All Aboard and welcome back, fellow travelers! I am happy to say that, after a rather lengthy but edifying visit to the Workout Room, the time has come for us to once again head out on the Truth Train and resume our Bible Study tour through the Land of Revelation Knowledge. For those who are joining us for the first time, this tour is unique in that it presents the One Big Story of the Bible as a Play; one consisting of two Acts with six Scenes each and one long Intermission between the acts. These scenes and the intermission, as well as an epilogue at the end of the play, are being acted out for us on fourteen different Stages, positioned along the route we are taking through this vast and incredible land. When we broke for our detour to the Workout Room, we had just left Stage #1 where Act 1, Scene 1 had completed its run, and we were on our way to Stage #2 where Act 1, Scene 2 had been scheduled to get underway.
Now that we are back on track and heading in that direction once more, considering how long it has been since we left the first Stage, I think it would be wise if we used this travel time to Review briefly what took place in Scene 1, and to Preview what will soon be taking place in Scene 2. For those who may feel the need of a more thorough review, one can be obtained by visiting the His Truth, My Voice Theatre page, where all of the material we’ve covered so far has been arranged chronologically for easy viewing.
Reviewing Where We Have Been
In Act 1, Scene 1 of God’s One Big Story, we were introduced to the Sovereign God of the Universe, whom we discovered is not only the Main Character of the Story but also its Author. From the opening verses of the Script(ures), we learned that this God is…
- A Trinity of Three Unique Persons united in One Divine Purpose;
- Pre-existent and Eternal; and,
- All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Present Everywhere at All Times.
As for the Story itself, we learned that it is a Love Story, borne out of God’s Heart and His passionate desire to have a Family of His own to love. It was for this reason that He created the world and the people living in it—people who, as they multiplied, would eventually become the nations from which one, Israel, would graciously be chosen to become God’s Wife. When Act 1 opened, however, no such nations existed; therefore, to prepare for Israel’s eventual entrance onto the earthly stage of the Story, all the action taking place in the opening scene was for the purpose of bringing them into being.
The way in which this was accomplished was revealed to us through the use of nine dramatic Vignettes, or mini-scenes, covering the major events in Genesis 1-11–these being…
The Creation of the World;
The Creation of Man and Woman;
Their Sin and Fall from Grace;
The Consequences of their Sin…
…In Their Family,
…In Society at Large;
The Judgment on their Sin through the Flood;
The New World after the Flood; and,
Mankind’s On-going Rebellion and its Judgment.
Over the course of these Vignettes, we learned how God used elements from the real-life experiences of people living on the Earthly Stage at the time to tell the Bigger Story of Love and Redemption that was taking place on the Heavenly Stage. In fact, by the end of Vignette #9, we were able to see how the mini-scenes of Genesis 1-11, when viewed together, formed a Panoramic Prophetic Picture of all human history—creating, in effect, a Spiritual Overture of the themes and motifs which would be reappearing throughout the rest of the Story.
For example, in this Overture, we saw how…
- In the story of Creation—in going from darkness to light, chaos to order, and from death to life in response to the Word of God and the “hovering” work of the Spirit—we were provided with a picture of the recurring spiritual theme of Re-creation or Rebirth.
- The story of the First Adam and his wife, Eve, gave us the prophetic picture of the Second Adam, Jesus, and His Bride, the Church—who, like Eve, was fashioned from a “rib” (the disciples) taken from the Second Adam as He slept in death.
- The story of the Two Trees in the Garden was an illustration of the only two “salvation” alternatives available to mankind—the counterfeit system of works or the genuine system of salvation through faith in Christ.
- In the story of Cain and Abel—in which God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering by faith and His rejection of Cain’s self-righteous offering provoked Cain to envy, anger, and the murder of his brother–we were given a spiritual illustration of the wicked’s on-going rebellion against and persecution of the righteous. We were also shown a picture of Cain as a type of Israel—the brother who, after his slaying of the righteous Son, was marked for protection before he began his wanderings in the wilderness of the world.
- In the long “Reign of Death” taking place between the stories of Cain and the Flood, we were shown how sin affected all men, leading to their deaths, and the futility of life lived apart from God.
- In the translation of Enoch just before the judgment of the flood, we were given a prophetic picture of the Rapture that will take place prior to the Great Tribulation, when those who are “walking with God” will be translated to heaven without dying.
- The lawlessness and demonic activity preceding the Flood gave us a preview of the conditions that will exist before the Tribulation, as self-absorbed humanity abandons faith in God, violence increases, and doors are opened to ever-increasing levels of satanic activity.
- And the Flood, in which the wrath of God was poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men while a small righteous remnant in the Ark was being spared, provided us with a picture of the end-times Tribulation, when the wrath of God will once again be poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, while a righteous remnant is being preserved on the earth.
- In the story of Noah after the Flood, when those in the Ark came out to a new earth and entered into a new covenant with God, we were shown a “type” of the “new world” that will exist when Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation–where the righteous remnant will live on a cleansed earth, under a new covenant with God, for a thousand years.
- The rebellion at Babel gave us a prophetic picture of Satan’s final act of rebellion—when, at the end of the Millennium, he will be released from his thousand year imprisonment to lead one final revolt against the righteous rule of the Lord.
- And, in the Judgment of the Nations at the Tower of Babel, the final Judgment of the Nations is in view, when the Lord gathers the nations together—separating the “sheep” nations from the “goat” nations— and judges them according to the way they have treated His “brethren.”
Now, having refreshed our memories as to what we have seen, and with Stage #2 fast approaching, let’s prepare ourselves for what we can expect to see when the curtain goes up on Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story.
Previewing Where We Are Going
Whereas in Scene 1, we were introduced to God as “The Celestial Suitor”—who, in anticipation of obtaining a Bride, created and prepared the world to be her future home—in Scene 2, we are going to be introduced to the Patriarchs—or, the line of godly ancestors through whom “Israel: the Beloved of God,” will come into being. Much like Scene 1, where the story was told through the use of 9 Vignettes, in Scene 2, the story will unfold by means of 4 Bio-Pics, or four biographical pictures of these ancestors of Israel, found in chapters 12-50 of the book of Genesis. They are…
Abraham—the Exalted Father who becomes the Father of a Multitude;
Isaac—the Long-Awaited Son of Promise who displaces the Son born in Bondage;
Jacob—the Scheming Shepherd who becomes a Prince with God; and,
Joseph—the Betrayed Brother who not only becomes His Brothers’ Savior but the Savior of the World, as well.
Before we can move forward with the story, though, there is still the all-important matter of Formatting that we need to take into consideration. Hopefully, those of you who have been with us from the beginning of this tour will remember that during our visit to the Welcome Center of the Word, we viewed the video, The Bible: The Story Behind the Story. In that video, we learned that the Story of the Bible has been formatted according to the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition—a tradition completely foreign to our present day concepts of marriage. Because of this–and, in order for us to truly appreciate the Love Story that the Bible has to tell–we must first come to an understanding of the Wedding Tradition upon which that story is based.
The Format of the Story
Because Family was at the center of Jewish life and culture, the choice of a marriage partner was a very serious business. This selection was not to be determined by some fly-by-night or emotional impulse of the moment; it was achieved through an involved Marriage Process, consisting of three distinct phases…
The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase;
The Betrothal Phase; and,
The Marriage and Consummation Phase.
- The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase
In Jewish culture, when it was time for a young man to marry, typically his father would choose a bride for him and then send an agent or representative to the bride’s family to negotiate an arrangement for a marriage. The bride, of course, had to give her consent and if she did, a mohar or Bride Price was established and a Ketubah or written document was drawn up in which the bride price, the promises of the bridegroom, and the rights of the bride were clearly stated. This document would have to be executed and signed prior to the wedding ceremony.
Gifts were then given to the bride and a cup called the Cup of the Covenant was shared between the bride and groom—the rite of erusin or betrothal being completed when the groom gave something of value to the bride and she accepted it. This completed rite was known in Hebrew as kiddushin or sanctification, and the covenant between the bride and the groom would be sealed with the drinking of the wine. Once agreed to, this covenant was a legally binding contract which could only be dissolved by divorce.
Afterward, the bridegroom would go back to his father’s house, where he would begin preparing a home for his new bride. Before leaving, though, he would reassure her of his eventual return with this promise: “I go to prepare a place you; if I go, I will return again unto you.” After his departure, the bride would undergo a mikvah—or water immersion—a ritual of cleansing marking a separation from her former way of life to a new life with her spouse.
- The Betrothal Phase
This marked the beginning of the Betrothal Period, which usually lasted a year. During this time, the bride was consecrated and set apart, busily preparing her wedding garments for the big day; while the bridegroom was away making, ready their new home. The bride had to be ready at all times because she had no idea when her groom would return for her. Even the groom didn’t know when that would be because he first had to get permission from his father—who had to be completely satisfied that his son’s house was in order.
- The Marriage and Consummation Phase
Once he received his father’s permission, the bridegroom would return—usually in the middle of the night—with a shout, “Behold the bridegroom comes,” and with the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn. He would then abduct his bride from her father’s home and carry her away in a sacred procession to the chupah or wedding canopy where the marriage would take place. There, they would be treated as royalty, with the bridegroom in the role of a newly-crowned king, and the bride as his queen.
Following the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom and bride would go into the wedding chamber where the marriage was to be consummated. The friend of the bridegroom would take up his position outside the door where he, and all of the assembled guests, would eagerly await word that the consummation had taken place. Upon receiving the signal from the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom would announce it to the guests, and great rejoicing would break out. The couple would remain in the wedding chamber for a total of seven days and when they came out, they—along with all the guests invited by the father of the bride, would enjoy a great Marriage Supper.
Although this wedding tradition bears little relevance to our lives today, because it was such an integral part of everyday life when the Bible was written, we must take time to familiarize ourselves with each of this tradition’s three parts if we are ever going to understand the Story it has to tell. For, not only do these phases provide the framework for all of God’s Great Love Story, they also serve as the basis for the Plot, and propel the Action of the Story forward in both the Old and the New Testaments.
As we shall see in the upcoming scene, in the Old Testament—which is all about God’s love relationship with Israel…
- The Negotiation Phase is what takes place in Genesis 15, when God—as the Bridegroom Himself–enters into a covenant with Abraham, and negotiates a marriage contact in which the future nation of Israel will one day become His Bride;
- The Betrothal Phase will follow on the heels of this negotiation and will cover the period of time from Genesis 15 to Exodus 19. At that time Moses, acting as God’s representative, will abduct Israel in the middle of the night from the “house of Pharaoh,” and lead her in a sacred procession to the Marriage Chupah at Mount Sinai;
- Then, in Exodus 20, the Marriage Phase will begin, as Israel vows to forsake all other gods, agrees to the terms of God’s covenant, and becomes the Wife of Jehovah.
With this as the backdrop to our Story—and with the train now coming to a halt at our next destination—the time has come for us to leave the train and make our way into the theatre, where Scene 2, “Israel, the Beloved of God” will soon get underway.
In place of our usual music selection, here is the video referred to earlier, “The Story Behind the Story”…
 Information on the Jewish Wedding Tradition gathered from Edward Chumney’s book, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Destiny Image Publishers, 1994), 125-135.