25 September 2010 (Shibi'i/Sukkot)|
Day #193, 5934 AM
Sukkot #3 A Great Light
Yah'shua's Clean and Bright Garment
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and to this third day of Sukkot. From a technical devotional yesterday about the Sukkot sacrifices I have a very different message indeed for you today. Sukkot might rightly be called the Festival of the 'Marriage of Marriages' because it represents one of the great points in history:
Bible commentator Barnes notes:
"'Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.' And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, 'Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!''" (Rev.19:7-9, NKJV).
The Bride of Messiah receives a garment, describes as "clean and bright" which is conferred or bestowed upon her by her husband. Elsewhere in the Book of Revelation this robe, which represents innocence, is described as being white in colour (Rev.3:4-5,18; 7:13). This righteousness, which is bestowed upon the Bride as an emblem of her innocent state, is not something she has earned. but is the righteousness of her Husband, obtained soley by trusting in the merits of the Husband, as Paul testifies:
"By putting on her beautiful apparel and ornaments. All the preparations had been made for a permanent and uninterrupted union with its Redeemer, and the church was henceforward to be recognized as his beautiful bride, and was no more to appear as a decorated harlot ... the church (Messianic Community) in its true form, there is all the difference which there is between an abandoned woman gaily decked with gold and jewels, and a pure virgin chastely and modestly adorned, about to be led to be united in bonds of love to a virtuous husband" (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft).
From the beginning of this journey at Pesach to its end at Sukkot, the Bride's justification has always been by trusting - adhering and clinging to - the Bridegroom. The same principles that apply to the Mystical Marriage of Messiah also apply to Christian marriage, the wife receiving her justification by her clinging to and exercising faith in her husband-in-Messiah. I can say that with even greater certainly today because of an experience I had earlier this morning which I want to share with you.
"What is more, I even count all to be loss, because of the excellence of the knowledge of the Master Yah'shua my Master, for whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them as refuse, in order to gain Messiah, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of (from) the Torah, but that which is through belief in Messiah, the righteousness which is from Elohim on the basis of belief" (Phil.3:8-9, ISRV).
I had a very sobering dream today. After I awoke I experienced what I can only describe as a combination of shalom (peace) and resolution, but with sadness somewhere hovering in the background. In my dream I was talking to my first wife who left me 22 years ago for another man who ran a small New Age cult in America. After she left him and wandered for a while she finally settled down with another man, with similar New Age beliefs. She did all the talking in the dream, which was quite brief. She said that she belonged to these two men (which spiritually-speaking is impossible, of course, though such an assertion is compatible with her former belief system) and that she was now obliged to return something to me. She handed me a white robe. I was a little perplexed when I awoke, for a short while forgetting the white robe incident, but even after I remembered about half an hour later, I was not at first sure what it meant. Only as I sat down to prepare this address to you today did I understand. All these years while living in sin she had taken advantage of my covering as her true husband but now Yahweh was forcing her to give it back to me. Compelled by love and faithfulness to my covenants, I had covered her all these long years until Yahweh said, 'No more'. Over the years I have wrestled over whether I had the legal obligation or right to continue covering her, and I was tossed back and forth in my uncertainty, though I continued all these years. Today I was relieved of the responsibility by commandment.
The robes of righteousness that we obtain from Messiah are our covering from the darts of the enemy as well as the outward sign that we belong to Yah'shua. And even when we sin and turn away from Him, He still covers us. His grace is generous but cannot be taken for granted for if we insist in persisting in sin, there comes a time when we must relinquish this garment. Whether or not we are able to get it back again later following genuine repentance I do not know - I would like to think so but I do not know. Dare we take the risk to continue permissively sinning, labouring under the false assumption that 'Once Saved, Always Saved' (OSAS)? Dare we exploit His love and mercy in so callous and disrespectful a manner?
Wicked and adulterous husbands are another matter, and they are an even worse abomination that wicked and adulterous wives. Why? Because they are supposed to be protectors, providers and coverers. That is why they have the privileges that they do because of what is required of them. Their privileges and responsibities do not make their wives second-class citizens precisely because of what is required of them by Yahweh. When the duties and responsibilities of husbands and wives in their different rôles are weighed, it will be found that there is no difference in what either must 'give' to be justified in Yahweh's eyes. Unfortunately many of us have been blinded to this truth because of the false gender philosophies of the world which bring such chaos and disruption to families.
Sukkot is the Festival of Marriage and about its correct Tavnith or Pattern. All the signs, symbols and offices that are presented to us in this Mystical Marriage of Messiah, of which we are the uniplural Bride who are the Redeemed of the Earth, the Grape Harvest at the end of the Age - all these signs and symbols apply to our earthly marriages too, precisely because it is these signs, symbols and offices which are used to illustrate our relationship to Christ. If the signs, symbols and offices originate in the estate of human marriage, and if they illustrate the proper relationship between the Cosmic Bridegroom and the Cosmic Bride, then we are in serious trouble if we dare tamper with them. And though Sukkot is to teach us of many things, one of them is this: Do not tamper with the Divine Tavnith of Marriage!
My wife had a dream this morning which is an interesting illustration of this tavnith theme. She dreamed that she was with some people in a room and in the middle of the room was table on which was a lit menorah. To cut a long story short (the details are unimportant), by a series of provocations, the enemy got her to accidentally blow the seven lights out and also offered to relight it for her. In the dream she wanted to relight it herself but knew that she did not have the authority to do so.
The menorah shape you are all familiar with but did you know that there is a plant in the Holy Land called Salvia Palaestina which is a species of sage which closely resembles the shape of the item commanded by Yahweh to be constructed and placed in the Holy Place in the Temple?
The menorah had to be constructed according to a very precise tavnith or pattern:
The word menorah in Hebrew means 'Light-Bearer' and this, of course, is the Bridegroom, Yah'shua the Messiah. Though we tend to use candles on our menorah lampstands, strictly speaking the fuel for the fire should be olive oil. And as you all know, olive oil represents the Ruach haQodesh or Holy Spirit. There are 7 branches because there are 7 Ruach haQodeshim. These 7 are the Bride of Messiah. Therefore John the Baptist testified:
"You shall also make a lampstand (menorah) of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower -- and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower. And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand. Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold. You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it. And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. And see to it that you make them according to the tavnith (pattern) which was shown you on the mountain" (Ex 25:31-40, NKJV).
The Bridegroom - Messiah Yah'shua - is identified because He has, owns or possesses the Bride in proper tavnith or pattern, in the same way that any husband in Messiah is identified necause he has, owns and possesses his bride. The Ruach haQodesh is represented by the seven vessels of oil but only the Bridegroom can light them as symbolised by the Aaronic Cohenim or Priests who served in the Tabernacle or (later) Temple. That is why the Bride is responsible for the oil. Remember the 10 virgins, the 5 wise and the 5 foolish? (Mt.25:1-13) The 5 foolish virgins were condemned and excluded from the Marriage Feast because they had no oil!
"He who has the bride is the bridegroom" (John 3:29, NKJV).
This is a huge subject which I don't have time to go into today other than to remind you that the olive and the fire represent the two rôles of Bride and Bridegroom, respectively, both mystical and literal. If there is no oil, there is nothing for the Bridegroom to light, and darkness results. If there is no fire, then the oil cannot be lit, and darkness results.
At Sukkot many lights are burning. The menorah is always lit to remind us of our part and Yah'shua's part in the divine relationship. The menorah bears or carries the lamps filled with oil just as the Bridegroom must carry the Bride. Without the lampstand, the Bride can only light a small area on the floor for there is no other place she can fit. Now the Enemy, always out to counterfeit, will happily supply false oil and false light, and these we must constantly watch out for. Only the true Bride can supply the oil and only the true Bridegroom can light it with his fire. When this tavnith is followed, the lights burn eternally. When the Enemy is involved, the lights always go out eventually, because the Enemy is not eternal and his false light does not light the Way of Salvation but only the way of destruction.
I feel very sobered today, very vulnerable, as I stand in this Light of the Bridegroom this morning. It is amazing. As the Bride we can only present ourselves to the Bridegroom to be clothed in that clean and bright white garment made of fine linen. We can do nothing to earn it. We can only trust in Yah'shua by clinging on to Him for dear life, for He is that Life (Jn.14:6), and obey Him unconditionally. Today He ordered a garment I had given to my first wife returned to me. May we never, never be ordered to return the garment He gave us when He saved us because we exploited His grace - His undeserved loving-kindness - but wear it with simcha (joy) and pride, knowing that it was all His work that provided it. May we produce the olive oil of a life filled with good deeds to His glory so that He may light it for all to see that everyone else may glory in Him for what He did in us.