Even though the Church was born in Jerusalem, it is separated from Israel – to our loss. In these troubled and interesting times Messianic Jews (Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah) are bringing back a cultural context to the Bible that was lost to the Church for over a millennia.
For instance, one night the couple who led my home-group decided to present the teaching of a Messianic Jew on the meaning and symbolism of a Jewish wedding ceremony. This was for general application, to show parallels between a Jewish wedding and the Church’s relationship to Christ, outlined here:
The teaching had ties to Jeremiah 31:21, where I had been given a word from Jeremiah about going full circle. For me it was a Rhema word, that is a word for personal application. It filled in a lot of blanks for me, as well as confirming the rhema word.
The confirmation on this occasion really amused me, because it was so Jewish. Even though Jesus belongs to us all, it reminded me that He is a Jew. Jesus talked about the Bridegroom in some of His parables.
In Jewish wedding tradition, the bride may circle the groom 3 or 7 times under the Chuppah. This is generally an Ashkenazi practice. The Ashkenazi Jew comes from Europe.
The Chuppah is a canopy under which a Jewish couple stand during their wedding ceremony. It consists of a cloth or sheet stretched or supported over four poles. A traditional chuppah recommends that there be open sky exactly above the chuppah. So the Ashkenazi custom is to have the Chuppah ceremony outside under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch Abraham, that his children shall be “as the stars of the heavens” (Genesis 15:5).
Why does the bride circle the groom?
I love this explanation;
The bride, by circling the groom, expresses her awesome power over him.
The seven circuits are reminiscent of the biblical story of Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. They came to Jericho, a city known as the key to the land – if they could conquer it, the land would be theirs. But Jericho was protected by a big wall. There seemed to be no way in.
Similarly, every man has a wall built around his heart. Men are taught to hide their feelings, to create an impression of impenetrability, to make it seem that they have it all figured out. Men create elaborate defenses to hide any sign of weakness or vulnerability, and fiercely guard their deepest secret – that inside they are sensitive and meek, simple and soft.
But a wise woman can pierce this defensive wall. If she surrounds her husband with the protective aura of her love, if she envelops him with affection, and if she makes him feel that he is the anchor, the center, the focal point of her life, then he can feel safe and comfortable. When that happens, the walls protecting his heart come tumbling down. Then she has conquered him – all of him.
In the next chapter of The Kingdom I had met the man the Lord had promised me, after going around him in a big circle. This was the third time our paths had crossed. The trouble was, he didn’t exactly welcome me into his life. There was a big wall around his heart. I found him cold and stand-offish, and didn’t know if I liked him all that much. It wasn’t an auspicious start for us.