Sympathy in Our Weaknesses: Surviving Temptation

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

(Hebrews 4:15)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray all is going well with you and that you continue to experience the abundant blessings of God.

In this article, I will share on a subject that I believe is often overlooked in the basic teachings of Christianity. Because of this oversight, Christian’s are often left to “fend” for themselves, thus the flock scattered and seemingly left without hope or answers. This is tragic because the end result is often discouragement heaped with a healthy dose of condemnation.

The subject I refer to is “temptation” and believe it or not, it is not a dirty word. Every child of God faces, and will face, temptation numerous times while upon this earth. It is of utmost importance that believers understand that temptation in and of itself is not sin! What we do with the temptation we face determines it becoming sin or not. All temptation, regardless of form or how it is received, comes from the enemy! God never tempts anyone with evil!

Our enemy knows well the weaknesses of humankind! He is not referred to as the “most subtle” without good reason. Like any good shoulder going into battle, knowledge of the strategies of your enemy gives great advantage. Through the scriptures the Lord has prepared the Christian soldier for warfare.

First of all, the enemy always cheats, and will attack by appealing to the desires of human nature! These desires include appealing to our love of beautiful things, pride, and hunger. We can call these areas of attack, “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life”. (I John 2:16) Every temptation that comes at us will appeal to one or all three! In the Garden of Eden, Eve was tempted with all three and so was Jesus during His period of temptation in the wilderness! This brings me to the main point, the temptation of Jesus and how that relates to us.

Our enemy holds no punches and will attack from all directions. Sometimes multiple directions in one assault! He tempted Jesus from multiple directions! We find the account concerning the three ways Jesus was tempted in Matthew chapter four (4). The serpent of old hurled three vicious temptations at Jesus: “command these stones to turn to bread”, appealed to His hunger; “throw yourself down”, appealed to His pride, and “all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me”, appealed to His like of beautiful things, all three fall under the desires of human nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Now, we have learned the strategy employed by our enemy in assaulting us, but what about our counterattack and weapons of war? Let us go back to Matthew chapter four (4) and see how Jesus handled the situation. In corresponding order, let’s listen to Jesus’ reply to each assault: “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” and “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. Alas! Jesus used His Sword, the Word of God, to counterattack the enemy! What was the end result? “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him”.

Temptation is a serious matter and can bring great distress to the believer. The attacks are often very intense and always strike at our most venerable weaknesses. That said; we are not left orphaned without the care of our Shepherd. It brings us great comfort to know that “we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, was in all points tempted as we are, yet remained without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Of equal comfort are the words of the Lord in I Corinthians 10:12-13: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This scripture does not indicate that God is the tempter, satan is, and God will not allow him to go beyond what we are able to withstand.

Beloved, God, in His mercies, has taught us the strategy of attack employed by our enemy, as well as, the weapon we use to overcome him. Remember, temptation of itself is not sin; it is how we respond that births sin. I pray that in our time of temptations, we use them as a means to strengthen our Lord’s overcoming power in us, and not allow them to merely be the exposure of our weaknesses. We are engaged in the battle, but the enemy has already lost the war! Beloved, “fight the good fight of faith”!

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The Love Trigger: God or Emotionalism?

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

I am compelled to write this article in light of the tragedy in Boston Massachusetts, United States. Not because I feel I must “weigh in” with my opinion or to add to the ever present rhetoric that has already flooded main stream media and social networks. I write because I have made some observations that caused me to “think” before the Lord.

The tragic event that took place in Boston yesterday caused me to reflect on violence, hatred, and calamity globally. I must admit that only in the last twenty or so years has the United States been plagued with large scale violence and attack. Sadly, it is not only from those that hate America internationally, but also from those within our country. Yes, sadly, we are domestically attacking and killing each other including our children! Evil has no boundaries and Satan has no conscience!

I am in remembrance of the civil wars that have been fought across the world, Syria to name a current one. I am reminded that Israel receives rocket fire daily, religious and political wars are being fought all across the globe. And, to add fuel to the already uncontrolled burning, we too, in America, add to the senseless and shameful taking of innocent life. These horrendous crimes range from petty theft to a demonically deranged maniac walking into an elementary school and murdering innocent school children. The victims themselves barely potty trained. And we ask why? Some look to heaven and curse God! Others are not even fazed, or use tragedy as an opportunity to promote political propaganda and “campaigning” tasks. And still others see tragedy as an opportunity to mass market violence and tragedy to make fortunes selling t-shirts, souvenirs, and the making movies, which we have the audacity to call entertainment and free enterprise.

The filth and disgusting messages that pours from our main stream media and so called Hollywood heroes has only served to numb us to the tragic realities of our world. Hate and violence are very real problems on a global level and sadly enough there is only one solution, the return of Jesus Christ. Not sad because of the return of Jesus, but sad because mankind has set itself on a course of self-destruction and depravity.

Right now, at this very hour, I offer the cry of my heart before Almighty God and all who read this, and shout wake up world, including America, rise from your slumber and realize your need of a Savior! Not only for our sins individually, also for our sins corporately. None, not even one, are exempt from the need of a Savior. Each and every person on the planet has free will and is free to exercise it as they see fit within the laws of their particular lands. People of the world, you have a choice to make; turn aside my words with a deaf ear laughing me off as a “religious nut”, or heed my words of your need for a Savior and ask Him into your life. In the days of Noah the floods came and the people were living life as usual. We are no different across this world today.

This brings me to my point in writing. Have you ever noticed that when tragedy strikes it brings out love and compassion for each other, even if it is only short lived? Is it, that only tragedy is the trigger of brotherly love? Have we allowed the evil of this world to be the only thing that triggers our love and goodwill toward our fellow men and women? Have we reduced the worth of human life to only expressing love in tragic events? I for one am worn out, with rhetorical comments like “America is resilient”, “United we stand”, and “those responsible will feel the weight of justice”! What political nonsense! Is there really justice for such hate, evil, violence, cruelty, and senseless murdering? Do we really stand united? We fight and disagree violently over various political parties! Is this justice? I think not! Only forgiveness, as given and obtained through the love of God can bring peace and justice! The time has come when the people of the world should listen to the voice of God and not the voices of political leaders and governments concerning the things pertaining to God! “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”!

The time has come, when we as a people globally, should exercise this brotherly love and compassion toward humanity always, not only during tragedy, and the truth of the matter, this can only be accomplished in the power of the love offered through Jesus! Don’t misunderstand me! I am all for love, kindness and compassion throughout the world, but we need the “here stay” love and not the “whimsical” kind that seems to come and go upon the clock of tragedy. We need an abiding love, and that is only found in Jesus! When the smoke clears and the tragic events are entered into the history books, we tend to revert back to self-love. This is because although heartfelt, the love we had at “the moment of crisis” played more on our emotions, and as soon as the “high” of emotions wore off, we were no longer emotionally supercharged, and went back to living life for ourselves. We must realize that although love is emotional, it is also a choice that must be exercised or it dies!

I write this article fully aware that “world love and peace” is only an unfulfilled dream that cannot be had through mere human effort. It will only be accomplished when Jesus takes the throne in His Kingdom on the earth. So why write such articles and make such brash statement? Simply because I know, that lives are changed one heart at a time, and as a result, one changed heart and life will breed another changed heart, and so on down the line. With every person we have contact, an impression is given and a difference made in their life for the positive or negative. It is possible to love without Jesus but it is not abiding and with the guarantee of eternity. We must choose to live life daily in the love we find through tragedy and we must have Jesus to make this choice, one of abiding love. So, what is your love trigger, God or emotions alone?

Some will read this article and scoff over offering Jesus as a solution to all problems, and others will take issue with what has been stated. But honestly, if this article causes one soul to rethink their spiritual state and receive Jesus, the abiding love, then the “hate mail” will be well worth it. My heart then, has helped another heart change, and that heart will find another heart in need, and so goes the process of spreading the “love bug”. Truthfully, I believe the expressions of love we see through tragedy, is God’s response and love, through people. Some just don’t realize that God is not just using them to reach out to another, but reaching out to them also. The scriptures reveal that “God is love” and His love must come full circle.

Father God; open our hearts to this abiding love, and let our loving response to tragedy be our response to our fellow men and women daily, in times of quiet, peace, or unrest. And thank you Father for not loving us as you do, out of emotions, because if that were the case, we could not be loved at all. ~Amen

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Introduction)

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

I pray that you have developed a curiosity about this teaching! We will begin here with an introduction to the Book of Revelation. From this point forward, I will be feeding you “strong meat and not milk”, as similar to the words of the Apostle Paul.

I would like to also point out that this study is certainly not an “exhaustive” work and will not be presented from a “religiously theological” viewpoint. No one person can claim credit for what the Holy Spirit is doing. As I have already mentioned, I will take a practical approach in presentation. It is my desire to present to you the often overlooked view of the book as pertains to the Christian.

This book is in fact the climax of God’s beautiful history in creating humankind! He is not “out to get us” as some would teach and have you believe! He loves us deeply and only wants what is best for each one of us. He has given us certain promises throughout His Word as a whole, and He intends to keep them.

We all will someday soon come face to face with our God, and if you are a “born again” Christian, there is absolutely nothing to fear! I assure you that meeting Him and forever living in His presence will be the climax of our lives! Praise God! Thank you Jesus! I’m excited right now!

Father, I come to you asking for your Wisdom and guidance as I present this teaching. Help me rightly divide Your Word of Truth. By the authority You have given me through Your Son Jesus, I bind Satan and his imps from an attack on this work and anyone who reads and studies it. I ask that You open our spiritual eyes and ears, prepare our hearts, and lead us into understanding. Father You alone holds the key to Your Holy Word. I thank You for hearing and answering our prayer and allowing us to boldly approach Your throne of grace with such requests. In the beautiful and mighty name of Jesus we pray ~Amen

Introduction to the Book of Revelation:

The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John whose name means “Jehovah is a gracious giver.” The prophecy was given to John in approximately 95 AD, twenty-five years after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Through one of His angels, the Lord Jesus Himself gave The Revelation to the Apostle John. After John received the Revelation, he was instructed to send it to the seven churches in Asia. 

“Reasons to study Revelation:”

There are many reasons to study The Book of Revelation. Most importantly it is an intricate part of God’s complete Word, plans, and purposes, and He desires that we read and understand it. I will provide you with a couple of reasons for its study. Why would God give us a portion of His Word that was to only be understood by a select few? He wouldn’t! We can and will understand the prophecy. Those who refer to The Revelation as “a book of mystery and hidden meanings” violate the title that God Himself chose. The word revelation means “that which is revealed or made clearly visible.” Consider these other reasons for its study:

“The Time Is At Hand” The Revelation was important to the early church and it is just as important for the “church” today. Revelation 1:3 ends with “for the time is near [at hand KJV]” I can’t answer for you, but I want to understand all I can of God’s Word, before I meet Him face to face. We are not promised “all the time in the world” so it benefits us to make good use of the time God has given us, including the study of Revelation. After all, it speaks to us about our glorious future!

“A Book of Blessings” God promises blessings to those who read Revelation! “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy.” What “right minded” person would want to pass on the blessings of God?

“Five Keys to Help Unlock the Meaning of Revelation”

Within the book there are five keys to help unlock its meaning. It also contains the “master key” needed to unlock other “obscure” passages of the Bible.

“The Revelation of Jesus”- Many have taught only a part of Revelation. They communicate the period of plagues and tragedies, the Antichrist system of government, the mark of the beast, and the battle of Armageddon. These things are not what should dominate the book; it is The Revelation of Jesus Christ that dominates! The unveiling of Jesus! Since Jesus is the central theme, the book should bring you blessings. “Three Views of Jesus”-The New Testament records three views of Jesus. From the gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we visualize Christ the man who came to save the lost.  From the Epistles (letters, mostly written by the Apostle Paul) we visualize Jesus as the Head of the Church. We see Him as He relates daily with His followers. The Revelation gives us our third view. We visualize Jesus as the triumphant Lord! We learn that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will rule and reign over His unending Kingdom on earth. 

“The Believer’s Right to Understand Revelation”- “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants– things which must shortly take place…” (Rev. 1:1) Notice the words that I intentionally italicized. “Servants” are plural! Some translations omit the second “s”, and servant in the singular shows that John was blessed above all men, as he received the prophecy. The second key is this: Jesus has given us, His servants the biblical right to understand and enjoy the Book of Revelation. In 2 Timothy 2:15, we are instructed to study the Word. Furthermore, we are told that the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth. (John 16:13) God does not confuse His Word! With the help of Satan man does! 

“Parallel Accounts of Heaven and Earth”-The chapter divisions of Revelation separate two stories which parallel one another. One occurs in heaven while the other occurs on earth. Both take place during a seven year period. This period is known as the “Tribulation.” I will offer more information on this and how the seven year period was determined by God later in the study. The story of heaven is described in chapters 4, 5, 19, and 20. The story of earth in chapters 6, 8, 9, 16, 19, and 20. Chapters 4 and 5 show the activities of angels and people around God’s throne. There is a transition from the heavenly story in chapter 5 to the earthly story in chapter 6. The activities on earth are described in chapter 6 and originate here as well. There is a lapse of continuity in chapter 6, and chapters 8 and 9 continue the earthly story from chapter 6. Chapter 16 again picks up the earthly story. Chapter 19 begins with the heavenly story and transitions to the earthly one. Chapter 20 continues with the earthly story and concludes with the heavenly one. I’m sorry! That sounds a lot more difficult than it really is! 

“Informational Chapters”- The remaining chapters do not necessarily aid in the continuity of the two unfolding stories. They enlarge upon details concerning a person, group of people, or a particular event occurring in one of the stories. The “informational chapters are 7, 10-15, 17, and 18. Chapters 20, 21, and 22 describe the events after the seven-year period: the thousand year reign of Christ, the new heavens, the new earth, and the New Jerusalem.  

“Past, Present, and Future Events”-“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” Again, Notice the italics, “have seen” equals the past, “which are” equals the present, and “which will” equals the future. The Book of Revelation describes the past, present, and future! In the theological world there are two schools of thought here: historian and futurist. In a “nut shell”, the historian attempts to show that events in history have already fulfilled the prophecy of Revelation and the futurist teaches that the events in chapters 4-22 are unfulfilled. Both have overlooked the reference to past, present, and, future in Revelation 1:19, so neither view is exactly correct. God moves in patterns, and in His steadfastness He doesn’t break His patterns.

This will conclude our study for now. In the next section, I will discuss what the seven-year Tribulation period is, and how this time frame was determined by God. I pray for your continued desire to study with me, and that all of the pieces of the “puzzle” will be brought to your understanding! As this study advances, I encourage you to go back and re-read the previous articles to help maintain the flow of information and how it is interrelated. I pray the continued abundance of blessings be poured upon you to overflowing! ~Amen

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ”

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I pray that everyone had a blessed Resurrection Day celebration, or Sabbath; however you chose to observe this Feast of First Fruits.

I have given much thought and prayer concerning my next teaching and have decided to go with the book of Revelation. This is the sixty-sixth book of the Holy Bible and the one most often surrounded by major differences of opinion. Nonetheless, I believe that I am led of the Lord to tackle it in all its wonderful glory! I will do my best to avoid giving my opinion and let the scriptures speak for themselves. That said, I will tell you that what I write is what I believe. I do not claim to be a “prophecy” or Bible “expert”. I’m a simple man, in love with a Majestic God, trying to present a simple gospel.

I would also like to express a small disclaimer at the onset of this endeavor. As I stated, what I write is what I believe. You are under no obligation to accept my beliefs concerning this book or the accompanying additional prophecies I will share. I have given much study to this book and the subject of the “rapture” and only offer my work as a blessing and teaching, not as a means of division amongst the flock. I have heard more than once, the many arguments and debates concerning Revelation. I WILL NOT argue or debate with anyone concerning my writing on this subject. I will attempt to answer any questions should they arise, but refuse to “argue”.

I plan to take a straight forward and practical approach to this study and use the scriptures as support, one for the other. I ask you to keep and open heart and mind as we engage this work. The most important thing you can do is to allow the Holy Spirit to witness with what you read, or not witness with it. His leading, guiding, and confirmations are always accurate and best serves our interests and understanding.

I will begin with an introduction of the book and some other useful information that will help us in our study. Keep in mind that this will be a lengthy study and take some time to reach completion. It may even be necessary for me to publish other articles off this subject, but I will continue the work, the Lord willing. Please be patient with me as we progress.

The book of Revelation is the book Satan has, for centuries, opposed. God is not the author of confusion neither has He given us the Spirit of Fear. Thus, all confusion and fear concerning this book is the work of Satan. (I Corinthians 14:33 and II Timothy 1:7)

The book of Revelation is about Jesus; as stated in the first verse. This verse along with verses 1:11 and 22:16 establish God’s plan and will. This book must be properly taught as it is a great discredit to God in not properly teaching it!

All throughout history, men have suggested to avoid this bible book. It has been stated that it is a horror, confusing, scary, spooky, incomprehensible, irrelevant, historical, full of doom and gloom, and a previously fulfilled book of mystery, among many other equally gloomy descriptions. These are fire filled lies straight from the pits of hell! Satan has sown these seeds of confusion and fear and therefore generations of preachers have taught it as a book of “doom and gloom”. I can completely clear this theory out of existence with two verses from chapter 1. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, and “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy”! (Revelation 1:1; 1:3)

A revelation of Jesus certainly can’t be gloomy, and in His own words, whoever reads or hears the prophecy is blessed! You see, generations of ministers have only taught about the “antichrist”, “Battle of Armageddon”, “the end of the world”, “the upheavals of nature”, and “the impending destruction of mankind”. All those things are true; for the unbeliever, but the book also reveals the blessed hope of all believers of Jesus! Some say and have said that they do not need to understand the Book of Revelation to know the “truth”. Although this may be true, salvation is not dependent on our understanding this book, consider the words of Timothy as inspired by the Holy Spirit:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)

This includes the Book of Revelation; therefore we mustn’t throw it aside and consider it of no value! God intends for His people to know and understand His Word!

Present day world affairs clearly demonstrate that the ancient prophecies of the scriptures are rapidly coming to pass. These prophetic fulfillments indicate that we are closer now to the fulfillment of the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelation. Technically speaking, the “last days” began over 2000 years ago in the upper room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. This was the day of the birth of the church, thus the “church age” began. We are currently still in this “church age” and it “ends” at the beginning of the tribulation period. We must also not forget that Jesus Himself is in control of all the events described in the book.

I also believe that clearer vision of the Book of Revelation is being given of God to us in this hour. Why? Because as the events in our world history unfold we are able to more clearly associate them with the fulfillment of prophecies contained in the Holy Scriptures.

God desires that we understand His Word! He would not give us a wonderfully simple book, and close it with a chapter of such theological superiority that no two logically thinking people could agree on its meaning. Furthermore, God would not provide for us anything with the intent to confuse or invoke fear in us.

I will end my dissertation here for now. I only wanted to introduce my readers to the next study and will actually begin teaching in the next published commentary. Please pray for me as I present this study to you and I will pray for both of our understanding. May the God of peace, comfort, and understanding abundantly rest upon each of you ~Amen!

The Life and Person of Jesus Christ (Part I)

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! What you see before you, is part one of a four part series, of a study into the life and person of Jesus Christ. We will journey into the Word of God and decidedly determine, and forever put to rest, who the Son of God is! We will discover His uniqueness, observe what qualifies Him as the Son, and along the way fall deeply in love with Him. If you are presently not a believer and find yourself seeking Truth, I encourage you to listen to that still small voice in your heart as you read. If you already believe, enjoy a fresh look at your Savior and pray for those blinded from the truth! Is Jesus the Son of God? We shall see… 

     

        I find it very difficult to write about the Life and teachings of Jesus. Brilliant penmanship and the most eloquent of languages truly cannot begin to describe Him! Any attempt at all must flow out of relationship with Him, remembering that there is always room for deeper love and understanding. Often, it is nearly impossible to convey the spiritual through natural language, and requires an experience, or revelation, to communicate at all! Jesus is not just someone to “know”, He is very much someone to “experience”!

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;”

(Philippians 3:7-9) NKJV

 

Is Jesus the Son of God?

This is an age old question and one still argued in our day. There are those that remain, who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and will challenge for proof. I must point out here that the Bible is the proof needed, but one must first believe the Bible to be the inspired and infallible Word of God. Jesus is the Word made flesh! (John 1:14)

The answer can only be found in the Word of God! This fact has to be settled before the study of His life, and a relationship with Him established. If you find in your heart, that you are asking this question, it is because God the Father is drawing you near and I caution against ignoring His leading!

 

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘ And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

(John 6:44-45) NKJV

        We have thus far laid a solid foundation. We shall turn to the Word of God to further build upon our faith and answer the question: Is Jesus the Son of God?

There is one more important piece of information we must have knowledge of before we begin our journey; The Word of God defines and qualifies itself!

 

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”

(2 Timothy 3:16) NKJV

      I am going to conclude with part one here. As we read with an open and teachable heart, may God give us “eyes to see and ears to hear!” In part two, we will observe some prophecies concerning the Son of God! Be sure to come back! I am sure you will be blessed!

A Jewish Wedding: “Consecrated and Waiting” (Part I)

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I pray you all are doing well and blessed of God. I had contemplated much about what my next teaching would entail and began to study and write notes. As I was making preparations, the Lord gently spoke into my heart, “continue to teach the truth through Jewish customs”.

Well, as I have stated before, it is right to go with God! His plans are better than mine and His Wisdom far surpasses that of my own. As I thought about my subject, it dawned on me to remember that Jesus is of Jewish descent, and therefore He taught and used analogies that would relate to the Jewish way of life. What an epiphany! Jesus thought and taught like a Jew! Knowing this surely brings His teachings into new light. One only needs a cursory study in Jewish customs and tradition. That is exactly what I did, and the results of my study reveal such eloquent beauty! God really has thought of everything!

With all that said, I am going to attempt a teaching concerning the Jewish wedding traditions (during biblical times), and how they relate to the individual believer and the church corporately. If the Holy Spirit will guide me, I promise you will not be disappointed. My findings truly are majestic and beautiful. I’m not what you would consider a “hopeless romantic”, but there is plenty of romance in this story. In fact, I believe that it far exceeds any “fairytale wedding” we could imagine or even hope for. God the Father has spared no expense or extravagance in providing a bride for His Son, Jesus.

We shall begin in our traditional manner:

Father, I humbly pray asking that You send Your Holy Spirit to help me teach. What I discovered in Your Holy Word and through the study of Jewish customs is simply beautiful. These “types and shadows” must be revealed to your people as it gives great hope and builds upon our faith. Help me Father to do justice to the beauty that is Yours. I also ask that you open the spiritual eyes and ears of the readers and bring them much revelation and understanding. I ask knowing only You can give these gifts. Thank you Father, in Jesus name I pray, ~Amen

Jewish Custom of Matrimony:

Obviously, wedding customs vary throughout the world and can even vary slightly within a specific country. In the United States a “norm” isn’t even recognizable anymore. We must also take into consideration the customs of the different religions of the world and the specific “legalities” within each sect. For purposes of our study, I only want to hone in on one specific tradition, that of the ancient Jew during the time of the Bible. Why? Jesus was born Jewish and He did things like a Jew! Understanding Jewish tradition brings so much revelation into God’s Word.

The Jews had their own peculiar ways of matrimony, based on the Old Covenant, and the Lord followed those traditions in choosing His bride. The Jews did not have “dating” or “courtship” as we traditionally understand those terms. Marriage for them was a practical legal matter established by contract and carried through by exacting procedure.

When the young man of Israel in Jesus’ time saw the girl he wanted (more like the girl his father told him he wanted), he would approach her with a marriage contract. He would come to her house with a covenant- a true legal agreement- giving the terms by which he would propose marriage. The most important consideration of the contract was the price the bridegroom would be willing to pay to marry this particular bride. Remember that in those days life was full of farming and heavy labor. A man with sons fared better because of the built-in workforce. A daughter was considered a liability instead of an asset. The loss of her father in the workforce was balanced at the time of her marriage. The bridegroom had to pay a “bride price” to his future father-in-law in order to marry the girl of his dreams.

The “bride price” is still utilized in some parts of the world today! Although it may seem a little archaic, it had some useful purposes. First of all, if the bridegroom was willing to hand over some hard earned cash for his bride, he was showing his love in a most tangible way. Secondly, it was a favor to his father-in-law to help him recover his losses in labor. The father of the bride was more or less paid back for his expenses and patience in raising a daughter finely fit for marriage. The price of the bride was no modest token, but was set so that the new bride would be costly to the groom- that was idea. There were no dilutions that the young man was getting something for nothing!

The contract was presented to the father of the bride, hence the betrothal, or Hebrew, “Ketubah”. He in turn discussed the matter with his daughter. She was under no obligation to accept the contract or the potential groom, as she did have a choice to accept or not. She had to give her seal of approval with the proverbial “I do”!

Wine-Spill

If all parties were in agreement with the terms and conditions of the contract they entered into the “covenant”. A cup of wine was then shared between the bride and groom to seal the agreed upon “marriage covenant.” This was known as the “cup of the covenant”, and signified the bridegroom’s willingness to sacrifice for this bride.  It would be many months before the two shared their second cup of wine during the marriage ceremony.

The groom then presented the bride with gifts. These would include costly spices, perfumes, jewelry, and like items. The items that were given as gifts varied, but needless to say they were exotic and costly. The young groom wanted to show his love, affection, and loyalty to his new bride.

With his newly accepted covenant and excitement in his heart, it was time for the groom to depart. The marriage would not take place immediately. There was still a pressing matter to be handled. The groom departed to return to his father’s house telling his bride, “I go to prepare a place for you”. Tradition was such that the groom would go to prepare the “wedding chamber” within his father’s home or a separate building on his father’s property. The groom could be gone as long as twelve months before returning for his bride. One thing was certain though, he would return, he paid the price!

During this time of separation, obviously the bride waited on the return of her groom. Waiting was only part of what she had left to do. There was still the matter of her preparation. The bride to be would immerse herself in water to prepare her physically and spiritually for the wedding ceremony. In Hebrew this was called “Mikvah”, meaning “pool of living water”. This represented her separation from the old life and entry into the new life. She also had to make ready an oil lamp in case her groom returned in the darkness of night. This also included her “bridesmaids” and others in the wedding party from her side of the family. She had to be ready to travel at a moment’s notice!

The consecrated bride eagerly awaited the return of her groom. The longer he delayed the harder it was to withstand the temptation to think that he would not return for her. Nevertheless, she had to be ready at all times for the promised return of her groom. During this time of waiting the bride was truly a “lady in waiting”. She was referred to as “consecrated”, “set apart”, and “bought with a price.”

The “consecrated” bride would wear a veil whenever she stepped out of her house. This was done to show other young men that she was spoken for and unapproachable with other contracts. She was to wait for the one who had paid the price for her!

Tradition held that it was the groom’s father’s decision as to when he would return for his bride. Obviously, if left to the groom in his excitement and anticipation, he would throw together a “modest” structure and go get his girl! His father made sure that the matter was tended to properly and a suitable structure prepared.

Finally, the chamber would be ready and the groom’s father told him to return for his bride. He and the young men to accompany him would set out in the night making every attempt to completely surprise the bride. Here, we find an extremely “romantic” piece of the wedding customs puzzle! All Jewish brides were “stolen!” The Jews had a unique understanding of a women’s heart. It was such a thrill for her to be “abducted” and carried off into the bliss of night. Not by a stranger, but by the very one that loved her and had paid a price for her!

The groom would try to come at midnight while the bride was sleeping, but could not just rush in on her. After all, her face may be covered in night cream or her hair in rollers! The groom and the excited party of young men were obliged to give her “warning.” Usually someone in the wedding party would give out a “shout!” When the bride heard that shout, she knew her groom would arrive momentarily! And so it was that the young men would charge in, grab the girls and make off with them. The wedding party would be off on their journey in returning to the groom’s father’s house.

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People in the village of the bride, might have been awakened by the excited voices of the wedding party carrying the oil lamps through the streets. This is how they knew a wedding was taking place! The onlookers would not know who the bride was as she would still be wearing a veil. But she would be returning through those same streets with her groom a week later, without the veil, and the people would then know who it was that had gotten married.

When the wedding party had reached the house of the groom’s father, the bride and groom would enter their “chamber” and shut the door. No one else entered this place. In Hebrew, this “chamber” was called “Huppah”, meaning “room or covering”, and known as a Jewish wedding canopy. The bride and groom would remain in the “Huppah” for seven days. Meanwhile, the father of the groom assembled the wedding guests and prepared to celebrate the new marriage. Jewish law provided that the bride and groom “become one” before the marriage would be recognized.

A friend of the bridegroom would stand close to the door of the wedding chamber waiting to hear the groom’s voice. When the marriage was consummated, the bridegroom would alert his friend who would announce the good news to the wedding guests.

The bride and groom would then make their long awaited appearance to the cheers and excitement of the wedding guests. There was no longer a need for the bride to be veiled, as she was now a married woman. It was now time for the marriage supper. A joyous meal with music and dancing to honor the new couple!

After the marriage supper, the bride and groom would depart, leaving the groom’s father’s house, and going to their own house. A house and home that had been prepared for them by the bridegroom! And that was a complete Jewish wedding during the time of Jesus in all its beauty and wonder!

Come back for part two of this study! We will really engage in the symbolism and beauty of this teaching, as we examine the relationship with our Bridegroom, Jesus, His Father making preparations, and the marriage that will surpass all marriages!

Until we meet again Beloved of God, I pray for continued courtship with the one TRUE love of our hearts!

The Storms of Life!

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“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”    John 16:33

If I were a betting person, one bet I would be sure to make is that all of God’s people have faced various storms in life! These storms have a tendency to overturn our boat and cause us to wonder if life will offer us anything else. We can even get to a point where we doubt that God is there or even cares about our troubles. The storms vary in intensity from high winds to full blown hurricanes and tsunamis.

Nevertheless, they are storms and affect each of us differently. As a former Law Enforcement supervisor, one thing I tried hard to instill in the officers I supervised was that people called upon us to handle and solve their crisis. We were, and they still are, in the crisis intervention business. I instructed them that these crisis’s ranged from “hangnails to homelessness.” The point was that it did not matter how small or large the crisis was, it was nonetheless a crisis to someone and our duty was to help them through it.

So, what is the point of all this chatter about the storms of life? Well for one, contrary to popular teaching in some religious circles, Jesus did inform us that we “WILL” experience some tribulation! (John 16:33). Also, consider another scripture that refutes this erroneous teaching; “[we] through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Please don’t think that I am just trying to be Pastor “Naysay”, I’m only pointing out that Jesus told us we would have tribulation this side of heaven and that life is comprised of “peaks and valleys”. Without question, we have to go through the valleys to reach the peaks. Jesus never promised us a carefree life and problem free existence. He did make promises to help and get us through the storms that come against us! Tribulation is not exactly exciting news and tends to silence our praises to the King. But, praising the King is what we should do! He is worthy of our praise regardless of our circumstances.

So, what are we to do? What hope do we have? And, how can we be assured that God is there and cares about us and the storms we must pass through?

First of all, we should find some comfort in the fact that Jesus, in His infinite Wisdom warned us and gave us a promise. He tells us that He will never leave nor forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5). Doesn’t it make sense that if we have knowledge that an enemy will come, we can be prepared and plan our counter assault against the blows of adversity?
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Secondly, we are never alone to face our storms! Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.” The water, rivers, and fire are symbolic of our “storms”. The “water” can be calm, hot, or cold but nevertheless troublesome. The “rivers” are turbulent and have great potential to overtake us. The “fire” has the potential to bring about fatalities or serious disfigurement. I personally believe that this is God’s way of letting us know that He does care about us, the storms we go through, and understands they will vary in intensity! In either case He reminds us here that He is our rock and refuge no matter the storms size. The truth is they are all small to Him!

Thirdly, our God is a God of abundant love and “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) When trouble comes His presence is His promise!
Let us also consider the investment God has in each of us. He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sin. He placed upon Him the penalty we deserved! His life given to overcome our death! He died so that we may live! Shall we never forget the price He paid to secure our lives? His life and blood! There is no greater love than the love God has for us and abandoning us is never an option under any circumstances!

We may not always understand the storms that come at us or why at times we must suffer so much pain, but we can always be confident that He knows and cares. He has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us, and although painful, heartbreaking, and tragic, tribulation equally serves His plans and purposes. True faith believes God is present when all we hear is silence. There are times when we all need a little help or a shoulder to lean on in the faith walk of life. I would be honored to pray for you. Just leave a comment or send me an email. I will respond to your comment/request, and rest assured I will pray for you! May the blessings of God abundantly rest upon you!    ~TJH