The Wine and The Covenant

An article from SVM Winter/Spring 2017

 

L. Wade Johnson

Contributer

In the ancient Hebrew wedding tradition, there are three things required when negotiating for a wife:

1.A large sum of money (or many expensive items) to pay the price for the bride.

2.A betrothal contract which contains the groom’s promises to the bride. This contract, or covenant spells out how he will care for his bride, where they will live, how he will provide for her and protect her and cherish her.

3.A skin of wine.

If the price is agreeable and the marriage agreement is acceptable by the Father the girl is called.  The bride is given the opportunity to accept or reject the groom and what he is offering her. It is important to understand that the bride has the prerogative to accept or reject the proposal even if her father agrees to it.

If she accepts the proposal the groom will pour a cup of wine and offer it to the bride. If the bride accepts the groom and the contract she will drink the wine the groom brought with him meaning she accepts the groom’s proposal and the marriage agreement and the consequences both good and not so good that come with a lifetime commitment to one person. Their shared cup of wine at a Jewish betrothal ceremony called Br’it (covenant) symbolizes the sealing of their marriage covenant in blood.

Note, a covenant is more than a contract between the bride and the groom. It is a vow, a solemn commitment made before God and witnesses. A covenant has spiritual and moral elements that make it more binding than just an agreement supported by the laws of the land. It is a committed promise supported by the integrity of one making the promise. They put their personal fidelity, good name, and values as a person and their fealty to God as collateral.

In the Hebrew wedding, there is a tradition the groom pays a price for his chosen bride. The price is usually quite high. The Messiah refers to the true followers of Messiah as His bride. Recall the price Yahshua paid for His bride was His own life, His own shed blood. We know that from the beginning of time the Savior was to die on the day of the Passover.

Remember now, the bride can reject the groom or she can accept the groom. God calls one into His family but those who are called may reject the offer. In effect, rejecting His blood sacrifice. Too many people today reject the groom, our redeemer, because they are not willing to live by the contract. Many do not know what is in the covenant but reject it anyway. Some accept the offer but reject HIS Covenant (commandments).

“If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

The night before His death Jesus (Yahshua) poured wine for His disciples. His words described the significance of the cup in representing the bride price for the marriage contract: The disciples drank of the cup, thus accepting the contract.

In Matthew 26:27-28 we read “Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

The groom, our savior and master, renewed His Covenant with Israel in his own blood, with His remnant bride—who would be taken from among the whole believing House of spiritual Israel.

Many who say they are Christians, while being very serious about taking communion (bread and wine), are not usually cognizant about the significance of the ceremony and of the time it should be taken. It is through the blood of Christ that sin is forgiven and a person is eligible for eternal life and protected from eternal death if we keep the covenant

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians (1:7).

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

The key here is “let a man examine himself”. God holds us accountable for what we know, and what we do with what we know (John 9:41; James 4:17). As we go through our Christian life, we learn more (John 16:13; 2 Peter 3:18). But for now, we examine ourselves with what we know—confessing our sins then receiving forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:8-9). Then we should eat the bread and drink the cup.

But this examination is not automatic. We have to really do it. It is not a matter of pushing a “worthy” button.

Unworthily, to this author, means taking the vow and not intending to keep the requirements of the vow. The Savior was saying by drinking this cup you accept the covenant contract to be a faithful follower of Messiah, a bride who holds oneself only to the groom.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

The key here is “let a man examine himself”. God holds us accountable for what we know, and what we do with what we know (John 9:41; James 4:17). As we go through our Christian life, we learn more (John 16:13; 2 Peter 3:18). But for now, we examine ourselves with what we know—confessing our sins then receiving forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:8-9). Then we should eat the bread and drink the cup.

But this examination is not automatic. We have to really do it. It is not a matter of pushing a “worthy” button.

Unworthily, to this author, means taking the vow and not intending to keep the requirements of the vow. The Savior was saying by drinking this cup you accept the covenant contract to be a faithful follower of Messiah, a bride who holds oneself only to the groom.

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (1 Cor. 11:30).

Too many who think they were serious about taking communion do not realize they are agreeing to accept this contract and to live by it but they do not fully understand the meaning or the obligation they have undertaken.

If you are not willing to abide by the covenant do not take the wine!

Many sleep in that they do not possess sufficient oil in their lamps like the five foolish bride’s maids. They lack the Holy Spirit in their lives. They do not even realize it, and will not until it is too late.

 To sleep is to lack faith in His word to keep His part of the covenant. Regardless of the circumstances, we must remember that we made a commitment to be faithful to Him, to trust Him. We must allow Him to be faithful to us by exercising faith.

To lose faith, or not exercise faith in Him who made the covenant with you is to not trust Him to keep the promises He made in that covenant. He has agreed to be your provider and protector but if you do not believe that, you have violated the covenant you made with Him. He signed it and sealed it with His own blood.

Those who are not committed to the agreement, eat and drink damnation to themselves and will miss out on receiving the benefit of the agreement.

What is the benefit of the agreement?

 

 

Messiah is quoted in Luke 12:32 as saying; “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

The groom expects the bride to be faithful and abide by the contract. Once one accepts the covenant and agrees to be a worthy bride of Christ one must keep the covenant. He makes that clear in Luke 9:62 “And Yahshua said to him, no man having put his hand to the plough and, looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

“You shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right had or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32).

Do you understand the commitment that is being made when you accept the wine? Will you be faithful to the covenant you made with your Savior? Do you trust Him to take care of you, provide for you and protect you regardless of your circumstances?

When things look gloomy and the circumstances of life are threatening, remember, you accepted the covenant He made with you and He has agreed to keep His end of the contract/covenant. Do not lose faith. Sometimes His deliverance is not according to your time frame, but He will deliver you. He does not forget and, to those people who are faithful to the Covenant, He does not change His mind about their needs. Recall Malachi 3:6: “I AM, I change not.” Sometimes He delivers us and we do not realize it until later. We stop worrying, put it in His hands, and later find the problem has dissipated.

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