We've covered several elements of the ancient covenants, but there are a few more things of note.
What an odd requirement for God to require Jewish males be circumcised. Like much of what we've studied thus far, it too is symbolic of a larger truth. Paul would write in Ephesians 5:23-33 a man is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, which implies in a mystical sense, that sexual union on earth is a picture of heavenly intimacy of things spiritual.
Circumcision therefore, is a symbol of man and his wife and family, being one with God, walking in intimacy with God in a way people outside the family of God cannot. It is a reminder this intimacy with God came with the shedding of blood, putting a high price on being faithful to the bounds of marriage and one's walk with God.
When Israel came to the foot of Mt. Sinai, the Lord met with them there. They were 47 days from coming out of the Sea, and spent 3 days preparing to meet the Lord at the foot of the mountain, making a total of 50 days out of Egypt. This is the first Pentecost, which I will talk about next week.
Moses was given the 10 Commandments, which were the summary of laws to be given later. It is here the people vowed as a nation in Exodus 24:7:"All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient."
God's part of the vows was to bless them, protect them, walk with them and so much more. Their part was to walk with Him in these things. The summary of these is found in Deuteronomy 28, where verses 1-14 state the blessings, and 15-68 the consequences of not obeying. Ancient covenants always had blessings and 'curses'. Today in weddings we only include the blessings in the exchange of vows.
After vows were exchanged as seen above in Exodus 24:7, there was always a celebratory meal. Today in weddings we see the same thing, a reception meal in celebration of the covenant. In ancient cultures the celebration only commenced after the bride and groom had consummated the physical act of marriage. Yes, everyone waited outside the tent or home for news they had consummated their covenant.
That is the proper place of the 'act of marriage'. It is a physical confirmation of a covenant first made in the hearts of the covenant heads. Sex is not a game played with anyone willing. Within the bounds of marriage there is great freedom, for no matter if the husband and wife come together in romance or a spontaneous moment, each time physically confirms the covenant first made in the heart.
The best Old Testament example of a covenant meal in my opinion, is found in Exodus 24:7-11. After the people vowed their vows:"All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient", it was time for the meal.
Immediately after hearing their vows, Moses sprinkles himself, his brother Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders with blood from a sacrifice, they climb the mountain to have a meal with God.
"And they saw the God of Israel. And beneath His feet the flooring was as clear as the sky, and upon the nobles of Israel He did not lay His hand (to hurt them). For they saw God, and did eat and drink."
We know this is the Father because those who have also seen the Father when 'in the Spirit' describe the same clear flooring. In The Revelation 4, which is the Father on His throne, John describes the same clear flooring, cherubs around the throne, and a rainbow overhead. Ezekiel 1 has the Father flying to Ezekiel and he describes a clear flooring and rainbow as well.
The elders of Israel were 'in the Spirit' and not only saw the Father in the covenant meal, but 'did eat and drink' with Him.
Fast forward to our covenant meal
In John 14:1-3 Jesus made a statement right out of the betrothal agreement of ancient Israel. When a groom wanted to propose to a woman, he would go to the father's house and with the oldest brother present, ask permission to marry her.
The groom brought 3 things with him:A money called 'the bride price', a contract of betrothal (Shitre Erusin), and wine. Notice these elements of covenant for they are for us as well. We have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God with our body and spirit. We vow to walk in His ways (contract) and it is sealed with the blood of Jesus, and our willingness to die daily to sin, and carried to the ultimate degree, willing to die for being a Christian.
When permission was given, the money exchanged, the contract of betrothal signed, the young woman was called out and a cup of wine was set before her. If she accepted the bride price, if she vowed with the groom to keep the covenant outlined in the contract, then she would drink the wine - and they were engaged. It could only be broken by a divorce. The only thing lacking at this point was a wedding ceremony, consummation, and celebratory feast.
The groom would then tell the bride:"In my father's house are many places to live. I am going to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may also be..." This is what Jesus was stating in John 14:1-3, which would have been understood by the disciples.
They had just received what we call The Last Supper, they were now betrothed to the Lord. They were to be faithful to Him from that point on, they were (about to be) bought with a great price.
The Lord's Supper therefore, is an act of confirming our covenant with Him, for we show His death until He returns, and that is why that is stated that way. Every time we eat it, we remember our vows, remember our 'contract' to obey and be consecrated only to Him, and we remember the blood of His sacrifice.
The Lord's Supper is both a look back at His sacrifice, and a look forward as a bride to be eagerly awaiting the moment of marriage, the celebratory feast with all the family and friends!
Amazing grace. Next week, the first Pentecost and more. Until then, blessings,
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