Intimacy & the End Times
by Eitan Shiskoff, Executive Director, Tents of Mercy Network
Performing a wedding ceremony is one of the holiest moments I get to experience. Heaven touches earth when I stand under the wedding canopy with a man and a woman who are deeply in love and giving themselves to each other unconditionally for a lifetime.
Time stands still. The man and woman are surrounded by family and friends who sincerely love them. In those moments of cutting covenant God Himself draws near, as if to say:
"In the beginning, I created you for this closeness, this sweetness, this depth of longing for each other - which I am now granting you. I, Myself, am participating in your joy and fulfillment. This blesses Me!"
This theme permeates the Seven Benedictions sung at every Jewish wedding:
"Grant perfect joy to these loving companions, as You did your creations in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, LORD, who grants the joy of groom and bride."
It is the season for weddings, and this year many Messianic couples are taking their vows. I've been privileged to perform a number of their ceremonies. When people congratulate me afterward, saying "Thank you! That was so special." I usually respond with "It's hard to mess up such a good script." And I mean it. Our magnificent Inventor fashioned us with such strong desire for the opposite sex that an almost magnetic force energizes us to find our mate. There is no doubt that He is the original "wedding planner." But the ceremony and family/community celebration are just the opener.
Weddings are about intimacy. A man and a woman pledge their lives to each other - body, soul, and spirit - through every circumstance, "forever and ever". They are henceforth blessed (even commanded) to express their new-found intimacy in sexual love. The depth of intimacy for which marriage is designed is used repeatedly in the Scriptures to awaken us to God's delectable intention for us with Him. Of all the images employed by the Author to help us "get" what He has in mind - this one should both shock and attract us. He devoted an entire book of sensual poetry, the Song of Songs, as if to luxuriate in the satisfaction of a man and woman becoming one. He describes Himself as Israel's "husband" (Isaiah 54:5).
We hear much teaching and many feature films now about the Apocalypse. It would seem that the end times really are drawing near. So, in the words of the Apostle Peter, "How should we then live?" I believe that the prime answer lies in this mysterious marital concept: INTIMACY.
That's what makes the wedding canopy such a holy place. God has woven into the fabric of every heart this essential desire. It is the longing to overcome our separateness, to merge with a greater reality - to enter something unlimited. The enormity of the physical universe sends a signal that we are tiny and very finite. Being joined intimately with the Inventor of the universe flips that equation around, propels us into value and dissolves our aloneness, with the constant nearness of Another.
Miriam (Mary) and Martha. One of them saw that the essential thing was being with Yeshua. Relational intimacy requires unusual openness - to a degree we are not familiar or comfortable with in everyday life. That's why marriage involves removing all barriers. This is God's goal for us in relating to Him, and the reason for Yeshua's unique sacrifice.
In the final chapters of the Bible, at the culmination of the End Times, we're given an image of Yeshua being united with His people - with us. We are the bride in the wedding supper of the Lamb.
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