One of my dearest friends got married two weeks ago. He had originally asked me to do this Scripture Reading at the wedding. But unfortunately, the drive from Philly to Newark, Ohio is a long one, and many variables can make for much delay, and indeed, this is what happened. Anyway, to add to the pain of this loss, this particular set of Scriptures that I was going to have the honor of reading just happens to be the best set of Scripture readings I’ve ever encountered for a wedding. No Song of Solomon or 1 Corinthians 13 here; just a proper and exegetically sound exploration of the sweeping story of God’s relationship with his own Bride, the Church. Therefore, I felt compelled to share these verses with you today.
Andrew and Laura, I pray that this feeble attempt at publicly participating in the celebration of your union communicates the love and grace of our Lord to your hearts. May it bless you.
We will be reading four passages from Scripture, the first is the creation of Eve in Genesis 2, verses 18-25. Please listen:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
“At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”
This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.
Our next passage is Ezekiel 16, verses 4-14. God later uses the marriage imagery as an illustration of his relationship with Israel. Listen now to how he describes his people:
On the day you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was not cut, and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in cloth. No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you.
“But I came by and saw you there. I said, ‘Live!’ and I helped you to thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel. And when I passed by again, I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.
“Then I bathed you, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a queen, and so you were! Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord.
Our next passage is Ephesians 5:22-33. Consider what Paul the Apostle says regarding marriage:
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Our final passage is Revelation 19:6-9. After Israel falls, Jesus dies and rises again to restore us to God. Our sins are not only forgiven, but forgotten. Listen to John’s vision now as recorded in Revelation:
Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:
“Praise the Lord!
For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”