Bible Believers' Newsletter 307
Christian greetings in the precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; we are delighted to have your company.
Already we are in the second week of 2004. Do please remember the Church Website and Newsletter in your prayers that they may be powerfully used of God to feed His end-time Bride and guide the perplexed despite the continuing vendetta being waged by dishonest i.s.p. companies controlled by the enemy of God and Adam's race.
Thanks to our researchers who assisted with the News items, and to everyone who has sent the Seasons' Greetings.
This Newsletter serves those of like precious faith and whosoever will receive the truth is welcome to feed their soul from the waters of the River of Life. Everything presented should be confirmed personally in your own Bible.
Iraq's Impending Invasion
December 30, 2003 The Iraqi people have still to regain a semblance of normalcy after the invasion of its country in March by the US and its stooge allies. Plans are now afoot for a new invasion, this time by God.
Because of the current chaos in Iraq and the impending transfer of rule of the country next June, American Christian ministries are accelerating their work for Iraq in what has been declared a "war for souls." They have affixed a six-month period for the invasion, considering that under an Iraqi regime, no matter how beholden to the US, they would not be as welcome. . .
Today, Islam is not an imperialistic religion. Christianity, in theory, is not either. However, some Christians are convinced that it is time to bring Christ to the world, whether the world wants it or not. In 2000, in Amsterdam, Billy Graham told 10,000 Protestant ministers that the world has but one century to be completely Christian. He then told the ministers to get out in the field and make it happen. . . Full story: malcomlagauche.com
Comment: "One more century?" Christ's second or 'parousia' Coming was in 1963 and He is present now.
New International Order urged for Sake of Peace
Vatican City, January 1, 2004 John Paul II started the new year by insisting that peace is "possible" and thus a "duty," and he called for a new international order. . .
Commenting on the international scene, the Holy Father explained that there is an ever-greater need for "a new international order, which will make use of the experience and results obtained in these years by the United Nations."
He called for such "an order that will be capable of giving solutions that are appropriate to the problems of today, based on the dignity of the human person, the integral development of society, solidarity between rich and poor countries, and the capacity to share the resources and extraordinary results of scientific and technological progress."
Full story: zenit.org
Comment: Pope John Paul II clearly the same humanist god as Billy Graham.
Gibson's Controversial Film coincides closely with Talmud
Los Angeles, January 1, 2004 We will never know for certain what happened in Roman Palestine around the year 30, but we do know what Jews who lived soon afterward said about Jesus' execution.
The Talmud was compiled about the year 500, drawing on rabbinic material that had been transmitted orally for centuries. From the 16th century on, the text was censored and passages about Jesus and his execution were erased to evade Christian wrath. But the full text was preserved in older manuscripts, and today the censored parts may be found in minuscule type, as an appendix at the back of some Talmud editions.
A relevant example comes from the Talmudic division known as Sanhedrin, which deals with procedures of the Jewish high court: "On the eve of Passover they hung Jesus of Nazareth. And the herald went out before him for 40 days [saying, 'Jesus] goes forth to be stoned, because he has practiced magic, enticed and led astray Israel. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and declare concerning him.' And they found nothing in his favor."
The passage indicates that Jesus' fate was entirely in the hands of the Jewish court. The last two of the three items on Jesus' rap sheet, that he "enticed and led astray" fellow Jews, are terms from Jewish biblical law for an individual who influenced others to serve false gods, a crime punishable by being stoned, then hung on a wooden gallows. In the Mishneh, the rabbinic work on which the Talmud is based, compiled about the year 200, Rabbi Eliezer explains that anyone who was stoned to death would then be hung by his hands from two pieces of wood shaped like a capital letter T in other words, a cross (Sanhedrin 6:4). [The correct reference is Gittin 57a].
These texts convey religious beliefs, not necessarily historical facts. The Talmud elsewhere agrees with the Gospel of John that Jews at the time of the Crucifixion did not have the power to carry out the death penalty. Also, other Talmudic passages place Jesus 100 years before or after his actual lifetime. Some Jewish apologists argue that these must therefore deal with a different Jesus of Nazareth. But this is not how the most authoritative rabbinic interpreters, medieval sages like Maimonides, Rashi and the Tosaphists, saw the matter.
Maimonides, writing in 12th century Egypt, made clear that the Talmud's Jesus is the one who founded Christianity. In his great summation of Jewish law and belief, the Mishneh Torah, he wrote of "Jesus of Nazareth, who imagined that he was the Messiah, but was put to death by the court." In his "Epistle to Yemen," Maimonides states that "Jesus of Nazareth interpreted the Torah and its precepts in such a fashion as to lead to their total annulment. The sages, of blessed memory, having become aware of his plans before his reputation spread among our people, meted out fitting punishment to him." Full story: latimes.com
Seismologists alarmed by Rash of Quakes rattling around Globe
January 2, 2004 Christians should rejoice at the rash of earthquakes, for ". . . sudden destruction comes upon the deceived world as travail upon a woman with child. . ." (I Thessalonians 5:3). As every woman who had ever had a baby knows, labor begins with mild stabbing pains that increase in both frequency and duration as the time for birth nears. This was the analogy Jesus used in Matthew 24:7-8 to describe the signs that Christians, and the world, would witness, as the day of the Lord approached. Earthquakes on this unsettled Earth have been noted throughout all of its recorded history. It is not the fact that earthquakes happen that we are admonished to acknowledge, by their greatly increased frequency and severity. 378 earthquakes were recorded in the 17th century. 640 earthquakes were recorded in the 18th century. 2,119 earthquakes were recorded in the 19th century and over 5,000 were recorded in the 20th century. Since Christmas 2003 there have been three major earthquakes with over 30,000 people dying in Iran. Full story: wnd.com in real time
Comment: Did the USA might 'create' Iran's earthquake using HAARP technology? rumormillnews.com
Hawks demand an End to all Evil, and maybe France, too
Washington, January 1, 2004 Washington's hawks have sent a public manifesto to President George Bush demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.
The manifesto, which was sent on Tuesday, is presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terrorism. It also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.
Their publication, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror . . . calls for tough action against France and its dreams of offsetting US power. "We should force European governments to choose between Paris and Washington," it says.
Full story: smh.com.au
Experimental Smallpox Vaccine on Trusting Young Children
Click the link below to view graphic examples of the horrendously dangerous potential effects of the experimental smallpox vaccine on trusting young children who rely upon adults to protect them. Full picture: bt.cdc.gov
US Soldiers Cheer at Killing Wounded Iraqi
Check out this video of American troops opening fire on a crowd of demonstrators. Note the trajectory of the tracer fire. Some of it is at a downward angle, clearly aimed at bodies and not over their heads. Full story: informationclearinghouse
Comment: In January this year, seventy three year old Uniting Church Minister, Neville Watson, said good-bye to his family and congregation in Perth and joined a group of peace activists in Baghdad. Their task was to try and stop the war, and to bear witness to the suffering of the Iraqi people. It was a similar journey to the one he'd made in 1991 during the Gulf War. Listen to or read this transcript of his experience, abc.net.au
Fraud Exposed in Defamatory German Exhibition
A highly publicized German exhibition of atrocities allegedly carried out by regular German army forces during the Second World War has been closed down in the wake of revelations that many of the harrowing photographs it displayed are deceitful. The organizers of "War of Annihilation: Crimes of the German Armed Forces, 1941-1944," announced the shutdown on November 5, 1999, after ever more evidence had come to light proving that much of the controversial exhibit is fraudulent. . .
Most of the approximately 800 photographs in the exhibition are from Soviet-era Russian sources. More than half of the total is non-incriminating, while most of the 34 photos proven to be fraudulent or misrepresented actually show victims of the Soviets, and of other non-German forces. Exhibition organizer Herr Hannes also admitted that some of the photographs had been retouched. In some instances, photos taken from different angles of the same event or scene were displayed at different places in the exhibition with captions telling viewers that they showed atrocities at different locations. Also presented in the exhibition were documents that included phony confessions by Germans that had been extracted under torture from Soviets.
Full story: ihr.org
Comment: "Some call it Marxism I call it Judaism" (Rabbi S. Wise, The American Bulletin, May 5, 1935).
God looks at the Heart
"When you call for your new pastor . . . you vote for some little jellybean . . . "Oh, he is kind, takes . . . all the kids out swimming, and oh, he has sociable parties; and we have some dinners in the basement, and . . . He always lets out early . . . so we can see television.
You want mixers, but God calls for separators. The Holy Ghost called for Paul and Barnabas to be separated. Oh, yes. You want some fellow that looks like a Hollywood movie star with locks like a girl and who acts the same way. You know a lot of people look for those kind of people: collar turned around, a frock-tail coat and a carnation . . .
I went to hear a preacher here not long ago, and he changed suits twice while he was preaching. . . Look, friend, I'm just old fashion enough not to believe in this Hollywood revivalism going around today. I like the old fashion, backwoods sky blue, sin-killing religion that don't whitewash, but washes white, makes a man clean. That's right. We need back to the good old Saint Paul's revival and the Bible Holy Ghost again, not a supper room but an upper room. . . Back to the Bible.
You know, man chooses after the eye. God chooses the heart. One time there was a man going to be anointed king in Saul's place. The prophet went up with a big gourd full of oil to anoint one of Jesse's children. Jesse being a man, he said, "Sure. I got the boy to do it. He's seven foot tall".
"Bring him out! How nice he'd look with that crown setting on his head, his priestly robes and things around him. "Oh, he will make a real king for Israel."
Brought him out and the prophet said, "All right, I'll anoint him".
God said, "I've refused him."
He said, "Well, I've got one just a little bit shorter than he is. Perhaps he will be the one. Oh, he's straight shouldered and how he is." Said, "He's the one, I'll bring him out."
Prophet said, "I'll anoint him."
God said, "I've refused him." He went on till he got six of them out. God said, "I refused everyone of them."
He said, "Have you got another one?"
Said, "Yes, a little old skinny, scrawny thing back yonder out herding the sheep."
Said, "Go get him."
Said, "My, surely God wouldn't mix something like that."
But He said, "I've chosen him. Pour that oil on him." Amen. God looks at the heart" (William Branham, Faith, #56-0427).
It's not how you look, it's what you are inside that makes you a Christian, not how smart you are but whether you have Jesus Christ on the inside. If we have any goodness its Christ in us, the hope of glory. "There is none good but one, that is, God" (Matthew 19:17).
"Let us all go back to the Word of God, in weakness with no support from organization, denomination or ecclesiastical hierarchy, but in simplicity and the power of the Holy Spirit that fell on Pentecost, with the same message Peter had on that day: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins". . . You won't be yoked up like a bunch of theologians with your collar turned around and a Bachelor of Arts degree; but brother, you'll have Something in your hand. And as long as the Spirit of God will get into that Word, It'll conquer and bring back those lost sheep that have gone astray. Amen! Confess your weaknesses. Throw off your Doctor of Divinity. Throw off your know-it-all attitude and your denominational membership. Strip yourself before God, spiritually speaking, and call yourself unworthy. Then God can go to using you. Just don't say it from your mouth, bring it from your heart" (William Branham, Perfect Strength by Perfect Weakness, 32:216-217).
We are here to put on the character of Christ and clothe ourselves in His righteousness. This dressing takes place within our heart where Christ takes His throne when we lay down the pride and self-seeking of external dress and the facade of the outer man seen by the world, and allow Christ to dress us from the inside with the nature of the new Manthe last Adam reproducing Himself in us (Colossians 3:10-24).
You are to "study to present yourself approved unto God, a workman who need not be ashamed when He examines our life work, because we know what His Word says and our lives express what It means" (II Timothy 2:15). When our external appearance and conduct reflect the unseen Christ within, the invisible God is made visible, for the Token or evidence of His resurrection is on display in us. We are ambassadors to represent Jesus Christ to the world, not Brother This, Sister That, or the man-made hierarchy of organization (II Corinthians 5:16-21). Our credentials are sealed in our heart and our treasures are stored in heaven safe from thieves and where they can never lose their value, so no man should know us after the flesh.
The proof of the resurrection is the Token or Life of the risen Christ on display in you. This is the true evidence of your new birth or invisible marriage union as the Scriptural evidence of a wholesome natural bride is not an external adornment like a wedding ring that she can put on or remove but what she is constantly as exhibited in her chaste demeanor. Our "inside life" cannot be hidden on the outside.
I Peter 3:1-7, "Wives, be submissive to your own husbands; even if they do not obey the Word, that they may be won over without discussion but by the witness of your godly lives which speak to them more persuasively than words when they behold your pure and modest conduct coupled with reverence."
"Don't be concerned with outward adornment that depends upon arranging the hair, wearing gold [wedding rings and jewellery], or changes of clothes. Rather, be beautiful inside, in the hidden man of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For it was thus that the saintly women of old, who trusted God were accustomed to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands' plans, adapting themselves as secondary and dependent on them, as Sara obeyed Abraham, (following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by) calling him 'lord.' And you are now her true daughters if you do right and don't allow anxieties to unnerve you".
"In the same manner, you husbands should live considerately with your wives, honoring the woman as the weaker vessel but realizing you are partners together of God's grace and blessings in this life, and that if you neglect to treat her as you should your prayers will not receive a ready answer".
The true evidence of the natural marriage like its Spiritual archetype is not an emotional and material pantomime but the outward reflex of an inner life dedicated to the spouse. Consider the wife who wears a wedding ring but also cuts her hair. Moses and Paul teach that such a woman has rejected the authority of God and dishonored her head, who is her husband because a woman who cuts her hair signifies to the natural and spirit worlds she is an adulteress (Numbers 5:11-18; I Corinthians 11:1-16). Or consider the wife who wears a wedding ring but dresses in clothes that pertain to a man. Moses, Jesus and Paul declare her an abomination to God and a seductress (Deuteronomy 22:5; Matthew 5:27-30; Acts 24:14; I Timothy 2:9-10). In both instances she can be put away in divorcement. If her inside Life is correct it will draw our outside life under pre-eminence to her head, and to his Head.
The charter of marriage in Genesis 2:24 is reproduced by our Lord with greater distinctness for He "magnified the Law" (Isaiah 42:21). Matthew 19:4-5, "He Who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and the two shall be one flesh." Ephesians 5:31-32 ascribes this joining in one flesh of husband and wife as the antitype of the eternally designed union of Christ and His Bride. As Christ makes the church a necessary adjunct to Himself, in marriage husband and wife combine to form one perfect human being; the one is the complement of the other. Christ is the type from whom as the pattern, the Church is formed (Romans 6:5). He is her Head as the husband is head of the wife (I Corinthians 11:3; 15:45) but the death that severs a man and his wife cannot separate Christ and His Bride (Matthew 19:6; John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39).
Genesis 2:24 spoke only of the natural type; however in Ephesians 5:30-35, Paul teaches that this great truth of the invisible union between Christ and His Bride, not marriage in general, was once hidden but is now revealed to us. "For we are members of His [glorified] Body, being formed out of His flesh and of His bones." Adam's deep sleep wherein Eve was formed out of His opened side symbolized Jesus' death by which the Holy Spirit was taken from His side to form His spouse, the Church (John 12:24; 19:34-35).
As Adam gave Eve a new name, 'Isha,' woman (man with a womb) or "wife" the counterpart of 'Ish,' man or "husband," so Christ gives the Church His new Name: we are Christians. He is the Solomon which being interpreted means "Peace," she is the Shulemite or feminine of Solomon which also means "Peace" (Song of Solomon 6:13; Revelation 2:17; 3:12).
The propagation of the Church from Christ, like that of Eve from Adam, is the foundation of the spiritual marriage. Natural marriage rests on the spiritual marriage, whereby Christ left the Father's bosom to woo to Himself a Bride out of a lost world. His earthly mother He holds secondary to His spiritual Bride (Luke 2:48-49; 8:19-21; 11:27-28). This truth destroys the dogma of the Roman Catholic church that places Mary above and over her Brothers and Sisters in the Church. Scripture teaches us:
- The unity of husband and wife;
The indissolubleness of marriage save by death, unconfessed fornication on the part of a wife prior to marriage, or adultery which is as if she were deceased as in old times an adulteress was stoned (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22-24; Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Romans 7:3);
The equality of both 'ish' and 'isha' being correlative, and she a "comparable help" (in whom, as soon as he sees her he may recognize himself), along with the subordination of the wife, consequent on her formation subsequently and out of him, and her having been deceived (I Corinthians 11:8-9; I Timothy 2:13-15).
- Love, honour, and cherishing are his duty;
- Helpful, reverent subjection, a meek and quiet spirit, her part;
- Both together being heirs of the grace of life (I Peter 3:1-7; I Corinthians 14:34-35).
The bride was chosen by the parents or a confidential friend of the bridegroom (Genesis 21:21; 24; 38:6). The parents' consent was asked first, then that of the bride (Genesis 24:58). The presents to the bride are called mohar, those to the relatives mattan. According to the Hebrew custom, the Shoshben, a friend of the bridegroom, was a necessary mediator both in the formation and in the conclusion of the marriage. Do you recall Brother Branham's vision of the church and the Bride? As the church passed by the Bride went up, "And I noticed one of them trying, two or three of them getting out of line; I screamed, 'Stay in line.' And the vision left me, and I was standing in this room screaming, 'Stay in line'" (The Rapture, p. 41:203).
In behalf of his friend, the best man made suit with the bride, and was the indispensable negotiator between the bride and groom in relation to the wedding (John 3:29). Therefore Brother Branham, the friend of Jesus Christ (as Abraham was "the friend of God"), stood in the breach of promise and apostasy between the Church Ages and the Seals after the end of the Laodicean Church Age and Christ's mediation to deliver "that which is perfect"the fullness of the Wordto call His end-time Bride and make her one with Him as He is one with the Father through the unity of the faith (John 17:21-26; Acts 3:21; I Corinthians 13:10; Ephesians 4:13-16; Revelation 10:7).
At the wedding itself he was a chief manager of the feast, a necessary functionary at the inspection of the wedding-chamber, and even after the close of the marriage, a mediator in misunderstandings and dissensions. John the Baptist saw himself in this office and the Elijah of Malachi 3:1 was a type of the Elijah of Malachi 4:5-6.
"The voice of the Bridegroom" is "the Voice of the Archangel" in the heart of the Bride, wooing her by identifying the "shout" of the Message Brother Branham delivered in His behalf with the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The apostles and prophets are other persuasive friends of the groom called the "children of the bride chamber" (II Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:14; I Corinthians 3:9-17; Ephesians 2:19-22; 4:11-16; I Peter 2:4-8).
Once she has accepted his proposal of marriage a bride is regarded as the groom's wife so faithlessness was punished with death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24); the bridegroom having the option of putting her away by a bill of divorcement (Deuteronomy 24:1; Matthew 1:19). Under the New Testament an adulteress is not killed as physical death would remove her opportunity for new birth. Moreover she is as one dead to her husband and he is free to remarry another.
No formal religious ceremony attended the wedding; but a blessing was pronounced, and a "covenant of God" entered into (Genesis 24:60; Proverbs 2:16-18; Ezekiel 16:8; Malachi 2:14). The essential part of the ceremony was the removal of the bride from her father's house to that of the bridegroom or his father. The bridegroom wore an ornamental turban like that of the high priest as appropriate to a "kingdom of priests" (Isaiah 61:10; Exodus 19:6); Jesus' nuptial garland was a crown of thorns. Song of Solomon 3:11, "the crown wherewith His mother, [Adam's fallen race; for He is the Son of man not merely Son of Mary], crowned Him in the day of His wedding. [And He was] perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant" (Song of Solomon 3:6; Matthew 26:6-13).
The bride wore a gilded crown or string of beads upon her head, a white robe sometimes embroidered with gold thread (Psalm 45:13-14; Revelation 19:8), and jewels (Isaiah 61:10).
Like Esther, who was distinguished from the other virgins by her modest lack of claim or desire to shine in external decoration and "look like what she ain't," the bride sanctified herself for her husband. Ephesians 5:25-27, "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, [purifying faith is typed by the waters of separation made with the ashes of the red heifer which represented Christ] so that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish".
A veil covered her whole person. This enables us to understand how Laban deceived Jacob when he married him to Leah instead of to Rachel (Genesis 24:65; 29:23). The word nuptial is derived from 'nubo,' which means "to veil one's self." Christians are veiled from worldliness behind the Holy Spirit.
Late in the evening the bridegroom came with his groomsmen, or "children of the bride chamber" (Judges 14:11; Matthew 9:15)singers and lamp bearers leading the way (Jeremiah 25:10; Revelation 18:23)the bride meantime with her maidens eagerly awaited his coming. Then he led the bride and her party in procession home with gladness to the marriage supper (Matthew 25:6; 22:1-11; John 2:2; Psalm 45:14-16). The women of the place flocked out to gaze. The nuptial song was sung; the bridegroom having now received the bride, his "friend's joy [in bringing them together] was fulfilled" in hearing the bridegroom's voice (John 3:29). Wedding garments were provided by the host.
This ancient custom typed Christ's second or 'parousia' Coming led by the Pillar of Fire, and the healing revival spearheaded by God's Prophet in our day. The elect of God were stirred in their hearts, thinking the restoration of the Gifts of the Spirit and the manifestation of the Supernatural in the first and second "pulls" of Brother Branham's ministry was the promised restoration and eagerly awaited Christ's Coming. The denominational churches flocked out to gaze upon the acts of the Holy Spirit but their man-made systems would not allow them to partake, and when they rejected the Prophet and His Message they also rejected Christ (II Thessalonians 2:1-3; II Timothy 4:3-4; Revelation 3:17-20).
The churches now being apostate, Christ's mediation for ignorance of PART-Word was "done away." Revelation 4, 5, and 10:1-6 came to pass and He returned to Earth in Word form through the mouth of His Prophet by the revelation of the Seven Seals"that which is perfect" (Acts 3:21; Revelation 10:7). This Message was the "Shout" of I Thessalonians 4:16unrecognized by the world and rejected by the denominational churches which are "apostate and know it not".
It was late in the evening when the Bridegroom came. The Light of the evening time Message restored the apostolic faith of the morning Message preached in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:7; Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 17:11; 24:22-28; Acts 3:19-23). He came unseen, "as a thief in the night" following the Laodicean Church Age, the seventh generation from the last Adam, as prophesied by Enoch who was called out from the seventh generation from the first Adam and translated. Enoch types the end-time Bride, Noah and his family type the remnant that go into the tribulation.
Jude 14-19, "Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment on all, and to convince all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all the harsh words which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
But you, beloved, remember the Words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how they told you there would be mockers in the last ('chronos') time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts [not discerning 'kairos' time]. These are sensual persons, who separate themselves, not having the Spirit." (See also II Peter 3:1-10).
As God appeared to Abraham and said, "Eliezer your servant will not be your heir, but the seed of promise which Sarah shall bear," He told Brother Branham "the Seed shall not be heir with the shuck" (Genesis 15:1-4; Matthew 25:6; Revelation 18:4). So the "Shout" of the Prophet's Message awoke the wise and foolish virgin, calling them out from Rome and her (once) Protestant daughters. Revelation 19:8, "And to the wise virgin it was granted that she be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." The marriage of the Lamb or Gentile dispensation has almost come to pass. Unlike the PART-Word saints of the Church Ages, the end-time Bride was fully redeemed in Christ on Calvary. We go to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb in the sky. The foolish virgin, our companions, although "saved," are not dressed in the wedding garment of the baptism with the Holy Ghost provided by the Host and will be cast into the tribulation for purification by Fire (Matthew 22:9-14; I Corinthians 3:10-15).
Brother Branham said, when the Seven Seals were revealed the Bible became a new Book. Our nuptial song is the "new song" of this revelation which only the end-time Bride can sing for she alone can hear His Voice (Revelation 5:9-12; Isaiah 42:1-17).
In the days of Noah, a dove brought a fresh olive leaf signifying the restoration of natural life. When Jesus was anointed the Christ at His baptism by John in the river Jordan, God gave Adam's race the sign of a dove signifying the restoration of Spiritual Life. And when Brother Branham was baptizing five hundred in the Ohio river in 1933 before 5,000 witnesses, the Pillar of Fire manifest above him in the form of a star (Revelation 1:16) and a Voice from heaven said, "As John the Baptist fore ran My first Coming, your Message will forerun My second Coming." His Message was Acts 3:21-23, "the restoration of all things that God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. . . it shall come to pass, that every soul, who will not hear that prophecy, shall be destroyed from among the people" (I Corinthians 13:10; Revelation 10:7). Another Message of restoration.
Before Brother Branham died in 1965, God gave him the sign of a dove to signify his Message was complete and that his humility and uncompromising obedience will "bring to pass the tremendous victory in the love Divine" (Acts 3:19-23). Thus, like John the Baptist, Brother Branham's joy in bringing Christ and His end-time Bride together was fulfilled (John 3:29). He said, "I believe I'll ride this trail once more, I've got to bring a Message . . . on the wings of a snow-white dove." He being dead yet prophesies or "rides the trail" through the testimony and lives of the saints (Hebrews 11:14; Revelation 10:8-11; William Branham, On the Wings of a Snow-White Dove).
The evidence of our invisible marriage union or new birth is our inside Life with Christ: spontaneous, and unconsciously on display on the outside so the world can see that we have been with Jesus and yearn to have the same Life living in them.
Let us now consider the outward token of the natural marriage union. Some say the wife and perhaps also the husband must wear a wedding ringbut customs differ from culture to culture. The earliest rings known are those found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The exchange of rings may be symbolic of love or marriage, a sign of authority as in the signet transferred from Pharaoh to Joseph, giving him royal authority (Genesis 41:42), or favor as in the case of the prodigal son (Luke 15:22).
The use of a ring as a token of betrothal comes from the ancient custom of using a ring as a seal to any sacred or important agreement. When the marriage is solemnized, the groom presents his bride with another ring, known as the wedding ring. And often both bride and groom exchange rings. Wedding rings are worn as reminders of their marriage vows. A single, unadorned band has always been the most popular style of wedding ring. Many people believe that its roundness represents eternity, and that it is a symbol that the couple is united forever. Even in seventeenth-century BC Egypt, rings had this supernatural significance.
Ironically, the early Christian Church initially rejected wedding rings as relics of a Pagan time, but gradually adopted the practice. The Romans probably began the use of betrothal and wedding rings. Ancient Roman wedding rings were made of iron. The badge of wealthy Romans of the equestrian order was many gold rings worn on the left hand (James 2:2). Most married persons wear the wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand because of an old, but untrue, belief that a vein runs directly from this finger to the heart and that the nuptial sign was thus joined to the seat of life. The fact that the soft metal is less worn or injured on the finger of that hand may have more to do with this. It is said, however, that the ring originally worn among the Anglo-Normans on the right hand of the bride was changed to the left or inferior hand, in token of subjection. The particular finger is also said to be favored from an old custom of placing the ring on the first finger in the Name of the Father, on the second in the Name of the Son, and on the third in the Name of the Holy Ghost, a usage that probably grew up at the time of the Arian controversy.
Germans and many members of the Eastern Orthodox Churches wear the wedding ring on the right hand. In India, the thumb was the ring finger. In Egypt the village women wear heavy rings of bronze or silver around their ankles as wedding bands. The Arabs wore their rings on a necklace. Christians derived the custom of the wedding ring from the Jews.
There are many other customs surrounding marriage, but they have nothing to do with civil or Church laws. Many of these customs have developed from the wedding rites of earlier times. In ancient Israel the women didn't have wedding rings but wore a chain of ten silver coins or "tablets" around their forehead which represented her virtues (Luke 15:8-10; Galatians 5:22-26).
Before minted coinage, money was originally weighed in the form of silver rings, and the "shekel" previously meant a weight, not a coinage. Early currency was in some conventional shape and bore a rude sign to mark its weight but its value needed to be verified by weighing (Genesis 23:16; 43:21).
One tradition now generally accepted is that it was the outcome of the ancient Egyptian custom of placing a piece of ring-money on the bride's finger to indicate that she was endowed with her husband's wealth. This symbolism is retained in the modern marriage service.
Among the ancient Romans a key-ring was at first used and here again symbolism played an interesting and suggestive part; for in those far-off days it was customary, in the absence of banks and similar places of safe deposit, for valuables to be kept in a strongbox and the key, for the sake of security, attached to a ring and worn on the finger. It was not presented to the bride during the actual ceremony, but after she had been lifted over the threshold of her new home. The presentation of the key denoted the confidence placed in her by her husband and was a token that henceforth she should share all that he possessed.
In the time of Pliny, an iron ring was sent as a pledge to the intended bride. These iron rings were set with adamants, the hardness and durability of both iron and stone signifying the perpetuity of the contract. Juvenal states that, during the imperial period, the man gave a gold ring in token of his fidelity to his betrothed, and that she wore it as now, on the finger next to the small one. Tertullian speaks of them in his day. Isidore says that women wore only this ring, or not more than two, at most. Some nuptial rings were of brass, and some of copper. The plain circle was not the only form of wedding-ring, as some were carved in devices, such as a key, to signify the domestic authority of the wife.
The Irish peasantry had a general impression that marriage without a gold ring is not legal. In former days, girls in the mountain-regions were often married at twelve and thirteen. Some years since, a ring of brass was used at Worcester at a wedding before the registrar, who was threatened with proceedings for not compelling a gold ring to be employed. A story is told of two paupers, who came to the church and requested to be married with the church-key, as the parochial authorities had not furnished them with a ring. The clerk, feeling some delicacy about using the key, fetched an old curtain ring from his own house, and with that article the marriage was celebrated.
The church-key was used in lieu of a wedding-ring at a church near Colchester, early in the nineteenth century; and that was not a solitary instance within that century in England. The Duke of Hamilton was married at May Fair with a bed-curtain ring. Notes and Queries for October, 1860 relates that a ring of leather, cut transversely from a finger of the bridegroom's glove, was used as a substitute for the wedding ring on one occasion. A clergyman unjustifiably stopped a wedding in India, because the bridegroom offered a diamond ring instead of the kind generally in use.
In Iceland, the betrothal and the marriage were both confirmed by money, and the ring seemed little needed in evidence where value received for the maiden was supposed to be paid in cash. It was used there, however; but could hardly be called a finger-ring, being variously formed of bone, jet, stone, gold and silver, and was sometimes so wide as to allow the palm of the hand to be passed through it. In the solemnization of betrothal, the bridegroom passed four fingers and his palm through one of these rings, and in this manner he received the hand of his bride.
The early records tell of wedding rings made of iron, steel, silver, copper, brass, leather and rush. The easy availability of rushes, the belief by simple maidens in the legally binding nature of a ring placed on the 'wedding' finger and the cunning of lusty young men combined to bring forth an official warning from the Church in the person of Richard Poore, bishop of Salisbury, who published a constitution in 1217 forbidding such wicked young men from having their way with trusting virgins by plating a ring of rush and saying "why not, we're married".
"Let no man," thundered the bishop, "put a ring of rush, or of any other material, upon the hands of young girls, by way of mock celebration, for the purpose of easily seducing them, that, while believing he is only pertaining a jest, he may not in reality find himself bound irrevocably to the connubial yoke." If the young man had placed the ring on the girl's finger in the presence of witnesses and had publicly declared that he was taking her for his wife, then the law and the church could regard the marriage as bindingand serve him right, no doubt!
With the coming to power of the Puritans, the wedding ring, as with most official wedding ritual, went out of favor. The ring was too obviously a piece of jewellery and therefore an object of Satan. Indeed one Puritan minister referred to it as being "a Relique of Popery and a Diabolical Circle for the Devil to Dance in." Brother Branham commented on the days when the Nazarene church would not even baptize a woman wearing a wedding ring.
Brother Branham said, "Today, if a woman is married, she should wear a wedding ring as a sign that she's married. That's to keep other men from having anything to do with her. They look and they see she's a married woman" (Second Coming of the Lord, 11:56-57). That is, of course, if the local custom is to wear a finger ring and not some other token.
Customs like languages vary with different cultures, and providing we employ the symbol understood by our neighbors and fellow citizens they will recognize and heed its meaning as they would like a red traffic light. The real, true token or evidence of a marriage union is our vow or sacred word of promise to our spouse on display in our conduct. Anyone can wear a wedding ring; that only shows that they are clever enough to slip it on to the proper finger. But what of their motives and their objectives? Their thoughts and fidelity to one another?
Brother Branham said, "Oh, you might have the wedding ring on. That's right. But [if you're unfaithful] you are not a wife. Oh, you might be a woman; you might be a lady of the house; but you're not a wife if you act like that. And you're not a real Christian; you're not a real genuine product for Christ if you don't love Him with everything that you've got within you. I don't care whether you look pretty or whether you don't; you love Him and you express yourself. That's when you two become one" (Corinthians Book of Correction, p.21:132-153).
Legalism is not righteousness. It's virtue and loyalty God respects. Man judges by what he sees, God looks upon the heart (Proverbs 23:7; Hebrews 4:12). Many are baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins only to arise sincerely wet sinners without the Gift of the Holy Ghost? We must pass from childish form and the "letter without the Spirit" to discernment and a mature understanding of reality (Hebrews 5:11-14). Husband and wife are bound by their word as Christ and His Bride are bound by God's Word. Our identification as the Bride of Christ is the Token, the fullness of His faithful Word on display. Our wedding ring is the Token. God knew us from the foundation of the world so He slipped the wedding ring on you there, and put your name in the Lamb's Book of Life where it is sealed for eternity. Hallelujah! nl307.htm
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Brother Grigor-Scott is a non-denominational minister who has ministered full-time since 1981, primarily to other ministers and their congregations overseas. He pastors Bible Believers' tiny congregation, and is available to teach in your church.