The New Covenant

Most of you are probably aware that the New Covenant is not just a New Testament idea.  It is actually found in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah 31:31-33 it says, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.  “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.  “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people.”(NIV)

Did you notice who it was for?  The New Covenant is with Israel and Judah.  So if this covenant is to be for us we have to be a part of Israel.  Are we?  Paul tells us we are in Ephesians 2:11-13 & 19-20, “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…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.”(NIV)  The New Covenant is for us because we have been made a part of Israel by the blood of Jesus.  Therefore, the covenants are also for us, all the covenants of promise.

Is not the New Covenant a covenant of promise?  But what does the New Covenant do?  It puts the Law on our minds and our hearts.  Is it the same Law as the Law of Moses?  Yes, however, it is different in this respect, it is not just on tablets of stones as it was in the days of Moses, it is put on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people. 

Ezekiel gives us another glimpse of this.  Ezekiel 36:26-27 states, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”(NIV)  It is the job of the Spirit to help us be obedient to the Law of God. 

It is our faith in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross that allows the Holy Spirit to be given to us as a deposit guarenteeing what is to come.  That is why Jesus could say that the cup of redemption at His last Passover was the New Covenant in His blood. 

Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak in terms of this making Him our God and us His people.  As for Ephesians we are part of Israel based on the APOSTLES and PROPHETS with CHRIST JESUS as the cornerstone of our faith.  Our faith is not just a New Testament faith.

Is it any wonder that John in 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”  Sin is the breaking of the Law.  We reject the moving of the Spirit when we disobey the very thing He wants us to obey, the Law.  There is power in obedience and it leads to righteousness and holiness according to Paul in Romans chapter 6.  Let us not be slaves to sin and death, but to obedience.  Let us live as citizens of Israel and members of the Covenant community.

Striving to obey the God I love through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit,

Vicky

The Wedding Part 1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Awaiting our Bridegroom,

Vicky

Entering Our Mikvah Waters

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!

In the Name of Our King,

Vicky

The Seal and The Name

To accept His pursuit and His Mohar is to call on the Name of the Lord and, of course, everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.  When we believe and confess and call on His Name He gives us His promised Holy Spirit, the promised seal.  Again, let’s look at Ephesians 1:13-14 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”(NIV)

II Corinthians 5:5 puts it this way, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”(NIV)  What is to come?  There is more yet to come.  He is not done with us yet.  Our seal, the Holy Spirit, is our deposit guaranteeing what is to come.

There is something else that is important for us to see.  His seal is connected to His Name.  We see in I Kings 8:10-11 when the ark of the covenant was brought into Solomon’s Temple it says, “When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.”(NIV)  Now let’s look at I Kings 9:3  where the Lord is responding to the prayer of Solomon dedicating the Temple, “The LORD said to him:  “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”(NIV)  Where did He put His Name?  On the Temple!

In I Corinthians 3:16 it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”(NIV)  That cloud was God’s presence that filled the Temple. Yes, His Spirit filled the Temple.  He made it Holy and placed His Name upon it.  Again, later in the book Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”(NIV)

Your not your own, you’ve been bought with a price and your very body is a temple.  II Corinthians 3:18 says, “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)  What did He fill the Temple with?  His Spirit.  It was called His Glory in I Kings.  The Glory that comes from the Spirit, which is in us, and He is giving us an ever increasing Glory, He continues to fill us with His Glory.  With ever increasing Glory, that’s what He’s doing in us.  If that doesn’t excite you I don’t know what will. So be filled with the Spirit.

Alright, Revelation 2:17 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”(NIV)  What might that white stone be?  A seal.  We receive that name.  He is going to give to us a new stone, a white stone, a pure stone, with a name on it.  When we receive Him,  when we receive His Holy Spirit He literally marks us with His Name, the Name upon which we call upon.  He Marks us with His Name. 

And of course, that Spirit according to II Thessalonians 2:13 sets us apart for Him, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”(NIV)   The Spirit continues to sanctify, it continues to set us apart. 

Remember our Kiddushin, it is a ceremony and period of sanctification.  He sanctifies.  We who are believers in Yeshua the Messiah are living our lives in a period of sanctification.  That is where we are at, we are being set apart for that awesome day.  That day when our faith is made sight and we see face to face our beloved Bridegroom.

So let’s recap this amazing segment.  When we accept His pursuit and His Mohar He seals us with His Holy Spirit and His Name so that our future is guaranteed.  That future is with our Beloved Bridegroom forever and we will forever bare His Name.

In His Blessed Name,

Vicky

The Seal

The final step in the Kiddushin is the giving of the seal.  So let’s do a little background research on a seal. 

The first time we read of a seal is in Genesis 38:18 and it’s not a good situation, none the less it’s there.  It is when Judah says to Tamar, “What pledge should I give you?”  She answered him, “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand”.  So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.”(NIV)  This is Judah going to Tamar thinking she is a prostitute.  Not a good situation, but none the less, both of them ancestors of our Lord.  The seal during this time period was probably a small cylinder seal of the type to sign clay documents by rolling them over the clay.  The owner would wear it around his neck on a cord threading through a hole drilled lengthwise through the seal.  So when she says I want the seal and the cord.  She is saying, “I want that thing around your neck.”  And it has his name on it.

We also see the seal in the form of a ring.  In Esther 8:8 Xerxes says to Esther and Mordecai, “Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring–for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”(NIV)  Nothing the king puts his name on and seals can be revoked.  In this passage we once again see the name in the form of a signature tied to a seal. 

So how did Jesus fulfill the giving of the seal?  In John 14:15-18 Jesus is promising the Holy Spirit when He says to His disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”(NIV)  He’s talking as the Bridegroom all right in this passage.  Think about that first statement for a minute, This is our beloved Bridegroom, our husband saying, “if you love me you will obey me.”  “You will obey my commands.”  What did He command?  To obey His Ketubah, His marriage contract.

The seal, of course, is connected to the name.  Have you ever wondered why we sing songs about The Name?  Not just Jesus, but The Name.  Have you ever wondered about that?  Jesus’ name is connected to this giving of the seal.  Romans 10:9-10 & 13 states, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved… for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(NIV) 

Now you may say what’s that have to do with the seal?  Look at Ephesians 1:13-14, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”(NIV)  In other words, when you heard the Ketubah, believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth, calling on the name of the Lord, you were saved and sealed.  It’s all connected.  It goes back to believing and calling on His name. 

It is about possession!  Why possession?  He purchased us plain and simple, He paid the Mohar.  Those who are “God’s possession to the praise of His glory”, Hallelujah!  Yes, the giving of the seal was a sign of ownership  and security.  The Holy Spirit is our seal. He is a sign of ownership and security.  For the Bridegroom it’s a sign of ownership.  For the Bride, it’s a sign of security.  We are secure in Him.  He has placed His seal on us and therefore He has placed His name on us.

So the Kiddushin is the signing of the Ketubah by witnesses, the Kiddush or the cup, along with the blessing and the unveiling of the Bride along with the Mohar or the payment of the Bridal price and the giving of the seal.  Jews today will give a ring as the seal.  Our seal is the Holy Spirit.

Sealed by His Holy Name,

Vicky

For Her People

At the end of our last post Xerxes’ anger was subsiding and Haman was dead.  However, the real work was yet to come.  At the beginning of chapter eight, on the very day that Haman was hanged, we find King Xerxes and Queen Esther in court together and Esther officially presenting Mordecai to Xerxes and the court.  Xerxes not only accepted the Jewish girl as his wife, but also publically as his Queen in the full knowledge of what that meant.

A tremendous shift in power was made in this moment.  Mordecai becomes the King’s new confidant and trusted advisor.  The deceiving one is dead and the child of God takes his place.  The king no longer trusts the forces of evil, but is putting his trust and his confidence in the people of God.  Xerxes makes this change having all the information.  His wife is a Jew and the man who raised her, her adopted father, also a Jew, is now the one whom the king will rely on and trust.

Mordecai is also given great wealth.  The estate of Haman was given to Esther and she in turn gives the responsibility of the estate to Mordecai.  Mordecai is also robed in princely attire and given great honor.  This  is the Great Reversal within the book.  Mordecai, the Jew, becomes everything that the enemy had been and more.  He is not only given great honor and responsibility, but is publically seen as a member of Xerxes’ household.  Or should I say that Xerxes is publically seen as a member of Mordecai’s household, the very household Haman had sought to destroy.

However, even though Esther and Mordecai are now safe from danger there is still the matter of the people throughout the kingdom and the king’s edict.  Her people were still in danger because the edict was still in effect.

To address this, Esther once again finds herself on her knees before the king.  She would have had to step down off her throne as Queen and become just another subject to make such a request.  This time anger is not motivating Xerxes, but the cry and the heart of his wife.  She is begging for her people.  Her heart is exposed for she cannot bear to see her people suffer. 

She does not want to be like the last king of Judah, Zechariah, who was forced to see the death of his sons before losing his sight at the command of Nebuchadnezzar.  She wanted her people to be spared including those back in the land of Israel that Cyrus, Xerxes’ grandfather, had allowed to return.  She wanted her people, whom Darius, Xerxes’ father,  had allowed  to rebuild the temple to be able to protect themselves and all they had built.  After all, how could she stand by and watch all that be wasted?  How could he?  There was still so much at stake.

So Esther humbles herself before her king and husband in order to request the lives of her people.  She knows that he does not have the authority according to the laws of Persia to reverse the last edict, but she also knows there must be a solution.

Let us also remember that presenting herself in this way without an invitation would once again require the lowering of the king’s scepter.  However, this time there does not seem to be any hesitation on her part to do so.  Xerxes had proven himself to her and she was confident in his love for her.  And the scepter comes down and she stands to her feet.

She makes her appeal by saying these words, “If it pleases the king,…,and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me,…”(NIV)  She is reminding him once again that she does please him, that he does regard her with favor, or said another way, that the grace of the king is on her and that she pleases, pleases him. 

There is also the issue that the matter at hand is about right and wrong, good and evil.  She knows it pleases him to do the good and she trusts him to do it.  She is again showing her confidence in him as her king and her husband.

Xerxes gives Esther and Mordecai the authority to set things right and even hands over his signet ring to Mordecai.  I love the significance of that scene.  The King’s ring goes to the one whom God had intended it for. Mordecai is given the seal of the king.  I cannot help but think of the seal that the Messiah has placed in us, The Holy Spirit.  With His seal in us our security is fixed in Him and cannot be reversed anymore than an edict of the Persian kings that had been sealed with the king’s ring could be reversed.

Esther and Mordecai set out immediately to overcome the first edict with an edict of their own.  This new edict was to give the Jews the right to protect themselves against anyone who would follow the first edict and attack them, either as individuals or as armies.  They were also given the right to take the plunder of those who attacked them.  The latter is a privilege that they did not use.

This edict was also sent out on a specific date, Sivan 23.  This is important because it was shortly after Pentecost, the feast of the first harvest of the year.  Remember that the first edict went out at the time of Passover.  It had been about 2 months.  All of this had taken place in a little more than two months.  There was still about 10 months left to get the word out and for people to prepare, either way.

Her people were saved that day and Mordecai leaves the court in royal robes.  God is glorified by it all even though the book never mentions Him.  It is completely understood that the hero in the book is God Himself who reveals His power and plan through the orphan girl turned Queen and her adoptive father.  It pleased our King to save His people.

Our King Saves,

Vicky

Chanukah

Tonight marks the beginning of this year’s celebration of Chanukah.  The word “Hanukkah” means “rededication”.  We see Jesus celebrating this festival in John 10:22 where John called it the Festival of Dedication.  So what is this festival about?

In 165 B.C. the Maccabees pushed out the Greek-Syrian forces from Jerusalem after a three year battle, a battle for religious freedom.  After regaining control of Jerusalem this priestly family along with their troops set out to cleanse the temple from the pagan worship performed by the Greeks, including sacrificing swine. 

After cleansing the temple, they wanted to rededicate it to the God of Israel.  Part of this rededication was lighting the oil burning lamp in the Holy Place where the table of shew bread and the golden altar stood.  Once lit, the lamp was to be kept burning continually.  However, they found only enough oil to last for one day.  Then God did what only God can do, a miracle.  God allowed that one day supply of oil to burn for eight days.

So what is the significance of this festival?  First we begin with the idea of dedication.  We are called to dedicate or consecrate our lives as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to our Lord.  Keep in mind that the lampstand itself represents the tree of life in the garden, the oil represents the Holy Spirit and the flame represents the eternal flame, the flame that is to be always lit, in our lives – the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Jesus said we are the light of the world and we must let that light shine.

In Ephesians 4 we are told to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Yes, the oil represents the Holy Spirit in our lives in all He does in our lives.  They had enough oil to last one day.  In the beginning of our walk with God through forgiveness found only in the sacrifice of Jesus, God fills our lives with the Holy Spirit, this is our day one. 

However, does the Holy Spirit run out or leave us?

You see the Holy Spirit we receive upon believing in Yeshua is not an it, not a force, but a person.  He does not run out like oil for a lamp, so does He leave?  The Festival of Chanukah says no!  The oil lasted for eight days.  We must remember that there is no eighth day to any week.  So what does the eighth day represent?  It represents eternity. 

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be with us for eternity.  If the lampstand represents the tree of life and the oil represents the Holy Spirit who is with us forever (John 14:16) then the celebration of Chanukah tells us that God gives eternal life to those who believe in the Messiah and that He will never leave them nor forsake them because His Spirit would be in them forever, even in eternity.

When Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Festival of Dedication or Chanukah in John 10 He told the Jews plainly, “The miracles I do in my Father’s house (you see He is responsible for the miracle of Chanukah) speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”(NIV)  Here Yeshua is plainly saying that eternal life is of Him and that no one can snatch it away.  The Holy Spirit, the oil of our lives, has been given and will be there for eternity.

Chanukah is God’s story of dedication of His people and of His Holy Spirit being with us in eternity, forever sealed as His.

His Forever,

Vicky