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Before starting, understand that this is not about the Jewish marriage traditions. That’s partially covered in Are We the Bride of Christ Now? Or is That Future?

While there is a great deal of typology in the biblical marriage customs of ancient Israel, this is about the marriage ceremonies that are held in our times.  We’re going to look for typology in the traditions of a Christian wedding ceremony.

Typology Considered

Years ago I heard about a Christian wedding ceremony in which the Bride stood at the front of the church and the groom came down the aisle to meet her.  The groom was a Christian, seminary graduate, teacher/preacher, and he believed that the wedding ceremony prefigured the Rapture. Therefore, the Bridegroom should come to receive his bride, prefiguring how Jesus will come for His bride, the Church.

Setting aside the amazing fact that his bride agreed to this unusual change of tradition, it caused me to wonder, “Does a wedding ceremony prefigure the ultimate wedding ceremony?  Does an earthly ceremony have a pattern that points to the heavenly ceremony?  Is there a ‘picture’ in the bride and groom coming together that points to the Church (the Bride of Christ) and Christ being united?” 

Now, before I share my thoughts, let me remind you that this is simply a pattern that points to a promise.  Many things in our world are typological of God’s design and His prophetic plan.  

I believe even the wedding ceremonies between man and wife can be a reminder of God’s promise of His plan and His purpose in bringing about the most glorious union of Christ with His Church.

Remember, as with any pattern or typology, this description of how an earthly wedding ceremony points to our heavenly union is not perfect.  No pattern, typology or metaphors are perfect in how they teach us about heavenly and spiritual things.  

Let this typology be a reminder that God’s perfect plan for our glorification awaits us and it will be more lavish and extravagant than any earthly celebration!  Here are my thoughts for your consideration.

The Church

We begin with the building layout.  Many churches are built in the form of a cross with the length of the building being crossed by what is called a transept (My daughter’s wedding was held in an 1814, historically restored, German Gothic design church that is now called The Transept, http://thetransept.com). 

As defined by Wikipedia, a transept is a transverse part of any building, which lies across the main body of the edifice. In churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave [central aisle of the church] in a cruciform (“cross-shaped”).

The Ceremony: The Groom

With the invited wedding guests gathered, seated and looking forward, the groom traditionally enters from the right side of the church.  No one really knows from where he has come.  Usually, he enters from an undisclosed room in which he has been waiting until the time to come forward to receive his bride.

This prefigures what we are told will happen at the Rapture.  Jesus will come on the clouds from His Heavenly place, a place that we on the earth have not seen and do not know where it is.  He will come to receive His Bride, the Church.

The Ceremony: The Bride

Here comes the bride.  And she’s all dressed in white.  White, of course, is the raiment of righteousness and purity.  Just as earthly brides are adorned in beauty, so also the Bride of Christ will be adorned in splendor with a glorified body and jewels of reward.

Rev 19:8  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.

The bride comes forth from the back of the church, the area that leads through wide doors to the outside world.  She walks down the aisle which is straight and narrow, and, In a traditional cross-shaped church building, we can also see this as a “picture” of the bride coming from the foot of the cross and moving forward to the head of the cross.  Remember that the cross stood in the earth and it stretched up to Heaven.  The bride proceeds down the “vertical beam of the cross,” the aisle of the church, to meet her groom who awaits her arrival at the transept–where the horizontal crosses the vertical. 

Typologically, the bride comes forward, out from the world, and the groom descends, from his own place, and receives her unto himself.

In an earthly marriage ceremony, the minister will ask, “who gives this woman in marriage?” The father of the bride responds affirmatively. This typologically reminds us that it is the Father who gives to Jesus His betrothed Bride, His promised inheritance for which He died, the Church, the Bride of Christ (John 6:37).

The Covenant Confirmed

In the words of an earthly marriage ceremony, the love between bride and groom is proclaimed, consecrated, and sealed before God.  This is a covenant before God — a promise and a dedication of commitment.  The covenant was first promised in engagement (Betrothal, in biblical terms.  Read Are We the Bride of Christ Now, or is That Future?), and it is consummated in the marriage ceremony.

In liturgical churches, marriage is called a sacrament.  It is one of seven sacraments (baptism, eucharist (communion), confirmation, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, marriage, holy orders (ordination).  A sacrament is defined as a religious ceremony or act of the Christian Church that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace.  Just as marriage between a man and a woman is a grace of God, ordained by Him, and a blessing to us, so also will the Rapture be a gift of God’s grace.  It will be the glorification, ordained by God, for those who belong to Jesus.

So who might the pastor/minister who performs an earthly wedding prefigure?  I suggest the Holy Spirit because all three Persons of the Trinity work in union.  Therefore, just as an earthly minister proclaims the marriage covenant before God, the Holy Spirit will testify of our marriage in Christ.  Consider that the Holy Spirit has already testified of the betrothal period of our marriage contract in that He seals believers into the Body of Christ until the day of the Rapture (Eph 4:30).

The Celebration: The Marriage Supper

Just as an earthly wedding is followed by a reception, a party of celebration, the marriage of the Lamb will be celebrated with a marriage supper and all will rejoice:

Rev 19:7  “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.”

Rev 19:8  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.

Rev 19:9  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.”

An Earthly Pattern, A Heavenly Hope

The example of an earthly wedding ceremony and the bride and groom offers a pattern that points to our heavenly hope.  It reminds us that one day our Groom will come. He will come from His place and we will be drawn to Him and be joined in marriage. This will complete the betrothal period in which we now live and wait for that glorious day. 

Earthly wedding ceremonies are beautiful, extravagant and love-filled, but they pale in comparison to the ceremony that will unite us in glory with Jesus.  The most elaborate, lavish, and joyful of earthly wedding receptions will be eclipsed by the riches of God and of Christ that will be magnified in the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And, just as earthly wedding have many in attendance to join in the celebration, there will be many who attend this wedding.  

The Bride of Christ

The Bride of Christ are those who have been saved by Him since His death, burial and resurrection.  However, there were many more who trusted in God and His promises prior to that time and they are now in Heaven.  They are the Old Testament (Old Covenant) Saints.  John the Baptist spoke of this:

John 3:29  “He who has the bride [the Church] is the bridegroom [Jesus]; but the friend of the bridegroom [Old Testament Saints as was John], who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.

In addition to the Old Testament Saints who will rejoice, the heavenly hosts (angels, cherubim, and seraphim] will resound in songs of praise and worship!

Heavenly Thoughts

Remember, this is simply a typology that can remind us of the heavenly promises of God and the future glorification that awaits us, the Bride of Christ.  The next time you attend a wedding and hear the strains of the traditional “Here Comes the Bride,” pause and give thanks for the glorious wedding to come.  Pause in wonderment of the unspeakable joy that we will experience, and the glory that will be ours…for all eternity. 

Here comes the bride
All dressed in white
Sweetly, serenely in the soft glowing light
Lovely to see, marching to thee
Sweet love united for eternity
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