don’t forget the wedding.

Michael and I got married right after Christmas in 2020, so Advent season that year was a multi-faceted celebration. I was not only remembering how God-Yeshua dwelled among humanity 2,000 years ago and God-Spirit is with us presently; my eyes were being opened to the reality of Yeshua coming again as a Bridegroom. Once the end of November rolled around and I started having the thoughts, “a month from now, we’ll be married!” & “less than a month from now, we’ll be married!” I began to feel the invitation to not only enjoy my favorite season while preparing for my earthly wedding with Michael but to also press into the revelation of being part of the Bride waiting for Yeshua to come back for The Wedding. As I was experiencing first-hand the planning, preparation, transitions, stresses, and joys of getting ready for marriage on earth, the implications of “getting ready” for this eternal oneness with Yeshua became more real to me.

Throughout God’s history with humanity, He not only established a desire for a dwelling place among men and a relationship with mankind, but He also revealed that He had a very intimate relationship in mind. He wasn’t looking for a servant-master relationship (although that is an element of being a created being) or even just a friendship (although Jesus did call us friends). God’s relationship with His people has always resembled an intimate marriage relationship.

In the Old Testament, God made radical statements about His intentions with the people of Israel. The prophet Isaiah said that “your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer” (Is. 54:5-7). Ezekiel (16:8-14) shows the Lord talking to the people of Israel saying, “I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you.” God also referred to this special covenant through the prophet Jeremiah. The Lord spoke from a place of remembering His history with the Israelites, both the good- “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride” (Jer. 2:1-11)- and the bad- “My covenant that they broke, though I was their husband” (Jer. 31:32). Again in Hosea, God makes it really clear that He sees Himself as the husband of an unfaithful bride saying, “When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord’” (Hos. 1:2). The entire story that follows shows God’s desire to be in an intimate relationship with His chosen people where they are choosing Him faithfully forever. “You will call Me ‘My Husband,’” The Lord says (Hos. 2:16), “and I will betroth you to Me forever” (Hos. 2:19). And if you really want your mind blown, read the Song of Songs. Jewish tradition holds this book as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel; Christianity, as an allegory of Christ and the Church.

Thus, His covenental relationship with Israel was well established by the time we get into the history of the New Testament and Yeshua steps down from the heavens to dwell among His people. While the Jewish people were looking for a specific, militant sort of Messiah to deliver them from their enemies, this Messiah came and lived a fairly normal life up until about the age of 30 (Luke 3:23). He lived with his family, was trained in his earthly father’s trade, engaged in the local community, and grew “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). By the time we see the blood and water spill from His side on Calvary, the people were either glad to see this false Messiah punished or heartbroken to see their Messiah killed. And post-resurrection believers see that this was how He was becoming the Way to bring redemption & purification to His long-awaited Bride: through the power of His blood and the cleansing of water through the Word (Eph. 5:25-27). As the wild olive branch grafted into the cultivated one of Israel, we have been given the gift of being grafted into this narrative (Rom. 11). We have the opportunity to be in this intimate relationship with God like He’s desired since the beginning of time.

The author of Hebrews makes it clear that it was for the “joy set before Him” that He endured the cross, despised shame, and took His place at the right hand of God. What is this joy? In Hebrews 11 (the chapter before), we read about the significance of faith and how Abraham was looking forward to a city that God designed and built (Heb. 12:8-10). And later in Hebrews 12 (22-24) we see this heavenly kingdom described, this place where God will dwell with humanity once again because those who love Him are covered in the blood of Jesus who speaks mercy over them. This would fulfill the eternal desire of a dwelling place, but in John’s recording of Jesus’ prayer to the Father, we see the expression of another one of His heart’s desires.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may be in us… The glory that you have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one… Father, I desire that they also… may be with me where I am” (Jn. 17:20-26). Jesus desires to be in us, completely one with us, and among us- that we would be where He is. This is His desire; this is what He asked of the Father and we know His word never returns void (Is. 55:11).

So what is His joy? What was He purchasing with His death and resurrection? Yes, He desires people and an earth totally free from the presence of sin, guilt, shame, death, and evil. But why does this matter? Because He desires the ability to fully dwell in us and with us once again. This is why we need to be cleansed, purified, and our minds renewed- to fulfill His desure of oneness with us in an intimate, covenant relationship where we choose Him just as He chose us before the foundations of the earth were laid (Eph. 1:4, Rev. 13:8, Jn 17:24). We were the joy set before Him.

Yeshua loves the Church as a Bride and gave His life up- His glory in heaven and then His human life on earth- to have her. This is why a man leaves his father and mother to be united to his wife- to reveal the Man who left His heavenly home to create a way to be united with His Bride (Gen. 2:24, Eph. 5:31). “This is a profound mystery,” Paul acknowledges, “but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). When we see Him, we’ll be like Him so that when He sees us, this Second Adam will say, “This, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (1 Jn. 3:2, Gen. 2:23). She’s like Me.

And there will be loud voices, crying out “like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder” that will say, “Hallelujah! Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:6-9). What a beautiful time of rejoicing!

This is the context in which He’s coming back! If we really take Him at His word and believe that He is coming back for His joy, His bride- how then should we be living? How are we getting ready? Are we practicing joining with the Spirit individually and corporately so that we’re ready to join with Him to say, “Come” on that day (Rev. 22:17)? Are we ready to look Love Himself in the face, see those firey eyes and say “I love you” back? Are we ready to live in oneness with Him for(literal)ever? There is no “in sickness and health” when sickness has been abolished. There is no “till death do us part” when death has been defeated. This is heaven; this is eternal life (Jn 17:3).

As we journey through this week of remembering the One who is coming soon, may we take time to intentionally reflect on these questions. How is the Holy Spirit getting me ready to be presented to Jesus (2 Cor. 11:2, Eph. 5:27, Rev. 19:7)? How can I practice hearing & obeying His voice? Am I ready to look Love Himself in the face, see those firey eyes and say “I love you” back? What is holding me back from loving Him fully?

In remembering the Bridegroom who is coming for us soon, may we be marked by His unending love and sacrificial faithfulness- to the point of being moved to develop intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit, embrace the bridal identity the Father gave us, and intentionally prepare for the soon-coming Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Happy Advent, friends. Let’s welcome the joy of His soon-coming return together.

if you have an extra moment:

read: Revelation 19:1-10

catch up on all the advent thoughts by reading part I and part II if you haven’t already 🙂

listen: “Getting Ready” by Upperroom and “Jesus We Love You” by MBL Worship

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