Text and photos by Christine Darg
Friday 9 June was the eve of the Shabbat of the Bride!
The Shabbat before Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, (called Pentecost in the Christian world), was known in ancient times as Shabbat Kallah--meaning the Shabbat of the Bride!
This Sunday is Shavuot here in Israel, and that makes this Sunday the real Pentecost according to the Hebraic calendar, and when the descent of the Holy Spirit should be celebrated!
The giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, which is celebrated on Shavuot, was seen by the Jewish people as a symbolic marriage between God, the Bridegroom, and the Jewish people, the Bride.
In some very traditional Jewish services on Shavuot, a document similar to a wedding contract is actually read!
How wonderful, as I returned to Jerusalem just before Shabbat Kallah, there was a wedding held in my neighbourhood at Jaffa Gate at the ancient Citadel’s Tower of David!
I was truly blessed to snap the above photo of the bride walking on the ramparts of Jerusalem’s sacred Old City!
Truly it is a prophetic picture of the Bride awaiting the Second Coming of Messiah!
And not only that! As the bride and bridegroom were united under the wedding canopy, the sound of a joyous shofar was orchestrated!
My heart rejoiced at both the scene and the sound with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” If this is glorious, just imagine what the New Jerusalem will be like! The phrase “joy unspeakable and full of glory” in 1 Peter 1:8 describes “a joy that has reached its ideal pitch, and feels no further sense of imperfection.” [Ellicott’s Commentary]
Traditionally, the love story of the Book of Ruth is also read in synagogues during Shavuot (Pentecost). Ruth is read during Shavuot because events recounted in the book took place during the spring harvest, linking it to the agricultural aspect of the holiday, and Ruth is a picture of willing obedience to the Jewish way of life, just as Israel willingly accepted the Torah.
As an evangelical believer preparing for the return of our Bridegroom Jesus, I naturally think of how the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matthew Chapter 25 ties in with the Shavuot bridal imagery.
Jesus’s parable was based upon an ancient Jewish custom–the bride was snatched from her home at the midnight hour and transported to a specially prepared chamber in the bridegroom’s father’s house. The bride did not know exactly when the chamber would be completed and when the Bridegroom would come for her, so she had to be ready at all times.
Before the coming of our Bridegroom to steal away His Bride, Jesus warned that foolish virgins invited to the wedding would not have enough oil to keep their lamps burning during the long wait. While the carelessly foolish virgins shopped for oil, the Bridegroom suddenly arrived with a shout, and the wise virgins entered the wedding feast. But tragically the door to the wedding was soundly shut to the belated foolish virgins.
The five wise virgins not only possessed enough oil in their lamps, they also conserved their supply by keeping their wicks trimmed.
In an age of electricity, we may not understand what it means to trim a wick! If a wick is too tall or long, it inefficiently burns too much of the resource oil supply. Keeping your wick properly trimmed will make your candle or lamp’s oil supply last longer. If the flame smokes, the wick is too high; therefore, trim your wick, for an even, bright flame.
We don’t want to be a dimly burning wick! Nor do we want to be an inefficient smoking flame! Let’s be bright and efficient flames!
Fanny Crosby wrote a chorus that should be revived for these Last Days:
“Trim thy lamp and keep it burning, with a clear and steady ray;
It may cheer a weary pilgrim, that perchance has lost his way.
Refrain: Trim thy lamp, and keep it burning,
Till our blessèd Lord appear;
Keep it trimmed and shining brightly,
For His coming draweth near.”
The “Didache” (“teaching”) of the 12 apostles dated circa 100-120 A.D. contains the exhortation:
“Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh.”
The Lord could return at any moment. We are in the birthpangs of the Messiah. We MUST return to the doctrine of imminency.
The doctrine of the eminent return of Jesus provides motivation to purify our lives from besetting sins and complacency. The imminence doctrine is our blessed hope and a powerful wake-up call to throw off sluggishness, despair and the works of darkness while putting on the garment of preparedness and holy living.
In the meantime, Intercessors for Israel this weekend included the following prayers and praises about Shavuot in their Friday Prayer Points:
This Sunday is Shavuot according to the Jewish calendar. On Shavuot, besides other biblical readings, the book of Ruth is read. So this morning we began by reading Ruth 1:16:
And Ruth said, Do not ask me to leave you, to turn from following after you. For where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
We bless You that the book of Ruth was included in the canon of Your Word.
Hallelujah, You are building Your Body, and we see Jews and gentiles in unity proclaim, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16-18).
We praise You, Yeshua, for being seated at the right hand of God our Father. (Psalm 110:1)
Thank You for the ultimate triumph of Your word. (Isaiah 55:11)
You are so merciful to so many, we ourselves included. (Psalm 41:4; 86:3)
We stand amazed that we have entered the 50th year of Jerusalem being set free from gentile rule.
Amen and Amen!
At Shavuot, God instructed the Jewish people to bring an offering of their first fruits in Exodus 23:15-16.
And what benefits of serving Him did God specify?
He will bless our food and water!
He will take away sickness from among us!
None will miscarry or be barren!
He will grant us a full lifespan.
Our enemies will turn and run!