So this global pandemic and lots of other crazy stuff happening lately has me thinking more and more about the return of Jesus. Scripture points to circumstances, just like we see right now, as indicators of His return. Now I’m not going to all Revelation, End Times Prophecy Timeline on you. But something inside of me seems to whisper “get ready, Jesus is coming back for His bride.”
Sometimes I forget.
I forget that I am, we (the followers of Christ) are his bride, and that He’s coming back for us. Hosea 2:19 says, “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.” I don’t think we, in the West, have the clearest picture of what betrothal really means.
The Hebrew word for betroth is “aras.” Most commentaries and lexicons say that “aras” means “to engage for matrimony.” But that little Hebrew word has a much deeper meaning. The root word for “aras” means “desire.” Meaning that the idea behind a betrothal period was to build desire between a husband and a wife.
In biblical times marriages were arranged. The husband and wife might never have met one another until the day of their wedding ceremony. Generally the marriage wasn’t consummated on the day of the ceremony. The ceremony marked the beginning of the betrothal, a period of time for the couple to get to know one another, to actually come to love one another before the marriage was consummated. The length of the betrothal could vary. Typically it was a year, but it could be more or less. Sex was forbidden during this time, and if for any reason they wanted to end the betrothal they would actually have to get a divorce. (Remember Joseph considered divorcing Mary, “his betrothed or espoused wife” quietly when he learned she was pregnant with Jesus.). So this time of betrothal was a time for the couple to learn about each other. They would spend time together, talk and dream about their future together. Discover each other’s likes and dislikes. Learn about those things that made them tick. All the while creating an ever increasing sense of desire between the two of them to the point that the bridegroom would come and sweep his bride away and become intimate with her.
During the betrothal the bridegroom would build a new room onto his father’s house, where he would eventually bring his bride to live. Generally after a year, the “aras” or desire of the bridegroom would come to a point that he would quietly and unexpectedly go to his bride, take her from her family’s house and take her home to his where they would finally consummate their marriage. Now they would be fully and completely married.
No one knew when the bridegroom would come for his bride, not even the bride. People in the village would watch with expectation as the bridegroom would prepare to come for his bride, and as the bride would make herself ready. She didn’t know for sure when he was coming, she just knew He was and she was sure to be ready.
We are in our betrothal period with Jesus, our bridegroom. In His grace and mercy, He has given us indicators to let us know His coming was close. Those indicators are all around us right now. Personally, my desire for Him grows stronger everyday. Its not just me though. I hear it in the words of my wife, my kids, my friends (on Zoom of course). Three weeks ago one of my kids said, “Dad, talking about Jesus coming back scares me a little.” Then only a couple of days ago, she came up to me and said, “You know Dad – I’m ready. I’m ready for Jesus to come back.” Our desire is growing.
I think His desire for us is growing too. I think He’s anxious, excited to sweep us away to live with Him – forever. I have a strong sense deep inside that He’s ready.
Jesus said “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
Come quickly Lord Jesus.