When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:14-20)
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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.” (John 14:1-4)
“He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:28-32) “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mark 10: 8)
When Jesus shared His last intimate moments over a Passover seder meal in the upper room with His beloved disciples, He did something very symbolic–apart from washing their feet. He spoke to them in some very intimate and familiar terms which they all would have instantly recognized, for He re-enacted the traditional Jewish betrothal [“kiddushin”] ceremony, reinforcing His role as the Bridegroom to His Church by invoking the timeless word script (bolded above) spoken by Hebrew bridegrooms for centuries, so that it would forever be “married” to the sacrament of communion He was establishing.
Lord, may these words this stander shares this day be only the words sent by the Holy Spirit, and may they powerfully encourage all other covenant standers on this Valentines Day. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
I was in the early months of a project assignment in London when I found out that instead of arranging his work so that he could join me there, my husband had become involved with someone who coveted my God-given helpmate assignment. She coveted my assignment instead of the one assigned to her, which I later found out she had forsaken and abandoned some 20 years earlier. The bad news of my beloved’s betrayal arrived in a credit card statement and was later confirmed by the further investigation of our adult children.
I was blessed to be in fellowship while in the UK in a small nondenominational country village church, a collection really, of a few very warm, large families who loved the Lord. One day in my pew in that quaint little rock church, I was preparing to receive communion. As the Scottish pastor richly spoke the words of Jesus from Luke 22 over the bread and the wine, the Holy Spirit strongly impressed on me on that day nine years ago, that the communion elements corresponded perfectly to the permanent one-flesh relationship with my husband (bread) and to our indissoluable marriage covenant (wine) of which Jesus was a party. Not only that, but because of our one-flesh relationship, I would be taking communion for the benefit of my life partner who was now running from his once-close walk with God. I would be doing so until my beloved was back in fellowship with his King and could resume doing so for himself. This was now my second stand for what was at that time a 31-year marriage. During my first stand, 25 years earlier, the Lord did not speak this to me, because my beloved had not yet come to faith in Jesus. We are told not to eat the bread or drink of the cup unworthily, but to do so only in self-examination and remembrance of the Bridegroom (1 Cor. 12:27).
Most covenant standers, we who know that the Living God permanently and uniquely inhabits our pure union with the husband or wife of our youth, we know that the Jewish custom around betrothal [“kiddushin”] is far different from our western tradition. We know that Mary, mother of Jesus, was legally Joseph’s wife as a result of becoming engaged to him, though they had not yet come together. Few of us know the rich details that go into the Jewish ritual of covenant engagement, so we cannot fully appreciate the deeply significant and comforting ceremonial words that Jesus spoke in the upper room before He said, “this do in remembrance of Me”.
At the Jewish betrothal ceremony, which usually took place over a meal in the bride’s home, a marriage contract [“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. ( A loving sister-in-law once decoupaged our wedding invitation onto a plaque that was given to us at our wedding, which has hung on the wall of every new home of ours for forty years.) We in the Church, too, have a Ketubah from our Bridegroom. 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.
At this ceremony the bride was given an opportunity to accept or reject the proposal. If she accepted, she usually remained silent Rebekah, however, chose in faith to verbalize her desire leave her home to go with Abraham’s servant be wed to Isaac, whom she had not yet seen or spoken with (Genesis 24:58). After the terms of the Ketubah were accepted, a cup of wine was shared to seal the marriage covenant. 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.”
The bridegroom would speak the ceremonial words sealing the covenant before the family witnesses, “I go to my father’s house to prepare a place for you. I will not drink of this cup again until I drink it new with you in my father’s house”. The cup that 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.” The second cup of wine would be partaken many months, perhaps a year or more later at the wedding supper.
Once the marriage covenant was sealed, the bridegroom left his bride to return to his father’s house where he would spend a year or so preparing the living quarters for his bride before returning for her. It was actually up to the father to decree when the quarters were acceptably complete and the bridegroom could go after his bride to bring her back for the wedding supper and consummation of the marriage. When Jesus said that only His Father knew the day and the hour He was to return for us, He was also likening that day to the wedding day to come. The bride, therefore, knew with certainty that her groom would be returning for her, but did not know when, so she waited in faith and in preparedness.
We all know what a powerful spiritual weapon we have in the shed blood of Jesus!
Nothing is more important than family restoration, because in it is tied up our loved ones’ very souls. In the same way that regular ministry can’t take precedence over our families and its generations, standers ministry is no exception. But, in Hebrews we are sternly warned that a hardened heart that won’t repent will cause us to walk away from our salvation, and in some cases, run out of time and grace. We must never give up praying for that not to happen. It’s on my heart every time I’m taking communion – the Lord showed me years ago that as my beloved’s ONLY covenant one-flesh, I’m taking communion with and for him while he is spiritually unable to (the unbelieving/backslidden husband is sanctified by his believing wife)!
The one-flesh relationship is just as powerful as a spiritual weapon.
I also invoke this uniquely-appointed spiritual weapon against the spiritual ravager of my beloved’s soul whenever singing a praise chorus with “I” or “me” in the lyrics, but I sing “we [one flesh]” turning that chorus into a golden bowl of prayerful incense that rises to the throne of El Elyon (God Most High), and reminding all the spiritual host of God’s indissoluable covenant with my beloved and me, as I’ve done since way back in my first stand for marriage restoration:
“Draw [us] close to You [as one flesh], never let [us] go. [We] lay it all down again, to hear You say that [we’re] Your friend. This is [our] desire. No one else will do. ‘Cause nothing else can take Your place, to feel the warmth of Your embrace. Help [us] find a way to bring [us] back to You [as one flesh]. You’re all [we] want. You’re all [we’ve] ever needed. You’re all [we] want. Help [us] know You are near. “
“Take [us] by the outer court, and through the holy place Past the brazen altar, Lord [we] long to see Your face Pass [us] by the crowds of people and priest who sing Your praise. Lord, [we] hunger and thirst for Your righteousness, and it’s only found in one place…. Take [us] into the Holy of Holies, take [us] in by the Blood of the Lamb [as one-flesh]. Take [us] into the Holy of Holies, take a coal, cleanse [our] lips, here [we are]. “
In that one act of worship, a stander is wielding at least three spiritual weapons: praise of God, the sword of the spirit, the blood of the lamb, and invoking the unique one-flesh relationship that sanctifies the prodigal spouse, according to God’s word. This provision for sanctification by the indissoluable one-flesh relationship is not just for estranged spouses, but also for those intact homes where a beloved spouse is estranged from Christ because he or she has not ever come to saving faith.
Could this be why Satan’s deception is so strong over the apostate church which teaches in direct contradiction of God’s word, that divorce and remarriage (legalized and church-blessed adultery) is justified due to being “unequally yoked” ? “But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:12-14)
Just as covenant marriage perfectly represents the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit / Christ, Husband, Wife), holy communion perfectly represents covenant marriage. When Jesus took the cup and began to speak, He deliberately chose to use the Hebrew ceremonial words for the betrothal ceremony in Luke 22:15-20. The covenant and the one-flesh relationship. The marriage supper of the Lamb. I’m urging that covenant standers should never skip communion, and should never take it without a strong consciousness of the spouse of your youth, otherwise you are missing a potent and uniquely-appointed spiritual counter-attack, one that you are the only person on the face of the earth who can perform. Grasping this truth alone would separate counterfeit , adulterous stands from authentic ones, and save a lot of “quitter’s anguish”.
This revelation by the Holy Spirit instilled in me a righteous indignation at all forms of desecration of God’s definition of marriage, both the front and back ends of Matt. 19:4-6, and it called me to a purpose to invest my gifts in restoring His kingdom to this holy realm. I have captured only a few elements of the rich custom that our Lord walked out as a metaphor establishing Himself as the one who prepares a place for us, and is coming for us. This link will be helpful to standers who would like to go deeper in their understanding.
This stander is going to mark Valentine’s Day 2015 with a private communion ceremony. Satan possibly has plans for my one-flesh to attempt to legalize his adultery that day with a hollow counterfeit, someone else’s covenant wife, in a civil contract that will forever lack this powerful covenant blessing with the presence of El Kanna (our Jealous God).
Father God, in the Garden You said to our spiritual enemy: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head, and you will strike his feet.” We thank and praise You, Lord, that it’s not the other way around! When You formed the covenant helpmate out of the rib of her husband, You were already putting in place the divine provision for this, and when You declared over them “no longer two but one flesh, let no man put asunder”, You were sealing them in a spiritual weapon far greater than any carnal weapon the evil one could form against the holy covenant that stands sealed in Your shed blood. Thank You that You are not a man that You should lie, nor a son of man that You should change your mind, but that which You promise, You, by character, are flawlessly faithful to fulfill. May this word comfort the hearts of those who are permanently faithful to their covenant with the One who is faithful and true! In Jesus’ name, amen.
(Scriptures in prayer: Genesis 3:15, Genesis 2:21-23, Matthew 19:5-6, Isaiah 54:17, Luke 22:20, Numbers 23:19, Revelation 19:11)
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