In picturing His Second Coming, Christ told a number of parables involving weddings. Much of the terminology He used was right out of Jewish marriage traditions known to His listeners. In A Christian Love Story, Zola Levitt relates that tradition and explains how beautifully it fits the promises that Jesus gave His disciples. Presenting the results of his research of rabbinical sources, Levitt writes:
When that matter (of the marriage contract and price to be paid for the bride) was settled the groom would depart. He would make a little speech to his (espoused) bride, saying, “I go to prepare a place for you,” and he would return to his father’s house. Back at his father’s house, he would build her a bridal chamber, a little mansion, in which they would have their future honeymoon…remain(ing) inside for seven days…. At the end of the week, the bride and groom would make their long-awaited appearance…(and) there would be a…marriage supper, which we might refer to as the wedding reception…. This construction project would take the better part of a year…and the father of the groom would be the judge of it when it was finished…. The bride, for her part, was obliged to do a lot of waiting… (and) she had to have an oil lamp ready in case he came late at night…she had to be ready to travel at a moment’s notice… (The groom) and his young men would set out in the night, making every attempt to completely surprise the bride.... The church is called “the bride of Christ” in the New Testament for a good reason.
One can readily see that Christ expected His disciples to understand what He said in reference to such a tradition. His statement, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you…and will come again to receive you unto myself,” clearly depicted Him as the groom and those who believed on Him as His espoused bride. His statement, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man…neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark:13:32) was not a denial of His deity and omniscience. It pointed again to the wedding tradition with which His listeners were familiar. The bridegroom couldn’t just throw a lean-to together and rush off and claim his bride. It was up to the father to decide when the honeymoon cottage was suitable; then he would tell the groom that he could bring his bride there.
The Lord, as we have seen, presented the gospel as involving not so much a choice between heaven and hell but between heaven and this earth. And those who opt for this earth, which is slated for destruction, end up in hell: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew:16:26). The desires and ambitions of this life all too often lure us away from the eternal home Christ offers. We cannot live both for this world and the next. What we do in this world must primarily have heaven in view or it could cost us heaven.