Passover: A Betrothal Ceremony

“And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly and intensely desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; For I say to you, I shall eat it no more until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15, Amplified Bible).

Yeshua earnestly, intensely, and eagerly desired to celebrate his final Passover with his disciples. He knew his time was short, and he wanted to reveal God’s plan of reconciliation at its ‘appointed time.’ As 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’s traditional elements into a betrothal ceremony with a groom, a bride, a cup of wine, the bride’s father, the bride price, and the wedding guests. With this Passover seder, Yeshua would renew the covenant of marriage that would restore Israel 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. The Bible describes him as having no beauty or majesty. He was despised and rejected by men. He had no desirable outward appearance and was so unattractive that men hid their faces from him. Yet, like any man, Yeshua desired a Bride.

The Bride

In a traditional 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 the 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 traditional Passover seder, the first cup of wine consumed is called the ‘Cup of Sanctification.’ After blessing the wine, Yeshua offered this cup to his disciples. As each one drank from the cup, they acknowledged their acceptance of Yeshua’s marriage proposal. It represented an individual commitment that each disciple making 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 day of the wedding feast. The bride, however, was to remember her betrothed and their marriage covenant 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 set the bride price. Generally it was something of great value because the father was losing a daughter. Before we are redeemed, ‘our father’ is the devil and death is his end game. He would rather have us destroyed than have us redeemed. He would rather us die in our sins than be restored to our heavenly Father. ‘Our father,’ 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 Paid

“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).

Yeshua poured a second cup of wine. In the traditional Passover seder, this cup is called the ‘Cup of Redemption.’ Along with some unleavened bread, Yeshua held up the cup and made a powerful declaration. For us, his Bride, he would willingly 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 called ‘The Cup of Plagues’ is poured to remember the judgments on Egypt –– the final one being the death of the firstborn. God allowed the firstborn of Israel to live, but they had to redeem or ‘buy back’ their firstborn through 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, instead he wrestled with the coming judgment 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 poured, but not consumed during the Passover seder in Yeshua’s time. Instead, it was consumed at the close of the following day to complete the Passover. Yeshua drank this cup of wine while he was hanging on the cross. After being given soured wine on hyssop, the ‘Cup of Completion,’ he said, “It is finished.” He gave up his spirit and died. The bride price had been paid in full. Yeshua’s ‘appointed time’ of Passover was completed.

“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 completing the marriage betrothal contract and paying the bride price, the bridegroom would leave for a time to prepare a home for his bride. In Middle Eastern culture, the groom adds a room onto his father’s house. This additional room could take anywhere from two days to two years to build. Before Yeshua dies, resurrects, and ascends to his Father, he tells his newly betrothed Bride that he is going away to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house. He promises to return so that they could be where he would be (John 14:2-3).

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 bride price, would spend her time preparing 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 betrothed 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 near midnight, and she wanted to be ready when she heard the cry: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” (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 spiritual reality of Yeshua, 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 every other week. Sanctification is a way 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, making 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 her Bridegroom returns (2 Peter 3:1-4).

The sanctified, holy character of the Bride cannot be transferred from one person to another. This is the meaning of Yeshua’s Parable of the Ten Virgins. Those betrothed Virgins who had oil in their lamps could not share it, give it away. Sanctifying ‘oil’ is purchased at the cost of “keeping oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). She will have kept herself spotless, pure, and holy. She will have prepared herself for her wedding day. The Virgin betrothed to Messiah will be ready with her glowing lamp filled with oil 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 additional room to the house was complete. This was so that the groom wouldn’t rush, but properly prepare a home for the arrival of his bride.

Neither the groom nor the bride knew the exact day or hour of the wedding, but it would arrive with the fanfare of the groom’s best friends and shouts of joy from wedding party. The excited bridegroom would enter the bride’s home and ‘snatch her away.’ Together they would return to the groom’s house and enter the wedding chamber where they would consummate their marriage. When they reappeared, the wedding feast would begin.

On an unknown day and hour, at the ‘appointed time’ of his Father, Yeshua will return for his Bride. He will arrive with a great shout and 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 celebrate the greatest of all wedding feasts.

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 people consisting of bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and immediate family 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 speaks about his own 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, will be here on earth and known as the Messianic Era. Yeshua will return here to the earth for his Bride, have the ultimate wedding feast here, and then take his Bride to the Temple, his Father’s house here; and within its many rooms, they will live as Husband and Bride, High Priest and royal priesthood, here.

Yeshua describes the guests that will attend the 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 the heavenly throne room, a multitude of people wear white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. They hold palm branches and cry out “Hosanna” just as the crowd who accompanied Yeshua into Jerusalem. This is an enormous group of people coming from every generation who have accepted Yeshua’s bride price. They come from every nation, tribe, and language. Overjoyed at being redeemed, they sing at the throne of Yeshua. These men, women, and children are the guests invited to 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 that needs milking (Luke 14:15-24). Others will excuse themselves because a ‘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 putting on 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 coming Messianic Kingdom. The wedding hall will be filled with guests too numerous to count from every nation, tribe and tongue. The Bride’s sanctified, faithful way of life will be rewarded with a gown of fine linen, bright and clean, that she will wear in front of all the wedding guests. The Bridegroom will again drink the fruit of the vine with his Bride.

Until her glorious wedding day, the wise betrothed Virgin will preparing herself by doing acts of righteousness. She will keep herself pure, holy, and unspotted from the world through personal sanctification. She will keep her lamp lit and full of oil waiting for the return of her Bridegroom at the ‘appointed time’ –– Feast of Trumpets. Every year as she celebrates Passover and drinks the two cups of wine –– Sanctification and Redemption –– she has an annual reminder of her Beloved’s words: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

©2000 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  

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