These days marriages often end in divorce. It is always a tragedy, especially if children are involved. Where did marriage originate? God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden. He made Eve out of Adam’s rib and brought her to him. Man was to leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they would become one flesh. The institution of marriage between a man and a woman, points to the future marriage of Jesus the Son of God, to His bride, the church (Revelation 19:7). This theme of the bridegroom (Jesus) saving the damsel (the church) from the clutches of the dragon (the devil) (Ephesians 5: 23), and living happily ever after is reflected in many children’s fairy tales.
Many a potential bride goes to great trouble preparing for the big day. The exhilaration, excitement and prospect of marrying one’s sweetheart makes it a wonderful event. The dress, the ceremony, the guest list, and the myriad other things have to be planned. Marriage is a type, teaching us about the real one waiting in heaven. To understand this miracle of becoming part of the richest family in existence, let us compare it with a billionaire who has a son. The father will carefully plan how he can be sure that the girl who claims to love his son, is not merely a clever ‘gold digger.’ Just imagine how fortunate that future bride will be. She will never have financial troubles. Instead she will have many houses around the globe and all the other benefits of the wealthy. Marrying the Son of God will be a billion times better. It will be an eternal union, and the whole planet will be one’s home. The benefits will never stop. There will be no health problems, no death and no tears.
There is another difference between marrying into a rich family here, and marrying God’s Son. Here, a marriage may fall apart. There, it won’t. How does God guarantee that? A failed marriage in heaven will be a catastrophe. What would God do with the divorcees? Would ‘the wife’ live on the outer fringes of heaven in banishment for eternity? Would Jesus have to go to a court to have the marriage annulled? Would they be sent to hell by special assignment? None of those, because it will not happen. The all wise God planned everything in detail.
Who will be the bride? It will be those individual believers (God calls all people to believe in Him) whom the Son saved from the dragon (the devil who holds people captive so that they may go to hell with him). The individual saved saints make up the body of the bride. Just as a real body is made up of billions of cells with different functions, so billions of individual children of God through the ages, will be part of Jesus’ bride (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
The Bridegroom, Jesus, proved His love for humanity by saving them from the consequence of their rebellion. The next step was that those who accepted His sacrifice would reciprocate His love. Love is essential for a successful marriage, because the union is such a close relationship, of fellowship and intimacy.
- That is why God gave a time span before the eternal marriage to test the love of the future Bride. It can be called the betrothal period. It is the time between accepting Jesus and departing to glory (death). All children of God are subjected to this time of testing: do they love the Son enough to want to be with Him eternally? The betrothal period is very important, as the Father will not accept anyone as part of the bride who doesn’t love His Son.
- Just as a chaperone would help, teach and prepare the future bride of an heir, so the Holy Spirit was given to prepare the Bride of Christ.
- As a bride-to-be talks and listens to her future bridegroom, so we talk (pray) and listen (read the Bible) to Jesus. Without a relationship enduring love for marriage cannot develop. A relationship is not about rules and regulations. Think how strange it would be if a young woman told her future husband: I will speak to you on Sunday mornings and then hear what you have to say to me. I will do this and you must do that; we can greet each other in the morning, but please don’t come too near me, as I am very busy and preoccupied. The husband will surely wonder whether she is really in love with him. The same applies to Jesus. He wants to know whether we really love Him with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Are we looking adoringly into His face (through the Bible) or are we busy with our own lives?
- God did not make the tests for the bride easy (we will go into the kingdom with many hardships [Acts 14:22]).
God makes completely sure that those who proved their love for Jesus in this life, will remain loyal and in love for eternity. There will be no divorce in heaven, as those who rejected the Son will not be with the family on the great day of the marriage feast. The door will be locked and no amount of tears will open it.