In our modern western customs, the wedding vows between man and wife are exchanged on the wedding day. Not so in the ancient Hebrew culture. A Hebrew couple agreed to their marriage vows (ketubah) at their betrothal. Both parties knew exactly what they were stepping into long before the wedding day. Until their wedding day, the groom undertook preparing a home for his bride. He wanted to be sure that he could provide and care for her. The bride focused on preparing herself for the groom, adapting to the ways of her betrothed and thinking about how she would manage their household.
Friends and family considered them “married’’ already, knowing that all that was missing was physical consummation and the ability to dwell together under one roof. There were no “last shots” at living the single life. She was already his wife. He was already her husband. Complete faithfulness was expected from the day of their betrothal. If in their betrothal period either were not walking according to their vows – being unfaithful – the wedding could be called off, but only by a writ of divorce.
This matter of faithfulness was so crucial that it was not uncommon for the father of the groom to send a spy to keep an eye on the bride. If she was unfaithful to the vows or displayed behavior that revealed a character or lifestyle her husband knew nothing of, Papa could prevent his son from going to get his bride. The Bride revealed at the lifting of the wedding veil was to be the same in character and faithfulness as the groom knew of her on the day of their betrothal.
In Yahweh’s relationship with His people, the image of bride and groom runs through Scripture as one of the Kingdom’s “crimson threads”. Yahweh (Yeshua, in the flesh) is the Groom. Israel is His Bride. Paul uses this imagery as does John in the Revelation. Yahweh speaks to Israel in the Prophets as His wife. After the split of the kingdom of Israel, Yahweh spoke of the House of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) and the House of Ephraim or Israel (the Northern Kingdom) as both becoming an unfaithful wife. His Bride is divided – and a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Judah managed to hold on to the Torah as their Wedding Vows, but their hearts often strayed far from Him, twisting His ways with their own ideas of how things should be done. The Groom longs for the day Judah will return to Him in purity and faithfulness. Ephraim became completely unfaithful, dispersing among the nations and leaving the Wedding Vows in the dust – giving herself to other gods (lovers) and their ways. Yahweh had no other choice. He divorced Israel (Ephraim, not Judah).
The Torah teaches that once a divorce occurs there is no possibility of remarriage. The only way that could happen is 1) the wife’s new husband dies and 2) her first husband also dies and comes back to life. Impossible. Does this mean that the 10 lost tribes that are Ephraim are cut off without hope? Absolutely not! For what is impossible for man is not impossible for Yahweh.
Yeshua (Yahweh), the first husband to both Judah and Ephraim, has done the impossible! He died and came back to life! The Groom is ready to take back His Bride, Ephraim. However, Ephraim’s lovers must die to her…and this will be only by Ephraim’s choice. Ephraim is us… the Gentiles. Yeshua came to purify us, bring us home, and marry us again! (Big news flash– many of the non-Jews in the church are descendants of the dispersed 10 tribes, called the House of Ephraim or House of Israel.)
Yahweh revealed to the prophet Ezekiel that the day would come when He would reunite the House of Judah and House of Ephraim. (Ezekiel 37:15-28) Paul tells us that this is “the one new man” – Jew and Gentile made one through Yeshua. Judah will have to leave Jewish religious false teachings, traditions, and laws behind and return wholeheartedly to Yahweh and their Wedding Vows. Ephraim will have to leave behind her lovers – the pagan gods and their false teachings, traditions and laws – making them dead to her. She will have to return wholeheartedly to the Torah, made flesh and dwelling with us as Yeshua. The House of Jacob – the whole House of Israel – will once again be His Bride – His faithful wife.
This reunion, making the Bride whole and pure again, is the goal of the King! He wants His Kingdom on earth restored. No longer will His House be divided against itself. He wants His Bride to love Him as much as He loves her. We must never think that as the Bride of Yeshua that we can do away with our Ketubah. That is just plain ridiculous! What Groom would want to marry and unfaithful Bride?
Our loyalty to our Ketubah, our commitment to adapt to His thoughts and ways, proves our love and devotion to Him. He rules the universe by His will and decree, not our opinions and ideas. Yeshua stated this attribute of our relationship very concisely, “If you love Me, keep My commandments (our wedding vows).” As His Bride, how well are we adapting to His ways? How prepared are we to reign by His side, according to the Ways of His Kingdom (the Torah)? Maybe it’s time to refresh our memory and evaluate our hearts. For if we truly do love Him, we will joyfully adhere to our vows.
(Our Wedding Vows with Yahweh)
I am YHVH your Elohim.
“Yahweh, you are my Husband, my Beloved.”
You shall have no other gods before Me.
“I will love and devote myself to no one else but You.
I will not look to the world’s gods or make their practices mine.”
You shall not misuse or take lightly the Name of YHVH.
“I will honor – and guard the honor of – your Name at all times.
I will do nothing in word or deed to diminish it.”
Observe the day of Shabbat, to set it apart as holy for YHVH.
“I will keep and celebrate your Shabbat as the sign of our wedding covenant.
Shabbat is the Wedding Ring you made for me and I will wear it with great honor and delight.”
You shall honor your Father and your Mother.
“As one who bears your Name, I will respect & honor my parents
and those who are like parents to me.”
You shall not murder.
“As one who bears your Name, I will not take an innocent life.
I will not kill others with my thoughts, words, or actions.”
You shall not commit adultery.
“I will not be unfaithful to you, Yahweh, by observing pagan holidays and practices;
nor will I dishonor You by being unfaithful to my earthly spouse and family.
You shall not steal.
“As one who bears your Name, I will not take from another any idea, thing,
or time that is not mine. I will not take credit for what I did not do or accomplish.
Nor will I rob You of tithes and offerings.”
You shall not give false witness against your neighbor.
“As one who bears your Name, I will not falsely accuse another person
of wrongdoing nor dishonor others with gossip and slander.”
You shall not covet anything that is your neighbors.
“I will be content with what you, my Groom, have provided for me.
My desires will be directed by your will and plan for me, not my own.”
Amen! (So be it!)