Matthew in 2:6 quotes from Micah 5:2 & 4, “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the princes of Judah: because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.”
This quote only quotes part of the verses. Here are both verses in their entirety in Micah, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; yet one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me. His origin is from antiquity, from everlasting…He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of ADONAI His God. They will live securely, for then His greatness will extend to the ends of the earth.”
This One to be born in Bethlehem, the Messiah, would be from eternity. In other words, He is God, yet the LORD is His God. Suggesting the Messiah is the Son of God, born in Bethlehem to the family of David. And this Son of David would have a Kingdom that would extend to the ends of the earth.
Even the scholars who were speaking to Herod in Matthew 2 understood that the true King of Israel would come from Bethlehem and that His Kingdom would be greater than any kingdom that the earth has seen. The Magi from the East ascribed this identity to Yeshua, who they had come very far to worship.
So, in this passage we see that the One who would shepherd the people of Israel had to be born in Bethlehem, which the census of Caesar Augustus, arranged by the LORD, made possible. Ha Shem (The Name/The LORD) had this all planned out!
Next verse 15 Matthew says, “Out of Egypt I have called My Son.” When referring to this prophecy from Exodus 4:22 and Hosea 11:1 Matthew is connecting what happened to Israel as God’s firstborn son to the Messiah.
The Messiah was called out of Egypt not because He was redeemed, but so that He could redeem. The Lamb of God had to be called out of the world, which Egypt represents, in order to save the world. He was set apart for this purpose as Ben Yoseph.
He did not go to the mountain to receive the Law but will one day, according to Isaiah 2, teach the Law Himself from Jerusalem as the Living Word. In doing so, He will rule as King as Messiah Ben David.
Then Matthew connects the killing of the babies in Bethlehem by Herod to Jeremiah 31:15. Jeremiah is taking up a lament for the lost children of Rachel. Why Rachel when Bethlehem is the home of David who was a descendant of Leah? It is because Rachel was buried near Bethlehem after she gave birth to Benjamin.
It is as if Rachel is weeping over those young ones who suffered the pain of death at the hand of the tyrant, Herod. What I find interesting about this passage in Jeremiah is that this verse that Matthew uses here comes directly after a prophecy about God returning His people to the land of Israel and giving them great prosperity in the land. It is then followed by the prophecy of Ephraim calling out to the LORD and being restored (returning to God by obedience to Torah – Psalm 19:7). God calls Ephraim His precious son. Rachel is the mother of Ephraim.
So, we see that this passage in Jeremiah is speaking of the loss of children in Bethlehem (from Judah) in the time of Yeshua, but it is also speaking of the return of Ephraim. Again, God will reconnect Ephraim with Judah. It will be the Messiah that returns us all to the land together as one people (Jew and Gentile together as one new man), Israel. What rejoicing that will be!
1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “I appeal to you brothers in the name of our Adonai Yeshua the Messiah, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no schisms among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same opinion.
Notice what this passage is saying, that we are to be one, with no schisms. That our words are to be the same and that being the same (one/echad) in mind and opinion makes us complete. Therefore, we are not complete as long as as we are not one/echad, as long as there are schisms between us.
I have heard others over the years speak of unity not meaning uniformity, and in terms of our gifts and talents they would be correct, however this verse seems to be saying that in terms of our faith they are not. Then there is this verse, Ephesians 4:13, that speaks of the Messiah giving different gifts so that His body may be built up “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God and become complete (echad), attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah.” The oneness of the body seems to be the final step to the bride of Messiah making herself ready (Revelation 10:7).
Also, the body of Messiah keeping Torah, in other words, obeying the commandments is also definitely coupled with belief in Yeshua before His return (Revelation 12:17 – “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her seed—those who keep Elohim’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Yeshua.”).
So the question is are we there? No we are not. So what does that mean? It means we still have a ways to go. The prayer and hope is that we are on the road and not resisting the work of the Spirit in our lives and the life of the body. Remember the work of the Spirit according to Ezekiel 36:27 is to help us obey the decrees and laws of Elohim and do them. Also, according to Jeremiah 31:33 the New Covenant is the placing of the Law/Torah of God on our minds and hearts.
Therefore, the Reformation is not yet complete until these things are true of us. God is still working among His people and He is preparing us for His Kingdom. So we pray, “Your Kingdom come Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
So why is it important that even the Gentile believer obeys the Law of God/Torah. It is not only our obligation of living in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8), not only how we express our love for our Messiah (John14), but it is also how we make Judah jealous (Romans 11).
We are called to make the Jews jealous and even angry that we have something that they understand is theirs (Romans 10:19 and Deuteronomy 32:21). When we practice the Torah/Law of Moses/Law of God, when they see us practicing Torah it arouses in them a jealousy and in some cases even anger because they think we are hijacking what is theirs. However, Scripture itself tells us that the same law is for the foreigner and the native born (Exodus 12:49; Numbers 15:15-16, 29;Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14 and Deuteronomy 1:16). It is for all those who choose to follow Elohim and be a part of His Kingdom.
At this point it is not just about our Discipleship in the Kingdom but it also becomes about Evangelism of the Jews. Paul in Romans 11:13b-14 puts it like this, “I make much of my ministry (to the Gentiles) in the hope that I can somehow arouse my own people (the Jews) to jealousy and save some of them. This jealousy is in the hope of their salvation.
So when we live out the Kingdom life it is as if we are Joseph saying to his brother Judah, “I am Joseph (Ephraim) a son of Israel and I bring you my brother good news of life, the Messiah, the true bread of Heaven, has come and He is Yeshua of Nazareth, Yeshua the Netser, Yeshua the Branch.”
Couple these two things, belief in Yeshua our Messiah and obedience to the commands of His Father and we have God’s recipe for His people becoming one/echad. Whether Jew or Gentile, we are called to be one/echad in Messiah and all those who follow Yeshua the Messiah and love Him will obey Him. We willingly become the bondservant of our Master to serve Him faithfully all our days.
What would the body look like if we did this instead of causing division and strife in the House He is building? Things would all come into place and the tabernacle of David would be echad! It would be ready for the glory of Elohim.
In John 17 Yeshua prayed that His followers would be one as He and the Father are one. I used to think I knew what that meant, that there would no longer be any denominations among the church. However, God has shown me that His ways are higher than our ways. He has a much bigger plan in mind.
His plan is to make the Jew and Gentile one. This is what Paul refers to as the mystery of God/Elohim in the book of Ephesians. Then in Revelation 10:7 John tells us that before the seventh trumpet blows that the mystery of God will be completed. So before the last trump blows we will truly be one.
We see this, as John mentions in this verse (Revelation 10:7), foretold by the prophets. So where do we see the idea of God’s people being made one in the prophets? We see it in Ezekiel 37 when Elohim tells the prophet to take two sticks. One is named for the tribe of Joseph or Ephraim and all the tribes associated with him and the other is named for Judah and all the tribes associated with him.
We know who Judah is, they are the Jews. But who is the tribe of Ephraim and how did that get associated with the Gentiles? When Elohim dispersed the northern tribes of Israel He dispersed them into the nations and they have not yet returned. They went out into the nations and began to live as the nations, as the Gentiles. So much so that they don’t even know they are descended from the northern tribes of Israel. These are the lost tribes of Israel that Yeshua speaks of coming for.
But again how does that correlate to the Gentiles? We find this in the book of Genesis chapter 48 when Jacob adopts Joseph’s sons Manassah and Ephraim. I know you remember that Jacob crossed his arms and put his right hand on the head of the younger, Ephraim. In doing so he put Ephraim ahead of Manassah.
Jacob then blessed Ephraim and said that he would be the fullness of the nations (gentiles). That should sound familiar from the writing of Paul. In Romans 11:25 Paul mentions the fullness of the Gentiles coming about and that until that happens there would be a hardening of Israel (the Jews). He even calls this a mystery.
When the fullness of the Gentiles (Ephraim) occurs the unhardening of the Jews will happen at the same time and so all of Israel, both Ephraim (Gentiles) and Judah (Jews) will be saved.
Interestingly enough, we are seeing more Jews coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua now than since the first century and at the same time the Gentiles are coming into their fullness, they are becoming complete and beginning to understand the importance of obedience to the Word of God (Torah). Again, these things are happening at the same time.
It is time for the bringing together of the two sticks! We are to be one as Yeshua prayed for and as Ezekiel puts it in 37:21-28, “then say to them this is what ADONAI Elohim says, ‘Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, where they have gone. I will gather them from every side and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be king to them all. They will no longer be two nations and never again be divided into two kingdoms. They will never again be defiled with their idols, their detestable things or with any of their transgressions. I will save them out of all their dwellings in which they sinned. I will purify them. Then they will be My people and I will be their Elohim. My servant David will be king over them. They will all have One Shepherd. They will walk in My ordinances and observe My rulings and do them. They will live in the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, where your ancestors lived. They will live there – they, their children and their children’s children, forever, and My servant David will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace (shalom) with them – it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will give to them and multiply them. I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be over them. I will be their God and they will be My people. Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.”
Remember Yeshua when He was praying in John 17 said that the oneness of His people would be what let the world know that Elohim sent His Son. Let’s be more mindful of what His goal is for us and head in His direction, not our own anymore.
So how does this happen? Zechariah 8:23 says, “Thus says the LORD of Hosts, In that day 10 men from all nations will take hold of the wing/tzitzit of one Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard the LORD is with you.'”
This verse is saying that in the last days the Gentiles from all nations (Ephraim and those who come with him) will take hold of the wing on one Jew wanting to go with him because it is obvious that Elohim is with them. We are seeing this beginning to happen in our day.
Many are going to the believing Jews and asking them to teach them of the ways of Adonai. They are in essence taking a hold of the tzitzit or tassels of a Jew and asking to go with them. I say tzitzit because the word for wing here is the word that describes the corner of the garment (wing) that the tzitzit is to be attached to.
To see Gentile believers interested in what the Messianic Jew has to teach is Biblical. It was prophesied about in this passage. They are asking to be discipled by those who keep Torah as a means of showing their love to our Creator.
Again, this is about Discipleship, not Salvation. It is a desire to learn the ways of our King so that we may please Him, just as Moses prayed in Exodus 33:13. Moses asked this for the purpose of knowing Elohim better, not knowing Him in the first place.
Remember, the goal ahead of us is YHWH making us one and the mystery being fulfilled. So let us learn!
Yeshua said in John 14:6, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” We need to keep in mind that loving God has always been tied to obeying Him. This was not a new concept that Yeshua gave.
If we love the God who redeemed us. Than the natural thing to do is obey the One who redeemed us. We are saved by grace, but His grace and obedience to His commands are not opposites. Remember, we are saved unto good works. We are saved with the understanding that obedience comes next.
We have an obligation to the One we love. Our obligation is to live as He says live and to love Him the way He says to love Him. He gets to decide what that love looks like, not us.
It does not matter what is natural to us, what is convenient for us, what is traditional for us. What matters is what He says pleases Him. After all, we do want to please our Father. We do want what we do to be pleasing in His eyes.
Take a chance and try loving Him His way and see what He will do. Be a man or woman after the heart of the One you love. Love Him the way He says He wants to be loved. Don’t get tangled up in the way man says to love Him, the way we have always done it, but search the Scriptures and see what He says.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yeshua (the Living Word) is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So will His ways ever change? No! Let us love Him by His standards, not our own.
So “make the most of every opportunity”. Let’s look at that phrase and what surrounds it. It comes from Ephesians 5:16.
The word for ‘opportunity’ is ‘kairos’ in the Greek, which is the same word used for ‘moed’/feast days in the Septuagint. Let that sink in for a minute. Let’s replace ‘opportunity’ with ‘moed’/feast days in the phrase, “making the most of every moed/feast day.
These set times are opportunities for Elohim’s people to awake from our sleep to do the will of Him who called us. What is that will? If we look earlier in Ephesians 4 we see in verses 23 and 24 that Paul says, that we are “to be made new in our attitude of (our) minds and we are to put on our new selves, which is created to be like Elohim in true righteousness and holiness.” Then at the beginning of chapter 5 he tells us to be “imitators of Elohim”.
We are created in the image of God so we are to imitate Him in all holiness and righteousness by loving as Messiah loved us and became an offering and sacrifice to God (5:2). So the will of God is for us to love in true purity of heart.
We find more of this idea in Romans 13:11-14 that begins by bidding us to understand the present time in which we live because it is time for us to wake up from our slumber because our salvation is near. Then in chapter 15 verses 4-7 we find this, “For everything that was written in the past was written to instruct us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures (the Old Testament whose foundation is the Torah) we might have hope. May the Elohim who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Yeshua the Messiah, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the Elohim and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Accept one another just as Messiah accepted you, in order to bring praise to Elohim.”
So we see that Elohim’s appointed times, His moed, His feast days, are opportunities for us to love one another and come together in unity of heart and word. To have occasion to speak psalms, hymns and spiritual songs together with one heart.
We are called to love Him with all we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves (to love one another in the body). We are to know the times in which we live and truly the times are evil so let us make the most of the opportunities Elohim gives us in His appointed times to come together and love Him and one another for our salvation, His return and Kingdom, is near.
If you remember from last time we discussed the Wedding up to the Seven Blessings. Blessings are very important in Jewish life and they are very significant in Scripture. If stands to reason that the Wedding ceremony would include a complete number of Blessings. The themes of the Blessings include: Creation, Eden, Zion, Redemption, Bridegroom, and Jerusalem.
The first Blessing: Blessed are you, Adonai or God, King of the Universe who created the fruit of the vine. (The fruit of the vine represents the blood of Christ, the blood of the Lamb, the blood of redemption. The redemption cup was planned before Creation.)
The second Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who created everything for Your glory. (Creation! The idea of the blood came first, then the creation.)
The third Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, shaper of humanity. (Basically we have here the creation of humanity with the first wedding because you can’t have humanity with just the man, you have to have the wife too.)
The forth Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has shaped humanity in Your image, patterned after Your image and likeness, and enabled them to perpetuate this image out of their own being. Blessed are You, Adonai, shaper of humanity. (Again we see the creation of humanity, but this time specifically spoken of in terms of being created in His image. That image is still within us today. Only it’s been twisted and marred. Therefore, we need a Kiddushin, we need sanctification, we need to be made holy and set apart because our sin has corrupted the image. You see that sanctification puts us back into the likeness of the Son, unmarres that image. Isn’t that a beautiful picture, unmarres that image, until we become more and more, with ever increasing glory, more and more like our Husband.)
The fifth Blessing: May the barren one exult and be glad as her children are joyfully gathered to her. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden Zion with her children. (This comes right out of Isaiah 54 through 56. It’s the future glory of Zion with many children. Does Zion have many children? Does Israel have many children? We a members of the nation of Israel. We are her children. Then one day the borders of Zion will expand to cover the whole earth.)
The sixth Blessing: Grant great joy to these loving companions as You once gladdened your creations in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden the bridegroom and the bride. (The final wedding leads to the wedding feast. It leads to the ultimate wedding celebration.)
The seventh Blessing: Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, merriment, song, dance and delight, love and harmony, peace and companionship. Adonai our God, may there soon be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the rapturous voices of the wedded from their bridal chambers, and of young people feasting and singing. Blessed are You, Adonai, who gladden the bridegroom together with the bride.
The blessings begin and end with the wine. You see it is at this point in a Jewish wedding once the blessings are spoken that the wine is taken in. Remember this is the cup of the wedding, not the Kiddushin. Remember at the Passover meal He said to His disciples that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until when? Until it finds fulfillment in His Father’s Kingdom. The next cup is the cup of Praise. The Blessings begin and end with the wine, which represents the blood of Christ.
It says in Isaiah 62:1-5 & 11-12, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you…The LORD has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’ They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”(NIV)
Along with the bride, the body, and the temple there is also the picture of the bride as the New Jerusalem or Zion. When you got married did you get a new name? I did. When you get married you get a new name. Now my NIV translates that word “Builder” as “sons”, “builder” comes from the text note. But it makes much more sense because the “young man” is the “builder” and the “young man” whose the “builder” is the “bridegroom” and the “young man” whose the “builder” whose the “bridegroom” is “God” the Son. You see this is Jewish poetry and they do not rhyme there poetry by sound, but with thought. Because of that I think it is appropriate to use the word ‘builder”. Is the redeemed of the earth not us? Jerusalem’s builder will marry her, Israel’s builder will marry her. He will give His Son in marriage to the one He has prepared for Him, the pure spotless Bride.
Then comes the time of the Yichud, it is the time of isolation. That time when traditionally bride and bridegroom spend some time alone together for the first time as husband and wife. This is just my opinion, but I truly believe this is when the Day of Atonement begins. Because it is going to begin with us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Remember the wedding is the Feast of Trumpets. Next comes the Day of Atonement when the judgements are meeted out and I do believe it will begin with us at the Judgment Seat of Christ when all is laid bare between us, everything. And nothing ever again will divide us. We have to go to that Judgment Seat of Christ, don’t we? It must be. We must see what acts were righteous and what acts burn away. When all is laid bare, when we have that time, just us, as husband and wife. That time of consummation. Consummation means bringing to completion. We will be made complete. We will then return with Him dressed in white linen robes. Only righteousness is left.
Yichud is when the symbolic act of Huppah is brought to completion. We cannot side step the Judgment Seat of Christ and then, of course, there is the rest of the Day of Atonement and the rest is called Armaggeden when God judges this world, when Christ comes and judges this world. When judgment is made and judgment is passed and the books are closed, that is the Day of Atonement. That old Jewish question of why do the wicked prosper will be answered on that day. Scripture also calls it the Day of the Lord, when all is made right. Then we get to start our Wedding Feast.
We have been to the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Day of Atonement has come, judgment has been passed and the Feast begins. The Feast of Tabernacles is the Wedding Feast. It is also known as the Feast of Ingathering, Feast of Booths, or simply The Feast. Now if you and I were asked which is the most significant feast on the Jewish calendar we who come from a Christian background would probably say the Feast of Passover. Not so. The largest feast on the Jewish calendar is the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s the final harvest. It’s their time of Thanksgiving that’s why it’s known as “The Feast”. That’s what they call it, “The Feast”. In Deuteronomy 16:13-15 13 “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast–you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”(NIV)
Did you catch it that the final harvest is that of the threshing floor and the winepress. That is the wedding feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, the time when our joy is made complete after the final ingathering of the threshing floor and the winepress and, of course, you know what that represents, the wine and the bread or the blood and body of Christ. We are that harvest. And at the celebration of that harvest our joy will be made complete. Now you may say to yourself, “Now Vicky, how do you know this is the final feast?” Look at Zechariah 14:16-19, “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.”(NIV)
This is when Christ is on His thrown on this planet. It is the millennial reign of Christ. Do you get the feeling that the Feast of Tabernacles is important. Do you get the feeling that we should know a little bit about this Feast because it’s coming, right at us. We are running smack into it. Nice to know it’s coming. Yes, this is the wedding feast. This is the time when our joy will be made complete.
After the wedding feast comes the New Heaven, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem, adorned as a bride for her Husband. That’s our new home. We mentioned the intention of a husband and wife to have a new home and life together. The new Heaven and New Earth, the New Jerusalem, that is our new home. And we will dwell together with our Husband as Husband and wife with our God. He will be the Temple. God Almighty and the Lamb will be the Temple. And we will be at His right Hand (Psalm 45), His wife. He will be our God and we will be His people.
God set out to make Himself a people, but not just a people, He wanted a wife for His Son. Us in Christ, Christ in God, the covenant of peace, the covenant of oneness, the everlasting covenant. And so we shall ever be with the Lord. There will be oneness in that garden, in that city for eternity. That oneness ended in the first garden because of sin. It will never end in the final garden. From wedding to wedding that is our story. I don’t know of a greater story God could tell to the heart of a believer. One day we will all stand together at the right side of our Husband and we will be made one and our joy will be made complete. We will be His people and He will be our God!
So how do we live that life that Christ calls us to live in Biblical Unity? 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 mohar 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 about 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.
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.