I’ve always read and looked at this verse in connection with the relationship that a husband However, when you read the entire passage in context you will see that, as Paul says later, he is really talking about Christ’s relationship to the church,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. - Ephesians 5:25-32 (NKJV) (Emphasis mine)
In Revelation there is an account of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Christ) to consummate the union between Christ and the Church.
Revelation 19:7-9 NKJV Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
In my reading today I now understand the significance of Paul’s words as to what it means that the Church is the bride of Christ by looking at Israel’s wedding customs. I am sharing the entire devotional reading without edits to the content. My only contributions are the entire bible texts that are referenced in the devotional reading.
Editor’s Note: The following is from the YouVersion “I Believe: The Church” Reading Plan provided by Calvary Chapel, Ft. Lauderdale
The Bride of Christ
By Deb Marsalisi
“That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”--Ephesians 5:27 (NKJV)
Our modern view of marriage can somewhat leave us clueless to the magnificent portrait of grace the Lord paints with His invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Today, we’ll unpack ancient Israel’s wedding customs and discover what it truly means to be the bride of Christ.
There are several wedding customs we’ll explore:
Arrangement (Shiddukhin): The custom was for the father of the groom to make all the arrangements. The father carefully selects a bride for his son. Amazingly, God the Father chooses us to be the bride of Christ.
Betrothal (Kiddushin): The bride-to-be was required to approve of the marriage before the families agreed to the betrothal, just like our free will choice to accept Jesus as our groom. There’s an agreed upon payment price for the bride called the mohar. Jesus pays the highest price and sheds His own blood for us. The groom gives a gift to his bride called the mattan. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit as our mattan. The bride and groom were to be ritually cleansed before the betrothal agreement was sealed by sharing a cup of wine. Our baptism models our cleansing and communion wine displays the sealing of our covenant with the Lord.
Preparation Time Between the Betrothal and the Wedding: The bride and groom part ways for an extended time, sometimes a year or more. The groom remains at his father’s house and prepares a place for his wife. Jesus is preparing a place for us in His father’s house, and He will come again (His second coming) to bring us home.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 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. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”- John 14:1-4 (NKJV)
Consecration (Mekudeshet): The bride is to consecrate herself. She is to examine her life and make any changes to be ready for their holy covenant. As we set ourselves apart for Jesus, He sanctifies us.
that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. - Ephesians 5:27 (NKJV)
Preparation: The bride prepares her wedding garments. Beautiful wedding attire is a way to honor her groom. Today, we adorn ourselves in the righteousness of Jesus. The great exchange at the cross provides His perfection for our sins. Christ gives us the garment of salvation and a robe of righteousness.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”. - Isaiah 61:10 (NKJV).
Wedding Day: The day of the wedding feast was a surprise to both the bride and groom. If you asked the groom, “When’s the wedding?” He may reply, “No man knows except the Father.” Jesus says this about His second coming.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” - Matthew 24:36 (NKJV)
The bride eagerly awaits her beloved. Her groom could arrive anytime day or night to pick her up.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” - . I Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV)
Due to Jesus’ imminent return, the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13) is given as a warning to the church to be ready and waiting for the Lord. Five virgins were ready with their lamps filled with oil. They represent the true believers filled with the Holy Spirit. The other five are unprepared with empty lamps, representing the false believers.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” - Matthew 25:1-13 (NKJV)
They were unable to enter the door to the wedding.
In John 10:7, Jesus calls Himself the door.
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” - John 10:7 (NKJV)
Wedding Ceremony and Feast (Nissuin): This is a glorious seven-day celebration, which differs from modern weddings that focus mostly on the bride. Their weddings honored the groom. He was showered with songs of praise and poems: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory.” This is how it’ll be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. The focus will be on Jesus, not us. What a grand celebration this will be!
Pause: Read Revelation 19:7–9 and 2 Corinthians 11:2. Are you ready for your bridegroom? Do you eagerly await His second coming?
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” - Revelation 19:7-9 (NKJV)
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. - II Corinthians 11:2 (NKJV)
Practice: Understanding biblical customs is often the missing piece to discovering the rich depth of Scriptures. Pick an appointed feast or custom to study this week.
Pray: Dear Father, Your story of redemption is the greatest love story ever told. My heart is filled with deep gratitude to be chosen as the bride of Christ. The blood of Jesus makes me without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish. I eagerly await Your return. If there is any hidden sin in my heart, please tenderly show me Lord, so I may repent. Amen.