Posts Tagged ‘plagues on Egypt’

Parashah 14: Va’era (I appeared)

Parashah 14: Exodus 6:2-9:35

“God spoke to Moshe; he said to him, “I am Adonai” (Exodus 6:2).

Though Elohim appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He did not make Himself known to them by His name, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, as He did to Moshe.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew Elohim only as El Shaddai.

In the previous parashah, Pharaoh asks, “Who is Adonai, that I should obey when he says to let Isra’el go?  I don’t know Adonai, and I also won’t let Isra’el go” (Exodus 5:2-3).  In this parashah and the next, Pharaoh and Egypt along with Moshe, Aaron and the Israelites will learn exactly who Yahweh really is and the greatness of His power as well as His faithfulness to the covenants He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deliverance for the Hebrews

There are four ways in which Elohim is going to deliver the Hebrews from Egypt.  These four ways are central to the Passover and used to celebrate a Passover meal.  These four ways of Elohim’s redemption from Egypt are a shadow of Messiah Yeshua and our redemption from sin and its enslavement. 

• “I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and rescue you from their oppression” (Exodus 6:6a).

The definition of ‘oppression’ is cruel or unjust treatment.  It is from the forced labor and the cruel treatment of the Egyptians that ‘I AM’ will rescue the Hebrews.  Their physical deliverance is the most obvious, but there has also been spiritual oppression.

Under the command of Pharaoh to kill their children, they have endured the despicable act of murdering their newborn sons.  This infanticide could be regarded as child sacrifices to another god; and that god is Pharaoh.  They have been surrounded by a pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses.   They have been immersed in Egypt’s culture of death, the dead traveling to the underworld and gods of the dead, and its religious  ideology from the Book of the Dead.

• “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm” (Exodus 6:6b)

Though forced labor is difficult and the Israelites need to be rescued, they also need to be redeemed.  Redemption is regaining possession of something in exchange for payment.  Elohim is going to buy back the Hebews so they can worship Him on His holy mountain.

“The arm of the LORD” is found numerous times in Scripture.

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear to dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1).

“Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him” (Psalm 98:1).

Selah

“The LORD (Yahweh) is my light and my salvation (yeshua)” (Psalm 27:1). 

When the Israelites saw the arm of the LORD (Yahweh) work salvation for them in Egypt, they were seeing Yeshua.  When “the LORD’s” (Yawheh’s) right hand worked salvation for Isra’el and the nations, the world saw it in the person of Yeshua.

• “I will take you as my people and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7).

Elohim is choosing Isra’el as His people, His treasured possession, His priesthood, His wife.  He wants a nation who will glorify Him and His choice, out of all the nations of the world, is Isra’el.

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12).

“For you are a people holy to Adonai your God. Adonai your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

For your Maker is your husband—Adonai Tzva’ot (Yahweh Almighty) is his name— the Holy One of Isra’el is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5).

• “I will bring you into the land I promised to Avraham, Yitz’ak, and Ya’akov and give it to you as your inheritance” (Exodus 6:8).

El Shaddai promised Abraham land for as far as he could see from east to west, north and south.  This land of promise was on both sides of the Jordan River from the Euphrates to the Sinai Peninsula – much larger than modern state of Isra’el. Each tribe descending from the sons of  Isra’el receive a land inheritance, though not in its fullness until Messiah sets up his Kingdom.

Moshe told the Hebrews all that ‘I AM’ was going to do for them, however, they wouldn’t listen.  Their oppression was so great that they were discouraged.

The Levitical Lineage of Moshe and Aaron

The genealogy of Moshe and Aaron is given so there is no confusion about the brothers who went before Pharaoh and ultimately led the Israelites out of Egypt.  Within the genealogy is the foundation of the Levites and eventually the Levitical priesthood through Aaron.

Moshe as Yahweh’s Witness

“I have put you in the place of God to Pharaoh and Aaron your brother will be your prophet” (Exodus 7:1). 

Aaron places his staff onto the floor and it turns into a snake.  Pharaoh calls his magicians.  The sorcerers of Egypt turn their staffs into snakes.  Yahweh isn’t finished showing who is the Sovereign Elohim and Aaron’s staff consumes the staffs of the magicians.

Though Pharaoh needs to be humbled before the Creator of the Universe, Elohim is giving proof to Moshe and the Hebrews that He rules over the gods of Egypt.  He begins with the snake goddess Wadjet who protected the land of Egypt.  When Aaron’s staff swallows those of the magicians, Yahweh proves that He alone is the One, and only Elohim, higher in divine authority than Pharaoh or his snake goddess.

“Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as Adonai had said” (Exodus 7:13).

Let the Judgments Begin

Ten plagues are going to come upon Egypt.  Ten symbolizes the Creator’s divine power which is complete and perfect in judgment, and His love and light that will be experienced by the Hebrews. Ten is also the number of Isis and Osiris, the two supreme gods of Egypt. Osiris was believed to be sovereign over the Underworld and Judge of the Dead; his sister and wife, Isis, ruled over nature.  While Elohim is going to use the plagues to judge Egypt’s gods and goddesses, He will also use the plagues to heal the Israelites from their centuries of suffering and prove He is their Deliverer who will transform them from slaves into a free and holy nation.

With the first three judgments, all of Egypt will suffer the consequences of the plagues including the Hebrews. With the next five, Goshen is spared in order that Elohim’s power is revealed and the Hebrews’ faith is strengthened.  The people of Egypt will suffer enormously because of Pharaoh’s hard heart while Isra’el will receive Yahweh’s mercy and compassion.  With the final and tenth plague, every head of family whether Egyptian or Israelite will have to make a decision about who is Elohim: Pharaoh or Yahweh.

Blood, Blood, Blood – Plague 1

“Adonai, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you to say: ‘Let my people go, so that they can worship me in the desert.’ But until now you haven’t listened; so Adonai says, ‘This will let you know that I am Adonai: I will take the staff in my hand and strike the water in the river, and it will be turned into blood” (Exodus 7:17).

The judgment of the first plague is against Hapi, the Egyptian god of the Nile. Hapi was pictured wearing a beard with pendulous breasts and a large belly.  He is  blue or green representing water.  In Lower Egypt, he was adorned with papyrus plants and attended by frogs.

Moshe is told to warn Pharaoh of the impending plague when he goes down to the river in the morning so he would understand with whom he is dealing.  But, Pharaoh wouldn’t listen.  Moshe takes his staff and reaches out his hand over the waters of Egypt and they turn to blood.

Turning the water of the Nile River into blood was not only a judgment on the god of the Nile, but a sign to Egyptthat Elohim controls their water supply, their lifeline. He also wanted to show both the Israelites and the Egyptians that Hapi was not capable of protecting Egypt’s water from its Creator. 

The Nile River is the source of life for Egypt.  With its water turned to blood, everything in the river dies.  The fish die, the river stinks and the Egyptians become thirsty.  All rivers, canals, ponds, reservoirs, wooden buckets and stone jars have blood in them.  Even digging around the banks of the Nile does not produce fresh drinking water.    The account says that the Egyptians magicians did the same thing, but it is only Elohim who is able to turn the blood back into living water. 

Pharaoh’s response: “He just turned and went back to his palace, without taking any of this to heart” (Exodus 7:23) 

Frogs, Frogs, Frogs – Plague 2

“Go into Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Here is what Adonai says, ‘Let my people go, so that they can worship me.  If you refuse to let them go, I will strike all your territory with frogs’” (Exodus 7:26).

The judgment of the second plague is against Heket, the Egyptian goddess of fertility and renewal. Heket, a frog goddess, had a woman’s body with a frog head.  She was associated with the germination of corn after the Nile flooded.  Frogs were a symbol of fertility in Egypt since millions of them were born after the annual flooding of the Nile which made the land fertile. 

Seven days after the water turns to blood, Moshe goes to Pharaoh and gives him another warning.  Pharaoh still will not relent and let the Hebrews leave to worship Elohim. Moshe reaches out his hand with his staff and frogs come up on the land.  They enter the palace and go into bedrooms and onto the beds.  They are in the ovens and kneading bowls of the servants.  Frogs climb all over the people including the servants of Pharaoh.  To prove their power equal, the magicians do the same thing.

Pharaoh’s response: “Intercede with Adonai to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let the people go and sacrifice to Adonai…. But when Pharaoh saw that he had been given some relief, he made himself hardhearted and would not listen to them…” (Exodus 8:15).

Lice, Lice, Lice – Plague 3

 “Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Say to Aaron, Reach out with your staff and strike the dust of the ground and it will become lice throughout all the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 8:16).

The judgment of the third plague is against Geb, the Egyptian god of the earth.  The dust of the earth bringing forth lice was an affront to him.  As god of the earth, the ground formed his body and was called the ‘house of Geb.’  Represented by a man who wears a white crown with a goose, Gebwas often portrayed lying on his side on the ground, painted green with plants springing from his body.  This plague was an embarrassment to the Egyptians because they gave offerings Geb for the ‘bounty of the soil.’   

This plague was sent on Egypt without warning.  Yahweh just told Moshe what instructions to give Aaron.  When the dust of the ground becomes lice throughout the whole land of Egypt, people and animals are infested and experience physical suffering.  The magicians tried to produce lice, but they couldn’t and told Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”

Pharaoh’s response: “But Pharaoh was made hardhearted, so that he didn’t listen to them, just as Adonai had said would happen” (Exodus 8:19).

With the completion of the first three plagues, Elohim has shown Pharaoh who He is.  The magicians even proclaim the judgments are the working of Elohim.   Just knowing that Yahweh exists doesn’t necessarily change a person’s heart and Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.

Selah

The magicians imitate the first two judgments and try to create lice.  As blood, frogs and lice plague Egypt from the hand of Elohim, the magicians want to copy the judgments afflicting their own land and people.

Swarms, Swarms, Swarms – Plague 4

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Get up early in the morning, stand before Pharaoh when he goes out to the water and say to him, Here is what Adonai says, Let my people go, so that they can worship me.  Otherwise, if you won’t let my people go, I will send swarms of insects on you, your servants and your people and your houses…. BUT I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people live–no swarms of insects will be there – so that you can realize that I am Adonai, right here in the land.  I will distinguish between my people and your people and this sign will happen tomorrow’” (Exodus 8:20-24). 

The judgment of the fourth plague is against Khepri, the Egyptian god of rebirth.  In the original Hebrew, the fourth plague is arob or ‘swarm’ implying incessant buzzing or motion.  Kephri was the deified scarab or dung beetle. It  is about the size of a nickel and lays its young in a ball of dung.  It rolls the ball around until its young are born.  More destructive than termites, the scarab has a mouth that can saw through wood and great distress for the Egyptians.   Because the beetles were considered ‘little gods’, they could not be killed.

Elohim is going to judge Egypt, its land and its people. However, He is now going to distinguish between the Egyptians and His people.  The swarms of dung beetle ruined the whole land of Egypt except for Goshen.

Pharaoh’s response:  “Go, and sacrifice to your God here in the land” (Exodus 8:25).

Moshe explains that worshipping Yahweh in Egypt would be inappropriate because their sacrifices of cattle would be an abomination to the Egyptians.  They would want to stone the Hebrews.  Moshe says they will go the three days’ journey into the desert to worship the ‘I AM’ as He commands them to do.

Pharaoh says, “I will let you go, so that you can sacrifice to Adonai your God in the desert.  Only you are not to go very far away.  Intercede on my behalf” (Exodus 8:28).

Moshe prays to Yahweh and He answers Moshe’s prayer.  The swarms leave and not a beetle remains.  “But this time, too, Pharaoh made himself stubborn and didn’t let the people go” (Exodus 8:31).

Cattle Disease, Cattle Disease, Cattle Disease – Plague 5

“Adonai says to Moshe, ‘Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Here is what Adonai, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘Let my people go, so that they can worship me.  If you refuse to let them go and persist in holding on to them, the hand of Adonai is on your livestock in the field–on the horses, donkeys, camels, cattle and flocks–and will make them suffer a devastating illness.  But Adonai will distinguish between Egypt’s and Isra’el’s livestock – nothing belonging to the people of Isra’el will die” (Exodus 9:1-4).

The judgment of the fifth plague is against Apis, the bull god and the cow-headed Hathor, Egyptian goddess of love and protection.  Apis was considered the intercessor between man and Osiris.  Their worship was so extensive that even the Israelites had begun to worship them.  It was Apis, the image of the golden calf, they dedicated to Elohim at the foot of Mount Sinai.  The disease that killed Egypt’s livestock also killed their sacred bulls and cows for their temple sacrifice taking away any hope of  Osiris intervening between Egypt and the Elohim.

Moshe warns Pharaoh of the impending judgment that will be against all their sacred animals while keeping the Hebrews’ livestock alive.   With the disease that kills all livestock, Elohim shows Egypt that nothing can be protected from His judgments except His people.   With this plague, He breaks Egypt’s religious pride and causes them to submit to His authority.

Pharaoh’s response: “Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the people of Isra’el had died.  Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn and he didn’t let the people go” (Exodus 9:7).

Boils, Boils, Boils – Plague 6

“Adonai said to Moshe and Aahron, Take handfuls of ashes from the kiln and throw it into the air before Pharaoh’s eyes.  They will turn into a fine dust all over the land of Egypt and become infected sores on men and animals in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 9:8-9).

The judgment of the sixth plague is against Thoth, the ibis-headed Egyptian god of medicine and theology.  This plague in Hebrew is called shechiyn orinflamed spots; the root of the word for ‘burning. ’ There was so much physical suffering with this judgment that the Egyptians would call on this god to cure their pain, however,  his healing powers could not overrule the authority of Elohim.

Even the sorcerers could not escape the skin disease and became so infected they could not stand before Moshe or carry out the priestly duties.  They were responsible for taking the ashes of human sacrifices and casting them into the air.  Floating in the wind over the people of Egypt was considered a blessing. Now, the ash remains of human sacrifice were burning the flesh of the Egyptians – including their cats and dogs. 

Pharaoh’s response: “But Adonai made Pharaoh hardhearted so that he didn’t listen to them …” (Exodus 9:12).

With the completion of the second set of three plagues,  Elohim reveals to the ancient world that He makes a distinction between souls: the sin-darkened stubborn souls of the Egyptians and the souls of His chosen people.  As He reveals Himself to Pharaoh as Judge; He proves Himself as Protector of Isra’el.

Selah

Elohim uses plagues to ‘smite Egypt’ and through those same plagues draws His people closer.

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Get up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Here is what Adonai says; ‘Let my people go so that they can worship me.  For this time I will inflict my plagues on you, yourself, and on your officials and your people; so that you will realize that I am without equal in all the earth.  By now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with such severe plagues that you would have been wiped off the earth.  But it is for this very reason that I have kept you alive – to show you my power, and so that my name may resound throughout the whole earth” (Exodus 9:13-16).  

The next three plagues prove Elohim’s power over the heavens as the Creator. There is no other god equal to him in the heavens above or the earth below.  These judgments will be experienced not only by people of Egypt, but also by Pharaoh and everyone in his palace.  Elohim could actually just wipe the Egyptians off the earth, but He wants His power and His Name to resound in Pharaoh’s ears and throughout the whole earth.

Hail, Hail, Hail – Plague 7

“I will cause a hailstorm so heavy that Egypt has had nothing like it from the day it was founded until now.  …Every human being and animal left in the field that hasn’t been brought home … will die. … Moshe reached out with his staff toward the sky, and Adonai sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth…. It hailed and fire flashed up with the hail.  …But in the land of Goshen, where the people of Isra’el were, there was no hail” (Exodus 9:17-19).

The judgment of the seventh plague is against Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the sky and heavenly bodies.  Depicted as wearing a dress covered with stars, her body arches over the sky protecting earth.  She is given credit for bringing order out of chaos in the heavens. As the hail and fire beat the earth, she has no power to protect Egypt from the chaos coming from the skies.

Some Egyptians begin fearing Yahweh and bring their slaves and whatever livestock remains into their homes for protection.  The hail and the fire ruin the flax and barley crops because the barley was ripe and the flax was budding.  Wheat and buckwheat were not affected because they are harvested later.  This is the first time there is a season given for a judgment.  The barley is abib or ‘green ears’ which occurs in the springtime, March/April, while the wheat harvest occurs 50 days later.  Both of these harvests coincide with the Biblical holy days of Passover, counting the omer, and Feast of Weeks.

Pharaoh’s response: “Then Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aaron. ‘This time I have sinned,’ he said to them. ‘Adonai is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.  Pray to Adonai, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer’” (Exodus 9:27-28).

When the hail with fire stops, Pharaoh’s response:

“When Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail and thunder had ended, he sinned still more my making himself hardhearted, he and his servants.  Pharaoh was made hardhearted, and he didn’t let the people of Isra’el go …” (Exodus 9:34).

Yeshua and The Plagues

“So he got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This happened in order to fulfill what Adonai had said through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son…. After Herod’s death, an angel of Adonai appeared in a dream to Yosef in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to Eretz-Yisra’el, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead” (Matthew 2:14-19).

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, a great and wonderful one—seven angels with the seven plagues that are the final ones; because with them, God’s fury is finished….  After this I looked, and the sanctuary (that is, the Tent of Witness in heaven) was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean bright linen and had gold belts around their chests.  One of the four living beings gave to the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the fury of God, who lives forever and ever. Then the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God’s Sh’khinah, that is, from his power; and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels had accomplished their purpose” (Revelation 15:1-8).

The Seven Plagues of Elohim’s Fury

Plague on the earth: Ugly and painful sores broke out on those who had the mark of the beast and worshipped his image (Revelation 16:2). 

“So it [the beast] opened its mouth in blasphemies against God to insult his name and his Sh’khinah, and those living in heaven; it was allowed to make war on God’s holy people and to defeat them; and it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. Everyone living on earth will worship it [the beast] except those whose names are written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb slaughtered before the world was founded” (Revelation 13:6-8).

Plague on the sea: The sea turned into blood like that of a dead person and every living thing in it died (Revelation 16:3).

Plague on the rivers and springs: All living water turned to blood (Revelation 16:4).

“O HaKadosh, the One who is and was, you are just in these judgments of yours. They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it!” (Revelation 16:5).

Plague of the sun: The sun was given power to scorch people with fire.  They were burned by the intense heat and cursed Elohim who had control over the plagues, but refused to repent from their sins and glorify Him (Revelation 16:8-9).

Plague on throne of the beast: The kingdom of the beast was plunged into darkness.  Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed Elohim because of their pains and sores, but did not turn from their sinful behavior (Revelation 16:10-11).

Plague on the Euphrates River:  The River dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.  Three ‘unclean’ spirits that looked like frogs came from the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet.  These frog-demons work miracles and go out into the whole world preparing the kings of the nations to gather for war on the Day of Elohim in Har Megiddo (Revelation 16:12-16).

Plague on the air:  “A loud voice came out of the Temple from the throne, saying, “It is done!” There were flashes of lightning, voices and peals of thunder; and there was a massive earthquake, such as has never occurred since mankind has been on earth, so violent was the earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Bavel the Great and made her drink the wine from the cup of his raging fury. Every island fled, and no mountains were to be found. And huge seventy-pound hailstones fell on people from the sky. But the people cursed God for the plague of hail, that it was such a terrible plague” (Revelation 16:17-21).

Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets)

Ezekiel 28:25-29:21

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Romans 9:14-17

2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

Midrash Ya’era:  Broken and Bound to Egypt

The Hebrew phrases are kotzer ruach or ‘shortness and brokenness of spirit’ and avodah kesheh or ‘cruel bondage.’  Discuss what these phrases imply for the Hebrews, physically and spiritually, after being enslaved and why Elohim had to separate them from Egypt  (Acts 7:40).

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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 in this world 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 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 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 and was so unattractive that men hid their faces from him, yet he 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 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 were acknowledging their acceptance of Yeshua’s marriage proposal.  It became an individual commitment they each one was 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 day of the wedding feast.  The bride, however, was to remember her betrothed and the 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 sets the bride price.   Generally it was something of value because the father was losing a daughter.   In Israel’s case (and ours) before we are redeemed, our father is the devil and murder is his specialty.  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.  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).

Then 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, he 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, 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 at the close of the following day to complete the Passover.  Yeshua drank this 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 in full.

“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 Bride, that he was going to prepare a place in his Father’s house, the coming Millennial 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 bride 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).  She will have kept herself spotless, pure and holy.  She will have made herself ready for her wedding day. 

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 the groom’s 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 celebrate the grandest 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 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 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, is here on earth and will be restored 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 as High Priest and royal priesthood.  

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 acce[ted Yeshua’s bride price and Cup of Redemption. They are from every nation, tribe, and language.  They are overjoyed at being redeemed 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 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 Kingdom of God. The wedding hall will be filled with guests too numerous to count.  The Bride’s sanctified 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 as she  commemorates the Passover, she has an annual reminder of her Beloved’s words to her while he is in his Father’s house preparing a place for them to live: “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 blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.