Bride of Christ. The intimacy. When you are in love you no longer act out of obligation but because you don’t want to hurt the person. There is a desperation to spend time with Him. There is a longing to know what His wants, desires and thoughts are. We don’t spend much time asking but time being together.
This is where we find His heartbeat. Where He asks us not talk but just to sit with Him. Where we learn to wait with Him and not FOR Him. Where every moment with Him is important and not to be missed by needing to do check emails, or find topics to talk about. It is just breathing with Him.
Song of Song 8:5. Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?
Back to the Katubah
The Wine Abstention
Once he was betrothed, it was customary for the groom not to drink any wine again until the actual marriage ceremony and subsequent wedding supper. At the Last Supper, Jesus seems to allude to this in the following statement in Luke 22:18;
“For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
Going to Prepare a Place
Once all of these things were accomplished, the groom would then make a promise to his betrothed wife to go and prepare a place for her to live, which was often an addition to his father’s home. In eastern cultures it was traditional to keep extended family units together, and you rarely had a break-up of the family unit. So here is yet another instance where Jesus observed the cultural mandates of the times;
“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.” (Jn 14:2-3)
At the ceremony, it was typical for the bride to wear a circlet of gold on her head, shaped in a silhouette of Jerusalem. The groom would wear a wreath of myrtle and roses, with thorns included. This mixture represented both the joy and pain of marriage, and of course, it’s probably quite intentional that this symbolism was also used to mock Jesus before the crucifixion;
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face. (Jn 19:1-3)
The groom would first pronounce his bride pure, and set apart for himself and they would vow eternal faithfulness and love to each other.
All the covenants represented here at the marriage ceremony.
THE 4th CUP – Wine symbolising servanthood and salvation
Having made their vows, the bride and groom alone would finally drink the 4th CUP of wine together, the ‘Cup of Praise’. Then they would throw it on the ground, and together they would stomp on and break the cup so that nobody could drink of it ever again. This signified the exclusivity of their marriage. This cup represented the ‘blood covenant’ being made between this couple. The blood covenant obligated the two parties to serve each other.
The Challah Bread – Bread and salt symbolising friendship
Now the bride and groom would take challah bread, dip it in salt, and feed it to each other. The “salt covenant” the bride and groom were entering into a salt covenant, which obligated them to defend each other in their new role as eternal friends.
New Sandals for the Bride – shoes for inheritance
The groom would now perform the same ritual for his bride that Jesus performed in the Upper Room. He would remove his bride’s old sandals and wash her feet. He would then place NEW SANDALS on her feet, symbolizing her inheritance in his estate.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (Jn 13:3-5)
Most commentaries on this topic describe Jesus performing an act of menial service to demonstrate to His disciples how they should serve each other, and they feel that this is why Peter initially said ‘No’ to this offer. But while this lesson about service is certainly part of the puzzle, it’s the last sentence in Jesus‘ reply that reveals the true motive and reason for the ritual;
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (Jn 13:6-8)
Notice that unless Jesus washed Peter’s feet, Peter would NOT have inherited with Jesus, and this had far less to do with selfless service than it did with the symbol that Jesus was modeling. In short, had Peter not allowed Jesus to wash his feet, then this sandal covenant would not have been confirmed, and Peter would not have become part of the bride that will inherit the right to reign over Jesus’ estate – the coming Kingdom of God.
The Exchange of Rings
Rings were not always exchanged by the bride and groom, but in the instances where they were, this would occur at the end of the ceremony. The rings would be worn on the RIGHT hand, rather than the LEFT in our western tradition, just as the bride would stand at the RIGHT hand of the groom, and just as Jesus stands at the RIGHT hand of the Father.
With their wedding vows completed and the actual ceremony drawing to a close, the groom would now spread his arms around his new bride, enveloping her within his prayer shawl, known as a Talit. This was a sign of protection and ‘oneness’ with her, and it is this concept that Jesus referred to as he entered Jerusalem.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matt 23:37)
In this instance, the word translated as ‘wings’ comes from the Greek word ‘apteryx’, which is correctly translated as ‘wings’. But the related Hebrew word that was often translated as ‘wings’ in the Old Testament would be ‘kanaf’, which were also the corners of the Talit itself. So Jesus was essentially saying he longed to have Jerusalem as His bride so he could wrap her in His prayer shawl.
Occasionally during their first time of intimacy the groom would discover that his wife had been unfaithful, or even worse…….that she was already pregnant. If the groom discovered that his bride had not remained pure and/or was already pregnant, he had only a few options available to him.
1) HE COULD LET HER PAY THE PRICE for her transgression, which under the law was death.
2) HE COULD GIVE HER A WRIT OF DIVORCE and quietly leave the scene. This is the option that Joseph had chosen with Mary, until the angel intervened;
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Mt 1:19)
But naturally everyone would immediately question why the groom had left, and that would stir suspicions. So this option was still risky for the bride, as she could be stoned if the reason for his leaving was discovered.
3) HE COULD PRETEND THE CHILD WAS HIS when it was born, and therefore not seek a divorce at all. This is what Joseph ended up doing when Jesus was born, and Mary’s trip to Bethlehem and their subsequent trip to Egypt ended up protecting her from those that would have been suspicious, or those who would have been counting the days.
4) HE COULD CHOOSE TO BE HER REDEEMER. In this role, he could legally opt to take her punishment on himself, which in this instance would be death, because that was the punishment for sexual impurity as outlined in the law and that’s just what Jesus did for you and I at the cross. He became our redeemer by being crucified in our place. WE were unfaithful….but HE paid the price. If she had monetary debt he paid on her behalf.
This is where Jesus has been trying to lead us ever since the fall in Eden. In spite of our sin, it is His desire to enter back into a marriage relationship with mankind.
Covenants and Covenant Names
Covenant is a contract. In the Bible, an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them.
There are two types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional or bilateral covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfilment. Both parties agree to fulfil certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfil the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.
The names of God describe Him but are also the covenents He has made with His people
O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens” Psalm 8:1
Our names are precious to us….they reveal who we are. They are a personal connection, a unique part of us. Names in Biblical times were very important, as they revealed a person’s character. God has many Names and each reveals Him in a different way. God’s Names represent His attributes, His nature.
Therefore, it is important that we know God by His many Names. By calling upon Him using His various Names…to do so will be an awesome experience in knowing God.
Abraham named God “Jehovah Jireh” – the Lord our Provider. Gen 22.
All Pappa’s friends, sons, brides, get to name Him.
This covenant interaction of names is based on REVELATION. This is a choice you make to walk in.
YAHWEH-JIREH: “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14) – the name memorialized by Abraham when God provided the ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac.
YAHWEH-RAPHA: “The Lord Who Heals” (Exodus 15:26) – “I am Jehovah who heals you” both in body and soul. In body, by preserving from and curing diseases, and in soul, by pardoning iniquities. God Himself gave Himself the name.
YAHWEH-NISSI: “The Lord Our Banner” (Exodus 17:15), where banner is understood to be a rallying place. This name commemorates the desert victory over the Amalekites in Exodus 17. And Moses lbuilt an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner
YAHWEH-M’KADDESH: “The Lord Who Sanctifies, Makes Holy” (Leviticus 20:8; Ezekiel 37:28) – God makes it clear that He alone, not the law, can cleanse His people and make them holy. God Himself
YAHWEH-SHALOM: “The Lord Our Peace” (Judges 6:24) – the name given by Gideon to the altar he built after the Angel of the Lord assured him he would not die as he thought he would after seeing Him.
YAHWEH-ROHI: “The Lord Our Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) – After David pondered his relationship as a shepherd to his sheep, he realized that was exactly the relationship God had with him, and so he declares, “Yahweh-Rohi is my Shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
YAHWEH-SHAMMAH: “The Lord Is There” (Ezekiel 48:35) – the name ascribed to Jerusalem and the Temple there, indicating that the once-departed glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 8—11) had returned (Ezekiel 44:1-4). Ezekiel prophesises what God has revealed to Him.
EL ROI: “God of Seeing” (Genesis 16:13) – the name ascribed to God by Hagar, alone and desperate in the wilderness after being driven out by Sarah (Genesis 16:1-14). When Hagar met the Angel of the Lord, she realized she had seen God Himself in a theophany. She also realized that El Roi saw her in her distress and testified that He is a God who lives and sees all.
EL-OLAM: “Everlasting God” (Psalm 90:1-3) – God’s nature is without beginning or end, free from all constraints of time, and He contains within Himself the very cause of time itself. “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Given to Him by a psalmist or possibly Moses.
Names are revelatory and identify. As we experience Pappa’s love, provision, deliverance, healing, safety etc. we will start to have our favourite term of endearment for Him. As we understand how He sees us and our own potential in Jesus, He and invites you to that place where you find your name of how He sees you. It is your choice if you then function in that name. This is not the name you get written on the white stone but a name of endearment as a Bride and Groom would have for each other.
Written by Claudia Purser