There are times in the lives of some men and women that we find ourselves alone, and perhaps we are not happy with our periods of aloneness. And yet God has said: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV. This solitary life, no matter the way it was instituted, can be a blessed time; and was given by God for your benefit, according to the verse we just read.
Nobody wants to live alone. God created us to be family units, joined to a spouse to raise our children and serve Him. He said in Genesis 1:18; And the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (NKJV) And then God created Adam’s wife. But the marriage partnership is to be an example – a mirror image, as it were – of our personal relationship with God. Our daily walk with Him is to resemble the commitment and interactions of a human, Christian marriage.
But how are we to interact with the creator of the universe on such an intimate basis; like we would with a physical spouse? No, it is not physically possible to wrap your arms around someone who is everywhere at all times and yet not visible to the human eye. So, do you walk into your home at the close of the day, kick your shoes off and shout to the heavens, “Hi, Honey, I’m home.”???
So, what is it like to be intimate with the Lord? This is what we will endeavor to uncover together. We will look at the ancient Jewish marriage practices and customs. We will also look at scriptures on relationships and word definitions from the Strong’s Concordance and Webster’s Dictionary to gain a fuller meaning of them. In this way, we will gain a better understanding of our relationship with Jesus and the intimacy we should share with Him.
By now many of us have spiritual mentors to walk with us on this journey, mature persons of like faith who are there for us in our struggles and triumphs. They will be most valuable while we are in our learning process. Another useful tool for us is a journal where we can record our thoughts and feelings during this time. This for future our reflection and to share with your mentor for help during times of trouble and celebration in times of triumph.
Shall we begin?
Ancient Jewish Marriage Customs & Practices Mirror Our Relationship with Jesus as Types and Shadows things that have happened and things which are to come.
|Recreation of Ancient Temporary Bridal Camber|
Ancient Jewish Marriage Customs and Traditions:Now, most of us think of marriage as a relationship that begins after the wedding takes place; but this wasn’t so in ancient Israel. In the first century – and possibly for many generations before - marriage consisted of three parts or steps; with the wedding being the culminating event that began the final phase of a marriage and the beginning of a family. The first step was the Arrangement. This was followed by the Betrothal and culminated about a year later with the third part - the Wedding Ceremony.
It was expected that all children would grow to be married. From infancy, they learned of the sacredness and sanctity of the marriage covenant, its blessings and burdens; and of course, the seriousness of its responsibilities.
Likewise in Scripture, we see these same traditions being followed in our marriage to Jesus. Just as the marriage begins with the arrangement and the selection of the bride; so, too, believers in Jesus have been chosen as our Messiah's Bride: He “GOD” chose us in Him before “the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4); “You did not choose me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16); “From the beginning God chose you” (2 Thessalonians 2:13); “But you are a chosen people” (1 Peter 2:19).
It is interesting to note that in the biblical example of Abraham, Isaac, and Eliezar, that the arrangements are initiated by the father, in the name of the son, through the means of the servant. It becomes even more interesting when we realize that the servant’s name, Eliezar, means "comforter" or "helper". And so, ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who plays the part of the "matchmaker". He is the "Comforter" - the "Helper." It is He who calls us to enter into this union with our Bridegroom. It is He who remains to guide and protect us as we journey to meet our Beloved Bridegroom.
By the first century the custom had developed that, after the arrangements had been initiated, when he reached marriageable age, the young man would travel from his home to the home of the young woman and approach her father to discuss the arrangements prior to the betrothal. There he negotiated with her father concerning the Bride Price he would pay to make her his own. This Bride Price is far from being a modest token; it was often the equivalent of a year’s wages or more. It was intended to be costly to the young man, tangible evidence of his love and willingness to sacrifice on behalf of his chosen one.
They would also negotiate over the contents of the written marriage covenant; which stated among his promises to her father concerning his ability to care for and keep her. It also served the purpose of showing the father of the potential bride how much – or how little – the prospective groom understood about the responsibility of taking on a wife and building a family.
Once the young girl's father found the Bride Price and covenant acceptable, the prospective groom would be allowed to approach her with his proposal. This "proposal" was in the form of a cup of wine. The young man would pour this cup, take a sip, and then set it before the young woman. To accept the proposal, she would drink it "to the dregs" - taking the bitter with the sweet. In doing so, she was binding herself to him. At this point, the marriage covenant was established and the young man and woman were legally bound to one another in a state called "betrothal". Betrothal was so binding, in fact, that it could only be broken by a religious divorce, a "get", which was available only to the groom during the betrothal period, but only for reasons of her infidelity. From that moment the bride was declared "sanctified," or set apart exclusively for her bridegroom.
After the cup had been taken, the bridegroom would make an announcement to his bride that went something like this: "I'm going back to my father’s house to prepare a place for you, and when he says it is ready; I will return and take you there to be with me forever."
The bride, in the meanwhile, spent her time learning, from the women of her family and his, how to please her husband and preparing to live as a wife. She was presented with a dowry by her father as part of her inheritance, to equip her for her new life. During the time of separation, she also prepared her wedding dress, gathered her trousseau, and made herself ready for the return of her beloved.
In our relationship with Christ, just as the young man would travel to the home of his intended bride, Jesus came from His Father's house to the home of His bride, the earth.
Our Bridegroom has given us bridal gifts to show the value He places upon us and to help us remember Him during these long days of separation. Just as a bridegroom would have told his bride that he would go to prepare a place for her, Our Bridegroom has said: "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. 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" (John 14:2-3).
The culminating step – the Wedding Ceremony – is known as "nisuin" a Hebrew word which literally means “taken.” This is based on the Hebrew verb "nasa", which means "to carry" or "to lift up". Nisuin is quite a graphic description, as we shall soon see.
As the bride was awaiting the return of her betrothed, the bridegroom was building and decorating with increasing anticipation. Then finally the chamber would be ready and his father would tell him, "It's time." The excited bridegroom would assemble his groomsmen to accompany him on the trip to claim his bride. They would set out at night, making every attempt to completely surprise the bride. For this reason, the returning groom was often referred to as “a thief in the night.” But, there were strict rules this“thief” had to follow.
When the wedding party reached their destination, the bride and groom would enter the bridal chamber that he had labored so long and lovingly to prepare for her. Once the door was shut, the couple would spend seven days together in a time of seclusion. No one else, with the exception of select servants, would enter the chamber during this time and the couple themselves did not leave until the Bridal Week was concluded. The groom's father, meanwhile, would have assembled the wedding guests, who would be gathered together with him, waiting to celebrate the new marriage.
Now, as the guests outside enjoyed the festivities, the bride would present her dowry to her new husband and the young couple would share another cup of wine together, the “Cup of Completion.” Outside the chamber, the groom's father would hold a sort of "Open House" that lasted for seven full days, as we can read in Judges 14:10-12, for example.
|Chuppa or Modern Jewish 'Bridal Chamber'|
I heard a Preacher on the radio one morning saying that he looks for things that he is passionate about to use in drawing closer to Jesus. One of his passions was to drink a cup of hot coffee on a dark cold morning out on his front porch. This was something he could use that would draw him into a more passionate relationship with Jesus. He would take his ‘coffee break’ and use it as a time of praise and worship unto Jesus while enjoying his morning cup.
I play the flute and sax, at times I get so into the worship of this instrumental music it is like I am “praying” the instruments, not just playing them. I love to sing, so I may use my voice as an instrument of prayer and praise, too. I hope this is understandable because I don’t have any other way to describe this experience.
I also get very close to Jesus when He whispers His words in my ears for me to write – such as this and my books, articles, poetry, and stories of all kinds. I really get lost in another place between this world and the realm His Spirit lives in when I get into my writing and music. It is so different that I really have no words to explain it to you.
I know that God has given each of you talents, events or places that bring out the best in you, too. Things and places that you are very passionate about. You have to find in those places, in those talents and/or events, where you can be closest to Jesus. Go into that passionate place with HIM and spend time. Only then you will know what I am talking about. I encourage you to find those things that you are passionate about in your everyday life and use them as an outlet of intimate, personal worship with your – with our – Bridegroom, Jesus Christ! I believe that the ecstasy I encounter when I get into these intimate times with Jesus is very like – though in the spiritual realm, not the physical – the special times that are shared between a husband and wife. Because that is exactly what they are. There is no other way to describe the special intimacy I have with Jesus when I get into these places of worship.
When we learn to be intimate with Jesus, our Bridegroom, we will know how to relate better in our marital relationship with a mate of God’s choosing as our spouse – when/if He calls us into marriage. Because all of the principles we have taken from the ancient Jewish marriage practices are the natural types and the shadows for the spiritual marriage we have with Him.
I pray that each of you finds this special relationship with our Lord as I have found, and continue to find today. It is truly amazing! Discover who you really are in Him and grow in His grace in the process!
- What things are you passionate about? List at least three.
- How can you use these passions to draw closer to and become intimate with Jesus?
- Ask Him to use those talents He has given you to be passionate for Him: