The other day, I was watching a young couple that had just started their relationship as a couple. As I watched them trying to figure each other out as the dynamics of their relationship had shifted, I began to run through my mind the conversation that I would soon be having with them, as I knew they would seek counsel not only of their individual parents, but also of me as their rabbi.
I immediately began to run the many verses of Scripture through my mind to formulate what I would say when that time came, all the while knowing that the chances of the conversation going exactly the way I planned it in my mind were slim to none. Yet, I know that regardless of how the conversation would go, refreshing my mind about Scriptures is always a positive thing.
As I went through the concordance in my head, I came to Ephesians chapter 5:25-27:
25 Husbands, love your wives just as Messiah also loved His community and gave Himself up for her 26 to make her holy, having cleansed her by immersion in the word. 27 Messiah did this so that He might present to Himself His glorious community—not having stain or wrinkle or any such thing, but in order that she might be holy and blameless. (TLV)
Some reading the above passages may not know that the reference in verse 26 and 27 are to Jewish wedding practices in which the bride goes through a ritual bath or immersion (baptism) in preparation for the wedding. By completing this immersion, she has made herself holy (separated) to her husband. The bride would go through the ritual bath just before putting on her wedding garments, which would be white, clean and free from wrinkles.
As believers in Yeshua (Jesus), we are all a part of His Bride and are awaiting His return for the wedding. We are to constantly be prepared for His return by continually going through immersion in the Word and making sure our garments are kept prepared for the wedding.
In Ephesians 5:27, the word translated blameless can also be translated as blemish. So, when we look at the statement of preparation, we see that the bride is to keep her garments free from spots, wrinkles and blemishes, so that she will be ready at all times for the return of her husband who has gone to prepare a place for them.
Let's think about these three different things:
- A spot is a stain one gets from some outside source. An example: you are drinking a cup of coffee and you spill the coffee on your clothing; it will form a spot. So, the bride is instructed to keep herself from being spotted by outside influences.
- Garments remain wrinkle free unless one sits down, lays down or takes them off and sets them down without properly caring for them by hanging them up or laying them out neatly. Wrinkles come when we get tired and lazy, when we give up on standing and sit down or lay down, or when we just get careless about how we care for our garment. Keeping garments free from wrinkles requires continual care and effort.
- Blemishes come from inside; they are internal eruptions cause by impurities.
So, we see that the instructions involve our continuing to keep our garments (Robes of Righteousness) free from "spots," or external attacks from other people's words or actions, "blemishes" of internal impurities or our own sinful actions, and "wrinkles" from stagnation and laziness, which can be also caused by our impatience.
My advice to this young couple when they come to me will be the same advice that we were given as the betrothed Bride of Yeshua. Keep your relationship clear of spots, wrinkles and blemishes and you will have a wonderful marriage and life together.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer and Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians.
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