Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Wedding Feast

I think when you understand the Jewish Wedding Customs of the Bible and compare that to the salvation in Christ and our 'marriage' to Christ can you begin to appreciate the beauty of it all. I did my research (hey, I was a law student, research is important). So, there are the three 'C's' of Biblical Weddings: Contract, Consummation and Celebration. Ancient Jewish Weddings surprisingly never involved a wedding ceremony like we see today with the bride walking down the aisle to be married.

If we want to learn and understand the figures of speech used by Jesus when he talks about 'The Wedding Feast' and the Church as the 'Bride of Christ', it's important to learn the ancient culture and forget everything we know about the modern wedding ceremonies.

In those days, biblical times, there were three stages.

Stage 1: Signing The Contract
The Bride had to choose her husband and the FATHER would sign the legal contract in order to have that marriage come into being. Once the Father signed this contract, the couple were MARRIED. BUT, they did not have sex.

Stage 2: The Consummation
I learned this in Family Law. Even though we have the Wedding and signed the Marital Contract, you were not married until you consummated that marriage. So, in Biblical Times, the groom had to raise the money set out in the Contract and notify the Father of the Bride, who sets a date to consummate the marriage at the Bride's Home. The Bride would wait with her Bridesmaids for the groom and his companions.
The Groom would then have the bloodied 'proof of virginity cloth' to the witnesses chosen by the Bride's parents, who then give it to the Bride for safekeeping.

Stage 3: The Wedding Feast
So, after consummation, the entire wedding party walks to the house of the Groom in a procession for a wedding feast. At the conclusion of the wedding feast, the couple has completed the ancient ritual of marriage.

So, in telling this Parable, the Lord, Jesus, was referring it back to Jewish Custom so that the people in those days would understand the love God has for us.

So, here's the Parable:

The Wedding Feast

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, "The Kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come
Then he sent some more servants and said, 'tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' 

But they paid no attention and went off - one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Then he said to his servants, 'the wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So, the servant went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

But, when the King came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, 'How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?' The man was speechless. 

Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside and into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited but few are chosen."

Phew! So, one thing that really bothers me about this passage is the fact that people were invited to a WEDDING but nobody paid any attention. For me, a wedding would mean free food, free to dance and free to interact with people as well as rejoice when two people who are getting married invite you there. Another thing I've learned is that...well, everybody who is invited to a wedding banquet will not be saved. Anyway, it's deeper than that.

Let's begin with the basics...

The King in this parable obviously represents God; the Son is Jesus Christ and the Servants being sent out to invite these people are probably preachers in the World...or those who are already saved.

The FEAST represents SALVATION through faith (the fattened cattle) - the WORD of God. God invited people in the world for dinner, a feast, salvation...but people paid no attention, they went off and did their own business. Basically, they rejected Him. In fact, they mistreated the servants and killed them. So basically, God is invited the Church, because we know the World has already rejected Him. He is talking about walking with Him in FULLNESS and being obedient to HIM. The Apostles were invited, God was telling them, everything was ready - but no...they rejected Him. Stephen was stoned, James was killed...a lot of the Disciples were killed because people rejected God.

Because they rejected Him the first time, God still invited them. He says, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come...' So, instead, he sent more servants to invite people to salvation, the Word of God, the Body of Christ. God even turned to the gentiles - all types of people, the good and the bad were invited. A mixture of the guests came, good and bad. Basically, inviting people to come to Church. In most cases, the rich reject this invitation.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 - "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of the this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."

But when the King came in to see the guests - there was a man who was not wearing wedding clothes. At this Banquet, everybody was wearing a robe that was provided for by the King, but the King saw that this man was not wearing what was provided for him. The Wedding Gown is given but this man ignores and turns down the white robe. He refuses to walk into this place with the white robe. He mingles with people, he talks to people, he is invited. He is sitting there, everybody has a robe on but HIM. Maybe his hands were dirty and he didn't want to stain it this pure white robe.
The robe signifies HOLINESS, it is walking in the holiness of the Lord. It is given to the saints according to the revelation. To walk in white does not mean you wait for the banquet, the Blood washes everything...when you have salvation, You get that white robe. Anyway, when the King realises that this man is not wearing the robe provided, he throws this man out. Because this man stands out, he doesn't look like everyone else in that feast.

We have people like that nowadays...and I could be one of them (you never know). We are invited to the banquet (Church) to feast and eat (Read, Fellowship and Worship God), but some of us don't have this garment ON. The Robe of Salvation. We continue to live in sin, to mingle with the Saints of God. This person who continues to watch pornography, who continues to live in adultery and tries to say...well, God understands. When we continue to hold on to that sin...

In this passage, the Lord was angered and told the attendants to tie this man hand and foot, throw him outside into the darkness. Do you GET that? If we continue to live in sin, continue to refuse that robe of righteousness, we will die in our sin. The Lord will reject us. Let us walk in practical holiness, let's not walk like the world, let us not speak unholy speech (swearing, slandering, gossiping), let's not live in fornication. That doesn't mean you will be PERFECT but aren't we made perfect in Him? We have to be pure, we have to be holy.

Revelation 19:6-10

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people)"
Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb." And he added, "These are the true words of God." 

At this, I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus."

Happy Sunday. Xo

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