The Wedding Part 2

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.

They are:

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!

Longing for “The Feast”, Longing for our Husband,

Even So, Come Lord Jesus Come!

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 may 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 was no 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 in part three we 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