Sisters Helping Sisters in Christ

  A Uniquely Different Women's Ministry  

The Ancient Jewish Wedding and the Return of our Bridegroom King!

The ancient Jewish wedding is a custom that every believer should study and
understand. Why? Because Yeshua (Jesus) Himself followed the steps of a Jewish
bridegroom when taking His own bride, we, the Church. There are many truths and
treasures that have been hidden and long forgotten simply because believers do not see Yeshua (Jesus) in His original Jewish context.

We truly believe God is calling the Bride of Christ back to the Jewish roots of
Christianity. Proverbs 25:2 says: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

So come and join us as we search out and dig deep into God’s word concerning the Ancient Jewish Wedding.



Step One: Selection of the Bride

In John 15:16, Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”

In ancient Israel, brides were usually chosen by the father of the bridegroom. He would send His most trusted servant to search for a bride for his son.

We have not seen Yeshua (Jesus), but God’s servant, the Holy Spirit, has revealed Him to us: I Peter 1:8: Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.



Step Two: Price of the Bride

Brides in Bible times were purchased. The price was paid to the father of the bride,
both to compensate him for the loss of a worker and to show him how much the
bridegroom loved and valued the bride.

We, as the bride of Messiah, have also been purchased with a price. A very high price — the blood of Yeshua (Jesus). His very own blood shed upon a cross on Calvary’s hill was the price He paid for His bride.

1 Peter 1:18,19: "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from our aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

(Ephesians 1:13, 14)

1 Corinthians 7:23 says, "We were bought at a price, so do not become slaves of men."

We belong to Christ. He is our Bridegroom. We are His Bride. We are in this world but we are not of this world.

1 Corinthians 6: 19,20: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."

Step Three: Betrothal/Ketubah

The ancient Jewish marriage ceremony consisted of two main parts, beginning with the betrothal or engagement.

The betrothal is much like our engagement today, but with a much greater sense of
commitment. During the betrothal the couple is actually entering into a covenant.
Covenant in Bible times was serious, final, sealed in blood and legally binding. Once a couple entered into the covenant of betrothal, they were legally married in all aspects except for the physical consummation of the marriage.

At the betrothal ceremony, a marriage contract, or Ketubah, was presented to the father of the bride. The Ketubah consists of all the bridegroom’s promises to his bride. The bride cherishes her Ketubah.

We, too, have a Ketubah from our Bridegroom. Our marriage contract is God’s Word! Our Ketubah (God’s Word) shows us all we are entitled to as the Bride of Christ. All, not some, but all the promises in God’s Word, are for us. As the Bride of Christ, we are entitled to them — they are part of our Ketubah.

(Jeremiah 31:31-34)



Step Four: The Bride's Consent

Although a bride was selected for the bridegroom, she still had a choice.

In Genesis 24:57 and 58, Rebekah was asked, concerning Isaac: “Will you go with this man?”. She said, “I will go.” She gave her consent — her “I do.”

God is a gentlemen and He never forces anyone to say “I do” to His Son. When we say “I do” to Yeshua (Jesus), we must believe with our heart and confess with our lips.

Have you said your “I do’s” to Yeshua (Jesus)?:

Yes — I do confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Yes — I do believe that Jesus died for my sins.
Yes — I do believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that you,
God, raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand.
Yes — I do repent of my sins.
Yes — I give You my heart!
Yes — I do receive Your great love and the gift of eternal life.
I do! I do! Yes, I say Yes to Yeshua (Jesus). Amen.



Step Five: The Cup of the Covenant

After the term of the ketubah were accepted, a cup of wine was shared to seal the
marriage covenant. The second cup of wine would be shared many months later during the marriage ceremony. The cup that Yeshua (Jesus) took at His last Passover on earth was the cup of the new marriage covenant with His bride.

In Luke 22:20, Jesus said, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.”

In Matthew 26:29, Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

Jesus is speaking of the second cup that the Bride of Christ will share with Him one
glorious day at the second part of our marriage ceremony.



Step Six: Gifts for the Bride

Every bride enjoys gifts! And our God is a giver of every good and perfect gift.

The Betrothal included the giving of gifts by the bridegroom to his bride.

Many times a bridegroom gave a coin or other object of value to his betrothed bride. It would always be something special that would help her remember him while they were apart. This was because the real focus of the gift giving was to be on the giver and not on the gift.

Today we have the engagement ring. This is a symbol of love and commitment. When the bride-to-be looks at her ring, she is reminded of the one who gave her the gift.

God’s Holy Spirit is our spiritual engagement ring. He doesn't call attention to Himself but to the one who purchased us — Yeshua (Jesus).

Through Yeshua (Jesus), we, the bride, receive many gifts: Forgiveness, eternal life, fruit of the spirit, gifts of the spirit, and many more. What bride would say to her bridegroom who comes bearing gifts, “No, I can’t accept them.” Yet many of us do that to our Bridegroom, Yeshua (Jesus). Don’t miss out — decide today to accept all that your Bridegroom has for you.



Step Seven: Mikvah

Brides in ancient Israel, as well as brides in Israel today, experience a mikvah prior to her wedding. The word ‘mikvah’ means a pool of living water which was used for ritual purification. This immersion in water is part of their physical and spiritual preparation for the wedding ceremony. The mikvah represents a separation from the old life to a new life.

Mark 16:16 reads, “He who believes and is baptized (goes to the mikvah) will be saved; but he who does not believe, will be condemned.”

The Bride of Christ also goes to the living waters of the mikvah. When we, as believers in Yeshua (Jesus), are immersed in water, it is a separation from an old life to a new life. “Old things pass away, all things become new.”



Step Eight: Departure of the Groom

John 14:2: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Once the marriage covenant was sealed, the bridegroom left his bride to go to his
father’s house to prepare a wedding chamber. He would be gone for up to twelve
months.

In John 14:2-3, Jesus said “In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Our Bridegroom has gone to prepare a wedding chamber for His bride.

In Matthew 9:15, Jesus said, “Can the friends of the Bridegroom mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

While we wait for the return of our Bridegroom/King, we need to stay faithful, watchful and spiritually alert. This is the hour to pray and fast!

1 Peter 4:7 says, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore, be serious and watchful in your prayers."



Step Nine: The Consecrated Bride

The Jewish bride was set apart, consecrated, separated unto her bridegroom — the one who purchased her. So, while waiting for his return, she was to stay faithful. It was probably easy at first. But when his return was delayed, the temptation would be great. After a while, the bride may even start to question his return.

2 Peter 3:3,4 reads: "Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'”

We are His consecrated bride, awaiting His return. We cannot fall into temptation. We must be ready at all times for the return of our Bridegroom/King!



Step Ten: Return of the Bridegroom

Mark 13:32: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

Jewish bridegrooms usually came for their brides late at night, near the midnight hour. The sound of the shofar would break the silence of the night and there would be great shouting and dancing in the streets. We can see this in the parable of the ten virgins: “And at midnight, a cry was heard; Behold, go out to meet him.”

As a thief in the night, our Bridegroom will call us to arise and meet Him in the air. We will hear a shout and the sound of the shofar. It will happen quickly. We must be ready.

Matthew 24:27 says, "For as the lightning comes from the East and flashes to the West, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.



Step Eleven: The Huppah

The second half of the ancient Jewish wedding ceremony, or huppah, is also called the “hometaking.” The original meaning of the huppah was “room” or “covering.”

The huppah of ancient times was a special room built in the bridegroom’s father’s home. The room was eventually replaced by a bridal canopy. The huppah symbolized the new home to which the bridegroom would take his bride. The bride and bridegroom were escorted to the bridal chamber where they would be alone for seven days. The spiritual parallel to the huppah for the bride of Christ begins as we are lifted up off the earth to be taken to our heavenly wedding chamber where we will spend ‘one week’ (seven years), with our Bridegroom/King. While the Bride of Christ is in the Bridal Chamber with Yeshua (Jesus), the rest of the world will be in a time of great tribulation.

Isaiah 26:20-21 tells us of this time: "Come my people, enter our chambers and shut the door behind you, hide yourself as it were, for a little moment until the indignation is past. For behold the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity."

While the wrath of God is poured out on the earth, the bride of Christ will be hidden
away with her Bridegroom.



Step Twelve: The Final Step — The Marriage Supper

Following the seven days in the huppah or bridal chamber, the bride and bridegroom joined their guests for a joyous marriage feast. Playing of music and dancing was a regular part of the celebration.

Revelation 19:6-9: "And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 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!' And he said to me 'These are the true sayings of God.'"

Just like the ancient Jewish wedding, there will be shouts of joy and dancing (yes,
dancing) and how exciting it will be. The Bride will dance for joy with her
Bridegroom/King, Yeshua. (Jesus)

We will rule and reign with Him for 1,000 years during the millennium! For those of us who look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb, we must go out to the highways and byways and extend an invitation to others to come.

Revelation 2:17: "And the spirit and the bride say Come! And let him who hears say, Come! And let him who thirsts, Come; and whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."

Revelation 22:20: "'Surely I am coming quickly.' Even so, Come Lord Jesus, Come!"

BEHOLD, HE COMES!

http://www.opendoorministrieswv.org/ancientjewishwedding.html

1 Timothy 3

Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons

3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus

Focus of ministry
Ministry is ultimately about saving souls

(Luke 4:18 NIV) "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,

This was how Jesus summarized His ministry. It is about saving souls. Our ministry focus should be no different from our Lord Jesus.

(1 Tim 2:3-4 NIV) This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Ministry is servanthood

(Phil 2:5-7 NIV) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

(Mat 20:25-28 NIV) Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The Bible describes even the ministry of Jesus – the Son of God – as servant hood. How much more when we do ministry, we seek to serve those we minister. When we serve as ushers, Sunday school teachers, do we do it with the attitude that we are doing them a favour or do we do it with the attitude that we are there to serve them? Different attitude will produce different results.

Ministry is for the needy

It is natural to want to minister to those who are normal. We want to have a healthy church and not one where many people are in need of physical or emotional healing.

We are happy to serve if those “weird” people do not crop up. But this is not what ministry is all about. It is about ministering to those who are in need.

(Mat 9:11-13 NIV) When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Jesus’ time on earth was not spent mainly on those who are “healthy” but on those who are “sick”. Likewise we should not think of ministering to the needy as disruptions to our ministry. We should think of it AS our ministry.

Sow into the ministry of others

(Phile 1:10-13 NIV) I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him--who is my very heart--back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel.

Even though Onesimus was helpful to Paul in his ministry, he decided to send him to his other brothers so that their ministry can be impacted.

Ministry is not about selfishly guarding our interest. It should be with the mindfulness that we all serve the same God. We should be willing to help others in their ministry by providing our own resources.

Even in the Old Testament days, the Jews are admonished to help their brothers in taking possession of the land that God had given them.

(Josh 1:14-15 NIV) Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the

What is your natural evangelism style?
Different people have different natural evangelism styles

People are sometimes afraid to evangelize because they associate evangelism with door-to-door knocking and talking to complete strangers about Jesus. But this is not all evangelism is about. There are many different ways to evangelize and different people do well with different styles.

What we will study here is how different Biblical characters have different styles of evangelism based on their character. We may identify a style that suits us and stop trying to force ourselves to do something that is not natural.

When evangelism becomes natural, we will start to enjoy it and do more of it. On the other hand, if we try to do something that is not natural for us, the experience may be so traumatic that we conclude evangelism is not for us and we stop doing it altogether.

God, who created us, also knows our style. As we will see later, God called different ones to fulfill different tasks, depending on their style. Many will agree that they tend to meet people that are particularly suited for them to minister to. For example, someone who is the intellectual type meets many people who need that kind of reasoned approach. A person who is good with the Practical Approach often encounters people with needs that he can minister to.

This study is not intended to segregate Christians strictly into several groups. In reality, to reach people for Christ, we will often have to use several approaches. Yet we will find ourselves having one dominant style that suits us and is effective for us. It is fair to say we should concentrate more time and energy on the evangelism style that suits us best.

What are the different evangelism styles?

Confrontational

Peter comes to mind as someone with a confrontational style. When Jesus asked His disciples in Matthew 16:15 who they taught He was, Peter did not mince words. He declared clearly that he thought Jesus was the Messiah. Then a few verses later, he challenged Jesus’ stated mission head on.

(Mat 16:13-22 NIV) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" {14} They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." {15} "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" {16} Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." ….{21} From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. {22} Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

Peter is the kind of person that dares to confront. When he has something to say, he says it directly.

Another clue to Peter’s confrontational style can be detected when he cut off the ear of one of the man who wanted to arrest Jesus.

(John 18:3-10 NIV) So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. ….{10} Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear.

Because of his confrontational style, God placed him in positions that require directness and boldness. On the day of Pentecost, it was Peter who became the spokesman for a group of believers (Acts 2). And he did it right in Jerusalem where Jesus had only been crucified weeks ago.

A person with a confrontational style has no problem doing door-to-door evangelism. He has no difficulty confronting strangers and speaking directly about difficult topics such as religion.

This style is not only applicable when done with strangers; a person with a confrontational style can also confront their friends with ease about spiritual and personal things.

Intellectual

Paul is someone with an intellectual style. The hallmark of his approach was a logical and reasoned presentation of the gospel.

(Acts 17:2-4 NIV) As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, {3} explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, " he said. {4} Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.

Paul tells us to be ready at all times to defend the gospel. That means that to be fully equipped, we should be able to defend the gospel against attacks of science, other religions, philosophy, etc.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

When God wanted to send someone to the highly educated philosophers in Athens, He chose Paul (Acts 17). There Paul presented an ingenious argument starting from the Athenian idol to an unknown god and moving eventually to the one true God and His Son Jesus who came to die for us. His approach was so effective that some of his listeners became believers.

(Acts 17:22-34 NIV) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. {23} For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. {24} "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. ..{31} For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." {32} When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." {33} At that, Paul left the Council. {34} A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

If you belong to this style, you have a responsibility to build yourself up in the word and in knowledge and God will use you to touch the lives of people who are genuinely seeking God and who needs to have the truth set them free (Rom 8:32).

Invitational

After Jesus called the tax collect Matthew to become one of His followers, Matthew (also known as Levi) invited many of his friends to his house to hear Jesus. This is the invitational style.

(Luke 5:27-29 NIV) After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, {28} and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. {29} Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.

Matthew relied on the friendship he has built with people as the basis to invite them to events that will expose them to Jesus. We use this approach when we invite our friends to events such as evangelistic rally, Christmas events, etc.

The other person in the Bible who used this approach was the Samaritan woman. After she has found the Messiah, she went out and invited her village people to come to hear Jesus.

(John 4:28-30 NIV) Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, {29} "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" {30} They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Friendship is important if we are to talk to people about spiritual things or even invite them for spiritual events. People who are good in this style have an interpersonal approach that allows them to build intimate relationships.

When we use the invitational approach, it will be negative if we only call people when we want to invite them to an event. Very soon, people can sense the superficiality of our friendship. We need to build genuine relationships with them. One practical tool that we can use is a booklet to write down who are the people we want to minister to and have a schedule to do friendship events with them, like calling them, meeting them, sending them a card, etc.

Many people will turn down an invitation to a Christian event if they are invited by strangers. But these same people will go if they are invited by friends. We can use friendship as an asset to win people.

Testimonial

An example of someone who used this approach is the blind man that Jesus healed in John chapter 9.

(John 9:15-25 NIV) Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, "and I washed, and now I see." {16} Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others asked, "How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?" So they were divided. …{25} He (i.e. the blind man) replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

If God had done something miraculous in your life, you can use the testimonial approach very effectively. It may not be a physical healing. It may be an inner transformation that makes you a different person today.

Some people think that they cannot be effective witnesses for God because they don’t know the Bible well and can only share their testimonies. These people should think again.

Jesus even turned down the request of a man (who had been delivered of demon-possession) to become His follower simply because He knew that this man can become an even more effective witness by sharing his testimony.

(Mark 5:18-20 NIV) As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. {19} Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

There are many people who will not respond well to a challenge or an argument but will be touched when they hear of how God is working in your life.

A person who used this approach effectively is Joni Erickson Tada, a quadriplegic woman whose account of how God helped her through her tragic accident points people towards Jesus.

Practical

Acts 9:36­39 (NIV) In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died.... All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

(Acts 2:44-47 NIV) All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Docas and the early believers practice the Practical Approach to evangelism. No doubt this method was effective as many people were touched and saved because of their kind acts.

This is also the method advocated by people such as Ed Silvoso in his book “That none should perish”

The Institute of American Church Growth polled more than 14,000 Christians and asked them, "What or who was responsible for you coming to Christ?" Ninety percent of the respondants stated that a friend or a relative who cared for them and invested time in them was the primary factor in their decision to accept Christ as their Savior.

Even people who are resistant to the gospel will drop their hostility if Christians are kind to them. The early Christians gained favor among the people through kind acts and unselfish sharing.

God can use our resources to help other people and thereby show kindness. What do you have that can help your friend in need? Maybe you can provide a listening ear or even financial help to someone who has lost a job.

When we help someone during their time of need, we earn their respect and trust. That means that when we share the gospel with them in the future, it is more likely that they will listen to us because we have earned the right to be heard. It does not mean that they will definitely believe. But they will probably hear us out seriously while others who have not ministered to them may not have that opportunity to be heard.

For a more detailed study on this subject, read Becoming a contagious Christian by Bill Hybels.

Understanding Bible Symbols

The human relationship of husband and wife is as close to a relationship with God as you can get. The only relationship that is closer is the one that you can have with God directly through Jesus Christ the Bridegroom. In a marriage you have a man and a woman that both enter into a lifelong bond of faith. They make a solemn vow before God that they will honor the union until death. They do this to form a family with which to raise children. When we look at a human marriage we should understand the symbolic nature of the union.

The marriage symbolically represents the union of a spirit being (God) and a human being. The man represents God and the woman represents humanity. In the Bible whenever you see a male image it always represents a spirit being, such as God the Father, Jesus, the angels, and even Satan who is an angel also. If you see a female image then it is representing a human entity. I am talking about images here, and not individual people. It should be understood that God is not actually a male, and human men are not more like God than women are.

The point of this symbolism is not to make men think that they are better or higher than women, but rather so that we can learn our duties, and obey them, so that we can through our relationships learn more about God and his relationship with us. If a man marries a woman then he must give up his life and live for his wife, and she must do the same for her husband. When the couple has a child or children then their responsibilities include the children as well. Relationships are about responsibilities. The responsibilities that are incurred are lifelong.

As a man lives for the benefit of his family he can better understand God’s role toward us, and the same is true for the woman. Being faithful in your duties is to be faithful toward God and to learn about God’s faithfulness toward us.

God has laid out instructions concerning men in marriage and women in marriage so that though our obedience to God’s instructions we can learn things about faithfulness which then relates to our relationship with God. Everything in the Bible works exactly like this. When we obey what God tells us to do, then we learn some things about God. If we do not obey then we do not learn.

The union of a man and a woman in marriage is more than anything else a union of faith, or a faith-union. Two people profess before witnesses that they will be one until death separates them. This is a solemn promise and this promise must not be violated. In fact no solemn promise can ever be broken without consequences. It is a vow made before God. Because this promise is made before God it is therefore a holy promise and the breaking of it will always carry heavy consequences. I see people breaking their holy vows all the time and then I see them complaining about the unfair God.

Now, understand that never marring is total abstinence, and not living with a person of the opposite sex outside of marriage. Biblically if you have sex with any person you have formed a marriage-like union with them. You have become one person with whom you have had sexual intercourse. Biblically, sexual intercourse is what consummates a marriage.

A person that engages in sexual relations with persons not their wife or husband is called a fornicator and falls into the same category as murderers and such. My friend, you are called to be holy. God as permitted you to marry, if you want, but you must be faithful to the one that you marry. Faith is everything. I say this again, faith is everything. Now, we are all human and we have all made big mistakes.

If you have done things in the past that have damaged your faith-union then repent of those things and do what you can to mend things. Always change your ways so as to make the faith-bond surer. Always change things to be a better wife or husband. As you improve in your interpersonal relationships you will grow closer to God. We are far from perfect, but we march on toward perfection. When a man and a woman get married they stand in the presence of God and make a solemn vow— a confession of faith.

Human children are symbolic of God’s children, and they are actually God’s children that have been entrusted into our care. That should raise a red flag as to the importance of how you care for them. They are God’s children, yes, but they are also children in a fallen state and must be taught to be holy and just and everything else that God wants them to grow up to be. This is an awesome responsibility. However, leading your children to God is exactly that— leading.

It is foolish to put a higher standard of obedience on your children than on yourself. If you yourself are living in a faithful relationship with God then you will lead your children along with you. All leadership works this way. The leader must lead. The leader must show the way. The leader must be the example. One raises children up to their level, so to say. When you are being a faithful steward to your children, God will be with you, and will raise you up to his level. Always, and in every way, you must be the one that does the right thing. You should never expect others to change. You change. If you change in the right ways, then God will be with you and the others will follow you. If the others choose not to follow you, then their sin is on their own head. You must do the right thing. I am talking about very subtle things here. What I am trying to say regarding children is that they are an awesome responsibility and also an awesome gift to you.

They will give you many opportunities to grow in your obedience to God. When a person marries, their spouse becomes more important than themselves. When a couple has children, the children are more important than the parents. But that doesn’t mean that you give the children everything that they may want: no, as in everything, this is far more subtle than that. Sometimes you must scold and rebuke, but also sometimes you must praise and embrace. Every child is different and every parent is different and every parent has a different spouse and in all of this you must do your faithful best. As you do your faithful best, God will cause you to grow in your knowledge and understanding of him. But that doesn’t mean that you must marry and have children to grow in this knowledge and understanding because God has many other ways to teach you these things. If you choose the married life then you must be obedient to it.

When Adam and Eve lived with God in the Garden before the fall they had the Spirit of God living with them, inside of them. We can say that they were born of God. Remember the Scripture that says that God created them in his image and in his likeness. God is a spirit being and so were they. They had a living relationship with the Almighty, but then they sinned and the connection with God was broken. This is the meaning of the fact that they died then and there, in the Garden, after they sinned. Inside they were dead, and cut off from a living relationship with the Almighty.

But then God told them what the result of their betrayal would be, and he then promised them that if they remained faithful, that he would send them a savior who would crush the head of Satan, and that they would be restored to a living state. This is why Adam at that time named his wife Eve, for she would be the mother of all of the living, spiritual living and not just animal physical life. When Jesus died for us on the cross he defeated the Devil, and took from him the keys of death and made it possible for people to be alive again-inside, that is, he made it possible for people’s spirit person within to be connectable to God the Holy Spirit from Heaven. This is incredibly important stuff here. To say that this is important is like saying that the sun is big and hot. The importance of the born-again union is truly beyond words.

John 17: 6-8 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. (NIV84)

Look at what Jesus is saying here. Jesus came and did and said many things and the disciples who did not really understand the meaning of most of what he did and said nonetheless fully believed that God had sent Jesus to the earth to do and say them. The disciples believed that even though they did not fully understand the meaning of what Jesus did and said they nonetheless fully believed that each and every thing that Jesus said and did came directly from God. And because they believe in this way Jesus promised to send them the Teacher that would come and live within them.

I know that my words are kind of going in circles here, but please bear with me and try to unwind them. Being in a faith relationship with God Almighty through Jesus Christ does not depend upon our understanding what Jesus said and did exactly. It depends upon our believing in who and what Jesus is. If we believe that God sent Jesus to say and do what he did then we can receive his words and actions as having come from God. We can only do this if we accept the Bible in the same light as Jesus Christ himself. Then when we read the Bible we are receiving the very words of God. Our faith in this brings about an earth-shattering change in ourselves whereby we become actually reconnected to God by faith.

This reconnection is called being born-again. The spirit within us, that became dead when Adam and Eve broke the faith-bond with God, becomes alive again by virtue of its reconnected state. It is like our cut-off spirit got grafted back into God. The spirit within us, that was dead because of its disconnected state, is reanimated because of its being reconnected to the Sustainer. That which was dead has been reborn, or born-again. Wow and double wow.

John 17: 9, 20-26 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (NIV84)

Jesus not only was praying for his apostles, but he was praying for all of those that would believe in him through the apostles’ words, that is, for you and for I also. Jesus is saying that for those that believe in him he would come and live inside of us just as the Father lived inside of him. Wow, what a prayer and what an opportunity. When we believe that God was in Jesus and that Jesus’ words carry the authority of God Almighty, and we receive them as such, then a transformation occurs within us. That which was once separated from God, that is to say, dead, becomes a place that God can come inside of to live, and that place is therefore no longer dead, but alive again, thus born-again. Again, that is the meaning of being born-again.

Heaney, Mark (2011-06-22). Understanding Bible Symbols