Finally the moment everyone has been waiting for! After months of preparation and set-up regarding the structure and essence of the Revelation, we'll begin to examine the Revelation itself, verse by verse. And as we proceed in this study, you will begin to see how the Festivals, the Menorah-shaped 'Tree of Life', and the Betrothal process are interwoven into the text, each revealing something dynamic about the Revelation that cannot be revealed through a conventional study.
Throughout the 404 verses of the Revelation, we find many references to New Testament teachings, and that should be no surprise since Jesus and several disciples commented rather extensively about the end times. However, we also find hundreds of references to Old Testament teachings, which occasionally surprises people. The truth is, you have to understand and properly apply text from the entire Old Testament in order to properly understand the New Testament and/or the Revelation. The New Testament does not CANCEL the Old Testament, it is built UPON the Old Testament. So without further adieu, let's jump right in.
In last week's lesson we described the Revelation's 'master menorah' that was built on the foundation of the Festival menorah, and we also showed how this formed the structure of the 'Tree of Life'. In this week's lesson, we'll explore how this divine structure supports the 4 Cups/Covenants that were cited in the 'Passover Seder' and also the 'Betrothal' process. For the purposes of review, those 4 Cups/Covenants were;
1) Cup of Sanctification - Blood Covenant
2) Cup of Dedication - Salt Covenant
3) Cup of Inheritance - Sandal Covenant
4) Cup of Praise - Marriage Covenant
These four progressive covenants played a critical role in our understanding of the betrothal process that we studied this fall, and also the Passover Seder that we studied this past summer. Now we can apply what we learned there to the Revelation, and some of it's mysterious nature will begin to fall away.
Before we dive in to the next portion of our Revelation study, I’d like to take a minute to dispel some of the fears you may have concerning the perceived difficulty of this book. I say this because the Revelation is the most avoided book in the New Testament, primarily because of it’s seemingly incomprehensible symbolism and apocalyptic nature. For over 1900 years, few have made any real progress in unraveling it's mysteries, so in large part it has remained a mystery to the Church. That general feeling of frustration towards this masterpiece was recorded by Thomas Jefferson over 200 years ago in his letter to General Alexander Smyth, where he stated;
“It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it and I then considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”
Perhaps you have felt that way in the past? I know I did. But the problem is a simple one; we have been examining this book from our western mindset, when a Hebraic mindset was required. So in this series of lessons we have attempted to return to the roots of our Christianity by examining the culture and traditions of the Hebrew people that lived it. From that perspective, things begin to fall into place.
Last week we left off with the bride and groom at the wedding site, where they were finally prepared for the wedding ceremony itself. This week we will pick up right at that point and describe the actual ceremony, along with a few other implications that go along with it.
The 'Chuppah' (Hoo-Pah)
When the wedding ceremony was about to begin, the groom would escort the bride to the ‘Chuppah’, which was a small dome or trellis with crimson colored cloth spread over the top. The construction of this dome was normally rather simple, typically having four corner posts like a tent, with a few rafter members that formed a trellis ceiling. The crimson color of the cloth dome represented the ‘blood covenant’ that we will discuss in a later lesson.
Last week we concluded our discussion with the three remaining milestones of the betrothal process;
1) the bride price
2) the preparation of the bride’s future home
3) the final wedding preparations
We also met the bridesmaids that would light the way for the groom’s arrival. Well, the groom had his own attendants as well, and we're going to meet them in this week's lesson;
Just as the bride’s attendants who were all virgins, as attested in the 'Parable of the 10 Virgins', so the groom had his attendants, ALSO all virgins. The grooms attendants were generally selected far in advance, were all males, and were generally close to the groom, often being part of the family or very close personal friends. These men would be charged with staying with the groom in order to guard him and assist him in advance of his wedding.
Hopefully last week’s betrothal lesson was quite revealing for those of you that like to explore the additional layers of scripture. If you’re like me, you always love those moments where the ‘light bulb’ goes on, and scripture suddenly takes on a greater perspective and meaning. Well, this week’s lesson should bring many more of those moments.
We left off last week with a general betrothal agreement between the two fathers and the families of the bride and groom. This week we will discuss the formal document that was dictated once that agreement was in place. It was called a “Ketubah”.
As you may recall, once all the contract details were hammered out between the parties, the families would call a ‘Scribe’ who would sit down with the parties and record the terms of their agreement, always following a specific formula that was common to the process. That formula included five separate sections that contained different requirements, and one final section for seven signatures. It was laid out in the following way;