Tag Archives: marriage

The “A-B-C’s” of God’s Law and Covenant

What is the Old Testament ‘Law’ (note the capital L) and what does it have to do with today’s New Testament Christian? To answer these questions, we must first understand where the Law came from.

Long ago, God formed a covenant with mankind through the nation of Israel with Abraham, reaffirmed through Moses. There was no formal Law before God revealed it to Moses in about 1445 BCE. The covenant God formed with Israel was to be as close and as binding as a marriage contract and the resulting relationship. This is why He called Israel His ‘wife’ and the Church is called the ‘bride of Christ’. The Law given to God’s bride through Moses and the prophets would serve to guide her in this relationship with God. It would also become an unachievable standard by which we realize our sinful and imperfect nature (i.e. Romans 5:20 and 7:7; Galatians 3:24).

Today, no one can truly be called ‘Christian’ unless they’ve entered into a similar covenant with God through our Christ. That marriage-like agreement and its “I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine” promise begins with a change of heart and corresponding behavior that moves our direction and actions toward God and His ways (repentance). We give ourselves to God and then reaffirm our commitment to Him and our Christ – the Savior of mankind as foretold by God through the prophets – whenever we drink from the Communion cup.

But . . . salvation from God’s wrath to come and eternal life with Him through a following of our Christ doesn’t nullify the Law as some suggest (see Paul’s response in Romans 3:31). Jesus fulfilled the Law by His coming, death, resurrection (i.e. Matthew 5:17-18), but it still serves a purpose and the words contained within it and the Torah (Old Testament) that houses it are very valid, even today. We may no longer be under the religious requirements of the Law (i.e. any of hundreds of rules from tithing to sacrifices), but that ancient guide can tell us a lot about how we’re to walk with God and treat our fellow man.

Want to know the mind of God – what He likes and what He hates? Interested in knowing where you came from, spiritually-speaking? Then study the Old Testament and the Law – the Scriptures referenced by the Apostle Paul (2Timothy 3:14-17)!

The old covenant between God and His bride, Israel, brought us the Law. God’s new covenant with the world through our Christ fulfilled the ancient Law and provides the Spirit to all who truly believe and follow. The perfect law is now written on the hearts/minds of followers through the Spirit (i.e. Romans 2:13-15; prophecy of Jeremiah in Chapter 31, etc.). And, we still have the ancient Law as it existed to instruct, guide, and provide a sanity check in our daily activities (i.e. Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8).

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

“Taking the Mystery out of Communion”

Communion is defined as sharing; intimate fellowship or rapport (Merriam-Webster).

What do Christians so intimately share and why? What you’ll discover is that our communion ritual has its beginnings in God’s covenant with Israel and the Passover celebration – something we’re certainly encouraged to participate in.

In fact, Jesus was celebrating the Passover Seder when He announced that His body would be broken and His blood shed for a new covenant with God. Jesus then encouraged His disciples to remember His coming sacrifice whenever they partook of the Passover elements – probably because of their fulfillment with His coming, death, resurrection, and salvation.

The Passover flat bread and lamb’s blood had significance then . . . and now. Let’s take a quick look at the communion components before discussing how they’ve been used to represent God’s actions and fulfillment of fulfillment of His words through the prophets:

  • The bread: from the Passover, and as our ‘bread of life’ – Jesus.
  • The wine: blood the Passover Lamb and Jesus shed for salvation.

Old Covenant/Passover fulfillment:

  • The bread – matzo – had no yeast and represented the urgent departure of the Israelites from Egypt. Its holes and stripes represent OT prophecies about the piercing and beatings our Christ would endure (Isaiah 53:3-5).
  • The wine represented the blood of the old covenant between God and Israel. Today, Jews celebrate the Passover with a Seder meal that includes matzo and four cups of wine: Sanctification, Deliverance, Redemption/Blessing (1Corinthians 10:16-17), and Hope – usually associated with the return of Elijah.

New Covenant fulfillment:

  • The bread represents the ‘bread of life’ (Jesus) broken for us to offer salvation from God’s judgment to the world (John 6:35-58). The matzo bread was broken and hidden in a specific manner during the Passover celebration. Jesus did this and made His comments about being broken for the forgiveness of sins while conducting the Seder. God asked Him to do this and He accepted the assignment: inhabit a human form, live a perfect life as a blemish-free sacrificial lamb, and then be sacrificed at the exact time the Passover lambs were to be sacrificed.
  • The wine represents the blood Jesus shed for salvation as our ‘Passover Lamb’ (Matthew 26:27-28; 1 Corinthians 5:7). It is the Seder Cup of Blessing and the covenant cup (like in a traditional Jewish wedding). One of the many prophecies and ‘dress rehearsals’ Jesus fulfilled (and is still fulfilling) was that of a traditional Jewish bridegroom. Let’s look at these things in greater detail.

Wedding – Covenant – fulfillment:

God called Israel His ‘bride’. We are called the ‘Bride of Christ’ because He and we have been fulfilling the marriage covenant since Jesus’ time on earth. No other relationship between humans should be as close as that of a husband and wife, so the comparison makes sense. Here are but a few steps that have, and will be, completed:

  • Choosing of a bride: The father of a potential groom would search for a wife for his son. We have been selected as a pure bride for our Christ (2Corinthians 11:2).
  • Contract (covenant) – first cup of wine (Matthew 26:27-28). When a suitable bride had been found, the two families would meet to discuss the potential union. If the young man and woman agreed, they would essentially say, “I will be yours if you will be mine!” This is akin to what God said to His bride, Israel. To cement the deal, the couple would drink from a cup of wine called the “cup of covenant”.
  • Separation and the building of a home (John 14:2-3). After vows, the giving of gifts, and ceremonial bathing (like the baptism we experience), the couple would separate for a short time. The boy and his father would prepare a home for the couple. This betrothal separation would normally last a year in a traditional Jewish wedding process; however, we continue to wait. Why? Because God’s timing is His timing, and He’ll wait until the number of those who’ll accept His mercy has been met.
  • Marriage and second cup timed by the groom’s father. This is also the final Seder cup and the second covenant cup in heaven: Matthew 26:28-29; the gathering for the marriage: Matthew 24:21-36; the marriage: Revelation 19:5-9). The father of the groom, at a time known only to him, would summon the groomsmen to announce that it was time for the marriage ceremony, which consisted of a supper and second cup of wine. The groomsmen made their announcement with shouts and trumpet calls.

We now understand that communion is a way of remembering the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf and reiterating our vow in the new covenant with God through Jesus. Should everyone take communion? No!

First, only those who have promised their lives to God and our Christ should consider engaging in the ritual.

Second, there are unsuitable ways to take communion (remember that drinking the cup of covenant serves as a reiteration of our vow to ‘be a faithful bride’ until our groom returns).

  1. With an impure heart (1Corinthians 11:23-28). Taking the cup during communion while practicing sinful behavior (akin to being an unfaithful bride) is a contradiction and a lie. This is why we must be careful!
  2. For the wrong reasons (1Corinthians 11:20-22). In this case, some of the people in Corinth were using the communion table for eating and drinking – even getting drunk! This was a total abuse of the ritual, which is meant to remember Jesus’ sacrifice and our covenant. It also reeked of gluttony . . .

In summary, Jesus’ sacrifice of flesh and blood mirrored the Passover Lamb of the old covenant with God and paved the way for the salvation of all mankind in a new one. Followers of the Christ remember His sacrifice and the new covenant (synonymous with a human marriage relationship) by taking symbolic bread and wine together.

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

True Love . . .

True love is an actionable one not based on emotion. We usually associate a mushy, warm, down-in-our-gut emotion with love and often mistake that lustful desire or fondness for true love. These feelings are necessary in many human relationships or situations; however, the foundational love we’re to exhibit is related to action. Let’s take a further look at these variations of emotion and actions often called love.

The Bible refers to love in three primary ways: (1) lust or desire; (2) fondness for a person or thing; (3) love not based on emotion but unconditional charitable action that comes from moral compelling. The two types of love based on emotional feeling are lust (or desire) and fondness. Lust is more short-lived than fondness, but both can fade as our feelings change. The latter type of love isn’t based on emotion and is purer and longer-lasting than the first emotion-based loves.

The Holy Scriptures reflect the following three major variations of love in these Greek root words:

  • Epithumeo or epithumia for lust (examples include Matthew 5:27-28; Ephesians 2:1-3)
  • Variations of phil (as in philanthropea or Philadelphia) for fondness (i.e. Mark 10:17-22, Titus 3:3-5, Hebrews 13:1, etc.)
  • Unconditional, non-emotional love – :Agapao (Strong’s Greek G25): a verb representing morally-compelled action we’re to take as in, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” —1John 4:7. And Agape, a noun representing charitable manifestations that can occur because of compelling agapao love as in, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” —1John 4:7.

So, being ‘nice’ isn’t what God desires – it is actionable love that honors Him and treats His creation appropriately despite how we feel.

‘Feel’ or ‘do’ – which identifies you?