On Saturday we went as a family to a local Messianic congregation to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). It was such a joyous occasion. Our daughter loves it when we visit this congregation as she loves the Messianic dancing and is always involved.
At the Feast of Tabernacles, on the Great Day of this 8-day Feast, was a spectacular water drawing ceremony. Water from the pool of Siloam gushed out and was offered to God as a drink offering.
Jesus attended this Feast and on the Great Day, as the water was gushing He cried out in the Temple:
“If anyone thirsts, let Him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water!” (John 7:37-38)
Can you imagine what the people must have thought? Here was water gushing forth in a joyous celebration of this living-giving fluid. In the Middle East in the first century water was not always easy to find and so it was symbolic of life and of God’s blessing. There would have been a procession of people, singing and playing flutes. And in the midst of this celebration here is Jesus standing in the Temple crying out for people to come to Him and drink. He promised them mayim chayim – living water.
So we see that the Feast of Tabernacles, as all of the Jewish Feasts, point to Christ. In verse 39 John explains that :
“But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Blessing the children
We see that the water gushing forth is a picture of the Holy Spirit. That the great truth played out by this Feast is that when we put our faith in Jesus and are baptized in His Holy Spirit, rivers of living water will flow from us.
May we all go to Jesus and drink of Him! And may rivers of living water flow from our hearts!
Tonight was the first time I’ve been street preaching for a while.
Having recently lost two people I love within four days of each other, my life has obviously taken a rather different turn for a while.
But tonight I felt ready to go back out. It’s funny how when you haven’t done something for a while, it suddenly becomes all big and scary. All day I’ve been nervous about going into the city tonight. The thought of going out there and shouting out a message that is generally unwelcome to most people made my stomach churn. I thought of how I used to love going out there and couldn’t really remember why that was.
But I felt I should go, even though I didn’t really feel like it, if that makes sense.
I put my I-phone music on shuffle as I drove into the city. I said to the Lord something I’ve never said before :
“Lord,” I said, “Whatever song randomly comes up first, I will take as a message from you.” Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures…
Franz Family “Wherever You Are” came on:
“But the will of God won’t lead you,
Where the grace of God can’t keep you
You will never be out of His care,
Remember that the Lord’s already there….
Wherever you are,
Wherever you’re going
God is right there beside you, seeing and knowing
Wherever you go,
He already knows
What lies ahead
And what’s behind
You’ll always find He’s never too far from wherever you are.”
Wow. Ok thank you Jesus.
My usual 40 minute trip into the city took 1.5 hours tonight. It was raining and there was heavy traffic. But I felt there was something God had for me when I got there and so I sung and prayed.
However 1.5 hours later, trying to find a car spot, on the verge of tears, I almost turned around and went home. I said to God,
“Please help me, I need this night to be easy Lord.”
After I’d parked the car I walked down to the station where we preach. Standing at the corner waiting to cross the busy road, I realized I hadn’t been there for over 2 months. I looked at our “spot” across the road and I felt like I was coming home.
…..An uncomfortable, dysfunctional home yes, but home nonetheless.
That surprised me.
I crossed the road and at that very moment a girl came over to me and asked me:
“What makes you come out here to do this?”
We had a beautiful conversation. She was only 16 years old, and currently homeless – couch-surfing between her dad’s and a friend’s place. And in the city at night, all by herself. She looked as if she’d been through a rough time. Yet she was so lovely and soft and tender still, still a child. Poor kid.
I shared my testimony with her, how God set me free from a cult, from depression, from anxiety, from a hard and cold heart. How He has changed me, how He loves me, and how He loves her. I shared the precious gospel with her. She got tears in her eyes and said that she hopes she has the strength to find Jesus too one day. She said she was just so tired.
“You know what” I said, “You don’t need strength. Just come to Him as you are, He will not turn you away. He said for all who are weary and heavy burdened to come to Him and He will give them rest.”
She asked me :
“How do I find Him..?”
We prayed together.
I cried for her on my way home, beautiful child that she is. I felt His compassion for her. How greatly He loves her and is calling her home.
And I remembered why it is that I love going out there.
In my last post (Marriage, yep marriage) I wrote briefly how marriage was specifically designed by God for a purpose. The purpose of marriage between a man and a woman is that it is to be a testimony and a prophetic signpost in order to point the way to Christ and His Bride – the Church.
In this post we will look at Jewish marriage customs. Why? Because I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ in this post-modern age it is easy to miss the beauty and significance of the eternal truths displayed in Jewish marriage. Jesus Christ’s words and actions take on greater meaning when we understand the culture of Christ’s day. I believe it will be beneficial to us, as His Bride, to understand the nature of our covenant relationship with Him, the importance of His promises made to us and to understand the true beauty of marriage.. It is my hope that through this we will get a glimpse of the eternal significance of marriage and the hope that we have in Christ, as His Church….
So, I will start by asking you to picture a young woman living at home with her father, mother, brothers and sisters.
One day a young man comes to her home. He has travelled all the way from his father’s house in order to ask for her hand in marriage. The young man brings three important things with him:
The young woman’s father goes with the young man into a private room and they discuss the price that must be paid by the young man in order to purchase his prospective bride (the mohar). Once the bride-price is agreed upon, the young man must pay the price in full to the father for the marriage covenant to be established.
A glass of wine is poured.
It is at this point that the young woman is invited into the room. She sees the young man who has come all this way for her. Perhaps it may be the first time she has met him, perhaps they have known each other for a long time. In any case, the terms of the marriage covenant are explained to her and her father asks for her consent to the marriage. If she approves and consents to the marriage she drinks from the glass of wine that has been poured. As a symbol of the covenant relationship that has been instituted, the young man also drinks from the same cup of wine, over which a betrothal benediction has been spoken.
The young couple are now considered husband and wife, although their status is betrothed, rather than that of fully married. By her partaking of the wine, the young lady is now wholly set apart, sanctified or consecrated, for her husband and exclusively committed to this young man. She has willingly entered into a legal contract with him and now it’s only a divorce that can dissolve the union.
The young man now prepares to depart from her home. He is going away, back to his father’s house, to prepare a place for her, his bride. As he gets ready to leave he notices the sadness of his young bride at his departure and he thus makes her this promise:
“In my father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Comforted by the promise of her betrothed, she watches him depart, knowing that he will return for her, just as he said he would. She keeps herself busy preparing for his return, even though she does not know exactly when that will be. The fact that she has been bought with a price and that she is now no longer her own, brings her great comfort for it gives her the assurance, along with his promise, that he will return for her.
And so, day by day she watches for his return. She knows that she must be ready to go at any given moment. As she waits for her wedding day, it brings her great joy to learn how to live as a wife and mother in Israel and to put together her wedding clothes and linens.
Her betrothed, meanwhile, has not forgotten his bride and is busy preparing for her a place. He wants his bride to be happy and so sets about building and organizing her living arrangements in his home. He also does not know when the day of the wedding will take place. In fact, no one knows the day except his father. His father will only give permission for him to go and collect his bride when he is fully satisfied with the living arrangements made by his son.
When the time comes, the father gives permission to his son, and the betrothed takes three days to prepare before he begins his journey to go and collect his bride. He brings with him two of his closest friends and other male escorts. This would usually take place at night and a torch light procession is made to the young lady’s home.
The groom’s arrival is preceded by a loud shout and the blowing of a trumpet (shofar) in order to alert his bride that he is on his way. Her heart leaps for joy at the sound. She knows that her faithful waiting and watching for him has not been in vain. He is returning for her as he had promised.
She is taken, along with her female attendants, back with him to his father’s house. There the wedding guests are already assembled in expectation of the wedding ceremony. At the ceremony another contract, the Ketubah, which contains the promises made to the bride by the groom, is witnessed by the two friends of the bridegroom and then given to her parents. During this whole process she remains veiled.
Next, the bride and groom are escorted to the bridal chamber, (huppah), where her groom gives her some gifts. The following seven days are spent together in the huppah as the friend of the groom stands outside the door. He waits for the groom to relate to him the news of the consummation of the marriage. At the announcement of the consummation to the wedding guests, there takes place feasting and joy for seven days. At the completion of the “seven days of the huppah”, the groom brings out his bride, finally with veil removed. Now all can see his bride as they join in the wedding feast.
“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32)
One year ago I saw with my own eyes that God still moves by His prophetic calendar. I will relate that experience to you in just a moment.
First I would like to briefly explain that tonight at sundown begins the Feast of Rosh HaShanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets. This feast continues until sundown on Friday.
The Feast of Trumpets is believed in Jewish tradition to be the time when God created the heavens and the earth. It is for this reason that the Jewish Civil year begins on this day.
As Christians I believe it is important to know the Jewish roots of our faith, because they bring life, depth and meaning to our faith. It is also important to know that God has not finished with national Israel. Bible prophecy apart from national Israel is meaningless. The fulfillment of His Feasts affect Israel as well as the Church and God certainly has not done away with His prophetic calendar.
A brief outline of the feasts show that the ministry of Jesus Christ (Yeshua) has fulfilled some of these at His first coming and will fulfill the remainder at His second coming.
1. The Feast of Passover – fulfilled
By the death of the Messiah
2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread – fulfilled
By the perfect, sinless life of Yeshua and His blood-offering at His death.
3. The Feast of the First- fruits – fulfilled
By the Resurrection of the Messiah
4. The Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost) – fulfilled
By the birth of the Church at Pentecost
Following the spring cycle of feasts above, there was a four month period separating the spring from the Autumn feasts. This interval is the Church Age, which is right now. This temporarily interrupts God’s program for Israel, as revealed in the Feasts.
5. The Feast of Trumpets
Yet to be fulfilled by the rapture of the Church. (1 Corinthians 15:52)
6. The Day of Atonement
Yet to be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation with Israel’s national salvation at the culmination of that period. (Romans 11:26)
7. The Feast of Tabernacles
Yet to be fulfilled by the setting up of the millennial Messianic Kingdom. (Revelation 21:3)
Now I would like to share a brief testimony of how God still moves by His prophetic calendar. One year ago exactly, on the first day of the Feast of Trumpets, the first day of the Jewish civil New Year, we had Sunday lunch at our house. A young man to whom we had been ministering for some years came in that morning. To my amazement and joy as he approached the table the very first thing he said to us was “I am ready to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.” After we had spent some time talking, he ended up on his knees, repented of his sins and gave His life to Christ.
God is good and His mercy endures forever. It’s the beginning of a New Year. Take this opportunity to turn to Christ, the Passover lamb slain from the foundation of the world and have your sins washed away by His spotless blood. He will give you new life in Him.
If you know Christ already, take this opportunity to re-consecrate your life to Him in total obedience and trust. He will never let you down.
Hmmmm… so much has been written on marriage over the years. Books and articles, people’s varying opinions on it, feminism, chauvinism, whatever… Why then am I also writing on this much-discussed topic? Because we are living in unprecedented times. We are living in an age where human-kind, at least in the West, is seeking to re-define this ancient and divine institution and interpose its own humanistic will onto it.
It was probably about two years ago that the Holy Spirit brought to my heart the necessity to pray for marriage in this country. There was much talk at the time about changing the legal definition of marriage from one man and one woman to also allow man and man and woman and woman marriage.
So I prayed as well as I could. Yet I felt I was ineffective, working in my own flesh, rather than that of the Spirit. So I asked God how I should pray.
And He showed me.
I opened the Word to Ephesians 5:22-33 and read this passage of scripture, which I had read so often before. This time though, verses 31 and 32 got hold of me:
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31, 32)
I saw at once that marriage is a testimony that God has put in this earth of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church. That this has always been God’s intention since even before the creation of Adam and Eve. The very gospel is rooted in marriage.
In brief, when a man leaves his father and mother and marries his wife it is a picture of Christ leaving His Father’s heavenly home and coming to earth for His Bride. On earth, Jesus Christ laid down His life for His Bride and through His death and resurrection the two, Jesus and His Bride, become one – “we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (verse 30). Therefore every time a man and woman are joined in Holy Matrimony a testimony and a signpost is established on this earth of Jesus Christ and His ultimate purpose – the Church.
No wonder Satan wants to destroy marriage. He will do whatever he can to destroy or remove this testimony of Christ out of the earth.
Therefore, as Christ’s Bride, it is our job, nay our command, to pray. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.
I DO NOT accept that gay marriage is inevitable. No I don’t.
If…. The Church will do what she has been called to do. Salt and light remember….?
And Jesus Himself said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against my church.” (Matthew 16:18)
I do not believe that as His Bride we should stand back passively, and let the enemy of our souls systematically destroy God’s holy testimony in this earth.
No. No way.
It is time to rise up as the Church, the Body and the Bride of Jesus Christ and do what we have been called to do – PRAY. Wrestle. Fight.
Our enemy is not flesh and blood. Our enemy is not homosexuals, nor politicians, nor any human being. We are called to love others and to pray for our leaders. The Bible says:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…….Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:12-18
So how do we pray? It’s simple.
We ask God to uphold the testimony in this earth of Christ and His Bride, of which marriage between a man and a woman points to.
Next time….The Significance of Jewish Marriage Customs
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