December 12 - Betrothal

Friday, December 12, 2008

December 12 - Betrothal in a Hebrew family - Isaiah 62:5

Several (many) years ago, a friend led us into a beautiful time of communion by sharing the comparisons between a Hebrew betrothal and the commitment that God has made with His people. I was in tears by the end of the presentation and asked for his notes. These are some of the things he shared with me.

Housing in Israel was a series of flat-topped stone homes, one built next to another, like a series of wasps nests. Families would live in clusters of homes. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters - all from the groom's side. There could be over 100 people living in the same area. An entire lifetime would be spent with the extended family.

The groom would build the home for his bride within this cluster of homes.

When Jesus said, in John 14:2-4 that he was going to prepare a place for us in His Father's house, He was speaking as a groom would speak to His betrothed. He says, "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." We are confident in His marriage proposal. He has promised to return for us to take us to the home that He is preparing.

The groom's father would choose the bride and would negotiate the price with the bride's father. A daughter was an asset and her father would need to be compensated. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, while speaking of the price of Christ's crucifixion is also a reminder of the relationship between Jesus and His bride. "You are not your own, you were bought at a price."

To seal the deal, the groom's father would pull out a flask of wine and pour a cup, then give this to his son. In Jewish culture, a cup of wine was a symbol of the lifeblood of man. Luke 22:20 says "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." The son would offer this to the bride, "by offering this cup, I promise that I am willing to give my life for you."

At that point the bride had two choices, she could choose to not accept the cup or if she drank from the cup, she was saying that she was also willing to give her life for him. They were then betrothed, and this betrothal could last for 9 months or as much as a year. She would wear a veil which showed her commitment.

The bridegroom would then say to her that he was returning to his father's home to prepare a place for you. He would go on by saying that he would return when he was finished to take her to be his wife.

The father of the bridegroom was the one who would declare that the home was ready. Only the father of the bridegroom knew what day and hour the room would be finished. He would be the one that declared the wedding day and the feast. (Matthew 24:36)

The bride had to keep herself ready. When the father of the bridegroom declared that it was finished, everyone would head to the bride's home. On the outskirts of town, the Shofar would be blown, the bridegroom would enter her home, pick her up and carry her to her new home.

John 3:29 says that the friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. The marriage has been consummated and the groom declares that they are married.

Joseph and Mary were hoping for the excitement of a traditional betrothal and wedding, but God had other plans for them. However, it is absolutely amazing how God translated His love for His children into a betrothal between His Son, Jesus and the bride.

Keep yourself ready! The bridegroom is coming back for us. This is the time of Advent. This is the time to prepare for His return.