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Intimacy and Security as His Bride
When Jesus returns, two experiences become more real than ever before
In ancient Israel, a bride did not know the exact time her groom would come to take her permanently to his home, nor did the groom know himself. The groom’s father set the timetable.
It was based on completion of a few tasks. All the preparations for the wedding had to be finished. The bridal chamber where the new couple would consummate their union had to be prepared. Only the father could say when this work had been completed.
Jesus referred to this tradition when He spoke of His own return:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”—Mark 13:32–33
In Israel, bridegrooms usually came to retrieve their brides sometime near the midnight hour. Trumpets, probably shofars, were blown to signal the approaching bridegroom. The groom’s party would then follow him through the streets shouting to proclaim and celebrate the groom’s procession to the home of the bride’s parents. By the light of burning torches, the groom’s entourage would wind its way through the streets in a noisy, makeshift parade.
Meanwhile, the bride would receive word of the groom’s imminent arrival, which is described in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins:
And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”—Matthew 25:6
All the members of the bride’s household are now on their feet. Lamps are ignited, and the bride takes just a few extra moments to prepare herself.
In several places, the New Testament describes Jesus’ return as quick and unexpected. But once she has heard that the bridegroom is coming, the bride’s only appropriate response is to prepare herself with urgency.
In this 1st century wedding event, a procession would then head back to the bridegroom’s home accompanied by musicians, singers, dancers, friends, family, and the bride’s attendants (see Jeremiah 33:11). Once they arrived, the groom would check under the bride’s veil to make sure he had the right bride. She would wear an exquisitely beautiful dress and fine jewels. She would be beautiful, and she would know she is loved.
Two Heightened Experiences
This ancient Jewish wedding description is but a dim shadow of what will happen when Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom, returns for His beloved Church. God the Father will give the signal, and Jesus will appear to gather His bride from the ends of the earth. We will hear a shout and the sound of a trumpet. Light will split the sky.
It will happen quickly, but it will arrive at just at the right time. For those who are prepared, we will welcome His coming with great joy.
But there will be those who are left with no time to make themselves ready.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.—1 Thessalonians 4:16–18
Today, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you know intellectually that you are His bride, and you may even know it in the depths of your heart. But until the Bridegroom comes, the bride cannot fully know the joy that comes from being totally present in body with the One she loves. God has an endgame, and it has always been to love us with an everlasting love.
As the bride of Christ, what will be your new experience when you see your Bridegroom face-to-face in the Rapture? You will experience many emotions, and your mind will race with all the sights and sounds, but there are two heightened experiences you will have as the bride when you see Jesus: intimacy and security.
As a believer, you know these experiences now, but when Jesus comes, they will be more real for you than they have ever been before. While the people who remain on earth will be going through the worst Tribulation in human history, we will be marrying our Lord Jesus at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We will hear the clear passion of His voice as He says,
Rise up, my darling!
Come away with me, my fair one!
—Song of Solomon 2:10
Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is an eternal Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. God is three Persons who have always been united in a dance of ongoing, intimate love. We will never be able to fully understand that love because it is beyond human comprehension. God has an intimacy within Himself that is deeper than any human relationship. God is fully complete within Himself. He does not need us, but He created us, and He loves us. He did it because He is love.
God exists to love, and love must have an object to extend itself to. He created humans for no other reason than to love them and for them to love Him. We are the only creatures suitable for the kind of intimacy God had in His divine mind. He did not need us, but He wanted us very much. In a way, it was not good for God to be alone, just like it was not good for Adam to be alone.
So God, who is Spirit, went beyond the spiritual realm and created a physical realm. In that realm, He made people so He could have an intimate relationship with them. God always wanted to make a being like Himself, in His image and likeness, so He could become one with that creature. He wanted to reproduce His love in and through them. He breathed His Spirit into Adam, and the first human’s very life came from God’s very breath.
He made you in His image to represent and reflect Him. He wanted to know you intimately before you were even in your mother’s womb. He loved you, and He wanted you to return that love to Him.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God in creation. He was there from the beginning, calling all humans, including you, to be His eternal bride. The Christ wanted to walk with us, talk with us, and live with us forever. We were created for an intimate relationship with Him so we would know and love Him in His fullness. God always wanted us to grow into a mature intimacy with Him.
As the founder of a marriage ministry, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and talking about marriage. I love that God gave us marriage. It is one of the greatest gifts we have as humans. And earthly marriage is special, because it foreshadows the marriage we will have with Jesus, the Bridegroom. He left God the Father and God the Spirit to join with humanity so that one day He would become “one flesh” with us (see 1 Corinthians 6:17). When He comes again, we will take on our identity as His bride completely and eternally. It begins now, but it will be fully consummated on the day Jesus returns.
And as much as I appreciate my own marriage with Karen, I understand that marriages here are earth are only a shadow of the “real” marriage we will have with Jesus. We should not look at human marriage and say, “Our marriage with Jesus will be like that.” Instead, we should look at our marriage to Jesus the Bridegroom and pattern our earthly marriages after that.
In the Garden of Eden, God created Eve and brought her to Adam. On the day Jesus returns, God will join us individually and collectively as the Church with our eternal Bridegroom. God made you for this. You were created for intimacy with the God of the universe. So what would ever cause us to feel insecure in our relationship with Jesus Christ?
That answer is one word: sin.
Sin can be defined as missing your purpose or missing the mark. If God created you for a loving relationship with Him, then sin is anything that destroys your relationship. On the day of the Rapture, sin will no longer have a place in your life. All that will be left is you and your Bridegroom.
Think about your human relationships, particularly your romantic ones. Have you ever felt insecure in a romantic relationship? Almost all of us have. Why did it happen? Usually, it is because someone violated the relationship in one way or another. I have been working to strengthen and restore marriages for many years, and I am always surprised when a spouse says something like, “I don’t know why my spouse wants a divorce. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Then when I begin to explore the situation with that person, I find they have been neglecting their spouse in certain ways, or regularly choosing something above their spouse. You see, sin isn’t always about the bad things we do. Often, it is simply choosing something else rather than an intimate relationship with Jesus.
I have told the story many times how, early in my marriage, I chose to golf rather than spend time with my wife and family. It almost destroyed my marriage. Is there anything wrong with golfing? Of course not. However, there is something very wrong with choosing golf over your spouse—or choosing anything else over your spouse, for that matter.
You destroy your intimacy with Jesus when you choose something over Him. The Bible calls that “idolatry.” God will give you the desires of your heart, but you have to seek Him first (see Matthew 6:33). If you have willfully chosen to walk away from God’s love, no wonder you feel insecure in your relationship with Him. No one else can protect you and provide for you. In fact, if you walk away from Him, then you open yourself up to stronger attacks from the enemy.
If you want security, then stay by Jesus’ side.
I am secure in my relationship with Jesus Christ, but I also know I will feel completely secure when I look into His face. Yes, you can have security now, but it will pale in comparison to the assurance you will feel when you are in His presence. His love for you is unconditional.
Even if you have walked away from Him, He stands waiting for you. And on the day He returns, nothing will ever again come between you and your Bridegroom.