Monday, July 24, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 24, 2017

Today's Reading:

1 Corinthians 11:1-16

2 Kings 4

Amos 9

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

In the latter part of Amos 9, we find a beautiful and encouraging glimpse of our glorious future with Christ.
Amos 9:13-15 "Behold, the days come, saith Yahweh, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith Yahweh thy God." 
Some might suggest that these verses are "nice", but not really relevant to us in the day-to-day world in which we live. "I'm sure it will all be wonderful, when we get there," some may think, "but give me something I can sink my teeth in to. Give me something that helps me get through the struggles I am facing today."

Actually, glimpses of the glorious future which God has promised to His people are exactly what we need to help us with whatever we're facing today. In Proverbs 29:18, we find that people need a vision, for without it they are destroyed. Our vision needs to be fixed on the good that lies ahead. The more clearly we can see it, the more strengthened we will be to walk through whatever lies between. Scripture even tells us that Messiah Himself was strengthened to endure the Cross, by His Vision of what that Price would bring. What was His vision? Us with Him for all Eternity!
Hebrews 12:2  "Looking unto Yahshua the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right Hand of the Throne of God."
So today, let's take a moment to not only meditate on the promises found in Amos 9:13-15, but let's deepen and further develop the encouraging picture! It is a picture which all starts with a Wedding...

His Majesty, the King of the Universe, requests the honor of your presence at the Royal Wedding of the Ages (Revelation 19:7). Yahshua our Messiah, desires you to be one of His called-out ones. In other words, He is calling you to make ready to be His Bride.

You are cordially invited to partake in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  It is God’s Heart-felt desire that you will be made ready through the cleansing of Yahshua’s Blood.  Your place at the Great Marriage Supper Table may be secured by Yahshua’s Grace and by your love for Him and His beautiful Torah. By His Power and Spirit, you are to have been washed, dressed and made lovely in preparation for the Wedding of the Universe. 
Ephesians 5:25-27  "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." 

As a token of His love for you, you are given His promise to seal you as His own (Ephesians 1:13) as He rejoices over you, His bride. He clothes you in the wedding garments of salvation and righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
Isaiah 62:5  "For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee."  

There are many customs appointed by God as teaching tools. In a unique way, the Hebrew Wedding Ceremony is a detailed illustration of the Messiah's relationship to His bride.

The first step in the marriage process, in ancient Israel, was that the father of the groom would select a bride for his son.

In Genesis 24:1-4, Abraham made arrangements for his son Isaac's wedding. While the father usually had the responsibility in Abraham's life it was not possible. In such a case, it was acceptable for the father to delegate this responsibility by designating a trusted representative. Still, the Biblical marriage was arranged by the father. 

The Heavenly Father has chosen you and me. We have been chosen to be His special people, His children through marriage to His Son. 
Deuteronomy 7:6  "For thou art an holy people unto Yahweh thy God: Yahweh thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth."  
Deuteronomy 14:2  "For thou art an holy people unto Yahweh thy God, and Yahweh hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."  
But once the prospective Bride had been chosen, she had a choice to make. She was not forced to marry the son against her will.  She had the choice to decide whether or not she would love and marry the prospective Groom, or whether she’d rather have someone else.

When the prospective Bride agreed to marry the Son, The Mohar - or Bridal Payment was made.

This is sometimes called - the Bride price. It is a gift paid by the groom to the bride's family - but ultimately belongs to the bride. It changed her status and set her free from her parent's household. We see this illustrated in two Biblical examples:

Isaac and Rebecca - Gen. 24:53
Jacob and his wives - Gen. 29:20,27
The more valuable the Bride, or the more in debt she was, the higher the Bride price.

The Bride would not hide her bride price. The coins were strung and worn on as a ringlet about her head. In this way, she proclaimed to everyone who saw her the price that had been paid. Also, it was through the price paid for her that the Groom first conveyed his love for her. It was through the price paid, that he showed her how much she was worth in his eyes.

Have you ever thought about your Bride price? How much did the Son pay for you?

Can you see how great His love is for you?  It is our highest joy and privilege to proclaim the Bride price. We honor Him and His sacrifice by revealing it to all whom we meet.
John 12:32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”
And when we comprehend such a staggeringly valuable and sacrificing Bride Price, we come to love the Groom with all our hearts. (Check out the song: The Love of God.)

When the Bride Price was paid, a special covenant was written and signed. It was called the ketubah.

Ketubah means - "written". The ketubah was and still is today the - "marriage contract." The ketubah includes the provisions and conditions of the proposed marriage:
The groom promises to support his wife to be. The price of the Bride’s dowry is set, and the groom promises to pay it.

The bride agrees to marry the groom. She pledges her faithfulness and love to become the pure bride he deserves.
The ketubah is the groom’s communication to his bride. In ancient times, the ketubah contained instructions for the bride to help her prepare to become his wife. It also contained tender words of love from the groom to the bride, and a promise that He would provide for all her needs. 

After signing the ketubah, the groom would return to his father’s house. He would add on a room to his father’s house, preparing a place for his bride, so that he could return to claim her and take her home. During his absence, the Bride read the ketubah, learned his instructions, and was comforted by his words of love.

Have you thought about it? The ketubah in the story is the precious Torah! This is the love letter of the Groom, to us as His Bride. It contains His promises, assurances of His love for us, and His instructions for how to become a holy Bride by Yahweh’s Strength.

As we read it, like a loving Bride, we gladly learn His Instructions, and obey them. This is the best demonstration that the Bride really loves the Groom.

Once the Bride Price was paid and the Ketubah was signed, the Couple was betrothed. 

The betrothal period is called - kiddushim - meaning "sanctification" or "set apart." This word really defines the purpose of the betrothal period - it is a time in which the couple are to set side to prepare themselves to enter into the covenant of marriage. 

The Jewish understanding of betrothal has always been much stronger than our modern understanding of an engagement. The betrothal was so binding that the couple would need a religious divorce in order to annul the contract (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Signifcantly, only the prospective groom could annul the contract.
The lesson or implication is quite clear - we are secure in our Messiah's promise with us and He promises that He will not break it - (John. 10:28).

In celebration of the kiddushim, or sanctification period beginning, the Couple would have a betrothal ceremony.

After the couple had undergone - Mikveh (baptism by immersion) , each separately, they would appear together under the chuppah - or canopy - and in public they would express their intention of becoming betrothed or engaged. From ancient times - the wedding canopy has been a symbol of a new household being planned - (Psalm. 19:5; Joel 2:16). While under the chuppah the couple participated in a ceremony in which some items of value were exchanged.

A cup of wine was shared to seal the betrothal vows. After the ceremony - the couple was considered to have entered into the betrothal agreement. Yahshua shared this cup of wine announcing the start of the betrothal at the Last Supper.

During the betrothal the couple was considered married - yet continued to live separately until the end of the betrothal. We see this time of betrothal illustrated in the Gospels as reflected in the lives of Joseph and Mary - (see Matthew 1:18-25).

Yahshua’s cup of wine with us is the Cup of Redemption, which as was explained earlier, both the Bride and Groom drank from. We drink from it every Passover.  And we look forward to drinking it with Him in the Kingdom.

Following this betrothal ceremony the groom would return to his home to fulfill his obligations during the betrothal. At his departure, he would give his future bride a matan - or bridal gift, a pledge of his love for her. It's purpose was to be a reminder to his bride during their days of separation of his love for her, that he was thinking of her - and that he would return to receive her as his wife.

Yahshua’s Bridal Gift is the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
During betrothal the groom's responsibility was to focus on preparing a new dwelling place for his bride and family:
In Biblical times this was most often done not by building a new home - but by simply adding additional rooms to his father’s existing home. 

Traditionally, the place to which the bride was to be taken must be better than the place she had lived before.
It was not the groom's duty to determine when the place he was preparing for the bride was ready - his father would make that determination and give the go-ahead to receive his bride. 

The bride also was to keep herself busy in preparation for the wedding day – she would read and study her ketubah, prepare her wedding garments and gather her bridal party.

The final step in the wedding process is called - Nissuin - the word commons from the Hebrew verb - (nasa) - which means "to carry." 

This is a beautiful description - as the bride would be waiting for her groom to come - to carry her off to her new home. The period of the betrothal - was a time of great anticipation - as the bride waited for the arrival of her betrothed.

One of the unique features of the Biblical wedding was the time of the groom's arrival. It was the father of the groom who would give the final approval for the marriage to begin – setting the time of the wedding.

When the time came for the Groom to come, the bride and her bridal party were to be ready - this is the background of Yahshua's parable (Matthew. 25:1-13). It was customary for one of the grooms party to go ahead of the bridegroom, leading the way to the bride's house - and shout - "Behold, the bridegroom comes." This would be followed by the sounding of the shofar.  

In Isaiah 25:9, we find what the Bride will say, when she sees her Bridegroom return, “Lo, this is our God! We have waited for Him and He will save us.”
Revelation 1:7-8  Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith Yahweh, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."

The living righteous are changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." At the Voice of God they were glorified; now they are made immortal, and with the risen saints are caught up to meet their Sovereign in the air. Angels "gather together the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Little children are borne by holy angels to their mothers' arms. Friends long separated by death are united, nevermore to part, and with songs of gladness ascend together to the City of God.  (My Life Today, p 352)
The glorious Return of our Heavenly King is foreshadowed in the beautiful Feast of Tabernacles. This annual celebration starts on the 15th day of the 7th Month, which is an annual Sabbath - marking the Day of Christ's Return. The Feast of Tabernacles lasts for seven days, signifying the seven-day trip on which Yahweh will take His people. We will be seven days touring the universe, with the Creator as our Guide! Seven days we will be ascending to the Sea of Glass! Then on the eighth day - which is also a Sabbath - the Last Great Day - will will enter the Father's House. This is the Day of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!
Leviticus 23:34-36  "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days unto Yahweh. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.  Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh. (In spiritual fulfillment, remember that Romans 12:1 tells us we offer ourselves as acceptable living sacrifices.) On the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you... It is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein." 
When, on that glorious eighth Day, we reach the Gates of the holy City, Scripture tells us the triumphant and joyful song which the choirs of Heaven will sing.

Psalm 24:7-10 – is the Praise Processional Sung when we Arrive at Heaven’s Gates - imagine it being sung with two companies of angelic host - one side singing out the rhetorical questions, and the other side singing out the response:
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in."

Who is this King of glory? 

Yahweh strong and mighty, Yahweh mighty in battle!  
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 

Who is this King of glory? 

Yahweh of hosts, He is the King of glory!"
And as the glittering Gates are opened, we will be invited to enter - and enjoy our first taste of the wondrous Tree of Life:
Revelation 22:1-2  "And He showed me a pure River of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the Throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the River, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the Tree were for the healing of the nations."
Revelation 22:14  "Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the City."

Matthew 25:34 "Then shall the King say unto them on His right Hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Revelation 21:10-27And He carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great City, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God,  Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;  And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.  And I saw no temple therein: for Yahweh God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.  And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."
Isaiah 11:6-9  The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea." 
Oh dear ones, catch the vision of what Yahweh has promised for His people. Catch the vision and keep it always before your eyes. As you gaze upon Him and upon His wondrous Promises, you will find encouragement and strength to endure that darkness and difficulties today.

To conclude today, I leave you with one of the most powerful songs ever written: The Holy City