| Marriage to the Jews of Jesus's day was a practical legal matter, established by contract and carried through by exacting procedure. The young man would come to the chosen girl's house with a covenant (a true legal agreement) giving the terms by which he would propose marriage. The most important being the price he was willing to pay for this bride.
If the terms were suitable, the prospective bride and groom would drink a cup of wine together to seal the bargain. This cup was most significant as it showed the bridegroom's willingness to sacrifice in order to have this bride and the bride's willingness to marry him. Then the groom would pay the price and he would pay dearly to marry the girl of his choice.
Back at his father's house, he would build her a "chuppah" (bridal chamber, small mansion) in which they would have their future honeymoon. This was a separate building on his father's property and it had to be very beautiful yet simple since it would only be used for seven days. This construction would usually take the better part of a year and the father of the groom would decide when it was finished. If anyone asked the bridegroom when the wedding was, he would answer, "Only my father knows that."
The bride was obliged to do a lot of waiting. Custom declared she had to be ready to go and have an oil lamp ready in case the groom came late at night for her, which would be at a moment's notice. During this long period of waiting, she was referred to as "consecrated," "set apart," and "bought with a price."
Finally, when the groom's father decided the bridal chamber was ready, the groom and his friends would start off to claim his bride. All Jewish brides were "stolen." It was thrilling for her to be "abducted" and carried off into the night, not by a stranger, but by one who loved her so much he had paid a high price for her.
However, decorum declared that the bride had to receive at least a brief warning, so one of the groom's friends would give a shout as they neared the house. The bride only had time to light her lamp, grab her honeymoon clothing and go.
When they reached the house of the groom's father, the couple would go into the bridal chamber which the groom had prepared and shut the door. The wedding guests would be assembled in the father's house to celebrate the marriage. The wedding was actually going to take seven days (until the appearance of the bride and groom from the chamber). But the celebrating could not start until the marriage had been consummated. The groom's "best man" would stand outside the door and when the groom told him (through the door) the marriage had been consummated, the celebration of the wedding guests would begin and continue for a week.
At the end of the week, the bride and groom would appear and join the guests for the wedding supper. After the marriage supper, the bride and groom would leave the house of the groom's father and go to their own home.
Here are the various aspects of the wedding and scriptures that pertain to the Messiah and His Bride:
THE COVENANT (OR CONTRACT): Jeremiah 31:31-35 and Hebrews 8:8-13; 10:16-18.
THE CUP: Matt. 26:27-29.
THE PRICE: Luke 22:39-44.
THE DEPARTURE: John 14:1-3.
THE RETURN FOR THE BRIDE: I Thess 4:16-17.
THE BRIDAL CHAMBER: 2 Cor 5:10; 1 Cor 3:11-15; (best man) John 3:28-29.
THE MARRIAGE SUPPER: Rev. 19:7-8.
The Jewish wedding customs -- which Jesus followed -- tell us a lot about our Lord and his Bride. There are too many things to be learned to fit in this small space. But the ceremony is rich with meaning. For example, oil in the Bible is the Holy Spirit - to be anointed with oil was to be "empowered" by God. Therefore, we are to have oil for our lamps and be ready to travel even in the dark of night; that is, have the Holy Spirit shining within us and be expectantly waiting for the Lord's return.
The seven days of the chuppah (honeymoon) corresponds to the seven years of the Tribulation. During this honeymoon, the couple became intimate and no longer was anything hidden. Just so, we will spend the seven years in the chuppah going through the Bema seat of judgment where we will have our earthly works done while a Christian thrown into the fire -- the bad works will burn up and the good works will come out as gold. We will also receive any crowns we have won (there are five listed in the Bible) at this time. At the end of the seven years, we will return with Jesus to reign forever with Him.
In Ephesians 5:21-33, the Apostle Paul compares earthly marriage to this great marriage of Christ and His Bride. It is we who have a covenant (legal agreement) with the One Who forgives sins. It is we who drink the cup with Him, and we for whom the price was paid. We are the ones to whom He said, "I go to prepare a place for you" ("Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions (chuppahs): if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also." John 14:1-3 - this is Jesus's clearest promise of the rapture) and we are the ones who await His return.
This is the New Covenant (New Testament).