Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bridal Veils

 “Since we have confidence to enter 
the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 
by a new and living way opened for us through the veil, that is, his body…
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart
 and with the full assurance that faith brings”
Hebrews 10:19-22a

Many weddings include old and new traditions. Did you know in the past it was a tradition for the bride to carry a bouquet of garlic that supposedly protected her from evil? Can you imagine a bride reeking of garlic as she walked down the aisle? Swapping that tradition with carrying a bouquet of fragrant flowers is definitely a good change.  One beautiful old tradition that is still included in many weddings is the bridal veil.  Only after the vows are said is the groom allowed to lift the veil and kiss the bride.

The biblical story of Isaac and Rebekah’s wedding includes a bridal veil.  Since Abraham could not find a suitable match for his son locally, he sent his chief servant to search for and select a bride for Isaac. The servant’s prayer was answered when he found Rebekah. Not only was she beautiful and from the right family, she was willing to come with him and be married to a man she had only heard about, never seen.  After a long journey, Isaac was spotted in the distance. Rebekah “took her veil and covered herself” so he could not see her until after the wedding.  The veil acted as a separation between Rebekah and Isaac until they knew each other intimately as husband and wife. 
(Genesis 24:42-66).

The story of Isaac and Rebekah foreshadows the wedding God the Father has planned for his son Jesus.  Like the chief servant did for Rebekah, the Holy Spirit moves those who are willing towards intimacy with Jesus. When we accept Him as our Savior, we become His and gain full access to Him.  He also wants full access to us, but sometimes we keep part of our hearts veiled. 

My husband John and I recently celebrated our 11th anniversary. We used to joke that no matter how long we were married, we would still be newlyweds.   But the honeymoon can’t last forever.  Time together and with God has revealed some deep recesses in our hearts we had covered with veils.  We had a choice whether to keep these barriers up, to hide behind them, or tear them down and allow ourselves to be fully known.  I have to admit, it has not been easy, but we have gained a new appreciation for each other. We understand each other better and have a deeper level of intimacy.  I am glad we aren't newlyweds. (Even though we act like it at times).

What gets in the way of our intimacy with Jesus?  Sometimes it’s little things, like being too busy to spend time alone with Him, or not involving Him in our decisions and plans. Other times, we back away from close relationship because we feel guilty and fearful of being exposed, or don’t want to stop doing something we know is wrong. We may even be disappointed by the way our life has turned out, and feel He doesn't care that much for us after all.  

Are any of these veils keeping you from intimacy with Jesus? What would it take to convince you that He is worthy of your time, your loyalty, and your trust?

God also used to wear a veil as a barrier, dividing us from Him.  In the temple, a thick curtain separated the outer sanctuary from the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence resided.  Only the high priest was allowed to enter, and only once a year.  Jesus made an incredible sacrifice to remove that barrier.  At the moment when He, hanging on the cross, gave up His spirit, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:51) God shook the earth, split the rocks, and broke the heart of His Son so you could be close to Him.  

Is that enough to convince you that He deserves full access to your heart? Jesus, like a gentleman, allows you to choose whether or not to be close to Him. Like my choice to move towards deeper relationship with John, like Rebekah's choice to leave everything she knew and marry Isaac, you can choose to remain at a distance or draw close to Him.

Will you choose to lift the veil that is keeping you from intimacy with Jesus?

­~ Billene Westerman

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