The other parable is Matthew 25:1-13. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
In this parable, the virgins appear to be the bride, but they could also be the bride’s attendants. In antiquity, the Jewish custom was for the bride to be accompanied by some of her virgin friends to gather together to meet the groom. They are all part of the ceremony, in any case. But not all make it to the celebration. The focus on this parable is not the bride, nor is it the groom. The focus is on the bridesmaids. And these guests neither symbolize Israel nor the church. The parable is dealing with preparation and being ready for when the Lord returns. It is about not going astray, but staying pure and faithful.
One further verse is interesting to look at. It is found in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 3:14, “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.”
Something interesting to pick up on here is that the Lord is already married. If this is the case then we are safe to assume Israel is the bride here. If the Lord has a bride, then He is already married. Reading through the Old Testament prophecies, we understand that the bride went off and played the harlot and worshipped other Gods. But did God divorce her?
Look at the book of Hosea. God instructs the prophet to marry a woman, Gomer, who would go astray. She is unfaithful and follows after other gods. But Hosea does not divorce her; he goes after her to reclaim her. So it is with the Lord and Israel. She is still his wife.
So who is the bride at the marriage supper if these texts and parables do not give us any insight? Where did the term the “Bride of Christ” come from?
It is Catholic. And this is just one more way the church is losing her identity and blending into the world. Priests under Roman Catholicism marry their church. They take an oath of celibacy. This began in medieval times. Later the phrase “the Bride of Christ” came into use to describe this strange relationship.
We are being taught that there is something we, the church, must do to make ourselves ready. To make ourselves perfect, without blemish. The great problem is, we aren’t able. We must stay focused on the cross. It is a gift. A gift of redemption. If we negate the cross and try to become perfect in our doings, we are back to Mosaic Law. This is a sin. Paul tells us not to go back to the law. The old law, or old covenant, is inferior. In it there is no Christ and no Holy Spirit.
What is worse, we are blending in with all the other religions and becoming “works-based”. It is so important to interpret Scripture accurately. Many believers will stand and with full conviction say that it is not Israel, but the Church, who will be the bride of Christ because God divorced Israel.
But it is not accurate.
There is no biblical support to this theology that says God divorced Israel, the church will take her place as the bride and she must be without blemishes before he claims her. If we can embrace this and rearrange our thinking, the wedding banquet begins to make perfect sense and all problems with semantics disappear. There is not two brides as my rabbi friend suggests.
In Don Samdahl’s article on doctrine.org, The Bride of Christ, he lays it out nicely. “In the Old Testament, the idea of Israel as the “wife” of God is developed. Though Israel was “married” to God she proved an unfaithful spouse. The nation’s unfaithfulness was expressed as spiritual adultery: it deserted Him for false gods, e.g., Baal, Asherah, Molech, Dagon, etc. Despite these failures, God declared the nation would return to Him, that they would become what He had purposed for them, and that He would fulfill His covenant promises to them. According to God’s promise, the entire nation would become priests (Exodus 19.6) and a faithful wife.”
Christ is the Head of the Body. The Body is comprised of saints that have lived during the Church Age, each having a different function. To look at the Jewish betrothal will bring us clarity regarding the wedding banquet and the bride.
Watch this space…
By Jori Sams
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