Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Bride of Christ by Kory ("Stop Demonic Attacks")

This is a blog that was posted by my friend Kory at "Stop Demonic Attacks." Click on the banner below to visit his site.




This has been a project of mine for some while. Most of it comes from the book Devils and Demons and the Return of the Nephilim.

To understand the word of God, you must understand who wrote it. Jews - inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Every believer is familiar with the words of , From the King James Version of the Bible:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Most believers understand that verse to be the voice of Yeshua, reaching out to mankind. He's standing at their heart's door, asking to come in and save them from their sins.

That interpretation is true as far as it goes, but it certainly is not the whole story. Because most modern believers have almost no AWARENESS OF ANCIENT HEBREW CULTURE in which the Old Testament and B'rit Hadashah were set, we often miss the true import of a thoroughly familiar, deeply meaningful, yet barely understood metaphor. After posting about this subject as an update in a bulletin - I had one PASTOR tell me that I was completely wrong and that the only "marriage" the Bible talks about is in Ephesians! I hope and pray the Lord opens his eyes... as this subject is extremely important in not only understanding the Bride of Christ, but understanding REVELATION AS A WHOLE. Let's talk about the background of Yeshua's Revelation verse...

ANCIENT HEBREW BETROTHAL

THE marriage relationship is so central to everything God ordained. In scripture after scripture, God identifies Himself as the Bridegroom, and He compares all those who enter into all three forms of covenant with Him as the bride. His own references to that fundamental image fill the Old Testament, from the stories of the patriarchs to the words He put in the mouths of His prophets.

Yeshua, John, Paul, and all the other Hebrew writers continued the same pattern all the way through B'rit Hadashah. References to the Hebrew marriage covenant, and to members of Christ's "church" as either being part of the bride or having the opportunity to become part of the bride ("many are called but few are chosen") rise to a crescendo in Revelation.

The result is simple but dramatic. Just as you can't know Scripture if you don't know covenant, you can't truly understand covenant - and certainly not the book of Revelation - if you don't understand the ancient Hebrew marriage rituals and ceremony. So let's consider how it all works. First of all, ancient Hebrew marriages were "arranged", but not in every tiny respect. Despite the "fait accompli" Tevye almost pulled off between his daughter and the butcher in Fiddler on the Roof, the ancient Hebrew bride and groom had more choice in the matter than many of us might realize. Parental approval was essential, but the initial impetus often came from the young people themselves, who frequently knew exactly what (and whom!) they wanted.

Though a wedding in ancient Hebrew culture was a significant social and religious event, it was also part of a "process" involving commitment and covenant, the fulfillment of which often took several years. Many people were involved, including families on both sides, friends, and the rest of the community, each group having different responsibilities.

Often, a match was tentatively identified by the families as a mutually desirable outcome, sometimes years before the actual betrothal. However, any such "silent agreement" was not legally binding, and was always subject to the would-be brides approval. Eventually, if all signals were "go", the prospective groom and his father would let it leak out to the bride's family that a formal proposal would soon be made.

On the day the prospective bridegroom made his first official move, he brought his father to the intended brides house. They carried a betrothal cup, wine, and the anticipated bride price in a pouch. When they got there they knocked.

The prospective bride's father would be on the other side of the door, but before he opened it, he would peek out through a little window, identify the visitors, then look to his daughter to confirm what, in most cases she has long since settled in her mind... Should he open the door?

If she said yes, for all practical purposes the commitment to work through the betrothal process, and arrive at a fully functioning marriage, was made at the moment. Therefore, her's was not a lightly made decision, for the issue was not, " Can we have a wedding?" Once the door was opened, the only remaining question was, " We can have a marriage if we can work out the terms...so what will they be?"

In other words, opening the door was the first major step toward making a marriage, which is precisely what Yeshua is saying in the above verse. You open the door, He comes in, and the restoration process begins. At that point you have salvation. But beyond that, He is asking you if you will enter into the covenant of betrothal with Him. Will you walk in a loving relationship with your bridegroom?

But that's not the only significant parallel here. The choice is "ours", exactly as the choice was always that of the ancient Hebrew bride. If she refused to open the door, the groom would make a U-turn and head for home. Even after the bride opened the door, she could end the whole process at any stage. In fact, once her initial agreement to be married was "drashed out" (i.e., worked out through intense, animated discussion) and formalized in a written contract, the bride was the only one who could still back out, right up to the very instant of the marriage consummation. She could stop the whole process at any moment, and she didn't even need any special reason!
At the same time, once his initial proposal had been made and accepted, the groom was utterly and totally committed. Only by a writ of divorce, on extremely limited grounds, could he ever back out.

DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES

Again, I invite you to compare the above to the betrothal covenant between ourselves and Yeshua. Opening the door is the same as accepting Him as our redeemer and forming a lasting relationship. It's the first step in the process.

On the other hand, we can accept eternal salvation and even avail ourselves of all benefits of a servant covenant with Him, including heaven itself, without ever moving beyond that to betrothal. In fact, if we decide to go a little further than simply opening the door, we might even be able to establish and maintain the servant covenant, then the friendship covenant, and perhaps even the inheritance covenant without ever moving beyond that last point.
Becoming the actual bride of Yeshua requires a committed, intimate relationship with Him that goes well beyond all the preliminaries. How many of us are willing to separate or distance ourselves from those things that are not created, designed by, or pleasing to God?

Even so, if we do desire to take the betrothal step, we can still back out at any time, and many of us do. Yet the invitation to be part of the bride is always there, except for those times when we give back the free gift of salvation.
As it says

If we died to him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faith full, for he cannot disown himself.

THE FOUR CUPS OF WINE

Think once again in terms of the four types of covenant. Remember that they are progressive in nature, meaning that you must enter into the first three covenants, in order, before you can enter into number four. Remember also that names and the implications of each one, for you're about to see how the servant friendship, and inheriticance covenants are woven into covenant number four. Each one helps to establish, to support, and to reinforce the ancient Hebrew betrothal contract. In turn, the progression of commitments about to take place during the betrothal process, beginning on the evening when the groom comes and knocks, mirrors the sequence of commitments in the covenants.

In his capacity as the Ultimate Master of Symbolism, God established four cups of wine as milestones, or "markers", to signify exactly where the betrothal parties were in their negotiations. Each cup corresponded to a covenant, but it also represented something that all the participants had to physically grasp, to physically consume and make part of themselves. It goes well without saying that each person would also have to participate mentally and spiritually at each step of the way, or the process would break down.

Now, refer back to the reference to " sup with him" from Revelations , for it has to do with what traditionally happened next. Once the prospective groom and his father were inside the prospective bride's home, as they worked out all the details of the wedding, they would eat dinner together with the prospective bride's family. In this instance, the visiting father and son represented their entire family.

Members of the two families would also drink three of the four betrothal cups of wine, one cup each at certain well-established points throughout the negotiating process.

CUP NUMBER ONE:

The first Cup was the cup of Sanctification, which equated to a servant (blood) covenant between the two families. This cup was consumed almost as soon as the door was closed. The groom, his father, and every member of the bride's family above the age of accountability participated, for each member of each family was agreeing to serve the other family.

Sanctification embodies the idea of setting ourselves apart for God. Just as God sanctified the Nation of Israel, these two families were doing the same with respect to each other. In effect they were making a sacred commitment to become one giant family, each person to unilaterally serve all the new members. That's part of the reason why the support structure underlying ancient Jewish marriages was so strong.

CUP NUMBER TWO:

The second cup was the Cup of Betrothal, Cup of Plagues, Cup of Bargaining, or the Cup of Dedication, which represented a salt covenant between the families. This cup was consumed by the bride and groom and their two fathers only. The two families, represented here by the fathers, were covenanting to become eternal friends with their joint son and daughter, and with each other.

As they ate, the members of both families haggled over the details of the marriage contract. This is usually where the negotiations would break down if they were ever going to. But if they managed to surmount all the difficulties, the families entered into a friendship covenant, even as they established the terms of the upcoming marriage. In similiar fashion, we are admonished to ".. work out your salvation with fear and trembling"() when we accept the Lords offer of servant hood, which then matures into friendship.
The issues the families established were straightforward and direct, just as the ancient Hebrews themselves were. How much would the groom's family contribute to the wedding feast? Where would they hold it? What skills would the bride need to acquire to become a wife, an " excellent wife... her worth is far above jewels.(See for complete description)

What possesions would she bring with her? Did she fully understand her responsibility to remain pure?

The bride's family would also want to know how the groom intended to support her. Just as it was the bride's primary responsibility to purify and prepare herself, the groom's chief responsibility was to go away and prepare a place for her to live. Many times her new quarters would be no more than a room, built on the side of his father's house. This would hardly equal what Yeshua promises us in , yet the whole process certainly corresponds to the reference in that verse in which Yeshua says, "in My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."

As His Father did before Him in the Old Testament, Yeshua often referred to Himself as a Bridegroom. The verse above is just one of many, demonstrating how He often spoke to His people via the ancient Hebrew marriage metaphor.

CUP NUMBER THREE:

Coming back now to our sequence of cups, the third cup was the Cup of Redemption, or the Cup of Inheritance, which represented a sandal covenant and signified the shared inheritance of the marriage partners. This cup was drunk at the end of the meal, by the bride and groom only, to symbolize their exclusive commitment to each other, along with their increasing level of intimacy.

It also officially "sealed" the marriage agreement between them. Once the bargaining was over, the families brought in a scribe, who wrote out all the terms of the marriage covenant in a formal agreement, called a Ketubah. Probably the scribe, knowing that he was about to be called on, had most of the "boilerplate" (e.g., the histories of the bride and groom's families, and perhaps even some of the stipulations) written out in advance. Beyond that he simply added the specifics of each situation.

At that point the young men of the family would hit the streets and blow their ram's horn trumpets, announcing, for all purposes, the bride and groom were now officially married, even though neither the ceremony nor the consummation had yet occurred. Nevertheless, from that moment onward, if either one died, the survivor would fully in herit the deceased partner's possessions.

We can see the same dynamic at work as early as , when the angels warned Abraham's nephew, Lot, to leave Sodom before it was destroyed.

Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

Our point is not that these young men failed to take him seriously. Rather, they were called his sons-in-law, even though the official marriages had not yet take place.

SACRED PARALLELS

The third cup also corresponded to the cup Yeshua shared with His disciples during the Passover feast, or the Last Supper, when he washed their feet and thus transferred His inheritance to them (Sandal Covenant). He also made further reference to His coming marriage to His Kalah, His "called ones," knowing that it was customary for the groom not to drink wine again until the wedding ceremony. That explains why He said he would not touch the fruit of the vine again until He could do so with them in the Kingdom of Heaven. He even maintained this vow as He hung on the cross, when He refused the pain-numbing wine that the Roman soldiers were only too happy to provide.

Each time we take communion, we should remember that we are literally reaffirming our commitment to be Yeshua's bride. This is always true at weddings and the Passover, for these are parallel celebrations in which God appears to be emphasizing – and then re-emphasizing – the sanctity and the intimacy of both our earthly unions with each other, and our heavenly union with Him.

Indeed, the communion in the Upper Room is a picture of the covenant sequence. Except that Yeshua reversed it! First He removed his disciples sandals and washed their feet (inheritance). Next, He broke bread (friendship), and passed a cup of wine (service). Finally, He then went on to shed His blood on the Cross a few hours later, in the ultimate blood covenant.

In view of all this, when we take communion, we also need to recognize, every single time, what He did on the cross. It's equally important to remember that we're making a re-commitment to pursue Him, to wrestle with Him, to be His friend, and manage His estate. When we take the cup, we are commiting again to serve Him, to obey Him, to follow His rules and ordinances, for the commitment we make at communion is the same as what a bride and groom make to each other.

None of this can be modified by our opinion or interpretation. We don't get a list of options, except for choosing whether we'll participate in the first place! Even in modern America, in a culture that barely honors covenants of any kind, if a man gives a woman a ring and proposes marriage, she doesn't accept his offer then say, later on, "You intended this to mean that we would be married. I intended it to mean that I'd marry your brother!"

Once we're in covenant with Yeshua, we don't get the option of restructuring that relationship to suit ourselves. Yet sadly, the modern Church has altered the very fabric of the Hebraic relationship that God began with Adam and Eve. We have literally thrown away our understanding, in favor of "doing it our own way." We're too used to being Americans, and believing we don't have to do things by any means other that what we, ourselves, choose!

Yet God has shown us very clearly how He wants to be approached. It's not our option to say that we, on the contrary, have a better idea. God says, "This is how you go about mending and restoring your relationship with Me. No other way will work."

Given that dynamic, it's totally presumptuous (and futile) of us to try to alter our relationship and our approach to God. From God's perspective, neither is the meaning and import of any of the four covenant types up for discussion. God offered mankind a betrothal contract starting 6,000 years ago, and sealed the terms 2,000 years ago. It's also not accidental that the cups of wine of the betrothal covenant overlay (and thus reinforce) the individual covenants in seamless mosaic of concepts that has, at it's foundation, a commitment to establish and maintain a relationship leading to marriage. This is the ultimate responsibility. Hence, it requires the ultimate covenant.


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