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.
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.
Now to the final segment from the Brides perspective. You remember His final step was leaving to go prepare a place for us, to intercede for us, to talk to the Father about us saying, “When is it time Dad, when is it time?” And so for the Bride, our last step is longing for Him. Do we ache for Him? Do we? Do we literally ache to see His face?
Can you imagine a young engaged girl kissing her finance goodbye as he goes off to war and then her not constantly asking, “when are you coming home?” Can you imagine a young engaged girl not doing that for the man she loves? Aching for him.
Our Betrothed did not go off to war, He went to prepare a home for us. But He’s coming back, He told us He would and He’s under contract to do so. Do we ache for Him as if it could be this very day? Do we look to the skies and go, “Come on, come on. Father give the word I’m ready to go home. I’m ready to see my husband. I can’t wait to see Him.” We long for Him. II Timothy 4:8 says, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”(NIV) How is it possible to not long for Him? If we are His and He is ours how can we not long for Him? How is that even possible? If we are truly living in the fullness of the Spirit, it is not! It is not possible.
In I Peter 5:4 Scripture also tells us that we have a crown of glory that never fades waiting for us on that day. The day when our royal position is solidified. The day He literally puts the crown on our heads.
II Corinthians 5:1-4 states, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”(NIV) One day His ever increasing glory will so over take us that it will completely transform us. We long for that heavenly dwelling and to be home with our husband.
Philippians 3:20-21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”(NIV) We will look on His glory one day and it will completely overtake us. Completely! We won’t just have a face that shines. It’s going to be completely overtaking. Completely!
Then Hebrews 9:28 reads, “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”(NIV) We wait for the completion of our salvation. We wait for our wedding day when we will enter the Huppah and be complete in Him. We share in His glory having been set apart for Him through Kiddushin and now we await, we long for, His appearing when our faith will be sight and we will see Him face to face, our glorious Bridegroom.
Because we long to be with Him we are compelled to persuade men through our ministry of reconciliation. In Christ they too can be a new creation and God makes His appeal through us.
Therefore we implore all who do not believe, all who have not called on His name, to be reconciled to God who longs to be reconciled to them. Scripture says that today is the day of salvation. Today is the day you can say yes to that awesome marriage proposal. Be reconciled to God. To the one who redeemed you, who purchased you, the very one who asked you to marry Him, to be your husband, and so forever to be with you. Ever to be with His wife, ever to be with His Bride.
Now, how do we live as we long to see Him face to face?
A good background for this article is “The Kiddushin” article on this site. It will give you more information on the Ketubah and it’s signing. This article will focus more on what it means to the Bride.
Our God is an awesome God who not only loved us enough to pay the mohar, bridal price, for His bride. He also wanted her to be able to remember all He has done for her. In order to do that He left her with His Ketubah or marriage contract, The Scriptures.
When a Jewish man and woman were betrothed they would have the signing of the Ketubah. That’s right, this took place at the betrothal ceremony, or Kiddushin, not the actual wedding. Today the actual Kiddushin and marriage ceremony have been combined, including the signing of the Ketubah. This was done between the 11th and 12th century due to persecution.
When the Ketubah is signed by the witnesses it is literally handed to the bride. It is hers. It is hers to read as often as she likes in order to remember and cherish the promises of her bridegroom. John 17:17 again says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”(NIV) The marriage contract is truth. Our Bridegroom came to fulfill His Ketubah. When all may be falling apart around us that contract is still true and binding. He has and will fulfill it’s terms. His contract has set her apart just for Him.
I heard a story once of a lady whose house had burned down and she ran into the burning house to retrieve one thing, her marriage license. The Word of God is our marriage license. If your house ever burns down this is what you run in to get, your marriage license. The Scriptures, the Ketubah is the Brides prized possession. Isn’t He awesome? He left something with us that we could read every day if we want to, to remind us of Him. To remind us of our husband, our bridegroom.
I know we are discussing many terms that may be foreign to you. If that is the case the best thing I could recommend for you to do is to go back to the beginning of this topic and read your way to this one.
In Jewish weddings today one thing that you will see is that when the veil is pulled back it is often the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom that pull back the veil. It is the groom that actually covers her before the ceremony. They do this in remembrance of Jacob and Rachel. Can you think of why that may be? Maybe if Jacob had done it himself, he wouldn’t have gotten fooled by Laban. Who knows? But if we go back a generation we see Isaac and Rebekah again. Rebekah veiled herself when she saw Isaac, we veil ourselves with our sin, don’t we? Who would have unveiled her? Isaac, her husband.
In II Corinthians 3:7-18 it says, “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”(NIV)
Tell me, what word do you see over and over again in this passage? “Glory”! Still many of the Jews today have not recognized the Bridegroom that the whole Covenant is talking about. They are reading their Ketubah and don’t even know the Bridegroom who gave it to them. That’s why their hearts are still veiled. We are unveiled when we come to Christ, to Messiah. The awesome thing to understand today is that many Jews are coming to faith in Messiah. Their veil is being pulled back by their Bridegroom. What a blessed day in which we live. Many in church history longed to see this day and that privilege is ours.
Let’s discuss that word “glory”. Glory means brightness, splendor, radiance, dignity, and honor. When we are unveiled we reveal His glory, splendor and radiance with ever increasing glory. When a bride is unveiled today everybody says, “Oh, look isn’t she so pretty, she’s so beautiful.” It’s all about her. But when we are unveiled it is not our glory we reflect, not our radiance. It is His. It is His glory, with ever increasing glory.
So now we share in His glory, the radiance of the Father. Now where did I get that? From Hebrews 1:2&3 which tells us that the Son is the very radiance of God. In John 17:5 Jesus talks about the glory (the radiance) He had before creation. Then in John 17:22 Jesus says, “I gave them the glory you gave me.”(NIV) Where did His glory come from that He gave to us? It came from the Father. Do you see that oneness, from the Father, to the Son, to the Bride? “I gave them the glory you gave me.” Romans 8:17 says we share in His glory.
You see only by the Lord Jesus the Messiah can the condemnation and the sentence of death announced by the law on the lawbreaker for breaking the Old Covenant be annulled and replaced by the free and life giving grace of the New Covenant in which He places His Covenant on our hearts and minds. We are unveiled by Him and are free to live life reflecting His glory. So let us live in the freedom of being unveiled and let His glory, His ever increasing glory, shine through us.
I know we are discussing many terms that may be foreign to you. If that is the case the best thing I could recommend for you to do is to go back to the beginning of this topic and read your way to this one.
That leads us to step five. Here comes the Kiddush, the cup. Remember our Kiddushin consists of the Ketubah, the Kiddush (the cup), the Mohar, and the seal. This is the Kiddush. In I Corinthians 11:25 it says, “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.””(NIV) The blood of the New Covenant; that purchased us without money, this New Covenant is a Covenant of marriage.
I know we have already gone over it, but at this point we need to cover it again. Isaiah 54:10 says this, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”(NIV) Then in Isaiah 55:3b it says, “I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”(NIV)
I want to talk to you about that Covenant of Peace. The Hebrew word “shalom” means peace. It can also be translated wholeness or oneness. This is a covenant of oneness. “And a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two will be one.” A covenant of oneness was always God’s plan. This is a covenant of marriage, a covenant of oneness with Him, which is true peace.
The Kiddush or cup not only speaks of the Mohar or the sacrifice He made, yes we are to remember His Mohar when we take the cup because that is what purchased us, but it is also the New Covenant or Marriage Covenant, His Covenant of Peace. Remember it’s the “New Covenant” in His blood. He says that first, He reminds us of the New Covenant first, of His Marriage Covenant first. Then He says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” So remember the price I paid for you. This is a covenant of marriage and I purchased you. So when you take that cup remember my purchase, remember my love for you.
John 17:19 says this, “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”(NIV) If He is already holy then He is not making Himself more holy, so what is He saying? He is setting Himself apart for us. He is telling His Father, “For them Father I have set myself apart that they too may be truly set apart. I set myself apart for them so that they can truly be set apart for me.” And right after this prayer we see Him, that very night, being arrested and giving His life. Spilling the blood of the Mohar, the blood of the cup.
In taking the cup we are accepting once again His offer of marriage and declaring ourselves set apart specifically and only for Him. As we remember the price He purchased us with. We are once again accepting that offer and continually declaring ourselves set apart for Him. Maybe that’s one reason why we do this more than once. We have communion in our churches all the time, don’t we? After all, we don’t just do communion once and that’s it. It reminds us that we are set apart for Him because of the price He purchased us with.
And then of course there is the blessing of the cup. “Holy One of Blessing your presence fills creation forming the fruit of the vine.” This is the blood of the covenant. And then the Birakat Eurasim or the Betrothal Blessing “Praised are you Adonai, Ruler of the Universe, Who have made us holy through your commandments and commanded us (the warning to the men) concerning sexual propriety forbidding us women who are merely betrothed, but permitting to us women who are married to us through Huppah and Kiddushin. Blessed are you Adonai, who makes your people, Israel, holy through Huppah and Kiddushin.
This is His marriage ceremony and we live out every day, especially when we partake in communion. Of course, with the drinking of the cup the veil has to come back. We will talk about this next time.
When we accept His pursuit and His Mohar, when He places His Name on us and seals us with His Holy Spirit we then find ourselves in the waters of the Mikvah. In coming to the mikvah we are accepting His pursuit of us and telling Him that we are willing to follow, to take up our cross and follow Him daily as Luke 9 tells us to do.
Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”(NIV) For Jesus it was Him telling His Father, “I’m ready to pursue this course of marriage. I’m ready to pursue my Bride and I’m ready to pay the Mohar. I know where it goes, it goes to me paying the Mohar and I’m willing to follow”. That’s why the Father could say, “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” John let’s us know that the reason the Father loves Him is because He laid down His life. He was willing to pay the Mohar.
For us though, remember, it’s all about our response to Him because we cannot come to Him unless He draws us. So everything we do is in response to Him. I Peter 3:20b-22 “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”(NIV) Our Mikvah is not about clean verses unclean, not the removal of dirt from the body. Do you remember as we accept His Mohar, remember from Hebrews 9, His Mohar redeems us and cleanses our conscience. Only with that good conscience can we respond in any way to Him.
I want to talk to you about that phrase, “pledge of a good conscience” because it is essential, it is the whole crux of the matter. The word “pledge”, if you have a different translation you might see the word “response” or “answer”. That word in the Greek literally means “question”. What question might that be? Take a wild guess. Will you marry Me? Will you marry Me? What we do is a response to His question. It is our pledge, our vow, our answer and our response. It is our “yes” to Him.
It’s important that you let your yes be yes. Numbers 30 let’s us know that vows and promises and pledges are irrevocable. They’re forever binding. So we give Him our “yes” in the waters of the Mikvah. We give it to Him out of the good conscience He has given us, the conscience that He purchased for us. Did you catch that? We give Him our “yes” through the waters of the Mikvah, that physical act, out of that good conscience that He purchased for us.
There is a second part, though, to our Mikvah. Do you know that when we come to Christ were entering a nation? We are acknowledging our rebirth into the nation of Israel by the Name of Jesus. I want to share with you what happens when anyone converts to Judaism to this day. A convert to Judaism, whether male or female, is required to immerse themselves in the mikvah waters two or three times marking their rebirth as members of the people of Israel. Isn’t that interesting? Are you aware that in very early Christian history it was very popular that when one was baptized they would be immersed three times, in the Name of the Father, in the Name of the Son, and in the Name of the Holy Spirit and some denominations still practice that? Upon doing so, they exit the waters as a Jew, a citizen of the nation.
Unfortunately, the Christian church has distanced itself from it’s heritage and roots in Judaism. Even though the Old Testament is still read and preached, the church has in a lot of ways removed itself from that same Old Testament. Yes, we are under the New Covenant, but that New Covenant writes the Old Covenant on our hearts. To say it another way, it writes the Israelite Constitution on our hearts. Therefore, we are exiting the waters of our mikvah as citizens of God’s Kingdom, members of God’s household.
This leads us to Acts 2:38-39 where Peter responds to the people on the day of Pentecost when the people ask the disciples, “What shall we do?” “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”(NIV)
In other words, go through the waters of the Mikvah, everyone of you. You see, on this particular day and in very early church history there was no separation in the accepting of the pursuit, the accepting of the Mohar, the coming of the Holy Spirit and going through the waters of the Mikvah. Today, we tend to think of those as separate steps or stages. But for them, it was all one fluid motion.
Whereas, we tend to dissect it into different pieces, making salvation more about us getting the steps right than on the work of the Messiah and God’s ability to call us and justify us through His Holy Spirit. Upon exiting the mikvah waters they had re-identified themselves with Yeshua and the New Covenant. They became true citizens of the Kingdom of God, God’s Israel, God’s Royal family (His princes and princesses) under King Yeshua, God’s Ambassadors, God’s Holy Priesthood under His High Priest Jesus Christ.
We also find in Isaiah 44:3-5 the following words: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, `I belong to the LORD'; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, `The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel.”(NIV)
All who go through this process of Kiddushin, go through the waters of the Mikvah and receive the Holy Spirit, it’s all one fluid motion, remember that. Don’t try to divide it in your head like we often do today. It is all one fluid motion. Those who do that, who receive the Spirit, look what it says, one will say I belong to the Lord, another will call himself by the name of Jacob, still another will write on his hand ‘the Lord’s’ and will do what, will take the name Israel. Those of us who are not Jewish by birth, we have to take on that name because it is completely foreign to us. We take on the name of Israel. Therefore our Mikvah gives Jesus our pledge or our answer to His marriage proposal and confers our citizenship as part of Israel.
I know that the book of Romans can be a very deep, deep theological book, but I am going to attempt to sum it up in just a few sentences to show how it fits our theme here. First of all we are dead in our sins in need of a redeemer. We call on the name of the Lord and we are baptized, we go through the water of the Mikvah in the name of Christ and receive and live according to His Spirit, the Seal. We are brought into the nation of Israel and made God’s children and heirs of His promise. And Israel lives how? According to the Spirit by giving sacrifices acceptable to God, living sacrifices. That’s the book of Romans. If you ever wondered why that talk of Israel is right in the middle of the book, that’s why. Because when we call on the Name of Jesus and go through the waters of the Mikvah we are entering the nation. The blessed nation of Israel.
I want to make it very clear that I am in no way advocating Replacement Theology in any way, shape, or fashion. I do not believe the “church” replaces Israel and God still has some very specific promises for the land of Israel and the Jewish people. However, we are now included in those promises in the way God sees fit because we have been grafted into that nation and those Jews who place their faith in Yeshua will also be grafted back into that nation. We are all one nation. There is not one way of salvation for the Jew and one for the Gentile, but one way for all, Jesus Christ. My Jewish brothers and sisters in the faith have their part to play and I have mine as a non-Jewish believer and God decides what those will be. The “church” does not become the new Israel, but upon belief Jews enter into God’s true Israel – the Assembly of the Saints. To say the the “church” becomes the new Israel separates the Old Covenant from the New and thereby separates God’s story into two stories. God’s story is one story. It is one truth and Jesus/Yeshua is the center of all of it. You see, all of the Bride awaits the same beloved Bridegroom!