Bible study, Devotional

The Betrothal

After four months of dating, my then, boyfriend, got all our friends together and planned a three-day cruise. There were eight of us total, four guys and four girls — two rooms (one for the guys and one for the girls). Then off we went to the Bahamas. We had a great time together. On the last night of our cruise there was a formal dinner with great food, friends, and fun.

At the end of the night, my boyfriend, Mike, took me to the top deck overlooking Nassau (the port city of the Bahamas). It was a beautiful star-filled night with the lights of the ship and the city reflecting on the water. As we looked toward the beautiful city on the ocean, he knelt on one knee and ask me to be his wife.

I said, “Yes!”

He wanted to go get the captain and be married right then. But I resisted, knowing how upset my family would be if I did that.

We planned our wedding for six months later when our family and friends could be with us. Ten months after we started dating, we became Mr. and Mrs. Mike Pavlantos. We just had our twenty-ninth anniversary in April.

Has it always been easy and full of fun? Absolutely not.

Marriage can be hard. But God created the marriage to be a covenant. Even though many people experience the heartbreak of divorce, that is not what God intended.

God modeled the marriage covenant after His Son.

What does a covenant mean?

In the Bible, when two parties instituted a covenant between them, they took a fattened animal, the best of the flock or herd, and “cut” it into two pieces. Then the two parties of the covenant would pass through the pieces symbolizing their dedication to the covenant and by this action are saying, “If I do not hold to the agreements of this covenant, you can do to me what we did to this animal.” (https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/definition/covenant.htm)

Pretty serious stuff, right? But, that is what the Father made with us through His Son.

A betrothal, is a marriage contract and it involves a covenant. The betrothal began with the father choosing a bride for his son, but the bride had to agree. 

The Father has chosen us, too.

 Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 

Ephesians 1:4 ESV

We must agree to our Betrothal as well.

The bridegroom and his father go to the house of this woman whom he has chosen to be his bride. The family knew he was coming, but it was the daughter’s decision to open the door. If she opened the door, they came in, had dinner, and ironed out the details of the marriage contract or Ketubah (the Jewish word for the contract).

If she had cold feet or decided she did not want him as her husband, she did not open the door and the two men left.

Here’s how that looks in our Bibles:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Revelation 3:20 ESV

The Bridegroom comes to the door of our hearts and knocks. When we let Him in, it begins an amazing relationship that will challenge us to be holy. However, if we do not open the door—He leaves. That doesn’t mean He won’t try again, but continually refusing to open the door leaves Jesus with little choice but to walk away.

However, the bride could back out of the betrothal at any time before the ceremony.

Jesus will never change His mind about wanting us as His Bride. But we can back out at any time. We can walk away—as many have.

Jesus will never change His mind about wanting us as His Bride. But we can back out at any time. We can walk away—as many have. #TheBetrothal #ThisSideofHeaven

During the betrothal process, the first thing the couple and their family do is drink the first of four glasses of wine together. The first cup represents servanthood. As they drink this cup, they vow to serve one another throughout their lives. This cup compares to the first cup of Passover.

While on this earth, Jesus shared three of the four cups of wine with his disciples during the Passover meal. The first cup is the Cup of Sanctification, representing a setting apart for God, serving Him only. Just as our new spouse wants all our affections and faithfulness, Jesus does too.

Jesus sets us apart for Him. Is that easy? No.

The world can ridicule us for being pure (holiness), for not using foul language, for not watching or listening to raunchy popular movies or music, or for not partying and getting drunk, which can make us feel, well, separated—wanting to fit in.

But being set apart shows God’s love for us. Staying pure and holy shows our love for Him.

When we are faithful to our spouse, no matter what, it shows our commitment and loyalty to them.

How are we unfaithful to the Lord?

With our idols…. humans have always had and will always have idols—unless we acknowledge them and give them to Jesus. We need to ask Jesus to point out our idols so we deal with them.

I often need affirmation. There was a time when the Lord pointed out to me that my need to have people recognize what I was doing or writing was an idol. The Holy Spirit revealed to me His opinion and pleasing Him was all that mattered.

Our idols can be many things, but mainly whatever pulls and keeps our attention from the Lord. When we use food, alcohol, or anything else to self-medicate our hurts or failures, we make it an idol. When our spouse or children are more important than our relationship with the Lord, they become our idols.

A day or two before the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom comes back for his bride. But if he found she had been unfaithful; he could divorce her.

In our relationship with the Lord, He may find us unfaithful, but He is compassionate; He forgives our unfaithfulness even though He could cut us off forever. He requires one thing from us, though…repentance. Repentance is His gift to us.

Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the Lord your God.’

Jeremiah 3:12-13 ESV

Jesus is our Bridegroom who longs to make us His Bride forever. Answer the door and let Him in.

7 thoughts on “The Betrothal”

  1. Amen! Well said; and a very timely reminder Ms. Stephanie. Let us not forget the commitment we have made to our faith and our God. I think of Ecclesiastes 4:12 this morning; “… a three-stranded cord cannot be easily broken” (paraphrased). Let us remember that there must be three persons in our marriages for them to withstand this world.

  2. When Sonia and I were married, I asked the preacher to make a comment about those we invited as guests. They were our witnesses. They were asked to help make sure we stayed on the right track and were challenged to call us out if we didn’t. I don’t think the witnesses realize their part in married couple’s lives. In a month, we will celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary.

    Thanks for your insight and for going deeper into the Word!

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