Let’s examine a Jewish marriage in the Old Testament. It’s not like the western culture; meet the girl, fall in love, maybe ask her father for her hand in marriage, provide an engagement ring and have a wedding at some point.
Conversely, the father of the son selects what he believes to be an appropriate woman and family for him. The son visits the prospective bride and meets her family as well as them meeting his. They discuss his desire to be wed to her. He then goes away for a year which allows her to decide if he is the man for her and uses this time to prepare herself for marriage. The son goes back to his father and spends the time preparing possibly a room at the father’s house for them to live in once married. She does not know when he will be returning so she has to be prepared at any moment for a surprise visit. The bridegroom brings a dowry for her and the bride to be then accepts or rejects this. If she does, they go to be married and on their wedding night they go into their private room for a time. Once they make a reappearance, there is a wedding feast.
This relates entirely to Jesus (the Bridegroom) and his bride, you and me, the Church. Jesus is the bridegroom and his Father has sent him to earth to select his bride. He has now gone back to his Father’s home until he returns for his bride. Meanwhile, the Church is preparing itself to be his bride. We don’t know when he’s going to return to take his bride home, but he makes it clear that he will return. The dowry or the price for her was his own blood on the cross. And there will be an incredible wedding feast. I’m reminded of the parable of the ten virgins.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose 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, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Mt. 25.1-12)
Are we preparing ourselves for his return and will we be ready? Paul describes a mystery about the kingdom of God. “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” (1 Cor. 15.51,52a) It is reported that humans blink 10,000 to 20,000 times a day. At some moment at one of those blinks, the Bridegroom may return. Will your lamps be lit; will you have a fresh supply of oil if he tarries before returning?