This never before published study, was originally recorded during Jack’s teaching at a conference nearly 30 years ago. He referenced this conference, and what the Lord did there, in his article Spiritual Gifts Part 2: Some Personal Experiences.
I didn’t even know he had this recording! I found it shortly after he passed away last year. This study is almost 30 years old. It was first recorded on cassette tape and then converted to digital. The quality is probably the reason Jack never posted it; it’s a little rough. But the message is definitely worth it. So I’ve cleaned it up the best I can, and present it to you for your edification.
Below the audio, we’ve also included the written transcript of this study.
Listen to Audio Study
You know about 6 years ago, I happened upon 2 cassette tapes from very different sources. A lot of my life has been devoted to listening to cassette tapes. And these two particular ones couldn’t have come probably from any two different sources. One from one of the leading audio publishers in the country today – probably the leading publisher, and probably the richest source of new-age thinking that you can find in the world today. And the other tape came from a ministry out in Costa Mesa California called Firefighters for Christ.
The first tape said to me that if anyone would pick a subject of interest to him, and devote one hour a day to that subject for 5 years, at the end of that 5 years that person could be one of the country’s leading experts in that subject. Shows you how little most people know about things. We’re all kind of a mile wide and an inch deep these days aren’t we?
And the other tape listed among the 300 or so prophecies that were fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus Christ, just a few, that were then subjected to scientific analysis and confirmed beyond a shadow of doubt, not just for a believing mind but also for a rational logical mind.
And at that point something happened to me that has happened to several others in the world. I didn’t get a big rush of emotion, I just got a big rush of logic. And I said: That makes more sense to me than anything I’ve ever heard in my life. And you’d have to be a fool to doubt that. Not wanting to be a fool, I decided to take the challenge of the first tape and apply that to the information from the second.
Now I’m not telling you that to claim to be an expert here before you. I’m sort of a more of a legend in my own mind than in anywhere else. But I do want you to know that I took the challenge seriously, I have spent hours – more than an hour a day, and for more than 5 years, and I think that I’m beginning to scratch some of the surface of this book. I think that I know enough of the answers now to know what questions to ask. And in my study I came across an obscure little passage that really helped me in my understanding, and I’d like to start with that this morning.
If you’re familiar with my teaching style you know I jump all over the place, so if you’re not I’ll pray for you. But if you are then you’re probably prepared for this a little bit. We’re going to look at some passages that maybe you haven’t seen before. Hosea 12:10 is the one I’d like to look at first.
An Obscure Passage to Help Our Understanding
If you have some background in the prophetic scriptures you’ll understand this one. Hosea is right by Daniel, just go to Daniel and turn right and you’ll come to Hosea, and 12:10 is the passage that we’re looking for.
In the passage Hosea 12:10 the Lord says:
I spoke to the prophets and I gave them many visions, and I told parables through them.
That’s been a fascinating passage to me because, I’ll be frank with you, as I began to study the Old Testament I started to conclude that, at least from my opinion, a lot of what the nation Israel was going through seemed to be confusing to them, and more for our benefit than theirs. And then it sort of dawned on me that maybe the Lord had a purpose in this, maybe He was asking those people to act out certain little scenes and plays from which we were supposed to get the message.
Sometimes I’m convinced, not only did the nation not know what they were trying to say, I’m convinced sometimes the prophets themselves didn’t in their own minds know what they were really saying. And that was confirmed in a passage from 2 Peter, I believe it is, that says: That no prophet spoke out of his own mind, but from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And so as I saw that I began to gain a little different understanding of some of these old stories that I’d heard all my life. I’ve been a church-goer all my life; I’ve been a Christian for about 6 years now. I used to say: I don’t belong to any organized religious body; I’m a Presbyterian. So, that part’s still true.
Lesson for Us in the Bronze Snake
But I’ll show you what I mean by example. Let’s turn to Numbers 21. You’ve heard the story in the past. I use it to illustrate just how interesting this all is. Numbers 21, we’re going to start in verse 4 I believe it is. It’s the little story of the snake, the bronze snake in the wilderness, you’re familiar with it.
I’ll read it quickly to you:
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
They were talking about the “manna.” You know in Hebrew “manna” means what is this. God never called it manna, except in one case when he was being sarcastic with them. But that was their name for it.
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
Now the Lord told Moses to make a snake and put it up on a pole, and anyone who is bitten can look on it and live. And so Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole and when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake he lived.
What a cumbersome way to solve the problem. I mean the Lord sent the snakes, He could have just taken them away. He could have issued snake bite kits to everybody. But instead he chose to go through this elaborate routine of having a bronze snake made, put up on a pole (I visualize it up on a hill outside of the camp) and when people were bit they looked at the snake on the pole and they lived.
Now I don’t know if Israel understood what they were doing there. I’m sure Nicodemus didn’t understand it. Because when God, through His infinite wisdom and mercy, sent Jesus Christ to the Earth, Nicodemus met with Him one night. And Jesus said a strange thing to him, he says:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
Now, when you go back and read the passage, you’ll see it from a different point of view.
What’s Contained in the Old is Explained in the New
Was Moses, in God’s instruction, acting out something that would take place a few thousand years later? Was Jesus Christ put on a pole that we might look at Him and live? Is the idiom consistent with Jesus Christ represented by the bronze snake?
All through the Old Testament, bronze or brass is symbolic of judgment. The snake or serpent, symbolic of Satan and sin. Jesus Christ was made sin for us. He who knew no sin was made sin, that our sins might be forgiven. Isn’t that an interesting way to make the point? And we with our New Testament perspective can look back at that and say: That’s incredible! That’s an incredible thing for them to do. And yet that’s just exactly the way He did it.
Now if you want to confirm that, you can go to John 3:14 and you can hear Jesus explain it Himself to Nicodemus. For He says:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
One of the real problems we have as Christians is parallel to a problem that Jews have. Each of us has only read half the book. They know the beginning but don’t know the end, so they know what he did, but don’t know who did it, right? And we know who did it, but sometimes we don’t know what he did.
Because we don’t understand the perspective from which this all comes. You see the problem starts with the word “testament” itself. It should be, in my opinion, covenant not testament. It’s one testament, it’s two covenants. It’s one story, it’s one book. It has one author, even though He chose forty different men and women to put the words into print, there is one author consistent from Genesis through Revelation, and His message to us. And if we could just understand the whole book, we would really begin to understand what He’s done.
We Interpret the Bible Literally
People ask me how I interpret the Bible and I say I’m an Evangelical. To me what that means is that I use the traditional Evangelical method of interpretation. We know part of it, it’s to take the Bible literally, right? That’s only 1/3 of it. The Evangelical interpretation requires us to take the Bible literally, that means it means what it says unless it clearly is designed to be something else and it’ll usually be identified by the writer that it was meant to be symbolic or something. So we take the Bible literally.
We Interpret the Bible Historically
But we also have to take it historically, and by that I mean we have to understand the historical context in which it was written. What was going on in the world when the words were written? What were the current events of the time? That puts it into its historical context.
We Interpret the Bible Grammatically
And then we have to take the grammatical approach and say: What was the common usage of the words that were written? You know, even in English words don’t mean the same as they used to. If you’re reading a 1611 translation you’ll find words that mean entirely different things today than they did when those writers used them. Well, how much more so when we go back 4,000 years? And we go back through 2 or 3 languages?
So if we can take the historical context and the grammatical usage that was in common usage in those days, and then add to that the literalness of the passage, then we begin to get a glimpse of the understanding.
Jewish Wedding Tradition
No more so than in looking at the different illustrations the prophets and the Lord Himself use as the wedding ceremony unfolds. And the symbolism of the wedding ceremony as it relates to the relationship we have as the bride with the bridegroom. Some of the most difficult passages in the scripture, in my opinion, are woven around this tradition. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Probably the most unusual of all these is the passage in the second chapter of John. An interesting passage about a little miracle that Jesus performed at a wedding. I want to share with you some of my beliefs about why most people don’t understand this miracle, and how having an understanding of wedding traditions in those days can aid in that. And also how having an understanding of the kind of writer John was, and the kind of communicator Jesus is can help us understand that as well.
Wedding at Cana
Well let’s take a look at it. It says:
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.
I’m reading from 2:1:
Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
And Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, although the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
The First Recorded Miracle
This is the first recorded miracle in Jesus’s ministry. It’s the miracle that John uses to introduce his Gospel. Now if you or I were choosing of all the miracles we know Jesus performed you’d want to make a good first impression right? And so you’d probably pick a much more important sounding miracle than this. And yet John chose this to introduce the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Interesting that in the first verse it says: It was the third day. Do you know that Jewish weddings are commonly held on Tuesdays? That’s the third day of their week. And the reason they’re held on Tuesdays is because in Genesis 1, it was on the third day that God said: It was good twice. The only day of the creation He said it twice. So they feel it’s double good on that day. And so most Jewish weddings take place on the third day, Tuesday.
Do you know that the Jewish wedding feast lasted for 7 days? Do you realize what a breach of etiquette it was to run out of wine on the first day? Most people are going to be there for a week. And on the first day they’re out already. You can see why Mary was concerned. You can imagine how the lord of the banquet must have felt. That would have been, by the way, the father of the groom. Because in those days it was the father of the groom who paid for the wedding. He held the banquet. He was in charge of the feast.
Water to Wine Symbolism
Now if you apply some of the symbolism that John‘s Gospels is rich with, and some of the mysticism that John is also famous for, you can go back and read that little miracle and get a different meaning from it.
- Why 6 jars? Well you go back to the creation and you realize that 6 is the number of man. Is there some symbolism there?
- Why were the jars stone? Jars were generally made of pottery, these were of stone.
- And they were empty, cold. Isn’t that the state of the unregenerate man? Stone, cold, and empty.
- And then He commands the servant. The servants are not named. Later on Jesus will tell His disciples that the counsellor will come, and He will not testify of Himself. And so you don’t know the name of the Holy Spirit because He’s on the work of the Son, and on behalf of the Father. And so an unnamed servant, acting at Jesus’s command, fills the jar with water.
- And Jesus says: If any man is thirsty let him come to Me and drink, and I will fill him with rivers of living water. And he turns the water into wine. Wine in the New Testament, as well as in the Old, is symbolic of the joy of the Lord.
- And now this miracle takes on different meaning. And then the lord of the feast, the father of the groom, says: You’ve saved the best until last. In all the ages of men who were saved by faith it seems that the Church is held in particularly high esteem by the Son and, because of that, the Father. So could he be referring in some way to the Church here?
Symbolism for the Church
As we start off in life, we are stone and cold and empty. Then we’re filled with living water and receive therefore the joy of our salvation. And we’re held in especial esteem by the Lord himself, the creator.
You know there’ll be people saved before the Church, there’ll be people saved after the Church. The Church is an incredibly privileged group. If you think that’s just my opinion, you’d have to go and look at the Gospel of Luke.
Because in the Gospel of Luke verse 24, (chapter 7 really) Jesus makes an interesting statement. He’s talking about John the Baptist. And He says:
Of all those born of women there is no one greater than John; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
That’s our clue that John is the last of the Old Testament prophets. From that point forward comes the Church. And he who is least in the Kingdom is held in higher esteem than even John the Baptist, than even Moses, Abraham, David. Isn’t that something? The special position the Church has. For we who hear and believe by faith are given the privilege of being the bride.
Well, I could give you a lot more of these. Do you want the whole Book of Ruth? It tells the same story. Do you want passages from Ephesians and from Peter, who talk about the relationship between husband and wife, as being parallel between the relationship between Christ and the Church? But I think the one that’s most fascinating, at least to me, and the one that leads us to ask the most questions is 1 Matthew 22, the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. Why don’t we turn to that?
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Matthew 22 describes a passage, this is the third of 3 parables in a series. I wish we had the time to go into the other 2, you’ll have to take those on your own. They are in the end of the 21st chapter. And they’re sort of the final rebuttal to the Pharisees as to what it is that is required of us in order to receive our salvation. And so in order to get the full context of the message of this you would go back and read from Matthew 21 and you would start in about verse 23 where they question the authority of Jesus.
And you’d read the Parable of the Two Sons, the one who said He would and didn’t, versus the one who said He would not and did. And then you’d read the Parable of the Tenants and you’d see Israel reflected clearly in the story of the tenants in the vineyard. And then right on the heels of that, in the same discussion if you will, He gives the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. Now listen to this.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. And he sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner, my oxen, and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
But they paid no attention and went off— one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you can find.’ So the servants sent out into the street and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad.
(I underlined that one, that’s what got me in.)
and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless,
(As we would have been.)
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him outside, into the darkness,
(Some of your passages will say into the outer darkness.)
where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited but few are chosen.”
Understanding the Tradition
Now as New Testament Christians, we are confused by that parable. But if you understand the Jewish wedding traditions, it makes perfect sense. And so let’s use that parable as a spring board to discover not only the traditions that would answer the questions we have about that parable, but let’s go through the Jewish wedding traditions to see if there’s a parallel between the way those traditions were acted out and the relationship that our Lord would have us to have with Him. And if we find one, I think that’ll be interesting for us.
I want to start with these by going back even before the wedding, into the betrothal, because in Israel the betrothal is a lot more serious than it is here.
You couldn’t change your mind about a betrothal, you had to be divorced from a betrothal, just as you had to be divorced from a marriage. And a woman who was widowed in her betrothal was considered to have a very special and very heart rendering problem because she had received all of the promises of her marriage, and none of the fulfillment. But she was considered a widow in Israel.
Well here’s how the betrothal went: The young man would fall in love, but when he did he didn’t go to the object of his affection, he went to her father.
He would negotiate a price for her. Because you see, typically the woman went to live with the man’s family, and so the parents of the bride were being deprived of a pair of hands. Everyone worked in those days. Everyone had to contribute. Everyone had their job. And so when this daughter was taken out of the home to go live with her new husband, her family was deprived of her efforts and so he had to pay to compensate for that loss.
So he would go to the parents, specifically to the father, and they would sit down to negotiate a price for her. It was called the bride’s price, we would think of it as a dowry. And between her father and him they would establish a price.
Now listen to this. When Jesus came into the world:
He came unto his own,
John tells us,
but His own received him not. But to any of those who did receive Him, and believe in his name, he gave them the authority to become children of God
Born not out of marriage or out of a husband’s will, but spiritually. And so it’s interesting to note that as this happens in our lives, the father of the bride becomes the father of the groom and the negotiator is handling it for both parties, if you will. So it’s our Father and his father who are negotiating the price. And of course you know that you were bought with a price. 1 Corinthians 6:20 will give you that, and in other places as well.
The Father Determines the Price, The Bride Accepts the Offer
Now as the son, the young groom to be, sat there discussing this price with the father of the bride, she was also present. She didn’t say anything, nor was she involved in the conversation at all but she was present. And as they negotiated the price the mother, usually, would bring out glasses and they would pour wine for each of the members, including for this young girl. And she, observing the negotiations, and after they had arrived at a price, all eyes would turn to her. There was a cup of wine sitting before her. And it was now her choice. She had 30 seconds now to decide. If she picked up the cup and drank, they were betrothed. If she didn’t, he went away and they never saw him again. And so it was always the bride’s choice to be betrothed. The father determined the price, but the bride accepted the offer, okay?
Paid in Full – Jesus Paid the Bride Price for Us
Now before we go on with this, and there’s much more coming, but before we go on I want you to remember with me a passage in John 19:30. It’s a passage that recounts for us the final words of Jesus, from the cross. Now the writer of the Gospel was standing there when these words were uttered. The common language of that day was Greek. And so when John wrote the Gospel, he wrote it in Greek. And in the passage we know as John 19:30, as it’s been translated into English, it says: It is finished. If you were reading that in Greek, the words you would read would be “tetelestai.” It’s a Greek word that can be translated it is finished.
But it’s a fascinating word because it was used for other purposes as well. For instance if you had committed a crime and given a sentence and sent to prison, your sentence went with you and it was hung on the door outside your cell. And as you served the years of your sentence, the jailer would mark off those years until finally your sentence was complete.
And at that day, on the day they let you out of prison, they would take the sentence, the parchment on which it was written down, with the record of the service that you had done in payment for that. And they would write across the face of that document a Greek word. The word meant paid in full. That was your protection of ever being accused of that same crime again.
The Greek word that they wrote was tetelestai, paid in full. And so as we read His words from the cross, we read “it is finished.” But if you were reading it in Greek you could just as appropriately read it “paid in full.” The bride price was paid.
The Groom Leaves to Prepare a Home for His Bride
And the bride didn’t see him again. There was no courtship, they were not allowed to be alone together. The groom left for a purpose, his purpose was to prepare their home. Normally it was to be a room that would be built on to the father’s house because that’s where they were going to live. And he didn’t return until it was ready, until the room was finished.
Now in John 14:1-2 Jesus is telling His disciples: You trust in the Lord, trust also in Me. I’m going to my Father’s house. And in my Father’s house are many mansions and I go there to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come back so that I can take you so that where I am you might also be.
And so our bridegroom we would expect is off preparing a room for us.
Now somebody said if He created the world in 6 days, think of what He’s been able to do in 2,000 years! This is going to be quite a mansion. Now interestingly, it was the groom’s father who determined when the room was finished. See, if it was up to this boy he would tack a little lean-to up against the building, throw a cot in there and he’d be back for her, right?
The Father Decides When it’s Complete & Sets the Wedding Date
But it was the groom’s father who determined when the room was finished. And so it was the groom’s father who set the wedding date. So until the father proclaimed the project complete, no one knew the wedding date. Not the bride, not the groom.
“No one knows about that day, or hour not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
The Bride is then Hidden
Now the bride thereafter was veiled. She was not allowed to be in public unveiled, you might say she was hidden. Consistent with Colossians 3:3, when we were purchased by Him, our lives were hidden in him, right?
She and her bridesmaids were to wait with lamps full of oil, with wicks trimmed, for his return, typically in the middle of the night.
The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids
And in Matthew 25 we get a tremendous view of that in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Some who had their oil and some who did not, and of course by looking through the Old Testament we can go all the way back into the Book of Exodus and we can see a consistent use of oil as an idiom for the Holy Spirit.
And so what got the bridesmaids into the wedding? The oil of the Holy Spirit. In fact, He says to the others: I don’t know who you are. And He closes the door and goes into the banquet leaving them outside.
Now, you follow that along and you’ll see other interesting uses:
- The bridesmaids had to get their own oil, nobody could get that for them. That’s kind of consistent with the lesson we learned from the manna in the wilderness.
- You had to collect your own manna every day. Nobody could go out and get some for you. You had to get it for yourself. But we know the manna as the bread of life.
- We know the word of God as the bread of life. No one can study the word for you. You have to study it for yourself.
- No one can get the oil for you. Your relationship with the Lord is a personal one. When He calls, you have to answer. No one can answer for you.
And so these bridesmaids were to wait every night as if this would be the night. Because they knew not the day nor the hour. Now the groom came at an unexpected hour. And he took her to his father’s house, so that where he was, she might also be.
He didn’t come to her house to be with her. He came and took her to his house to be with him. Like a thief in the night he stole her away.
The Wedding Ceremony
Alright, now at the wedding ceremony itself, the father of the groom was in charge. He had borne the expense of the bride price and the ceremony.
He typically in those days, would have included a special garment which he prepared for each of the guests at the wedding. As they came through the door, the attendants would offer each guest this garment. You didn’t have to take it. It was voluntary or optional. But it was considered offensive to the father of the groom if you didn’t take it. It was considered a gross insult to the father and it could get you ejected from the ceremony.
Now, does Matthew 22 mean a little more to you? Because here is this poor fellow. He’s been grabbed off the street corner, told to come to a wedding – lots of food and drink, you don’t have to know anybody, come on in it’s free.
At the door he would have been offered a garment. Apparently this one chose not to wear it, he liked his own clothes better. And he got along pretty good until the father of the groom spotted him and said: Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?
The man was astonished. Because you see it’s not our own clothing.
The Father Provides the Wedding Clothes
That came right from Genesis, by the way. When Adam and Eve clothed themselves in fig leaves, God came and clothed them in the skins of animals. I don’t think it was because the skins of animals were any more in fashion than fig leaves in those day. I don’t think it’s because they were necessarily any more durable.
I think that God was showing them right from the start, that it would be by the shedding of innocent blood that they would be clothed.
I look at the fig leaves as man’s first attempt at religion. His first attempt to cover himself before the Lord. And God was saying right from the start: This isn’t going to happen this way.
We are Clothed in the Righteousness of Jesus
So we read earlier at the offering, the passage from Isaiah 61: We are clothed in His righteousness. The Father clothes us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
For reasons I don’t think we’ll ever understand, when He looks at us He sees the image of His own Son. And sees us shining in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the white linen of His righteousness.
Now if you want the other side of the coin, you would go to Isaiah 64 and you would see what our own righteousness looks like.
And so you can imagine how offensive this poor fellow was to the father, the king who was having the wedding. Clothed there in his own righteousness. For all of our righteousness has become as filthy rags. If you want a fascinating Old Testament passage Zechariah 3, called the Gospel of Zechariah, you’ll see Joshua the high priest standing there clothed in filthy rags (the actual Hebrew says “excrement bespattered”) as if he’d just crawled out of the sewer. And you see Satan standing there accusing him. And you see The Angel of the Lord. And The Angel of the Lord says to him: Your sins are forgiven. What Angel forgives sin? It had to be the Son of God.
And He says to Zechariah: Take these clothes off of him and put on clean raiment.
And He says to Zechariah’s accuser: Be gone. This man’s sins are taken away.
That’s Old Testament stuff! Zechariah 3, read it some time, it’s a fascinating passage, the Gospel according to Zechariah.
Wedding Feast Lasts 7 Days
Now after the ceremony, the wedding feast began. And it lasted for 7 days, at the home of the father of the groom and the new home of the married couple.
And again in John 14, Jesus says: In my Father’s house are many mansions, I go there and prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will return to take you with me so that where I am you might also be.
Compare that to Revelation 3. And so the wedding feast went on for 7 days to coincide with the honeymoon that the bride and the groom shared. Because typically their honeymoon was 7 years long. Are you seeing some interesting parallels here? Isn’t this a fascinating thing? And you see how understanding the wedding tradition helps so much.
Lesson in Genesis
Let me give you just a few other clues here as well. One comes out of Genesis 24. You see, in those days if the groom happened to be royalty he usually didn’t go and do the negotiating personally. He usually sent a servant. And so it is that the father in Genesis 24 sent an unnamed servant to go and find a bride for his son.
Now, the father in this story is Abraham. The son is Isaac. The unnamed servant had a name a few chapters earlier, but that name doesn’t appear anywhere in Genesis 24. He is called the servant. We knew him from Genesis 15 as Eliezer, a name which means the Comforter.
And so the Comforter goes off to a far country, to the country of Abraham’s ancestors. He says: Don’t bring me a bride from Canaan. Bring a bride from the country of my father’s.
And Eliezer says: What if she won’t come?
And the father says: Then you are released from your obligation.
So it was her choice to come or not. And the unnamed servant came with gifts for her, 10 camels full of gifts for her.
He met her by a well. The well was called Lachai Roi, which means the Well of Living Water. It’s almost like somebody designed this, isn’t it? And he asked her and she accepts, and she comes. And so Isaac and his bride are married.
Abraham & Isaac on Mount Moriah
Now, if you go back a couple of chapters to Genesis 22, you’ll discover that in Genesis 22 a similar little passage was acted out with Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. Where God said to Abraham: I want you to sacrifice your son. Your only son. You know that Abraham had two sons, the son of the flesh and the son of the promise.
In God’s eyes, Abraham had one son. And so He called him: Your only son. Your only beloved son. And I want you to take him to a place that I will show you and there offer him as a sacrifice.
And so they set off. It was a 3 day journey. And when they got there, Abraham said to the servants: You stay here, the young one and I will go. Now we read it “the boy and I.” In the Hebrew, it says this would have been a young man of military age probably somewhere between 18-30 years old.
And so Abraham puts the wood on Isaac’s back and together they start up the hill, Mount Moriah. Now the word together also meant in agreement.
On the way up the hill, Isaac says to his father: Father, where is the lamb for the offering?
And Abraham says to his son: The Lord will provide Himself a lamb for the offering.
And so at the top of the hill of Mount Moriah, Abraham builds the altar and prepares to sacrifice Isaac. And as you know, at the end, the Lord’s hand staid him. The ram in the thicket was used instead, giving rise to the substitutionary ram as a Messianic term, for Jesus was the substitute sacrifice that we should have made in payment for our sins. But because we couldn’t do it, He did it for us.
Now did you know that when you read the end of that chapter, you find out that Isaac is missing from the rest of the chapter? It’s a 3 day journey back, but Isaac is not seen again until they get back there. The next time you see Isaac in the passage is when he’s introduced to his bride by the Spirit. Isn’t that amazing?
Jewish Wedding Tradition Parallel Jesus and the Church
And so the betrothal, the negotiation, the price, the cup, the wedding, the house, the ceremony – all exquisitely and specifically parallel the story of Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church. And so ladies, this morning, I as His servant, present to you the man, the beautiful God-Man Jesus. And He is lying awake at night dreaming of you. And He has composed poems to your beauty. And He has come to your home to ask for your hand.
When Jesus asked the bride price of His father (and now our Father), the Father said: Son, you’ll have to give your life for her.
And He said: I’ll do it.
And the Father said: You’ll have to pay the price for every sin that ever has been or ever will be committed for her.
And He said I’ll do it.
And the Father said: Son, you’ll have to become the very embodiment of sin. So much so that I’ll not even be able to look upon you, and you’ll be totally cut off from me.
And He said: I’ll do it.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, scripture tells us they went out from the Upper Room and they sang a song. It was actually 3 verses from Psalm 118.
The Stone the Builders Rejected Has Become the Cornerstone
It begins at verse 22 which says:
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
We’re familiar with that. But if you have your scriptures open to Psalm 118, I want you to pay special attention to the next verse. Because here is Jesus in the dark of night, on the night that He was betrayed. And He knew what was coming. He knew what He was going to have to endure. He knew He was about ready to be captured and taken to be beaten, and to be humiliated, and finally to be crucified. And the next verse that He sang was,
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad in it
For this was the day the Lord had made. This was the day He was to purchase His bride. And He said: I’ll do it.
Later in the garden, a final session, perhaps to confirm the price. Three times He said: Father, if there be any other way, let this cup pass from me.
Three times, silence. And finally: Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine.
The price was confirmed. And so from the cross came His last words. Not the mumbling, barely audible cry of a defeated soul, but the triumphant cry of the victorious Bridegroom.
Tetelestai! It is finished. Paid in full. And so the price has been paid. And the Father has counted it sufficient.
We the Church are the Bride of Christ
Now, will you take this Jesus as your husband? To have and to hold, to love and honor and obey, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, but not till death do you part. But to rule and reign with Him forever. If you will, drink the cup. It’s your choice. Let’s pray.
Our blessed Jesus, our Creator, our King, and our Redeemer, our beautiful Bridegroom, come into our hearts. We do take you. We take you to be our husband, to love and honor and obey, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, but not until death do us part.
For You didn’t come, O Lord, that the bad might become good. You came that the dead might live, and we praise you. And we thank you, and we give honor and glory to your Holy Name.
O Father, our hearts cry out to you, and we are so stricken by the awesome price that was required for us. And so thankful Lord, that the price was paid willingly and lovingly. And we thank You that since before the foundation of the Earth was laid, our Bridegroom agreed to pay the price for us His bride.
We do so love you, Father. And we do so thank you. The poverty of our language doesn’t permit us to convey the feelings that we have of gratitude and humility. But You, O Lord, know the intent of our hearts, and You can sense how we feel. Thank you.
Thank you, Father, for all you’ve done, and for all you’ve given, and for all you have been, and are, and promise to be. We give you thanks, in Jesus’s holy name, Amen.