Passover: A Betrothal Ceremony

Yeshua and the Passover“And he [Yeshua] said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15).

Yeshua longed to celebrate his final Passover with his disciples.  He knew his time was short and he wanted to explain God’s plan of reconciliation at its ‘appointed time.’  As the the Lamb of God, he offered salvation to his brothers and sisters who were enslaved by sin and the consequences of their rebelliousness.  As the Son of God, he would transform the Passover seder’s traditional elements into a betrothal ceremony with a groom, a bride, a cup of wine, the bride’s father, the bride price, wedding preparations, and wedding guests.  With this Passover seder, Yeshua would institute the renewed covenant of marriage that would restore Israel (and all the nations joined to her) to her Husband.

The Groom

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by Yahweh, smitten by him, and afflicted”  (Isaiah 53:2-5).

The groom is Yeshua himself.  Scripture describes him as having no beauty or majesty. He was not handsome like King David; he had no desirable outward appearance.  He was so unattractive that men hid their faces from him, yet he desired a Bride.

The Bride

In a Jewish betrothal ceremony, the hopeful groom would offer the potential bride a cup of wine as his proposal for marriage.  He would drink from the cup first and then offer it to her. If she accepted the proposal, the woman would drink from the cup of wine.  By sharing the cup with the man, she agreed to be ‘set apart’ as his bride.   She would remain faithful to him until the day of their wedding when their marriage would be consummated.  A week-long wedding feast would follow with friends and family. 

“After taking the cup [of Sanctification], he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes’” (Luke 22:14-16).

In the Passover seder, the first cup of wine is called   the  “Cup of Sanctification.”  After blessing the cup, Yeshua offered the cup of wine to his disciples.  As each one drank from the cup, they acknowledged they were accepting  Yeshua’s marriage proposal.  It became their individual testimony they were going to become Yeshua’s sanctified, holy, and set apart Bride.

Once the Cup of Sanctification had been shared, the bridegroom would not drink the fruit of the vine until the wedding feast.  The bride, however, was to remember her betrothed and the marriage covenant she entered every time she drank from the cup. 

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The Bride’s Father

“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I [Yeshua] came from God and now am here.   Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say.   You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning…” (John 8:44-6).

After the bride accepts the groom’s proposal, the bride’s father sets the bride price.   Generally it was something of value because the father was losing a daughter.   In Israel’s case (and ours), our father is the devil and murder is his speciality.  He would rather have Israel destroyed than to have her redeemed.  He would rather see us die in our sins than be restored to eternal life.  The Adversary required the highest price that could be paid to take us from him.  He required  that our Betrothed die for us.  He required that he be beaten, bruised and killed.  He required that he shed his blood. 

The Bride Price

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup (of Redemption), saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19).

Then Yeshua poured a second cup of wine.  In the Passover seder, this cup is called the “Cup of Redemption”.   Along with some unleavened bread, he held up the cup and made a powerful declaration.  For us, his Beloved, he would pay the required bride price.

“… He humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 3:10).

Another cup of wine, a third cup called ‘The Cup of Plagues” was poured to remember the judgments on Egypt with the final one being the death of the firstborn.  Because God allowed the firstborn of Israel to live, they had to redeem or ‘buy back’  their firstborn sons with the sacrifice of a lamb.  Now, the Lamb of God was going to ‘buy back’ God’s firstborn son,  Israel (Exodus 4:22).   Yeshua did not pour this cup with his disciples in the upper room, instead he wrestled with it as he prayed to his Father on the Mount of Olives and sweat great drops of blood. 

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).

A fourth cup of wine called “The Cup of Completion” was not consumed during the Passover in Yeshua’s time.   Instead, it was consumed the next day to complete the Passover memorial.    Yeshua drank this now soured cup of wine while he was hanging on the cross.  With the words, “It is finished,” he completed the Passover  memorial, gave up his spirit, and died.   The bride price had been paid.

“Knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Yeshua said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Yeshua’s lips. When he had received the drink, Yeshua said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 18:28-30).

The Groom’s Preparation

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2,3).

After sealing the marriage covenant, the bridegroom would leave for a time to prepare a home for his bride. In Middle Eastern culture, he would add a room onto his father’s house.  The addition could take anywhere from two days to two years.   Before Yeshua dies, resurrects and ascends to his Father, he tells his newly Betrothed, that he was going to prepare a place in his Father’s house (which is the Temple in Jerusalem).  He promised to return for them so that they could be where he would be.

The Bride’s Preparation

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness or sanctification out of reverence for the Lord” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The bride, now bought with a price, would spend her time preparing herself for her wedding day (1 Corinthians 6:20).  It would arrive at an unknown day and hour so she always had to be ready.   Waiting as a wise virgin, she would light an oil lamp in her window just in case her bridegroom arrived during the night.  She had known of other brides being swept away sometime near midnight and she wanted to be ready when she heard,  ‘Here’s the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him’!’  … The virgins who are ready went in with him to the wedding banquet.  And the door was shut” (Matthew 25:6,10).

In Greek sanctification is hagiasmos and means ‘to be set apart for a holy purpose’.  Sanctification is the process by which a person is incorporated more fully into the physical and spiritual reality of Messiah  being made more like him and doing the will of his Father. Being ‘set apart for a holy purpose’ is more than just drinking a small glass of wine and eating a dissolving wafer or piece of bread every other week. Sanctification is the course of life consistent with those who are separated out of the world as the Bride of Messiah.

Sanctification comes through Yeshua: ”For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:19).  Sanctification  comes through studying the Scriptures: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17) . Sanctification comes through the power of the Holy Spirit: “… Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit …” (1 Peter 1:2).

Sanctification must be pursued by the Bride earnestly and unswervingly.  The Bride will make every effort to be holy for without holiness no one will see Yeshua (Hebrews 12:14).   The Bride of Messiah will “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” when Yeshua comes (2 Peter 3:1-4).

The sanctified, holy character of the Bride is not transferred from one person to another.    This is the meaning of Yeshua’s Parable of the 10 Virgins.   Those Virgins who had oil in their lamps could not give it away.  Oil is bought at the cost of “keeping oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).   The Bride of Messiah will be ready with   oil and her lamp lit when her Bridegroom arrives at an unknown hour (Matthew 25). 

The Father of the Groom

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God…”

(1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The father of the groom determined the time that his son would return for his bride.  The groom could only return for his bride when the addition to the house was complete.  This was so that the groom wouldn’t rush, but properly prepare a home for the arrival is his bride.

Neither the groom nor the bride knew the exact day or the hour of their wedding, but it would arrive with the fanfare of the groom’s best friends and the excited wedding party. There would be lots of noise and shouting.  The excited bridegroom would then enter the bride’s home and ‘snatch her away’.  Together they would return to his father’s house and enter the wedding chamber where they would consummate their marriage.  A week later they would reappear and the wedding feast would begin.

On a day and hour unknown, at the ‘appointed time’ of his Father, Yeshua will be coming back for his Bride.  He will arrive with a great shout, a trumpet blast and his Bride will rise to meet him in the air.  They will go to the bridal chamber where they will consummate their marriage and then live in his Father’s house. 

The Wedding Guests

“Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God” (Revelation 19:9).

Only a select few consisting of bridesmaids, groomsmen along with parents and immediate family members attend a wedding rehearsal dinner with the bride and groom.  The friends and relatives  of the bride and groom make up the enormous guest list.

Yeshua is speaking about the wedding feast when he says it will occur in the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 8:10-12, Luke 13:28-30).   The Kingdom of heaven is not some remote corner of  the sky hidden above the clouds. The Kingdom of heaven, according to Yeshua, is here on earth and will be here on earth.  He will return here for his Bride, have the ultimate wedding feast [Passover] and then take his Bride to his Father’s house [the Temple] and within its many rooms they will live. 

Yeshua describes the guests that will be at wedding feast of the Lamb in different parables. He says that many will come from the east and west and take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10).

In Revelation, there is a multitude of people wearing white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb.   They hold palm branches and cry out Hosanna just as those who accompanied Yeshua into Jerusalem.  This is an enormous group of people from every generation who received salvation through faith in the Messiah.  They are from every nation, tribe, and language.  They are overjoyed and sing at the throne of Yeshua. These men, women, and children are the invited  guests at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Yeshua also says that not everyone invited to the wedding feast will attend.  Some make excuses like having just bought property or a cow (Luke 14).  Others will excuse themselves because the ‘Jewish‘   feast isn’t for them.  Some guests who thought they were important will find out they are not: ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first’ (Matthew 20:6).  Other guests will be ‘thrown out of the kingdom into outer darkness’ for not following protocol and wearing the proper wedding clothes (Matthew 22:11).

The Wedding of the Lamb

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)” (Revelation 19:8).

The wedding of the Lamb will take place in the Kingdom of God. The wedding hall will be filled with guests.  The Bride’s righteous way of life will be rewarded with a gown of fine linen, bright and clean, for her to wear in front of all the wedding guests.  The Bridegroom will once again drink the fruit of the vine with his Bride.

Until her glorious wedding day, the wise Virgin will spend her life  preparing herself with acts of righteousness.  She will keep herself pure and holy and unspotted from the world through personal sanctification.  She will keep her lamp full of oil waiting for the soon return of her Bridegroom at his ‘appointed time.‘  Every year she will commemorate the Passover as the annual reminder of his words to her, “Do this in remembrance of me” while he is away preparing a place for them to live in his Father’ (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

© 2000 Tent Stake Ministries (Chapter from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.)

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