Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Here Comes The Groom

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"Here Comes The Bride"
Modern weddings make a production about the entrance of the bride, inspiring music and lyrics we're all familiar with. Not so much for the groom. However, in the customs of ancient Jewish weddings, the arrival of the groom was the anticipated event. And many recognize that the arrival of the groom in ancient Jewish wedding custom parallels the (second) coming of Jesus. Many of these Jewish wedding customs from betrothal to the marriage supper foreshadow events in the Bible, past, present, and future. Many events and sayings in the Bible make more sense when viewed through the lens of a wedding. How do we know the parallels with Jesus? The Bible says so.

Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.
2 Cor 11:2  For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
Eph 5:31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 

It is not just New Testament teaching however. When Israel entered into covenant with God after deliverance from Egypt, it was, among other things, a marriage covenant.

Jer 31:31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

Let's look at some of the elements of a Jewish wedding and how the groom (Jesus) and the bride (the church) fulfill the typology.


The groom's father had the responsibility of finding a wife for his son. Matchmaking took place between the groom's father and the bride's father, ideally with input from the bride and groom. The groom and his father would visit the bride's family for formal negotiations. The groom, armed with the bride price and wine, would knock.  If the bride agreed to open the door, everyone would share the first of four glasses of wine, after which the couple was considered married - some say it was after the third glass. It was binding on the groom but not the bride who could back out at anytime. Otherwise, the groom could only  back out by divorce, recall the story of Mary and Joseph. Next, the fathers and the couple worked out the marriage contract, called a ketubah, paid the bride price, and the four of them would share a second glass of wine. At the conclusion of the ketubah, the bride and groom would
Ketubah [1]
drink a third glass of wine. The groom would not drink wine again till the wedding ceremony, where they would share the fourth glass. Notice the parallels with the "last supper", which was actually a Passover service.  A meal would follow the ketubah. The groom returned to his father's house to prepare a bridal chamber for her, this took from one to two years.

knock - Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

bride price Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 

wine - Mt 26:29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

bridal chamber - John 14:2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Passover - Jesus Christ, our Passover, formally presented the New Covenant to His Bride, at Passover, in the format of a first century Jewish marriage proposal - Golden Sheaves [2].

Preparation Period

After the ketubah is worked out and dinner is eaten, the groom and his father go home. The groom gets busy preparing a place for his bride, while the bride prepares herself. They both do a mikveh, (baptism) symbolizing a major change in their lives. The bride would sew her wedding dress. The groom might send gifts to the bride to keep her interest alive.  When things were ready, the groom's father would send the groom to fetch his bride. The groom and the bride would know approximately but not exactly when, only his father. The bride waited with her friends. The groom friends would go before him blowing the shofar, and shouting.

prepare a place - John 14:2  for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

bride prepares herself - Rev 19:7 for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.

mikveh - Acts 1:4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

wedding dress -  Rev 19:8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

gifts - 1 Cor 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.

fetching the bride
Mark 13:32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 
Mt 25:6 At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' 
1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Wedding Day

When the groom's father decides the time is right, he sends the groom to fetch the bride. She waits with her friends for the sound of the groom's friends announcing his arrival. They travel back to the groom's father's house where a wedding canopy (called a chuppah) is set up. The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah, where they drink the fourth glass of wine together. They smash this glass underfoot symbolizing that no one else may drink from this glass, that is no one else may partake of this special relationship. After the ceremony, the wedding is consummated, and the seven day feast begins.

bridesmaids - Since bridegrooms typically came for their brides in the middle of the night, to "steal them away", the bride would have to have her lamp and her belongings ready at all times. Her sisters or bridesmaids would also be waiting, keeping their lamps trimmed in anticipation of the late night festivities - ReturnToGod  [3]

groom's friends - As the bridegroom approached the bride's home, he would shout and blow the shofar (ram's horn trumpet) so that she had some warning to gather her belongings to take into the wedding chamber - ReturnToGod  [3]

canopy - Isaiah 4:5 then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy (chuppah).

glass - Also a sign that the covenant broken can not be put back together - TASC [4].

consummation - On the wedding day, the bridegroom is seen as a king and the bride as a queen. During the consummation of the marriage, the bridegroom (Jesus) will be crowned King over all the earth and the bride (believers in Christ) will live with Him and rule with Him forever - Layman's Watch [5]. In other words, the consummation is a coronation.

feast - the newly weds went into the wedding chamber for a seven day honeymoon - Wild Olive [6], while the guests feasted for seven days.

Marriage Supper

After the seven days, the bride and groom emerge to share the marriage supper with the guests.

Rev 19:9 Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”

That is good news (gospel) indeed.

From the betrothal where a ketubah is written, through the time of preparation where the groom prepares a place and the bride prepares herself, to the wedding day, a coronation as it were, the Bible in many ways pictures Jesus as marrying a bride*.

If you liked this, be sure to check out my other blog articles. The archive at the right side of this page is complete, but it does not give titles or summaries, it is more convenient to use my custom BLOG INDEX which does have titles and summaries of my blog articles. 



* Some object to aspects of the wedding analogy because of ways the analogy breaks down.  To give some examples: The Church is called the body of Christ, does that imply Jesus will marry Himself? God is already our Father, will He then become our father in law? If a man is to leave his father and mother, how is it Jesus goes to prepare a place for us in His Father's house? Every analogy eventually breaks down, but I see many more types fulfilled in the Jewish wedding analogy than I see contradictions.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Unleavened Beer?

Soon, many of us will be keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread, a week long feast which is marked by its name - unleavened bread. We remove leaven and leavened products from our homes, and during the festival we eat unleavened bread, taking in "the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth". The question always comes up, especially for newcomers, what is leaven? And at some point, what about beer? People ask because they know that bread and beer are both made with yeast. So it is a valid question. The instant reaction is "it's not the days of unleavened beer." But I think there is more to the answer than saying it's not the days of unleavened beer.

Credentials are in order for this discussion. I have made bread off and on for over 40 years. I have also made beer off and on for even longer. I am not a microbiologist nor do I play one on TV, for that I rely on "First Steps in Yeast Culturing" by Pierre Lajotte [1].

Leavened Versus Leavening

The Bible is clear that we should remove both leaven and leavened products, Ex 13:7 "Unleavened bread (matzoh meaning sweet) shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened (chametz meaning sour) shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven (s'or meaning leaven)  be seen among you in all your borders." That would include bread crumbs not because they are leavenING (bread crumbs do not contain live yeast cells, they were killed in the baking process), but because they are leavenED (chametz). And it would include yeast because it is leavenING (s'or), not because it is leavenED (chametz). Note this is a New Testament command as well, 1 Cor 5:7 "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed."

Give Us This Day Our Daily Beer

The Sediment Is Brewer's Yeast
The problem is that beer does contain live yeast cells. And the yeast cells in beer are exactly the same yeast used to make bread.   "Most yeasts used in baking are of the same species common in alcoholic fermentation." - Wikipedia Yeast [2]. The beer is not leavenED, but it does contain leavenING. One might argue that they are really different yeasts in beer versus bread. I have done the experiment of harvesting yeast from a batch of homebrewed beer (see picture) and using it to make bread. It made perfectly good bread. Remember it's the same yeast.

Sediment in a Bottle of Beer
One might argue that there isn't enough yeast in a bottle of beer to make a loaf of bread. But there are many websites that show how to culture the yeast from a single bottle of beer into a sufficient population for brewing or bread making, for example How To Brew []. It is simple enough, I've done it, maintaining sanitation is the biggest challenge. The best beers to culture from will have sediment on the bottom - that sediment is yeast, visible viable yeast. Note that the German beer hefeweizen means "yeast wheat". Filtered or pasteurized beer will not throw sediment. Only the larger commercial breweries filter or pasteurize their beer. And when "it's not the days of unleavened beer" was coined (the American dark ages of beer), nearly all beer was filtered if not pasteurized. Now the craft beer industry is producing lots of unfiltered beer with live yeast. Remember it's the same yeast.

Straining At Gnats?

Agar plate with yeast colonies
Well, how little is too little to worry about? Now we enter the gray area. Lajotte describes techniques for growing a single yeast cell into a culture, and eventually into a "pitchable" population. Technically, a single yeast cell is leavenING,  but without proper equipment and techniques, unlikely to leaven dough. Amy's Bread by Amy Scherber [3] describes a method for creating a sourdough bread starter beginning with nothing but flour and water. There are yeast cells on the grains (which get ground into flour) that reproduce and eventually ferment the flour and water into a viable population for bread making. For this reason, when making matzoh, Jews only allow flour and water to be mixed no more than 18 minutes before baking lest it begin to leaven spontaneously - Wiki Matzo [4]. Once the starter is viable, it is incorporated into bread dough and leavens it. A pinch of dough is saved as a starter for the next batch.   Yeast lives on the skins of grapes too, and there are yeast cells in the air.  So one can start with zero yeast cells and make leaven.

Ancient Israel would have only known the sourdough method. They did not have the option to buy a cake of yeast after Unleavened Bread was over. They would have started fresh with flour and water to grow a bread starter. This takes a few days.

Don't Read This Paragraph

Beer makers, in their quest to distinguish their brew from the competition, get creative in choosing sources of yeast for their "wild ales".  Rogue Brewing has created Beard Beer by culturing yeasts found in the master brewers beard - Mental Floss [5]. 7 Cent Brewery in Australia used the brewmaster's navel lint as a source for yeast, "the first beer in the world fermented from yeast captured from the brewer's belly button fluff." - CNET [6].

Back To Leaven

Sourdough Bread
One question newcomers don't ask is "what is bread?" Beer and bread are both made from grain, water, and yeast, but beer is not bread. Even though throughout history, beer has been known as liquid bread - Liquid Bread [7]. But is it "chametz" or "s'or"? At its simplest, bread is flour moistened with water and cooked, it is solid. Flour needs enzymes and yeast to rise without additional leavening, which narrows the field to a handful of grains. There is unfortunate complexity, confusion, and contradiction on the subject, among Jews and Christians and scientists, even among the Jews themselves. For example, the Jews say matzoh may only be made from five types of grain: wheat, barley, rice, oats and spelt, but this is from the Talmud, not the Bible - Wiki Chametz [8]. Science has concluded that the five grains are just different strains of wheat and barley  - The DAF []. What these five grains have in common is that they are self leavening, their flours plus water is enough to cause them to rise. Therefore, Jews argue they are the only grains that can make matzoh. And some Karaite Jews think "only the leavening of grains known to leaven are forbidden to eat as leavened" - Karaite Judaism [9]. Non gluten grains and non grain flours can be leavened with yeast (albeit poorly) or chemical leavening like baking powder, flours from oats, rice, lentils, coconut, or almond for examples. Scientists have even developed methods to make bread from cockroach flour - Neatorama [10]. Some don't think flours other than the Five count as "leavenable", some don't think chemical leavening is "chametz". As far as I understand it, over time the idea of leavening was merged with the the idea of self leavening grains. Most Jews would argue that since beer is made from barley (one of the Five) and fermented, it is chametz. I would argue that science has isolated the leavening agent yeast from the liquid beer, thanks to Anton van Leeuwenhoek, 1680 and Louis Pasteur, 1857 - Explore Yeast [11], and it is the leavening agent that's got to go, not the beer. One can separate yeast from beer, but one cannot separate yeast from a loaf of bread. Remember, it's the same yeast.

Don't Wine

Bread leavened with wine yeast 
Wine is commanded as the Passover service along with the unleavened bread. From this we see that fermented beverages are OK. But don't think it's because wine yeast is somehow different from beer yeast. It is still yeast (Saccharomyces). And yes, I did the experiment of making challah bread with wine yeast. It made perfectly good bread. According to Jeff Meyers [12], sourdough starters in ancient Israel were inoculated with the lees (sediment) from wine. Unlike beer, modern wine does not have yeast sediment in the bottle.

Back To the Future 

Something tells me no one has this leavening thing completely figured out. Like I said above, it is complex, confusing, and contradictory. Consider when the whole world keeps Unleavened Bread. Yes, they will. How is it possible to remove all the leaven from within your borders as a nation? or worldwide? This puts an undue hardship on bakeries. And breweries. Yeast is their livelihood. Many breweries jealously guard their particular strain of yeast, devoting laboratories and microbiologists to maintain it indefinitely. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals are routinely grown in Saccharomyces cerevisiae aka bread yeast Wiki Yeast[2]. I find it impossible that bakeries, breweries, and pharmaceuticals would have to start over every year. Is there a difference between home brewers and commercial breweries? Between the home baker and the commercial bakery? What about a brewer who wants to age a beer more than a year? Or a baker that needs to maintain his sourdough starter? Maybe I don't understand leaven completely.

Currently, people who keep Unleavened Bread rely on people who don't keep it. Some Jews will sell their leaven and beer and whiskey to a Gentile, then buy it back when the Days are done. Some of us keep our beer and whiskey, but throw out breads and leavening as we understand it. But still we rely on an outside source to replenish our bread supply the moment the Days are done.


What to do in the meantime, till Christ comes back? Take the simplistic approach that it's not the days of unleavened beer and ignore the whole question? Or put out (as in drink up) all barley based beer because barley is one of the Five self leavening grains? Or put out beer where sediment is visible? Or search for a better answer? I guess each of us has to decide. But decide based on the Bible and facts, not just traditions.