The Wedding Part 1

There is a reason that I gave you information on the Jewish feasts because we are headed for a Jewish Feast. You see, Passover, was when our Lord died and paid the Mohar. He was offered as a guilt offering. Then we had the feast of Unleavened Bread, He is the unleavened bread and that bread was buried. It was on First Fruits that He rose from the dead. He is the first fruit. The day of Pentacost was the first official harvest on the Jewish calendar and the day of Pentacost we had the first official harvest. Next, on the Jewish calendar comes the feast of Trumpets.

 

Let’s look again at John 14:1-3 1 “”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”(NIV)

 

He’s coming back. Hallelujah! And He is not just coming back; He’s coming back with fanfare. It’s going to be a really big deal when He comes back. Let’s look at I Thessalonians 4:16-18 16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.”(NIV)

 

These are encouraging words. He’s coming back with a shout, the voice of the arch angel and the trumpet call of God. As you can see Paul believed He was in the last days and I don’t think there has been a generation since who hasn’t believed the same thing. It is that eager anticipation, that eagerness that aches for our husband.

 

That brings us to the Jewish wedding, to Nissuin which is derived from the verb nasa, and it means to carry or lift. We are going to get carried away and lifted off our feet. Nissuin can also mean elevation and connects husband and wife to God Almighty. We will be elevated as husband and wife to God. The legal ceremony has already occurred, it’s the Kiddushin. The wedding is the lifting away. All that’s left is for Him to come get His precious wife. Remember Jacob said, “Give me my wife” and when Yeshuah comes for His we’ll be gone.

 

I Corinthians 15:51-53 51 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”(NIV)

 

Paul likes mystery, have you noticed that? Did you know that our husband and our oneness to Him is the greatest mystery this world has ever seen? That moment when we are lifted up off this earth, we’ll be changed. Why? We are going to see Him in all His glory. He will transform us to be like Him in an immortal body.

 

In Revelation 19:6-9 It says, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.””(NIV)

 

The word we translate bride in our translations is actually “wife” in the Greek. I think we translate it “bride” because of how we think of a wedding, it has to have a bride. The day will finally come when the wife has made herself ready and our place in heaven is prepared and the Father says to the Son, “Go get your wife”. He’ll come down with a shout at the last trumpet call of God and He is going to lift us away and we’re not only going to get a new body, we’re going to get a beautiful robe. This robe stands for the righteous acts of the saints. We must be about His work, Amen.

 

I keep going back to how we started and what He said at His mikvah, “We must do this to fulfill all righteousness.”(NIV) He started the pursuit first, we didn’t. He had a desire for a wife, we had no desire for a husband. This was all His idea.

 

Isaiah 61:8b-10 says,  “In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed. 10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

 

I love that verse. Do you believe you will be beautiful on that day. How’s your robe coming together. You see when a Jewish man and woman would go through the Kiddushin, He would leave and go prepare a place, but guess what she set about doing? She began to make her wedding dress. She began to make her robe. How’s your robe coming together? How’s that wedding dressing looking? Are you about done? You ready for Him? Of course, He gets to put the finishing touches on it, we understand that. I want to look a passage that became very dear to me when I was leading an Esther study.

 

It is Psalm 45, it’s a wedding Psalm. Beginning in verse 2 it states, 2 “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever. 3 Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. 4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. 5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet. 6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.  7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. 8 All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. 9 Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir. 10 Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. 11 The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. 12 The Daughter of Tyre will come with a gift, men of wealth will seek your favor. 13 All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. 14 In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you. 15 They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king. 16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princes throughout the land. 17 I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”(NIV)

 

Did you catch where we are? We are at His right hand as He is on the right hand of the Father. We are going to marry the King.

 

Nissuin came to be called within Jewish culture, Huppah. Huppah means to cover. It can be translated canopy, chamber, or closet. It is the bridal chamber where the marriage is consummated or made complete. You see we have the legal documents and now we are waiting for that completion when those documents are going to be made fact. Scripture says, “Our faith will be sight.” We are waiting for that completion.

 

In Joel 2:16 we see, “Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”(NIV) The word “chamber” here is the word Huppah.

 

Another example of this is found in the book of Isaiah where it says in Isaiah 4:5, “Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy.”(NIV) Where will is this?   It is over all of Mount Zion, which is in Jerusalem. The center piece of Jerusalem is the Temple and the greatest place there was the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies, His chamber, is where we will come together under the Huppah of God’s Glory as husband and wife before God the Father. And because we are lifted up with Him in the Nissuin this is the Holy of Holies in Heaven the one true Tabernacle.

 

Nissuin is accomplished by a means of a symbolic act of intimacy that demonstrates the couples’ intention to create a new home and new life. It’s far less tangible than Kiddushin, it’s sealed not with documents, but with actions. It literally gives the Bride  and the Bridegroom to each other. Nissuin consists of the Sheva Birkat or the Seven Blessings and the Yichud or time of seclusion. The major themes of the blessings are Creation, Eden, Zion, Redemption, Bridegroom, and Jerusalem. From beginning to end.  We will look at these next time.

Awaiting our Bridegroom,

Vicky

Fast and Pray

Tonight begins the three days before Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. Esther asked Mordecai to have the Jews fast for her for 3 days and that she and her maids would do the same. Let us consider starting a three day prayer and fast for Benjamin Netanyahu beginning tonight. Pray that he would come to know his Messiah and that God would grant him wisdom, discernment and the proper words, as well as, praying for the men and women of our Congress that God would give them ears and hearts to hear along with wisdom and discernment to do what God tells them to do. Let us Pray!!!!!!!!

Esther Speaks

My heart is heavy lately.  I watch the news and see what is going on in our world and my heart aches.  It aches for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for His Name’s sake.  I aches seeing how backward our world has become.  It aches with the knowledge that our nation is currently on the wrong side.  It aches to see Israel suffer at the threat of annihilation.  As you may be able to tell by now this will be a different kind of article.

I believe God is giving us a message as to the time in which we live.  We are quickly approaching Purim, the festival that commemorates the Jews defeating those who sought to annihilate them in the Persian Empire.  Esther, or should I say Hadassah the Jewess, was put into the position of queen of that empire for a time such as that by God Himself.  She was put into that position to protect her people from those who sought to destroy them.

As I said, we are quickly approaching Purim and God has once again given Israel a leader who wishes to protect them, Benjamin Netanyahu.  He is in this position for such a time as this.  Once again on the eve of Purim Persia, Iran, seeks to destroy them again.  Let me say it clearly, I do not believe the timing of Netanyahu’s speech in Washington is by accident.  I believe it is divinely ordained.  This time our leaders are playing the part of King Xerxes and Benjamin Netanyahu is playing the part of Esther.

As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to come and speak to our leaders in Washington we need to praying and fasting with him and for him, just as the Jews in Esther’s day did for her.  We also need to be praying and fasting that God would give true godly wisdom to our leader’s.  Just as Esther went before Xerxes and God made him favorable toward helping her and her people so we need to be praying that the same will happen this time with the leaders of the United States.

This is a very serious crossroad, one which has huge implications.  We may very assuredly seal our future if we side against Israel at this hour.  Then again we may seal a blessing if we side with and stand with Israel no matter what the rest of the world may think.  That is the choice we have before us, blessing or curse.

God said, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.”  It is my prayer that we choose blessing.  This could be a moment of great victory, a victory from God, for both us and Israel, together.  We need to stand with Israel or else we will fall.  If we bless them, we will be blessed.  If we curse them, we will be cursed.

We must wake up to the hour in which we live.  This generation has a decision to make.  God is watching and He is our Judge.  What the rest of the world thinks is irrelevant.  We do not answer to the rest of the world, we answer to the One who created this world.

Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking to Congress on March 3rd the day before Purim begins.  May it be a time of rejoicing and not mourning.

U.S. Congressmen and Senators this time you are Xerxes.  Please lower your scepter and speak words of life.  Listen to God, He is speaking to you.  Benjamin Netanyahu is Esther and he is pleading for the life of his people and the land of Israel.  Do not turn a deaf ear or God’s scepter will fall in judgement.  Yes, He is watching!

Let’s pray!

Vicky

What Does Unity Look Like? Part 3

So how do we live that life that Christ calls us to live in Biblical Unit?  We do that with the very attitude of Christ.

Philippians 2:1-5 says, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:”(NIV)

We’ve been united with Him haven’t we? We have been through the Kiddushin. The legal document has been signed. The morhar has been paid. We are His. Legally we are His wife. We have been united with Christ. Be like minded here and now. Not in the by and by but right now. That’s what Paul wants to see in God’s people in this Philippians passage. We should all be about building that one Temple. I don’t want to work with that church down the street because I want my church to grow first.  If we worked together a little bit more maybe all of our churches would grow. Make sense? There wouldn’t be any empty spaces in our pews or chairs, as a matter of fact we wouldn’t have enough room.  And he goes right on to talk the attitude of the servant who was willing to humble Himself even unto death.

Romans 12 tells us a little bit more about how we should live this life, the life that gives living sacrifices. We must put our pride aside in order to be that sacrifice. Romans 12:1-5 & 9-13 states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others…Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”(NIV)

 

The world likes us to be divided.  Because it can talk about us that way. True? The media has a field day with this divided church.  So how do we talk about those hard subjects together, I’m going to tell you how. We get on our knees together and if we get up after two or three times and we still disagree we don’t say, “Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”  No.  We keep praying together because there is one faith, one Spirit and that same Spirit is in each one of us, therefore, if our ideas are different than one of us, some of us, or even all of us are not listening to His Spirit.  So we keep praying together, we keep talking to each other and we keep searching our Ketubah, searching His Word, and we keep praying on our knees together, together.

I know it just doesn’t sound practical does it?  How can that really be?  It’s called being full of the Spirit, living according to His will and not our own and about what pleases our husband and not what pleases us. This Christian life is not practical. Who ever said it was?  Let’s face it, the things He asks us to do sometimes are not what we want to do.  Do we love Him enough to do it anyway? Do we trust Him enough to do it anyway? When my son was younger we would often have this talk that went something like, “Trust me, you have to trust me!  Son, you have to trust me. If you don’t trust me, how are you going to trust God when He tells you to do something that you don’t necessarily want to do?  Mama’s practice.”  You see you and I are practice for each other. When we do the things He asks us to do, He is letting us practice. He’s letting us practice being obedient. He’s letting us practice being the servant. In His mercy, He is letting us practice.

 

John 17:20-26 says,  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:  I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”(NIV)

 

That we may be one. That He may be together with my wife. That is His heart. There was a wedding in the garden.  You see our human history began with a wedding and our human history on this planet is going to end with a wedding and wedding feast.  From wedding to wedding, that is who we are.  That was the whole purpose for which we were created.  He gives us the whole picture of husband and wife on this planet while we are here so that we will understand what His hearts desire is for us to be with Him.

 

In Ephesians 5:31-32 Paul says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.”(NIV)

 

About the Bridegroom and the Bride. That is the whole reason He gave us the wonderful privilege of marriage on this planet. So that we can have a picture of what He wants with us.  I have a wonderful husband, but he is not perfect. But we do have a perfect husband and one day He is going to put a crown on our head and we are going to be one.  Is that your hearts desire?  More than anything else?  I hope so.

I suspect the more we search out His heart and the more we seek His face the more we will look like Him and we will live much more like He lived.  How did He live?  He lived like a Torah observing Jew without the Tradition of the elders.  We know that we will be living by His Biblical calendar and Feasts in His kingdom according to Zechariah 14 and other passages.  Food for thought isn’t it!

We will be studying the Wedding and the Wedding Feast next.

Awaiting His Coming!

Vicky

What Does Unity Look Like? Part 2

There is another symbol in Scripture for the bride, we have already talked about it some, and that’s the Temple.  Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”(NIV) 

Jesus is our chief cornerstone, that first stone, the main stone, without that stone there would be no foundation.  The temple raising up off the chief cornerstone and the foundation of the apostles and prophets. 

How many temples is He making?  One.  Only One.  Not the Baptist Temple, not the Methodist Temple, Not the Presbyterian or Luthern Temple or the Church of Christ Temple or the Catholic Temple or the Messianic Temple, I don’t care what you call it, there’s just one.  One Temple and that is all.

I Peter 2:4-10 states, “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in Scripture it says:  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”  They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for.  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”(NIV)

We have received mercy, but when we argue with our brothers and sisters in Christ, even over doctrine we are not giving them mercy.  We are a precious, precious Temple to Him.  In Solomon’s Temple there were walls, doors, courtyard, and pillars, yet only one Temple.  If we were to pull out a pillar and let it stand by itself it could not be the Temple, instead we would call that a ruin.  We need each other.  We have to have each other because we are one Temple and we must all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.

Here is my next question.  Do you believe the time is coming near for our husband, our bridegroom to return for His bride?  Do you believe that?  We are built on the cornerstone and foundation and if He is about to come that means He is about to put in the final piece.  He is the final piece.  He is not only the cornerstone, but also the capstone.  The capstone was the final piece that held the arch in place.  He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.  So if we are close to being done shouldn’t it be obvious as to what we are?  Shouldn’t it be more and more obvious as to what we are? Or are we still a wall over here and a pillar over there and you can’t really tell what it is yet?  But if we are getting close to being done shouldn’t it be obvious as to what we are?

Let’s go back to I Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-23 where is says,  “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ…  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written:  “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”  So then, no more boasting about men!  All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”(NIV) 

From God the Father, to God the Son, to His precious Bride.  All are yours. 

I think we are seeing some improvement in the body of Christ in the sense that we don’t mind getting together with other believers from other denominations as much as we did 30, 40, or 50 years ago.  We are also seeing more and more Jews believing in Messiah and therefore more believers are coming to understand the Jewish Roots of the faith.  But there is still need for improvement, isn’t there?  We have come far, but we must keep pressing on. 

In II Corinthians 6:16b Paul says, “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”(NIV)  He so desires to be our God and for us to be His people, for us to be able to walk hand and hand with His beloved Son.  However, we can’t do that if we don’t even take the hand of one another, across whatever lines you want to draw within orthodoxy.  We must realize that all are ours. 

You see my Methodist sisters, you’re my sisters.  My Presbyterian sisters, you’re my sisters.  My Lutheran sisters, you’re my sisters.  My Catholic sisters, you’re my sisters. My Messianic sisters, you’re my sisters.  We are supposed to be one together.  Even in thought.  Isn’t that what Paul says in verse one of I Corinthians?  “Perfectly united in mind and thought.”(NIV) Hard words to hear since we have become so divided and comfortable in that division. Again, we have come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

But let’s face it we have to have walls, we have to have pillars. Each part has to do it’s work. I did not come to Christ in the Southern Baptist Convention. God brought me into this convention to use me where He wants me in the time He wants me here.  Period.  Nothing else matters except living the life He has called me to live.  Living the life He has called each and every one of us to live.  This is our period of sanctification when we must completely set ourselves apart. 

I have another question for you.  What is the single most said complaint by people outside the church about the church?  Too many hypocrites in the church, I don’t want to go there. They’re no different from me.  What do they have that I don’t?  That’s what they see, isn’t it?  Because unfortunately, we talk the oneness talk, but we don’t live the oneness life.  Yet our unity would speak volumes to the world that is lost apart from our beloved Bridegroom. 

Our next post will be about how we become one.  It really isn’t as hard as our minds try to make it.  Remember we are not to think and act as mere men, but as His Bride!  In the mean time, let’s be more mindful of building up each others walls as part of the one temple rather than tearing them down.

Your Sister in Messiah,

Vicky

What Does Unity Look Like? Part 1

These next three posts may be some of my more controversial posts yet.  I hope you will bear with me through all three.    I am going to try to really drive home a point and the importance of true Biblical unity.  There my be times when it gets uncomfortable, but then again our Savior did not die so we could be comfortable.  He died so that we could be transformed into His likeness.  With that being said lets begin.

Our history started with the church understanding that whether Jew or Gentile, there is was difference.  However, even within that early history there was division.  And we cannot talk about this subject without hitting a very important topic.  Let’s look at I Corintians 1:10-13, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.  My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”(NIV)  Does that sound like we could just replace a few names and be very contemporary?  The congregation in these verses were even meeting in the same house.  Notice they were not fighting over the style of music, but on who was there leader.

Now let’s go to chapter 3 and read verses 1 though 8.  “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?  What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”(NIV)

What is Apollos and what is Paul?  Let’s plug in some other names here:  John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin…..  We have a tendency to follow mere men and go with the opinions of mere men instead Scripture, instead of standing together as one in Christ.  Is that not what a denomination is?  And I write this as a Southern Baptist Pastor’s wife who loves her denomination.  But my denomination is NOT the church!  We’re just a part of it, doing our part.  Laboring for what God has given us.  That’s all!  That’s all any denomination is, doing it’s part.  If denominations ever get so arrogant as to say, “We are the church”, we are in disobedience. 

Like I said this is going to get uncomfortable.  We don’t like to talk about this very often.  And you can read this and say, “Yes, Vicky your absolutely right”.  Yet at the same time we don’t like to have those very important conversations.  You know the ones I’m talking about, those theological discussions on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, etc. 

We have an unspoken rule in our society that basically says when you go to Uncle Tom’s house you don’t talk politics and you don’t talk religion.  Right?  We’ll we have an unspoken rule in the church that say’s, “When ya’ll get together, don’t take about doctrine.”  Just don’t go there.  Why?  Because we act like mere men when we go there?  But is avoiding those topics the desire of God?  And are we willing to leave behind the milk for the solid food even when we come together.

We have to ask ourselves if our husband wants a dysfunctional bride.  The answer, of course, is no He doesn’t.  Yet a bride that does not talk to each other is dysfunctional.  A family that doesn’t talk to each other is dysfunctional?  Isn’t that how we would classify that?  Is there a branch of your family that refuses to talk to each other or refuses to talk about certain topics? 

I want us to read a few verses in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 1-6, 11-13, and then 16.  It says,  ”As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called–  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”…“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”…“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”(NIV)

What does that peace mean again?  Oneness.  It represents that covenant, that everlasting covenant.  So when we get together and we talk doctrinal stuff and we start arguing and saying, We’ll I think this and I think that and that’s just the way it’s going to be and we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.  Are we not acting like mere men?  Yes, we are.

This is food for thought until our next post.  I hope I have not run you off.  We will discuss this again next time and then part three will discuss how we are to act toward one another.  How do we function as the Bride of Christ in true unity. 

A Member of the Bride,

Vicky

The Heart of God

This is where we live.  This chapter is all about today.  Not about what He did 2000 years ago. Not what we accepted when we came to Christ, but how we live in Christ today.  Because, obviously, He did not take us home when we said, “I do”.  So He expects some things out of us during this period of sanctification, during our period of Kiddushin, He expects some things out of us. 

This is where we are and so it is a matter of upmost importance.  This is the very heart of God for His wife, for His people, for His temple today.  I want to start by looking at a passage out of Ezekiel 37:15-28:

“The word of the LORD came to me:  “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, `Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, `Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’  Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.  When your countrymen ask you, `Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph–which is in Ephraim’s hand–and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’  Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.  I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.  I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  `My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.  They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.  I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.  I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”(NIV)

The nations will know.  I will make the two one, I will make a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant with them.  This is what I believe is the very heart of God, oneness with His people.  He wants to be our God and for us to be His people and He accomplishes that through the marriage of His Son to His people. 

As we start to look in the New Testament and our early church history, we see that the church was first thought of as a Jewish sect.  That’s what we were.  Most believers in that early first century were Jewish, they were Jews who recognized their Melech Yeshuah H’Messhia, their King Jesus the Messiah.  So in that first century as Gentile believers started coming into the nation there had to be discussion about Jew and Gentile and so that is where we are going to start. 

Ephesians 2:11-19 says, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”(NIV)

Members of God’s people, of God’s household.  Church hear me, the word ‘church’, the Greek word for ‘church’ in the Greek Septuegant, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is used in talking about the congregation of Israel.  It is not exclusively a New Testament term.  The church is the congregation or assembly of Israel.  God seeks to make all His children, whether Jew or Gentile, one.  That is His purpose, to create in Himself one man out of the two.

I want to say very clearly at this point, I know there is a lot of talk out there in theological circles about replacement theology, which says that the church replaces Israel.  That is NOT what I am talking about.  I want to make that very, very clear.  The church did not replace Israel.  We have the awesome privilege of being brought into citizenship in Israel and to share in their covenant promises. 

Romans 9:6b states, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”(NIV)  What Paul means by that is that just because one has the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob does not make them a member of the Spiritual nation of Israel.  Because only in Christ, only in Messiah, does that happen.  Even Jews must recognize their Melech Yeshuah H’Messhia, they must recognize their Messiah.

Romans 10:11-13 reiterates this, “As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””(NIV)  He takes the two and makes them one.  Remember we are talking about the heart of God and what God desires for His own people.  This is God’s desire for us as we live out this life of following Him and awaiting Him.

We then find in Romans 11:12 & 15-21 & 23-26a, “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!… For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,  do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”  Granted, but they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either…. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!  I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved”.

All Israel, the holy assembly of God’s people whether Jew or Gentile will be saved.  The heart of God, oneness among His people.  We have to be careful, the church has become awefully Gentile in the last 2000 years.  True?  True!  But we must not forget our roots, remember it was already mentioned that in the first century we were Jewish.  The church was Jewish.  The Apostles kept going to the Temple, they continued to celebrate the Feasts.  However as we became more and more Gentile we lost connection to the root.  We must remember and not stand on arrogance that we are the Church.  But remember that we stand on a root and they are our root and one day those branches that were broken off will be grafted back in.  You see there are not two trees of the church and Israel.  There is but one tree.  And we will all stand together in that oneness and in His covenant of  peace before God Almighty and marry His Son, those who have called on the Name of the LORD.   

Later in that Romans 11 in verses 30-32 we find, “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”(NIV)  Jew, Gentile it doesn’t matter.  We all broke the first covenant.  We are all in need of a new covenant, every one of us.

A Citizen of Israel,

Vicky