The Wedding Feast, and the Aftermath Pt 2
The Last Shall Be First Series
But the figure continues, in that a great long time later, I am given a glimpse into what really happened in those beginning days of abandoned joy in Jesus.
It is like the most wonderful experience mentioned in scripture, of the marriage feast of the Lamb, which in our case we know in our inner baptism into Christ, in the infilling of the Holy Ghost when He enters into betrothal and marriage with us.
For this part of the figure (see Gen chap 27-29), I am the groom, Jacob, enamored with Rachel, my wonderful beloved. I am Jacob, who also comes with the blessing of Abraham, the Seed which shall bless all nations. But I don't yet what that means, though God has told me that I bear the Seed. I have just come across a howling desert and met God on the journey, Who came to me via a ladder on which angels from heaven were descending and ascending. God repeats the blessing of Abraham to me in this Jacob, saying in him shall come a Seed which shall bless all nations, causing this Jacob then to say, "Surely God is in this place." But I have only learned Him in an outward, "for me," way, as Jacob's prayer reveals: "IF God shall be with me ... and will keep me in this way ... THEN the Lord shall be my God." To me at the moment He is the "what can He do for me? God. I am on my way, but not there yet.
Because I am still Jacob, supplanter, cheater, sent here by my father and mother to protect me from my brother, who I defrauded by stealing his birthright and then his blessing, (spoken of in a previous article and talk, "Voice of Jacob/Hands of Esau," [written article] or [audio talk]), and more importantly to seek a wife from the relatives of my mother. Like my grandfather Abraham before me, I have left my father's house to go to a land I do not know, on a secret mission I don't yet know myself. One day I will be Israel, "God prevails," "He who has power with God and man." But I am not Israel yet.
After a short courtship and time of betrothal, finally the banquet is taking place with all the invited guests! They are wearing their very finest wedding garments. They have come to sing, to dance and to celebrate!! It is a very opulent and sumptuous affair, with every good thing the rich and generous host can provide. There are gifts beyond counting, all of them the best of everything. There are treasures chests and baskets filled with precious jewels and wrought gold and silver, so fine only a king could afford them. These are the unsearchable and inexhaustible riches of Christ that are to be given to me, as the Bride's dowry, to be fully mine in the final consummation of our union.
But I see none of that. I consider none of it. For I have eyes only for her. Her beauty consumes me. Her eyes disarm me. Her laugh makes me shake with joy that has no reason, except the delight of the sound of it. Tears running down her cheeks cause my own eyes to fill with water. Everything about her is pleasing and desirable. Though we have not yet touched and embraced, my imagination is filled with her delights awaiting my pleasure. I look at her and I burn for her, want to touch her, stroke her hair, feel the curve of her shoulder. "My Rachel, the delight of my life," I think through the wine the feastmaster keeps bringing me, "you are the only woman there is, full of mystery, full of joys and pleasure, who flirts and sports with me, who will love me, attend to me, receive me and bear my children. O Rachel, Rachel, my joy and my delight. I will evermore be ravished with your love."
But I am dim of sight and sense as they lead me to the bedchamber. I am stumbling, but I know her servants have made her ready, and I will fall into her arms and take her as my bride, possess her completely, consume her so that I become one with her and she with me, so that her skin becomes my skin and mine hers. Our eyes are to be one common vision, our hearts bound together with the same joy and same love, and I float away in this dream with the wine and her pleasure into the oblivion of sleep.
The figure continues, and in the morning when I awake, first thinking how incredulous I am and blessed I am at the joy of the night before, I turn to my beloved Rachel, and horror seizes my gut, because it is the face of Leah, her sister, that looks back at me. Thinking it was Rachel, in my inebriation and dimness of mind, I had consummated the marriage with Leah, and it could not now be otherwise than that Leah is my wife.
And as Rachel is the epitome of beauty and female vitality, this Leah is homely and fearful. As Rachel's eyes sparkle with wit and laughter, Leah's eyes are tender and sad. Rachel's beauty and natural grace give her confidence and self-assurance. Leah is disesteemed and shy.
Thinking I was marrying Rachel, I become the husband of Leah, and then serve another seven years for the one I really wanted.
What does this mean in this figure?
That first era for me was like the wedding feast, as I said above. It lasted for a long while, but after a time things seemed to dry up and the first enamorment with Jesus changed into a desert with no water, compared to what it had been in the beginning. That is where I began to know, embrace and love Leah, the homely one. Because in this figure, Leah is the Cross, the one I first stumbled over on my way here, that now has begun to grind me to powder. I had thought I was getting the consummation of my longing and desire, my beautiful Rachel, but before I could fully possess her, I have been given her sister instead, a life with always a Cross at its center.
And is this not what Jesus has done, and that to which He has led us? We see in Him the Eternal, full of unending glory and limitless joy, but almost immediately He begins to mention something else, an end in Jerusalem, and we find that in order to stay with Him and be where He is, we have to walk the road with Him that is leading headlong to the Cross. Nobody mentioned this!
This road we walk in Jesus is not just posts and videos from the front lines. We walk it in ourselves as much as the disciples did. We are living the journey -- the Way, the Truth and the Life -- every moment of every day, but in the beginning our ears are thick and our eyes dull; one day we're sure, the next we're not. Great joys overwhelm us as unimaginable miracles happen before our eyes. But the next moment we are terrified if something seems to go wrong. Jesus in some way gives us, as spiritual adolescents, the abilities to do miracles and signs and wonders ourselves, and to exhibit great power. But we really don't yet know what to do with it. Sometimes we think we have it so that we might call down destruction on those who refuse to receive us, and for this we are rebuked. We are confused all the way to the Cross and beyond, because we do not yet know ourselves. Jesus knew what was in man but we do not. As Jesus said to James and John, "You know not what manner of spirit you are of." All the way to the moment they come to take Him away from us, we are resolved to follow Him, never to desert Him, because we have made up our minds and have firmly resolved to it. But like Peter and the crowing rooster, and all the rest of the twelve, we all deserted Him. We all fled for ourselves and left the Master to the Pharisees and Romans. Our inner resolve fizzled, sputtered and petered out, at the moment of its testing. It was a nothing, "tried in the balances and found wanting," but it was all we had (so we thought). Now we have nothing. No Jesus, no dream, no restoral of the Throne of David, no driving out the Romans, we've bet it all on a longshot that didn't even place! We might as well go back to Galilee and our fishing boats and tax rolls!
It is in that experience of absolute betrayal and failure, that we are made. By God's grace, we begin to realize our emptiness, that "in me there dwells no good thing," and that "there is none Good, save God." This is the outworking of the finished work of the Cross, where the reality that it is, becomes the reality we consciously live.
End Pt. 2. Continue in Pt. 3.