in scripture and Jewish history.
First about chosen brides and the bride price –
Genesis 24 tells the story of Abraham’s servant who was sent to find a bride for Isaac. He took with him riches on the backs of 10 camels as a price for her, Rebecca. Camels comfortably carry about 150kgs/330lbs, so Rebecca and her family were given about 1500kgs/3,300lbs of riches for her hand in marriage. That’s a huge price for a chosen bride.
Further in the story, Isaac and Rebecca’s son Jacob falls in love with Rachel the moment he sees her. He declares that he will work for Rachel’s father 7 years without pay as a bride-price. Genesis states that because he loved her so much, those 7 years seemed as a few days. After being tricked at his wedding and finding he has married Leah, he agrees to work another 7 years if only he can marry his chosen bride, Rachel. He gave away 14 years of his life for the woman he loved.
Genesis 34:12 Jacob and Leah have a daughter named Dinah. Prince Schechem desires to marry Dinah so much that he states “However great you make the bride-price and payment, I will give it.”
Exodus 22: 16-17 The law speaks about a bride-price that must be paid by a man who defiles a woman and wants her to become his wife and the price he must pay if he does not want to marry her.
I Samuel 18:25 David and Saul discuss a bride-price for Saul’s daughter and David bravely risks his life to succeed in the task.
A husband who truly desires a forever bride/partner is willing to pay a high price for her. You are the desired and chosen bride of Jesus Christ. He paid the ultimate price for you to become His bride.
Before I share scriptures that speak about Christ’s love for us, I want to reveal some Jewish customs in which Jesus grew up and thus a clearer understanding about what He said and did as recorded in scripture.
The Hebrew marriage process begins with the father spending time seeking the perfect mate/bride for his son. When he has found the right woman to complete his son and help carry the family name, the father begins to make negotiations with the girl’s father as to securing a marriage. An agreement in marriage does not happen just between the parents, the bride must accept the groom-to-be as her husband. She has a choice to receive him.
The groom then comes to the home of the chosen bride and pays a price for her life to become one with his. A legal contract/agreement is made between the couple and their families. It is now understood that in every way this couple are husband and wife, except for the fact that they will not live together yet nor consummate their union until the marriage supper.
At this betrothal, the groom takes a cup of wine, gives it to his bride and they drink to their covenant. They will not do this again until they are united at their wedding.
The groom gives His betrothed gifts. These gifts are to remind her of her covenant to be one with him and belong to him alone. They also serve to keep her anticipating the time when he comes back for her and takes her to the marriage supper celebration.
The bride now publically lives as a married woman. She is a reflection of her husband and her life reflects their union. She talks about her husband with joy and tells others of his goodness.
There is a lengthy time of separation for the betrothed couple as the groom has gone back to his father’s house to add on rooms and build a place for his bride. He prepares their home with thoughts of bringing his bride joy.
This time away from each other tests the fidelity of the bride. Will she be true to her groom and live only for him or will she allow her heart to stray and end up in the arms of another? The bride who is found unfaithful was often put to death, but the faithful bride was celebrated.
When the son/groom has finished preparing a place for his bride, a celebration is planned. With the blast of a trumpet, the groom comes back to the home of the bride and brings her to the marriage celebration. Here they will perform a ceremony in front of all. The groom will give his bride a ring and declare, “You are consecrated to me.” The bride will then accept the ring and close it in her hand signifying her acceptance. They will now drink again together in celebration of their covenant and union.
Do you see things that tie in with Jesus’ words to us on earth? Let’s look at scripture and be overwhelmed with Jesus’ love for us as his bride.
Old Testament prophecies:
Psalm 45 – about the King and His bride
Isaiah 62:3-4 The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see, a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City" or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “My delight is in her” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
Hosea 2:19-20 I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD.
Song of Solomon is filled with poetic references about Christ’s love for His bride.
In the New Testament Paul tells of our betrothal to Christ:
2 Corinthians 11:2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
And of course, the climax of the Bible, the event that all of history has prepared the way for, the greatest celebration of all time, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb to his Bride.
Revelation 19:7-9 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.
She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
Revelation 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls containing the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
And finally, we see the bride being the wife and partner to Christ:
Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.
Can you see the never-ending love in His eyes for you? Picture this, Jesus is dragged before political and religious leaders and condemned as a criminal. He is cursed at, lied about, mocked, spit on, beaten until his head is swollen and bloody beyond recognition, whipped until the flesh on his back no longer existed, long thorns shoved into his skull, and he took it all. He lay on a cross and let spikes be driven through his hands and feet. He endured what he never experienced before, separation from God and our sin. It was such a heavy price to pay that he only lived a few hours.
How could Jesus do this? Why would he do this? The answer is: He saw the joy set before Him, His bride. He longed to bring us to His Father to be a son and joint heir and He was willing to pay the ultimate bride price to bring us to Himself. Before a wedding, the groom often endures much stress as he thinks about the responsibility, commitment, and life he must lay down for his bride. But, when he stands at the end of the aisle and sees the woman he loves, adorned in splendor, making her way towards him, he melts and is suddenly willing to give anything for this joy set before him. While Jesus went through abuse and death on earth, he kept his eyes on you. He was consumed with the joy set before Him, becoming one with you, His beloved bride.
Beloved, believe and receive that you are the chosen bride of Christ. Allow yourself to be intimate in a pure, vulnerable, trusting, relationship with the One who loves you more than His own life. There is no need to hide yourself, Christ only sees you as beautiful, pure, the desire of His heart. Let Him come close and uncover you. Expose those areas you have held back from Him out of fear. His covenant means He will never leave you, forsake you, lie to you, or hold anything from the past against you. He will never put you last or condemn you. You are the one He loves. Celebrate His love for you. Dance with your Beloved.
Now we are finding our identity in the Father and Son. Use this in your ministry to help a hurting, lonely world.