Blessings in the Beloved!
Messiah’s Beautiful Bride
September 2011 is a crucial month for both our nation and the nation of Israel. We sense the fate of the USA hanging in the balance, as our leaders back an ungodly agenda to divide God’s Land. Nevertheless, we hear the Lord saying, “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” ([biblegateway passage=”Phil. 4:8″ display=”Phil. 4:8″]). The Bride of Messiah is one of “these things.”
Think of this month, Elul (pronounced eh-LOOL), as the final month before a wedding. A spiritual bride is preparing herself for a spiritual bridegroom. Elul is often considered an acronym for Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” ([biblegateway passage=”Song of Songs 6:3″ display=”Song of Songs 6:3″]). It is the 12th and final month of the Jewish civil calendar, and the sixth month on the biblical / religious calendar. Elul is the month that precedes the 7th or holiest month on the Hebrew calendar when Jews around the world gather to meet with the God of Israel at His appointed times or moedim (pronounced mow-eh- DEEM). Messianic Jews realize that Elul might also be the final month of preparation before the return
of Yeshua our Heavenly Bridegroom for His Bride. It is a real possibility that the same Yeshua who fulfilled the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Shavuot, will fulfill the fall feasts, beginning with Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) in the seventh month- on their exact days.
The Messiah is returning for a beautiful bride, a bride without spot or wrinkle ([biblegateway passage=”Eph. 5:27″ display=”Eph. 5:27″]). How is this possible, knowing how prone we are as people to get spiritual mud on our faces, and wrinkles in our robes of righteousness? God’s answer: The blood of His Son cleanses us of every spot, every sin
([biblegateway passage=”I Jn. 1:9″ display=”I Jn. 1:9″]). The hot iron of the trials and tests we encounter presses out all the wrinkles ([biblegateway passage=”I Pet. 5:10″ display=”I Pet. 5:10″]).
Our Messiah sees us as we shall be, not as we are. We are BEAUTIFUL in His eyes NOW, because He looks at us through eyes of LOVE. The Bridegroom says to His Bride: “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners” (Song of Songs 6:4 KJV). She is yafah (ya-FAH), the most frequently used word for beautiful in Hebrew. To what could He compare her beauty? Tirzah (meaning “delight”) was a very beautiful ancient Canaanite city captured by Joshua, and made a royal city, and seat of the Kings of Israel. It had great outward beauty. Jerusalem, while also beautiful in its grandeur and elevated position, also symbolized great inner, spiritual beauty. A bride like Jerusalem is a bride set on a hill for all to see, who radiates light and the glory of God—a bride with God in her midst! It has been said that every believer is a Jerusalem to God, His dwelling place, where He is worshipped.
The word “terrible” (ah-YOME in Hebrew) is really closer to our English word “awesome.” The bride, praised by the Bridegroom as “an army with banners,” is actually a collective bride, an army, going home in victory! The banners are victory banners, proclaiming battles that have been fought and won. The beautiful bride is a victorious bride, testifying to the truths of Romans 8:37, and I John 5:4 “… we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Yeshua’s bride has beauty, majesty, dignity, and grace, having fought the good fight of faith against principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places ([biblegateway passage=”Eph. 6:12″ display=”Eph. 6:12″]). She is stately and orderly, under command, ready for service.
The banners that this bridal company carries aloft could also be the bride’s ability to proclaim her message—the Besorah or Good News of redemption through the Beloved. (Remember the old song, “Love is a flag flown high from the castle of my heart…”?) Banners might also symbolize praise. When the Bride of Messiah is united in praising her King, especially when using flags in worship, He becomes “Awesome in praises.”
The Beauty of Holiness
The Messiah Yeshua is coming back for a holy bride. Our God is a Holy God. He said to Israel, “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy” ([biblegateway passage=”Lev. 11:44″ display=”Lev. 11:44″]). Holiness, Kadosh, in Hebrew, includes the ideas of separation, sanctification and consecration. The God of Israel is Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh. Nowhere else in Scripture can we find a three-fold repetition of any attribute of God. Since repetition is a Hebraic way of emphasizing something, this indicates that holiness is the very essence of God. He is separate from all other gods, totally unique, different from all else. He is not common, “profane” or ordinary.
In Messiah, this same God sets us apart, and separates us from “common use.” He has made us a holy nation, a distinctive people, a royal priesthood…for His name’s sake ([biblegateway passage=”I Pet. 2:9″ display=”I Pet. 2:9″]). During this month of Elul, as the shofar is sounded each day calling God’s people to repentance, the Lord wants us to meditate on our calling to holiness or sanctification, which is both an event and a process.
Rabbi Saul (Paul) assures believers in I Cor. 6:11 that despite their sinful past, “…you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua and by the Spirit of our God.” Once we receive Yeshua into our hearts and lives we are set apart, holy unto the Lord our God. In fact, He chose us to be holy in His sight before the foundation of the world ([biblegateway passage=”Eph. 1:4″ display=”Eph. 1:4″])!
This “positional” holiness must become “practical” holiness in order to really see the Lord ([biblegateway passage=”Heb. 12:14″ display=”Heb. 12:14″]). We have become partakers of the divine nature by receiving the Ruach HaKodesh as an
indwelling reality, but now have the choice of yielding to that Spirit by walking in obedience to God’s Word, the Truth. This is walking in holiness. The Holy Bible shows us how to live a holy life. It helps sanctify us. Yeshua said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 17:17″ display=”Jn. 17:17″]). If we embrace the Bible as our standard for living, we will certainly be a separate, set-apart, holy people. In doing this, we will follow the Lover of our souls, whose blood was shed to make us holy: “Therefore Yeshua also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” ([biblegateway passage=”Heb. 13:12-13″ display=”Heb. 13:12-13″]).
Holiness involves possession by God, and service toward God. It is being deeply aware that we do not belong to ourselves, but rather to the One who paid the “bride price” for us ([biblegateway passage=”I Cor. 6:20″ display=”I Cor. 6:20″]). Our
Heavenly Bridegroom wants us to pursue holiness ([biblegateway passage=”Heb. 12:14″ display=”Heb. 12:14″]), and perfect it: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting
holiness in the fear of God” ([biblegateway passage=”2 Cor. 7:1″ display=”2 Cor. 7:1″]). What promises? ALL the promises are ours in Messiah. ([biblegateway passage=”See also 2 Pet. 1:4″ display=”See also 2 Pet. 1:4″].) Holiness doesn’t happen overnight. It is a daily process of seeking to become more and more conformed to the image of Messiah. The grace of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit makes this possible. But, our part includes desire, discipline, and determination.
If our present condition does not measure up to our God-given position of sanctification, it is up to us to ask God to help us change! He is more than willing to answer that prayer, and to set us free from acts of disobedience such as: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language ([biblegateway passage=”Col. 3:5,8″ display=”Col. 3:5,8″]).
The Lord wants us to make a special effort this month to…”put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” ([biblegateway passage=”Eph. 4:24″ display=”Eph. 4:24″]). If you experience chastening from
the Lord know that He is disciplining you, so that you might share in His holiness ([biblegateway passage=”Heb. 12:10″ display=”Heb. 12:10″]).
The Bible exhorts us to “…worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” in 1 Ch. 16:29, Ps. 29:2, and Ps. 96:9. A worshipping bride is a victorious bride. When we worship, we pour out our hearts and our love to the Lord. This touches His heart. Our Bridegroom loves to hear our expressions of love and thanks, whether eloquent or not. The simple words “I love You, Lord; I worship You.” mean so much to Him. Allow worship to transform your spiritual life, by awakening your heart to a more intimate relationship with the King. Try turning off the TV, and turning on worship music in your home. This is one way to “pursue holiness.” A special CD, produced many years ago, of our teaching on the Song of Songs, features Jamie Ellen in musical interludes. Order your copy for a VERY ANOINTED WORSHIP EXPERIENCE.
A Beautiful Heart
What would transform a deceitful, desperately wicked heart into a beautiful heart? In King David’s case (who was both an adulterer and a murderer) repentance or t’shuvah in Hebrew, made the difference. T’shuvah is the focus of the month of Elul, and is part of our bridal preparation. In Psalm 51, David beseeches God: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (vs. 10). He acknowledges his sin, and in brokenness, determines to turn from his transgressions.
David says, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,” ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 51:7″ display=”Ps. 51:7″]) indicating the complete forgiveness that he expects from a merciful God. The final fulfillment of this redemption is the cleansing made
possible by the blood of Yeshua, our Atonement. The Brit Hadasha makes a joyful proclamation in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He [Yeshua] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” A cleansed heart is a beautiful heart.
Why did God call David “a man after His own heart” ([biblegateway passage=”1 Sam. 13:14″ display=”1 Sam. 13:14″])? First of all, David was quick to repent when confronted with his sin. He had a deep trust in God and a heart of worship. He loved
the Law of God, memorized it, meditated on it, and obeyed it. “With my whole heart I have sought You.” “You word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 119:10, 11″ display=”Ps. 119:10, 11″]) God sees in each of us what others do not see. He sees the beauty that is waiting to come forth as we grow in Him. “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ([biblegateway passage=”1 Sam. 16:7″ display=”1 Sam. 16:7″])
The Beauty of the Lord
The first time a word is used in the Holy Scriptures generally has significance. The word for beauty, yafah (pronounced yah-FAH), is used for the first time in referring to the wife that Jacob dearly loved: “…Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance” ([biblegateway passage=”Gen. 29:17″ display=”Gen. 29:17″]). Since the word Rachel in Hebrew means a ewe lamb, it is a meaningful foreshadowing of The Lamb of God—our Messiah—who is “altogether lovely” ([biblegateway passage=”Song of Songs 5:16″ display=”Song of Songs 5:16″]).
We often pray, for ourselves and for others, the petition found in Ps. 90:17: “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” We pray that for YOU this month, believing God for favor and provision as others see Yeshua and His beauty in you!
Another psalm, Psalm 27, is prayed every day during Elul (the entire month of September). It includes some timely, very beautiful verses that we should all take to heart as we prepare for the coming of our Bridegroom/King: “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of
His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 27:4-5″ display=”Ps. 27:4-5″]).
Zion, the Perfection of Beauty
How does God see Jerusalem? Divided in half, with a Palestinian State bent on Israel’s destruction occupying holy ground? No. God sees Zion as “yafah,” beautiful in elevation, His holy mountain, the joy of the whole earth, the city of the great King ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 48:1-2″ display=”Ps. 48:1-2″]). Psalm 50:2-3 tells us that “…Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty (yofee), God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.”
The Lord will again choose Jerusalem ([biblegateway passage=”Zech. 1:17″ display=”Zech. 1:17″]), and will have His way with His holy city. Israel will turn again to the Lord, and God will receive His people: “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them
freely…” I will be like the dew to Israel; His beauty shall be like an olive tree…” ([biblegateway passage=”Hosea 14:4-6″ display=”Hosea 14:4-6″]).
There may be war, but God will be victorious. He desires, through us, “…to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” ([biblegateway passage=”Is. 61:3″ display=”Is. 61:3″]). The Lord always moves from darkness to light. There is always hope in Him. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” ([biblegateway passage=”Ecc. 3:11″ display=”Ecc. 3:11″])
A Beautiful Creation
One of God’s most beautiful creations is the butterfly. The transformation from crawling caterpillar to magnificent flying insect has often been used as a picture of God’s “new creation”: US! Dead in our sin, ugly earth-bound creatures, we were transformed by the touch of the Master’s hand and made beautiful. What about butterflies in nature? For decades, wildlife
documentaries have invariably attributed the life-cycle of the butterfly to an undirected, materialistic process called evolution. They have ridiculed the possibility of “intelligent design” – that a Creator was involved in the process. A phenomenal DVD called Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies, presents a fascinating, compelling argument in favor of a Creator. We have already watched it twice, and highly recommend it for parents, teachers, congregations, and for sharing with SKEPTICS!
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Yeshua Messiah. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” ([biblegateway passage=”1 The. 5:23-24″ display=”1 The. 5:23-24″])
Neil and Jamie