Archive | July 2013

A Wedding and A Feast – Pt 2 by Connie Chamberlain

The Jewish wedding customs so perfectly illustrate our relationship to Christ and once-veiled truths become all the more clearer to our understanding.  When God speaks to us saying, “I will betroth you to Me forever,” —Hosea 2:19-20, we have a deeper appreciation of what this means.

The Bride Price
In ancient Israel, the father of the groom would negotiate a bride price to be paid to the father of the bride, usually representing something of great value.

The price that was paid to secure God’s people as His bride was the precious life blood of Jesus.  Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.  (Ephesians 5:25) It is sometimes difficult to fathom the depth and degree of God’s love, that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” —Romans 5:8. “For you were bought with a price.” —1 Corinthians 6:20 At Calvary, there took place the transference of a heavenly exchange – His death for our life.  We do not want to be in danger, according to the writer of Hebrews, of counting the blood of the covenant a common thing.  (Hebrew 10:29)

It is the power of redemption, and the act of having been purchased by Him, that defines who we are and whose we are.  We belong to Him and submit to His ownership.  Let’s recall that we “were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb, without blemish and without spot.”  —1 Peter 1:18-19

Contract
A written contract, called the Ketubah, was drawn up to include the bride price, the rights of the bride, and the promises of the groom.

We have a covenant with our Bridegroom, written in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible outlines thousands of promises that God desires to fulfill in our lives as we believe what He has said. Personally, I have never counted, but some sources say there are over 5000 promises in the Bible. His Word also sets forth our rights and privileges. We are entitled to all that He said we could have.  It is by these great and precious promises that we become partakers of His divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

God gave His everlasting covenant to His people out of an act of divine love and grace and it only by our love in response that it can be kept. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep My commandments.”  —John 14:15

The promises of God are yes and amen. (1Corinthians 1:20) Within that declaration is the assurance that every single one of God’s promises will come to pass. However, with every promise comes a condition, whether stated or implied, of simply believing. Are we fully convinced that He is able to perform what He has promised? (Romans 4:21)

Cup of Wine
At this time, a cup of wine, the cup of the covenant, is shared between the bride and groom to seal the covenant.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband and a father to them, says the Lord.” —Jeremiah 31:31-32

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” —Matthew 26:27-28

As Jesus lifted up the cup, it foreshadowed that he would be lifted up on the cross.  Not only is the wine symbolic of Christ’s blood, it further indicates a radiant joy that comes from being in union and communion with Him, the wine that gladdens the heart of man (Psalm 104:15).  “Your love is better than wine.”  —Song of Solomon 1:2

Gifts to the Bride
Gifts were given to the bride and would serve as a reminder of the bridegroom’s promise to return for her. Today the usual expression from the bride to the groom is the ring.

The gifts that Christ has given His bride are representative of the Holy Spirit and all that He has to offer. “When he ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”  —Ephesians 4:8. We are told to desire spiritual gifts and that every good and perfect gift is from above. He has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Mikvah
The bride would undergo a ritual cleansing, known as a mikvah (or mikveh), which is the same word used for baptism. It was symbolic of leaving her old life behind to embark on a new journey, in a new relationship, with a new beginning to start a new family, and take on a new name and a new life.  Many Jewish brides today participate in the mikvah to prepare for the state of becoming one.

Water is often synonymous with life because our very existence depends upon it.  I found further evidence of water linked with life using a system known as gematria, which assigns a numerical value to the Hebrew alphabet. The molecular weight of water (H2O) is 18. There are two Hebrew letters which add up to18 and form the Hebrew word “chai.” Chai means life! (That science stuff sure stretches my brain!)

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death…even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  —Romans 6:4

The Long Wait
Although the couple is legally bound together, it is at this point that the Bridegroom will leave for His father’s house and the period of betrothal continues until He returns to fetch His bride. What happens in the meantime during this separation? Is there a purpose for this waiting between the time of the betrothal

Bridal contract

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A Wedding and A Feast – Pt 1 by Connie Chamberlain

Having experienced the tabernacle and the union with God found in the Holy of Holies, it seemed fitting to me to look at another type and shadow that accentuates the oneness which God desires to have with His people.  I am often intrigued with the picture that has been painted for us of Jesus as our Bridegroom and His people as His Bride.  Scripture is replete with examples, symbols, and metaphors concerning the sacrament of marriage to represent our relationship with Christ, and, therefore, it seems the Lord would have us to more fully understand its spiritual implications.

What does it mean to be called the “Bride of Christ?”  Jesus, who referred to Himself as the Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15), lovingly and sacrificially gave His life for His Bride.  It is with a desire to more intimately know God that we will study some of the customs of the Jewish wedding and strive to discover how they have a current application and spiritual relevance for our lives today.

In light of this analogy, my hope is that we will come away with a better understanding of how God sees us and what He expects of us. God’s desire for us is plainly stated when He says, “that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead.”  (Romans 7:4)

It is God who instituted the covenant of marriage.  Yet the earthly bonds between a man and a woman are only temporary, while the spiritual union of marriage to Jesus is for a lifetime that spans eternity. God is working in His bride that quality of faithfulness, to the degree that there should be no relationship or possession that takes the place of relationship with our heavenly husband.

It is important that the concept of the Bride is grasped with our spiritual understanding, however, and not our literal and physical senses.  If taken with only our natural understanding, the term “bride” would leave out a large percentage of the body of Christ. The Lord applies the word “Bride” to all His people, both men and women, and it is seen no differently than the term “Sons of God” is used to refer to both genders.

The Betrothal
In ancient Israel, a young man and a young woman’s engagement, or betrothal, was legally binding.  The relationship was considered to be sealed by means of a contract from that point forward, except that they lived apart without physical union until the actual marriage ceremony.  The betrothal period could last about a year or more.

The Arrangement
The first aspect in the betrothal process is how the bride is chosen. It is the Bridegroom’s father who chooses the Bride, by way of sending his trusted servant and messenger. The bride may never have even laid eyes on her husband-to-be. We see this arrangement exemplified in Genesis 24 when Abraham sent his right-hand man, Eliezer, to fetch a bride for Isaac.

Abraham represents the Father who sends the servant of the Holy Spirit to acquire a bride for His Son, Jesus.  I had never quite made the connection until I found that Eliezer’s name means “God of help.”  The Hebrew word “ezer” is the same word used in Gen. 2:18. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help (ezer) meet for him.” The Holy Spirit is called our Helper (John 14:16, 26), also rendered Comforter and Advocate, meaning one called to the side of another for help or counsel.  It is the Holy Spirit as Helper who helps us to see our sinful nature and convicts us of our need for a Savior.  (John 16:7-8)

We, the Bride, have not yet seen with our eyes our Heavenly Bridegroom. Jesus, “whom having not seen, you love.  Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” 1 Peter 1:8.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29

Consent of the Bride
It was important to Abraham that the servant obtained the woman’s consent. “And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath.” Genesis 24:8  Once the Holy Spirit had located Rebekah as the potential bride, she was asked by her family, “Will you go with this man?”  And she said, “I will go.”  Genesis 24:58  There was no coercion or obligation involved in her decision.

God created us to function with the gift of free will. Even though He has chosen us, relationship is incomplete unless we “choose to be chosen.” It is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to choose His way and His will so that we belong to Him.  Behind the person of the Holy Spirit is the heart of God that woos and draws us to respond with “I do” and “I will.”

To what exactly are we saying “I do” and “I will?”  We will continue to explore the elements of the betrothal in our next study by looking into the nature of the bridal contract and its present significance for us, all for the purpose of understanding afresh the oneness that our Bridegroom desires for us to experience with Him.

I Am My Beloved Ring

Wake Up Sleepers and Pray! by Tiffany Ann Lewis

“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”Matthew 26:37-46

I don’t like to admit it but, I can totally identify with this portion of Scripture; maybe not with sleepiness, although certainly many times that too, but rather with prayerlessness in a time of great need. As I try to imagine what must have been going through the disciple’s heads, I recognize there were probably some similarities that we all experience today; such as boredom or maybe they struggled with not knowing how to pray or insecurity about what to pray for.

Wheat pennyThey may have questioned why nothing happened when they prayed or experienced disappointment when their prayers weren’t even answered the first or even second time.

I imagine there were times when, “I’m sleepy Jesus, I’ll pray in the morning” came to mind. Perhaps they figured Jesus had it covered, after all, He’s God and they were not…so night, night Jesus. Unfortunately, they weren’t there at the moment of Jesus’ great need and when they awoke, His betrayer was at hand.

Waking Up From Slumber

We had a situation recently that woke me up from my spiritual slumber and has called me to prayer with renewed vigor. I got a phone call from my daughter Ashley. She was on the way to the hospital; her fiancée Scott had cut his wrist with a chain saw. Immediately I sent out a text asking for prayer. Miraculously, he only needed stitches. No surgery. No need to repair tendons or worse – no reattaching his hand!

Here is what amazed me and what woke me up spiritually to a new place of prayer. Later that day, I looked at my email and saw that a pastor’s wife, who I rarely hear from, had emailed me. The letter was really just a sentence letting me know she was praying for us.

What is important to note is that she was praying at the same time the chain saw was heading for Scott’s wrist. I talked to her the next morning to get the details. She didn’t have a word of knowledge like, “Scott is about to cut his wrist off with a chain saw!” However, what she did know was simply to PRAY FOR TIFFANY AND HER FAMILY NOW!!

Beloved, there is great need every day and the Lord is calling us to pray. O’ that we might not be found asleep in those moments. Romans 8:26-28 has a lot of solutions for the times when we are puzzled about prayer and would prefer to just go to sleep:

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” 

ElijahList Prophetic Resources

“I’m Bored of Praying

Haven’t you thought this at some point? We all have been here – it’s true! The good news is that the Holy Spirit can help us in our weakness. In Greek the word translated as “helps” is: sunantilambanomai (Strong’s #4878) and means: to lay hold alone with, to strive to obtain with others, to help in obtaining, and to take hold with another. Please notice that we need to be praying for the Lord to join us in prayer.

Christ has made us freeIf it is your desire to pray but you are struggling with any weakness that prevents it, all we have to do is ask Him to help us.

Philippians 2:13 teaches us that God is working in us to desire to do His will, which, in this case, is to pray.

Another practical solution is to turn songs into your prayers. Allow the melody to bring expression to what is in your heart. The Hymn: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is a staple song/prayer of mine. I replace the pronouns and make it personal:

I turn my eyes upon You Lord
As I look full into Your wonderful face

I pray that the things of this world would grow strangely dim
In the light of Your glory and grace
There are times that I repeat it all day depending on the circumstance I am facing. Each time I sing the song, I press into the wonderful Cross and another truth revealed in Romans 8 – that nothing can separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus (verses 39).

“I Don’t Know How to Pray”

Don’t let that stop you. The Holy Spirit does know how to pray and He is here to help us. The whole point of Romans 8 is to let us know that in times of great distress, the Holy Spirit is there to help us and to give us hope. We must remember that God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). He’s not sitting up in Heaven, rolling His eyes at our prayers, wishing we could just sound more grown-up or educated. In fact, Scripture reveals that He takes great pleasure when we come to Him with childlike faith and dependence.

“Nothing Happens When I Pray”

Our disappointment is one of the primary vices the devil uses for us to give up on prayer and just go to sleep. We all have experienced times that what we pray for slips through our hands. In moments like this, when our heart is broken in a million pieces on the floor, our adversary, the devil, would like us to give up on prayer and ultimately just give up on God.

WheatThe solution to this is also found in Romans, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Somehow, some way, God will work it out. All that comes into our life God uses for His glory. It may not be in the way we hoped for but He will give us the grace to get through whatever circumstance we face.

“You’re God and I’m Not”

I know this topic is a very tender topic. The sovereignty of God is not something that will be grasped fully this side of eternity; nevertheless, it is my prayer that we find comfort in it. In context of Romans 8, Paul has been writing about the suffering that is experienced, all due to the fall. Yet his purpose in writing is to give us hope.

As we groan in our heartache, the Holy Spirit groans too. He cries out in our heart reminding us that we are the children of God (though in a fallen world) and He is our Abba, our Daddy (verses 15-17), and that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (verse 37).

Beloved, one day we will be glorified with Christ and every tear will be wiped away. Until then, may we arise to this great privilege of prayer that God has given us.

“I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one; For my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.” Song of Solomon 5:2

Help us, Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Tiffany Ann Lewis
Dancing With the Flame of the Lord Ministries

Email: tiffanyann@tiffanyannlewis.com
Website: tiffanyannlewis.com

Tiffany Ann Lewis is a prophetic worship leader and Bible teacher with a unique focus on Biblical Hebrew, and whose heart has been passionately awakened by a God who sees us in our shortcomings, loves us in spite of it all, and calls out to us so we can live (Ezekiel 16). Her vision is to create an atmosphere in worship where we can meet with God face to face, where the Spirit of God moves freely, releasing emotional, spiritual and physical healing, and igniting a passion for our Heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus. Tiffany Ann has been ministering for over 10 years in prophetic worship throughout the Body of Christ. She worships with her family at Northway Church in Malta, New York, where she serves on the worship team.