Tag Archive | Water

Isaiah 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
    for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
    her salvation like a blazing torch.
The nations will see your vindication,
    and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.


I looked again and realised that of course the connection between Isaiah 62:1-5 and the Wedding at Cana, is of course the last verse which talks about being married!

This passage was obviously referring to the literal Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the land of Israel when it was written, but it has traditionally been understood by Christian theologians as prophetically referring rather to the Church, on the basis of New Testament references (Hebrews 12:22 and Revelation 14:1) which allude to a metaphorical, spirtual New Jerusalem.

In Messianic Jewish thought, a more literal interpretation makes more sense, with one exception – that the Bridgroom in question is Christ, God Himself. So in other words – whatever your view on the identity of Israel and the Church in Christianity – God ‘marries’ himself to His people, being an unbreakable, eternal Covenant.

“Whom God joins together, let no man put asunder.”

Going back to the Wedding at Cana, Christ can then be understood as mystically symbolising the eternal Bridgroom.

But the passage goes on to say that the righteousness of Zion (the people of God) will shine out like the dawn, that the nations will see her righteousness, that the LORD will delight in her and that she will be called by a new name.

Is this ‘new name’ possibly an allusion to the people of God becoming known as ‘Christians’? Is it just referring to the names Beulah (married) and Hephzibah (‘My delight is in her’?) Or is it some future epithet that we haven’t yet encountered?

How and when will this prophecy be fulfilled? When will the righteousness of Christians shine forth so brilliantly that the nations and the kings cannot but help be impressed by it?

In Ephesians 3:24 we are given a glimpse of a time when the Church reaches unity, being ‘mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ and Ephesians 5:27 alludes to a glorious Church, without spot or blemish.

Must the Church accomplish this unity, maturity and purity by her own efforts? Thankfully, no. We are back again at the Wedding of Cana, where Mary draws our attention to the need for God’s Holy Spirit to ferment our ‘water’ and turn it into ‘wine’.

Track back to the passage in Ephesians 5, and you will see that the Bridgroom is able to accomplish this by ‘washing’ her, by the ‘water of the Word’.  How does this work? Jesus says in John 15:3

“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

This is the wondrous mystical, mystery of sanctification. We do not achieve it by our own efforts, but by Jesus’ efforts on our behalf.

So as the answer to the question ‘how and when will this prophecy be fulfilled’, it would seem to be another case of the prophecy having multiple fulfillments, or fulfillment in installments: yes, we are “already clean” in theory, so it is a ‘now’ but in practice, we are not so unified, mature or purified; so it is also ‘not yet’. This is something that is very common in Hebraic thinking, where the two possibilities seem to be opposite and apparently contradictory: the Hebrew mind, in opposition to the Greek linear logical way of thinking, is able to accept the seeming contradiction, and hold it in a tension.

With regard to what these difficult terms – ‘clean’, ‘pure’ and ‘righteous’ actually signify, that is the topic for another post!

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Second Sunday of Epiphany

The following are my scattered thoughts on the CW lectionary passages for the second Sunday of Epiphany, Year C, 17th January 2016. It is a Bible study rather than a sermon, but if anybody finds my notes of use in drawing up their own sermon, I would be very happy for you to make use of them. (Do let me know if you do!)


Psalms/ Canticles: Psalms 36:5-10
Old Testament: Isaiah 62:1-5
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11


The Wedding at Cana is significant as Jesus’ first miracle and the inauguration of his ministry. But it can also be understood as representing two Covenants by the water and the wine, the wine signifying the New Covenant which is made between God, Judah and the whole house of Israel (that is, the Jewish people and all those whom God will call to himself).

Jesus’ mother (John never refers to her name as Mary) may be understood as representing the Jewish people in general, and the Levitical priesthood in particular (she is a Levi by family bloodline) , whereas we are told in Hebrews 7 that Jesus’ priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek. She draws Jesus’ attention to the lack of wine and directs to servants to do whatever Jesus asks them to, and he tells them to fill the jars with water which he transforms into wine.

Water is often significant in scripture and generally represents life, especially spiritual life, and may also be understood as representing the Torah, which in Judaism is referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’. In Messianic Jewish thought, Jesus is called the Tree of Life, or the Living Torah.

So what is wine that it would be more desirable and preferable to life itself? Well, the Hebrew word for wine is yayin (Strong’s Hebrew word no. 3196) from an unused root yayanto ferment or to effervesce, and so the wine may be understood as containing good yeast, that is, the Holy Spirit.

If we look back to the first explicit mention of the New Covenant, in Jeremiah 31:31-34, it is a Covenant in which God will write the law (the Torah) on people’s hearts. This can only be accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is interesting that Jesus tells his mother in response, “My hour is not yet come.” Does he mean that it is too early for his ministry to start? Or is it perhaps referring to the fact that the New Covenant cannot be fully inaugurated yet, not until the coming of the Holy Spirit, after his death?


The passage in Isaiah is a very beautiful passage, of obvious Messianic significance (and by Messianic I mean both pertaining to Jewish believers and relating to the Messiah) but I’m not entirely sure why that particular passage was selected as I’m not immediately seeing the connection. If anybody has any ideas on this, I would be interested!

The New Testament passage in 1 Corinthians relates to spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit imparts to the church.

The passage from Psalm 36 is on the topic of God’s love, but it refers to drinking from the ‘river of delights’,  the ‘fountain of life’, which can be seen to reflect the same topic of water as life, but here it is linked to the love of God.


Collect: Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new; transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory:
Through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord,
Who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen.