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From: Dean and Susan Wheelock
To:      heb_roots_chr@hebroots.org
Subject: The Bride of Messiah and Jewish wedding customs

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            The Bride of Messiah and Jewish wedding customs
                                     (Part 2 of 2)


      Yeshua HaMashiach, our Beloved Husband, walked faithfully and
completely perfect in all the commandments,
statutes and judgments of the Torah. He was fully righteous in God's
sight. Thus, every time we succeed in `keeping the law' we too are
righteous in God's sight and are walking just as He walked. Once
again, this is not the same as performing man s righteousness, since
what we are speaking of here is the very instruction of God, or God's
righteousness as practiced by His people.

     In our own flesh we cannot maintain this level of righteousness
day in and day out for an entire lifetime. However,
this fact should not deter us from making every effort to live
righteous lives, for as we practice righteousness we become more
proficient and therefore more righteous. Thus, righteous acts build
upon righteous acts to become a way of life; a `righteous lifestyle.'

     Shaul's epistle to Titus expressly instructs the Believers to
live, good, honorable and righteous lives. In other
words, to live according to the instruction book of God.

          "For the grace of God that brings salvation has
         appeared to all men, teaching us
          that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
          soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age ..."
          (Titus 2:11-12)

          The Bride must be clothed in "...the righteous acts of
           the saints."
          (Rev. 19:8b)

                                     ~ What Happens ~
                                     ~ When We Sin? ~

     But what happens when the Bride (or a member of the Bride) sins?
According to Scripture a lifetime of righteousness can be wiped out
in a single act of unrighteousness.

     A rather extensive passage in the book of Ezekiel clearly lays
out the grave problem which each human being faces when he or she
acts in an unrighteous manner. This passage follows, quoted in it's
entirety:

    "`Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of
      Israel: "Thus you say, `If  our transgressions and our sins lie
      upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live.'"
      "`Say to them: "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "I have
      no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked
      turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For
      why should you die, O house of Israel?"

      "`Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of
       your people: "The righteousness of the righteous man
       shall not deliver him in the day of his
       transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall
       not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his
       wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because
       of his righteousness in the day that he sins."

       "`When I say to the righteous that he shall surely
         live, but he trusts in his own
          righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous
          works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that
          he has committed, he shall die.

         "`Again, when I say to the wicked, "You shall surely
          die," if he turns from his
          sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked
          restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and
          walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity,
          he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins
          which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he
          has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.

         "`Yet the children of your people say, "The way of the
          LORD is not fair." But it
          is their way which is not fair! When the righteous turns
          from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die
          because of it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness
          and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of
          it.

         "`Yet you say, "The way of the LORD is not fair." O
          house of Israel, I will
          judge every one of you according to his own ways.'"
          (Ezek. 33:10-20)

     According to this passage one act of sin, one act of
rebelliousness, one wrong motive, can blow an entire lifetime of
righteousness. On the other hand, a lifetime of sinfulness and
wretchedness can be obliterated by true, heartfelt repentance and by
turning from that life of sin to a life of living according to the
instruction book of God; in other words, turning to a life of
righteousness. Obviously, those who are already practicing
righteousness do not need to repent for their righteous acts.

       "`Those who are well have no need of a physician, but
         those who are sick. But
          go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy and not
          sacrifice." For I did not come to call the righteous, but
          sinners, to repentance.'" (Matt. 9:12b-13)

     This does not mean that Yeshua does not call people who are
already practicing righteousness into the Bride. What
it does mean is that He also has a way in which sinners can become
righteous.

                                    ~ A Crucial Question ~

     Is it really possible that a lifetime of sin can be wiped away
     and forgotten completely by God? Certainly if it were left to the
     `righteousness' of men (the `filthy rags') it could never be so.

     For men do rarely forgive, and certainly do not forget. If it
were left to men, the sinner (by their definition) would be made to
pay every last penny he ever earned and then still have to give up
his life in additional payment. Even after all of this had been done,
people would still remember his sins and relish talking of them after
he was gone.

     But the ways of God are far greater than the ways of man and we
can rejoice, for God has a plan; He has called,
and is yet calling, a body of people to be a righteous Bride for His
Son, Yeshua HaMashiach.

                               ~ God's Plan for Righteousness ~

     What a marvelous plan. God the Father sent this same Son (His
only begotten Son) to earth to negotiate a
Ketuvah (wedding covenant or contract) for His Bride. The Bride price
that was named in the Ketuvah of Messiah was that He would take upon
Himself all the unrighteousness (sins) of the Bride and die because of
them, thereby removing those sins from her, thus making her righteous
before God and a fitting mate for Himself. All of those sins, which
had previously cut the Bride off from being worthy to be Yeshua's
wife, are removed. Now there is really only one thing that the Bride
has to do in order to be brought into the betrothal state with Yeshua.
That is to display the single most important character trait exhibited
by her great forefather Avraham (Ahv-rah-hahm = Abraham), the trait of
FAITH!

        "Just as Abraham `believed God, and it was accounted to
          him for righteousness,' Therefore know that only those who are of
          faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing
          that - God would justify the nations by faith, preached the
          gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, `In you all the
          nations shall be blessed.' So then those who are of faith
          are blessed with believing Abraham." (Gal. 3:6-9)

     Once we transgress one of the instructions (laws) of God, that
instruction remains broken. It cannot be repaired by
any act we do, no matter how good or righteous that act may be. Once
we have committed idolatry it is a done deal. No amount of true,
spiritual worship can undo the idolatrous act which has been
committed. Only the sacrificial blood of Messiah, Yeshua can remove
that stain from our record through the forgiveness of sins.

        "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that
          through this Man is preached
          to you the forgiveness of sins and by Him everyone who
          believes is justified from all things from which you could
          not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)

     The law of Moses (Torah) did provide a method for the covering of
sins. This was accomplished through the blood
of bulls and goats. However, those sacrificial elements, while
efficacious when performed as proscribed with a contrite heart, had to
be continually repeated. Neither could one gain eternal life in
spiritual form through the animal sacrifices, for those who practiced
them are all dead (asleep) in their graves. These sacrifices were
merely a type and shadow of the perfect sacrifice that was yet to
come, that of Yeshua HaMashiach, the author and finisher of our Faith.

         "And having been perfected, He became the author of
          eternal salvation to all
          who obey Him, called by God as High Priest `according to the
          order of Melchizedek.'" (Heb. 5:9-10)

          No longer must we look to a temporary salvation, now we have a
          permanent one.

                                  ~ Faith and Good Works: ~
                                    ~ The Perfect Man ~

     So, dear brethren, we are saved from our transgressions (sins) by
     one method and one method only:

        "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and
         that not of yourselves; it
          is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
          For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
          works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in
          them." (Eph. 2:8-10)

     This same scripture, that so profoundly teaches that we are saved
by grace and grace only, also teaches that we are
to be performing good works as well, and even gives us the definition
of those good works: "...good works, which God prepared beforehand
that we should walk in them."

     What good works were "prepared beforehand?" Why none other than
those written in the Torah, the Instruction
Book of God, for it is within the Torah that we learn what the "good
works of God" truly are, So, once again we are brought back to the
Torah as being the foundation upon which we are to conduct our lives,
not as a method of salvation but as a guidebook on how the Bride is to
conduct her life while she waits for her Husband. Yes indeed, Yeshua
HaMashiach is the true foundation stone, the Rock on which we are to
base our Faith, and it is only by His shed blood that we are saved.
But He expects us to go on and perform good works, and in order to
fully understand what those `good works' are, we must study, learn and
apply the instructions found in the Torah.

     Yes Brethren, we must strive to become perfect men and women.
Doing so does not earn us one nickel's worth of
salvation, but it is a commission that each of us has been given as a
member in the Bride of Messiah, the Body of Christ. Each time we
perform one of the instructions of God, as found in the Torah, we are
adding one more stitch to the beautiful gown that is being prepared
for the Bride's wedding. Each time we transgress against the
instructions of God, we are removing a righteous stitch from that
gown. Therefore, we are to strive to become perfect, speaking the
truth in love.

        "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some
         prophets, some evangelists,
          and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the
          saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the
          body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith
          and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to
          the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that
          we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and
          carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery
          of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait
          to deceive, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in
          all things into Him who is the head--Christ--from whom the
          whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint
          supplies, according to the effective working by which every
          part does its share, causes growth of the body for the
          edifying of itself in love." (Eph. 4:11-16)

     We are to be `Perfect and Complete Men and Women' through the
     practice of perfection:

        "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
         greets you, always laboring
          fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and
          complete in all the will of God." (Col. 4:12)

     We are to strive to make our faith perfect by doing good works:

     "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith
      without works is dead? "Was not Abraham our father
      justified by works when he offered Isaac his son
      on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together
      with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
      "And the scripture was fulfilled which says, `Abraham
       believed God, and it was
       accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the
       friend of God.

       "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not
        by faith only. ... For as
        the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works
        is dead also." (James 2:20-24,26)

                                        ~ Summary ~

     Let us review the `problem' which the Tanakh (Tah-nahkh = Old
Testament) presents for those who would look to
it as a source for salvation:

     Keeping the instructions of God grants blessings in this life but
     does not gain a person eternal life.

     The blood of bulls and goats covers sins, but only until the next
     time one sins.

     Committing even one sin for which repentance has not been made
     and/or is not covered by sacrifice requires the death penalty.

     As you can see, there is no permanent redemption possible in this
order of things, only temporary relief from sin.
However, the Messiah Yeshua has taken care of the problem, by shedding
His blood and dying in our place:

      "`For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is
        shed for many for the remission of sins.'"
          (Matt. 26:28)

        Therefore: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and
        just to forgive us our sins
        and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
         (1 John 1:9)

     The Bride of Messiah (the Church of the Living God, the Body of
Christ) is right now betrothed to this same
Yeshua HaMashiach who shed His blood so that our sins could be taken
away. The Bride is His legal wife in every sense of the word. However,
we (the Bride) do not yet dwell where Yeshua dwells, for we have not
yet come to the fullness of the wedding process. The culmination or
consummation lies yet before us.

     While we wait for Yeshua to return for us, we need to be
preparing our wedding gown of righteousness so that we
can be properly clothed for the great wedding that is to take place in
heaven. We make those preparations by learning righteousness and (even
more importantly) living righteous lives. The wedding dress will never
be completed through the arguing of doctrine or striving over
scripture, but only through righteous acts of loving concern for our
Brethren and our neighbors.

        "Remind them of these things, charging them before the
         Lord not to strive about
          words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent
          to present yourself approved to God, a Worker who does not
          need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But
          shun profane and vain babblings, for they will in-crease to
          more ungodliness, and their message will spread like
          cancer." (II Tim. 2:14-17a)

         "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if
          you have love for one another."
          (John 13:35)

     We desperately need to be fervently working on our wedding dress,
adding righteous stitches to it each and every
day, as long as we still have the breath of life within us. Let us
resolve, through the power of the Holy Spirit of God which indwells
us, to do our very best to follow His Spirit into all righteousness so
that each of us can add beautiful stitches to our beautiful gown of
righteousness.

       "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus
        from the dead that
         great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the
         everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work
         to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His
         sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and
         ever. Amen." (Heb. 13:20-21)

                           End Part 2 of 2)


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