“Oh Lord, I call upon You; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call You! May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering. Set a guard, oh Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies. Psalm 141:1-4
Lord, as I read and study your Word today, make my heart sensitive to your Spirit. I have come today, ready to hear. Bring to mind anything I need to confess, anything I need to forgive. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness that I may have a clean heart before You. Wash me with your Word that my mind would be renewed. Your mercies are new every morning, Lord. For this, I am ever grateful. Great is your faithfulness! Your loving kindness reaches to the heavens and your love is never ending. Fill me with your presence, Lord. I want to be like You. Father, I know your love is flowing through me; continue to work on the inside of me. I open my heart to you today. Please heal and restore the broken places. Where I am insecure, remind me of your faithfulness. Where I am afraid, make me bold and courageous. Soften the hard and unforgiving parts of my heart. Lord, I give you permission to open the portions of my heart that I have locked away “behind closed doors.” Expose those areas to the Light. Lord, come in full force with your amazing love and give me the strength to face my greatest fears. Give me the strength to tear down my toughest strongholds. Refine me, Lord. Engulf my live with your overpowering, ever present, never ending love. Release me from the chains that have bound me and raise me to a new level. I am believing old habits of thought, ugly words spoken over me, painful events still remembered, and addictive and destructive behaviors of all kinds will no longer have a hold on me. Restore, renew, and revive my heart so that I will be brand new from the inside out. Jesus, I know You love me and You only want what is best for me. I lift my hands in surrender to You.
Joshua had the money in hand. He had gathered his personal savings, the Book of Scriptures had been sold, and his grandparents had given him an early wedding gift. He was ready to meet his father’s demands. Joseph would receive none of the money. Instead, it would all be given to Esther’s family’s friends and neighbors to settle her father’s accounts. Once the debt had been paid, Esther would be free.
After the business transactions had been made, Joshua was ready to complete his greatest task; he had to ask Esther to accept him. According to Jewish law, she would make the final decision.
Joshua found this part of the process to be the most difficult. Every Jewish woman chosen by a suitor to be his bride had the right to refuse. Esther could not be forced to marry him; her position as his wife was a place of honor in his life, second only to his relationship with his heavenly Father. Joshua wasn’t entirely certain Esther would give her consent.
Since he and Esther lived under the same roof, because his father had adopted her, Joshua had moved out of their home into the home of his grandparents. This way he could properly call on her for courtship. Today was the day he would ask for Esther’s consent.
Esther, not knowing the reason Joshua had left, felt his move answered her greatest fear. Joshua did not love her, and he had no intentions of asking her to be his bride. As a young Jewish woman, she had always dreamed of being married, but now she had come to accept her fate as a single woman.
Joshua knew Esther had been very open for his affections while he still lived in his parents’ home, but now she was distant. She always seemed to look away whenever Joshua came near. For this reason, going to her and asking for her hand in marriage was an intimidating mission. He begged Abba Father to soften her heart to receive his love. Then he interceded for himself, asking for the understanding to learn how to tenderly and sacrificially love her. This was the way his father had taught him to treat a wife.
According to Jewish laws and customs, Joshua knew the approved engagement would begin today because he had already informed his father of his approaching arrival. At the appointed time, he would knock on his parents’ door.
Then came the moment of truth. Would Esther consent to his proposal? If she came to the door and answered it, and invited him into the house, he knew she would be consenting, and then he would be invited in to join in an engagement meal with his new bride. But if she refused to open the door, he knew she was rejecting him, and there would be nothing he could about it, because it was her choice.
Earlier in the week, Joshua had sent word to his mother to prepare Esther for the arrival of her suitor, and asked her to prepare the engagement meal. As was the custom, his identity would not be revealed. He hoped and prayed Esther would open the door to him.
Joshua made his way through the community dressed in his best suit. Anxiously, he ran his fingers through his curly brown hair. The neighbors he met along the way, smiled at him, knowing he was about to ask for his bride’s hand. They had seen many young men with the same unsure look in their eyes.
Joshua reached his parents’ home and felt awkward opening the gate as if he were a stranger. Looking up, he offered a short prayer, asking his Father to calm his nerves.
“Abba, it is your command to be ‘fruitful and multiply.’ You are the One who blesses the marriage covenant. Make this night the beginning of your blessings on my journey into the life of a husband. Soften Esther’s heart to receive me.”
Sarah had been working hard the entire day; she was more excited than Esther. But that was only because she knew who was coming to ask for Esther’s hand in marriage. She had told Esther a young man would be knocking on their door this night. He would be asking her consent to be his bride. She also told her the young man had already approached Joseph and was willing to pay an enormous bride price for her; a bride price big enough to settle all her father’s accounts.
Esther cried when Sarah mentioned her father’s debts would be taken care of; she would finally be free. Everything she owed would be erased; all her worries and struggles would be over at last.
Her heart rejoiced, but only for a moment.
Her joy was soon drowned out by the flood of negative thoughts filling her mind. She would not be free; she would be obligated to the one who had paid such a high price for her. Why would a man she did not know, who did not know her very well, pay such a huge sum of money? She knew it couldn’t be for love, for she knew of no one who loved her enough to take on such a huge debt.
Her heart fretted. Surely this man would expect, perhaps even demand, for repayment. Maybe he was a cruel man and would ask her to do things that would break the commandments; she would be forced to comply because she would be indebted to him for the entire overwhelming amount. She had almost worried herself sick.
Amid her doubt, another thought occurred to her; what if the man was none of the things she worried about? What if the man was Joshua? No, that was too much to hope. She was foolish to think he could love her, especially since he could have his pick of any girl in the community. Why would he choose her, a simple girl with a humongous debt? She resigned herself that it would be a man she did not know.
She had made up her mind to accept the proposal from a man she did not know, if it meant her debts would be paid. She would live with this man, however unpleasant it would be. She would live with him because it was her duty as Jewish woman.
Esther spent the day helping Sarah prepare the meal. She was not excited; she worked like it was any other day. While the two women continued to work, Joshua arrived at the entrance of the gate.
Joshua’s hand trembled as he reached for the door knocker. He knocked loudly, and then waited for his beloved to answer.
Esther’s heart raced as she removed her apron and brushed loose strands of hair from her face. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and readied herself to meet her groom.
Joseph gathered Sarah and the children into the sitting room to give Esther and Joshua some privacy. Taking Sarah’s hand, he prayed silently for Abba to be with his son as he took this most important step into manhood.
Cautiously, Esther opened the door.
She couldn’t believe what her eyes were seeing; Joshua stood in front of her, holding the most beautiful rose she had ever seen. His mouth was fixed with a silly grin, and his eyes were filled with kindness and love. Esther felt her knees buckle. In her mind, she said, “It’s Joshua. Joshua has come for me!” But her lips couldn’t move.
After standing in silence for what seemed like an eternity, Joshua asked, “May I come in and share the engagement meal with you?”
Esther could no longer hold back her tears. Without speaking, she fell into his strong arms, weeping. Joshua held her close, knowing he needed to let her cry. After a while, Esther stopped crying and looked up into his eyes. “Yes! I will share the engagement meal with you!”
The Bride’s Consent
“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” Isaiah 7:14 NLT
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14 NLT
Let’s imagine how the scene may have looked when Jesus left His Father and all the glories of Heaven to come to earth to gain the consent of His Bride.
Can you imagine Jesus taking one last look around Him? The glories of Heaven surrounding Him, shining with the glory of His Father and sparking like a precious jewel. His empty throne resting at His Father’s right hand, and a multitude of angels worshipping at His feet. Light flooding every square inch of His home, and peace dwelling in every citizen’s heart.
Can you imagine the Father saying, ‘Son, it is time for you to pursue your Bride. For now, you must make your home among my people.”
For the next thirty plus years, Jesus lived on earth, a place ruled by the Prince of Darkness, a place where He would be mocked and ridiculed; a place filled with an ungrateful, unloving, and treacherous people.
Can you imagine a hush in Heaven as Jesus, the King of Kings, the Creator of the universe, and Mighty God, left?
Imagine the glories of Heaven, the streets paved with pure gold, the pearly gates, and the angel choirs. Jesus gave it all up for you. He left His home in Heaven to become a man who was destined to die for the creation He had made.
Jesus set aside His own splendor and came to earth to be born in a dark, smelly stable. Jesus’ first bed was a slimy feeding trough. He gave it all up to acquire your consent to be His Bride!
Your Bride Groom Knocks at the Door
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into Him, and will dine with him and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
Have you answered the knock of your Heavenly Groom?
Many of you have heard this verse all your life, but did you know it meant Jesus is asking you to enter a covenant with Him?
Jesus is saying, “I am knocking at the door of your heart. Come and open the door for me and ask me to come in. I will share the betrothal meal with you, which is My life. I will stay with you always. I will take care of you, nurture you, and protect you. Your past doesn’t matter to me. I love you, you are the one I have chosen, the one I have purchased. Although I have paid the ultimate price for you, the choice is yours. Will you accept my offer of love, grace, and forgiveness? My life in exchange for yours.”
Have you chosen to open the door and invite your heavenly Bridegroom in? Leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Remember, He exchanged His life for yours.