Compared to a Bride
The Sabbath is compared with a bride, coming to the people of God in purity and sanctity. Many Shabbat rituals surround this thought. Sixteenth-century mystics created the Friday evening service called in Hebrew Kabbalat Shabbat, which means welcoming the Sabbath. This song L’kah Dodi is often sung:
Come my beloved to meet the bride.
Let us welcome the presence of the Sabbath
Come in peace… and come in joy…
Come, O Bride! Come, O Bride!
Today in Jewish Orthodox settings as the last verse of the song is sung, the congregation will turn away from the ark housing the Torah and bow before the synagogue entrance as if the bride of Shabbat were about to enter.
As believers, the idea of Sabbath as a pure Bride finds a home in our hearts in the end of the verse in Leviticus 23:3, it is for a Sabbath to the Lord. We hold close and yet see beyond the Orthodox view of Sabbath being the bride, as we embrace the New Covenant idea that we have become that pure Bride by Yeshua’s blood. Therefore, we greet the Sabbath prepared to steal away with our beloved Bridegroom for the space of 24 hours.
The powerful draw of the prosaic and temporal is set aside, enabling us to peer into the eternal portals of heaven by honoring this commandment. Shabbat is a weekly honeymoon with the Bridegroom, Who is our Creator and Maker, and it is glimpse of what it will be like forever to be with the Lord.
Rather then becoming paralyzed with rules, the Sabbath should evoke great joy and expectation, as a bride would have on her wedding day. As Messiah’s Bride, we find a picture of being presented to God in righteousness as a one without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:27). We separate the time of Shabbat to be alone with our Bridegroom in delightful exclusivity.
Scripture is replete with many beautiful pictures of the Bride and Bridegroom captivated by each other in romance. Song of Songs, beginning to end, describes in detail the intimate relationship between the Bride and Bridegroom. Song of Songs 8:5 speaks of the Bride coming up from the wilderness leaning on her Beloved.
Judaism, replete with history, tradition, and culture, full-heartedly embraces the idea of Israel as the Bride prepared for the One and only true God. Hosea describes the suffering and depth of love God has for His unfaithful Bride. The same message of boundless love resounds throughout Scripture. And it is clearly seen in the New Covenant as we visualize and ponder the way Jesus reached out to the woman caught in adultery. This one, who deserved to die according to the Law, is the most definitive and colorful example of the rebellious and undeserving Bride, who is captivated and eventually changed by a loving and selfless Bridegroom.
As the story of the ages unfolds, we begin to recognize that He is the Lamb who was pierced for the burden of sin that humankind bears. Gary Weins writes in his book titled Bridal Intercession,
You see, the so-called fairy tales of history really are true. The Prince really has kissed the girl, the humble handmaid really is the Princess, and the Beauty who has been under the spell of the poison apple really will be brought to life. The King will have his glorious Bride and the desires of His heart will be satisfied. The stories are clear and you’ll find them throughout Scripture. Our God is a God of love, and His burning heart is the heart of a Bridegroom Who will not be dissuaded from His task. His zeal burns for the restoration of His people, and He will not relent until the broken woman, whose name is Jerusalem, shines forth in the way He intended, as a praise in all the earth (Isaiah 62:7).
Can it be that in these days of preparation as the Church, as One New Man, Jew and Gentile and representing all nations, tongues, and tribes, anticipates the Lord’s return, that the keeping of Shabbat will be restored to the whole Church as a foretaste of the redeemed and beautiful Bride’s glorious and great reunion with the Bridegroom?
As Gentile believers, who love Israel, we invite Jews that we meet in our everyday world to our Shabbat table in celebration. They accept our invitations and become renewed in their love for their Jewish roots, open to the message of Messiah, and even “jealous” that we celebrate the Sabbath. Could these evening meals together—Jew and Gentile—at the table lit with Sabbath lights and filled with Yeshua’s love extended be a foretaste of something in eternity when we celebrate as One New Man?
The strength and importance of prayer and intercession for the believer can never be over emphasized. Through the centuries, God has used prayer warriors to “battle” His purposes on earth. Abraham cried out to God on behalf of Sodom, even when he knew the city was thoroughly evil. God answered his prayer. Moses pleaded for Israel again and again, even offering his own life in return; and God honored his requests. Habakkuk asked for God to fight against injustice, and Nehemiah dreamed about and interceded for the rebuilding of the temple.
Yeshua is the supreme example of intercession, earnestly interceding for His people, even those who ridiculed and betrayed Him, and the thief on the death tree next to Him. The life of Yeshua became a living-representation of intercession because He was perfect, pure, and sinless. He only obeyed the Father at all times. Yeshua took time to be alone with the Father. He found a sanctuary and gift of time in His presence. That is where he rested and was rejuvenated. That is where he pleaded in intercession for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
Today God calls His Bride to do the same acts of intercession and become examples of living intercession toward a lost and hurting on earth.
Again Gary Weins speaks of the place of the Bride in intercession,
In the prophetic portrait called the book of Esther, he is inviting us to approach intercession through the doorway of romance, to dial up all His daring and passionate emotions, to tell Him all over again that we say “yes” to His proposals that we choose Him again even as at the first. He wants us to presume upon His grace and mercy, to enter the Holy of Holies with confident boldness, knowing that His scepter of righteousness is extended toward us at all times, because He is a King in love, and we are His bride!
As the Bride of Messiah when we engage in Sabbath-keeping practices, we find ourselves fulfilling God’s intercessory purposes on earth. The act of keeping the Sabbath is a prophetic call to Israel, as it is repeated through the ages, and demonstrates that God has made covenant with His people and will keep it.
That act becomes an intercessory prayer that resounds into eternity, whose language is heard without words, yet voicing through our actions that Sabbath stands forever as a sign between God and man. God is showing in word and deed that He is our provider, and there is a physical and spiritual Sabbath rest for those who will seek it. The observance and remembrance of the Sabbath reinforce these truths in a literal and weekly manifestation.
For Israel, the Sabbath stands as a highway marker that God has kept His promises to her and will continue as long as the foundations of the earth remain there are stars in the sky. As Messianic believers enter into the Sabbath rest, the act itself becomes an intercessory call that cries out for the light of Yeshua to shine into darkness, illuminating the hearts of Jews around the world to the truth of salvation through no one else but Him.
An invitation to Sabbath rest rings throughout the universe as the His people strike the first match to light the Sabbath candles, lift the brimming cup of wine, and bless the God of Israel on the evening that is separated unto the Bridegroom and Bride alone.
Ritually Set Apart
To underscore the Sabbath’s spiritual significance, it is ritually set apart and begins with a festive Friday evening meal–a special event that reminds us that we are keeping covenant with God and entering into a holy time. To believers in Messiah, Shabbat is a picture of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, when Messiah’s Bride is united with her Beloved in heaven because of the blood sacrifice of Yeshua (Revelation 19:7).
[This is an excerpt from my book, Sabbath: A Gift of Time, available at bookstores everywhere.]