Sermon titles:
Paradise Message
Bride of Christ

    I want to talk to you today about an old Jewish custom.  (Don’t worry you are not in the wrong church).  So why talk about a Jewish custom in a Christian church?…
Because when Jesus was walking the earth, he was preaching and teaching “First to the Jews”.  And understanding their customs of that day helps us to understand certain parts of scripture.  

Ephesians 5:25-32
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

 We have heard the Christian church referred to as the bride of Christ.  So I thought it would be interesting to look at what a Jewish wedding of that day would look like. Specifically I want to talk to you  about the 7 phases of a Jewish wedding of that time.

The first phase was the match or shidduchim.  The marriage was arranged by the fathers…  Usually they would hire a match maker, but the fathers would decide who would marry who.   
                 John 15:16 Tells us
16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
                    John 6:37,44 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 44"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

The 2nd phase was the Mohar or Bride Price…
After the match was made the Mohar or Bride Price was hashed out between both parties.   The price would have been based on the value of the bride.
  1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

   1 Peter 1:18
18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

With the precious blood of Christ…
That was the price set for us.  And Jesus paid it…     Do you think Jesus loves us?…

The 3rd phase was the Mattan or love gifts.  These were gifts offered by the groom to the bride.  It was completely voluntary.  It was simply an expression of his love for her.  Let look at some of the love gifts that Jesus has given us.

John 10:27-28
27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

He gave us eternal life…
How is that for a wonderful gift?…      But that is just the start..

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

He gave us Peace…

1 John 1:9
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
He gives us forgiveness…

John 15:11
11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

He Gives us Joy.   The Greek for complete means abundantly overflowing.
I don’t know about you, but I think those are some pretty cool gifts.
Now keep in mind that Love gifts were voluntary.  Jesus didn’t have to give them.  But since he did,….     I’m thinking he loves us.

The 4th phase was the Shiluhim or Dowry…      These were gifts that the Father of the bride gave the bride to help equip her for her new life with the groom.

The bible tells us that we have been given gifts to help us in our walk with Jesus.

John 14:16-17   
 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

We have been given the Spirit of truth…
Romans 12:6
6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

We have been given Spiritual Gifts.

And this one is really cool.  God gives us an engagement ring to remember him by.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  
The word the NIV translated to deposit is arraboona in the Greek which is the same word used for engagement ring…
Of all the words that God chose to liken the spirit to,  He chose an engagement ring.
  So,…     God gave us the holy spirit not just for something to do, but as a reminder that we would be with him for ever…    Just like an engagement ring.

Then 5th phase of the wedding ceremony was the Ketuba or Marriage contract.  In this phase the marriage was legally formalized by a written contract.  It recorded the Bride Price, the promises of the groom, and the rights of the bride.  
The bible is our contract…
1 Corinthians 11:25
25When supper was over, he did the same with the cup. He said, “This cup is the new promise (or covenant or contract) made with my blood. Every time you drink from it, do it to remember me.”

You all know that verse from when we do communion, but what you probably don’t know is that at this phase in the ceremony the groom would offer the bride a cup…
   Now she didn’t have to take it…       But if she did, she was saying Yes I Agree…        I agree to have you as my husband for ever…    I put myself under your care.
     Jesus is using communion to remind us of our marriage contract with him.  And here is the amazing point,  Jesus signed the contract with his blood.  I think that contract is very secure.

The 6th phase was the Kiddushin Or betrothal.   At this time they were legally married, but not living together.  The groom had to go make preperations for their life together.  During that time, the bride had to demonstrate her purity.  The groom had to go back to the fathers house and build an addition on the the house called the bridal chamber.  As people kept getting married they would keep adding rooms. The house would end up becoming like a giant apartment complex.   
 John 14:2-3   
2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Jesus is sticking to the verbiage of the Jewish wedding to say that he is preparing a place for us.  So that where he is there we may be also.

Here is the exciting part.
The seventh phase is called the nissuin or abduction.
When the bridal chamber was finished, the father would inspect it.  It wasn’t complete until the father said it was…    You can see some wisdom here because if all the groom had to do was build something and then go get his bride, what do you think he would build?…    A lean -to or a shack?…  But the decision was left up to the father.   The father could say no son try it again this is something special.

This is what is behind the statement in Matthew 24:36
36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.   

I have heard some people quote that verse and say that God the father and Jesus are not the same because Jesus didn’t know when it was going to take place…   But that is not what is going on.

Jesus is continuing with the verbiage of the Jewish wedding.  It is up to the father when the son gets to come back.

Then bride had no idea when the day was coming.  It could be any day or time.  Depending on how appt the groom was at building,  it could take 6 weeks, 6 months or a year for the chamber to be finished.  The bride had to constantly be ready.

This is how the “abduction of the bride would take place.  The father would say “ok son the room is finished go get your bride.”   When the groom approached the brides house one of his friends would sound a trumpet announcing his arrival.  They usually did this at night around midnight or so.
The bride would hear the horn, and having every thing ready to go, she would go to the groom and he would take her or literally abduct her and whisk her away to the father’s house.

That is exactly what the bible says that you and I need to be ready for right now.   Why?…
Because Jesus Christ could come back and abduct the church.  That is exactly what is being said in
1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17
16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.      
Is there any doubt in your mind…
Most people don’t know this, but the words caught up, (that we get the term rapture from.) is the exact word that they used for the abduction of the bride.

So,…    There is coming a day when Christ is coming to abduct us, his bride from this place and take us to the father’s house.  One day you could be sitting in a church like the one maybe it is this one and you are going to see this take place.

Are you ready?...

Notice not every body went.  Why do you think that is?…
I think it is because they had a religion with Jesus and not a relationship with Him…

Christ did not come to this earth, get tortured and crucified just to start another religion.  He did it so that we could have a relation ship with him…
A beautiful bride like relationship.

I have one more passage of scripture for you on this religion verses relation ship.   Lets see what Jesus had to say to one of the churches in revelation about it.
Revelation 2:1-5
1"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen!

Remember the height from which you have fallen.  Because they turned their relation ship into a religion.

If you would like to know more about having a relation ship with Christ, please come Talk to me or one of the elders.