It’s Sunday evening, the 25th of October. We’re in the cafeteria for dinner when the door leading to the offices open. Nobody is paying particular attention, when suddenly a loud voice proclaims: “We have an announcement to make: We are getting married.” Well, now everybody is paying attention, and trying to see exactly who is getting married to whom. The cafeteria erupts in loud exclamations of joy and table thumping while Thomas Smith and Cassie Bartell stand together, flushed with excitement. Nobody had any idea.
Betrothal is a bit of a new concept to us. When we started keeping the feasts we were introduced to the Waller family. One of the available DVD’s is called Betrothed, and it was with fascination that we watched it. It was beautiful, and we loved the concept. But how does it work? To some it could seem like an arranged marriage, or it could be a seen as getting married to someone who you don’t really know!
Then we had the pleasure of watching a betrothal just over two years ago. Our good friends daughter came to HaYovel for three months, and while she was here a lovely young man knew that she was the one for him. What was beautiful about it was that she had no idea. His family came here, and together they prayed for confirmation from God, while the rest of his family (parents and sisters) got to know her a bit better.
HaYovel have very strict policies about guy and girls, and how they interact with each other, as protection for them both. Hearts can be too easily given away to the wrong person, and then broken. That doesn’t mean that no one talks to each other, rather that you don’t spend time alone together, or become flirtatious etc.
After he got home he phoned our friends father, and asked for her hand in marriage. They told her, and then she had the opportunity to pray and seek Abba’s counsel in the matter. God spoke to their whole family on that Sabbath morning to let them know that this was His will. It was wonderful to watch them get to know each other when he came over for two weeks, never before have we witnessed such love between two people. They are now married and have had their first baby.
And now we have the opportunity to witness a betrothal first hand.
I think the first significant point is that no one knew. Thomas had first had Cassie laid on his heart about five months ago, and was earnestly seeking God regarding her. But she had no idea. He wasn’t making eye contact with her, making his intentions known or telling his buddies. (Although he did have a member of staff who was praying for him). Once he knew that it was right, he contacted Cassies’ Father to ask permission to ask for her hand in marriage, and once that was given, her asked for her hand in marriage. Thomas chose Cassie’s favorite site, Elon More for the proposal. This is the place where God promised Abraham that he would give to him and his descendants all these lands.
Now, interestingly enough, God had told Cassie a year ago that she was going to marry him, but as she was not particularly attracted to him she forgot, only to remember when her dad phoned her to say that someone had asked for her hand in marriage, called Tomas Smith, and does she know him?
Betrothal is a picture of Messiah. When he sat at the table with his disciples at the last Passover he said about the wine:
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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.”
Matthew 26:27 – 29
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s House are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And 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. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
He is going away to prepare a place for us in His Fathers House, AKA The Temple. We, his bride stay here, and we have to be ready for His return, which could be at any moment, where we then meet in the air and go to Jerusalem, where His Fathers House is located.
And so in most betrothals you have the same imagery. A man asks for a woman, then they make an unbreakable covenant and he leaves to go and prepare a place for her. Some couples will choose a week or a few days window in which he comes back, because we “know neither the day nor the hour”
Cassie has given me permission to share their story with you, and I hope to draw you into the pure delight of a beautiful God ordained union.
So what generally happens after the yes, and before the betrothal is that the couple will spend some time getting to know each other, writing their ketuba and making arrangements, but in company. You will always find someone hovering in the background. Generally, the couples choose a no touching ‘rule’, which is really special as it reminds me of the place in the Song of Solomon where it says “not to awaken love until the time is right.”
We have watched Thomas and Cassie change from two single people to a couple. Now sitting together at meals, sitting outside on the picnic tables and hanging out with other couples. This may not seem very relevant, but up to this point the guys hang out with guys, and the girls hang out with girls. What is also lovely to see, is that they haven’t been awkward with each other. They just seem to have very beautifully transitioned to being together and fit so well.
It’s Tuesday morning. Some girls have stayed behind to help with decorations. Becca Waller is the head of decorations at HaYovel, and always does an amazing job of decorating for special occasions. Everyone else is busy planting trees.
I went to help with whatever I could and found myself folding napkins in the cafeteria. Cassie eventually wandered in and sat down, strumming her guitar. The only thing she had to get done before the ceremony was to get dressed and do her hair. The kitchen crew were working hard preparing the food in the kitchen, and the young men and the gator were to and fro taking the chairs down to the betrothal site.
At three O’clock everyone convened at the corner of the base, all beautifully dressed. Cassie looked radiant in her newly made dress. Havah Waller seems to excel at most things, including making clothes out of whatever is at hand. This dress happened to be a tablecloth that wasn’t needed anymore; it was beautiful. Shopping is not very easy in lockdown, and HaYovel seems to be amazing at improvising.
After everyone has arrived the couple lead us down the road and across the vineyards to the Chuppah (huppah) where the betrothal will take place. The weather has cooled down a bit, and rain clouds loom on the horizon. This of course, is a great blessing, as the rain is a sign of Gods blessing on The Land.
It was a wonderful afternoon. We sang some worship songs and listened to a few wonderful speakers. Something Mr Tommy said really spoke to me. The time where the couple is separated is a time of intense longing. They are married in God’s eyes, but have chosen to be apart. This also mirrors Mary and Joseph’s betrothal, and just as the couple long for each other, so we should long for Messiah’s return. It should be a burning in our souls that make us restless and unable to be rested or content until He returns.
After the speeches the parents of the couple both phoned in and blessed them. Then they read from their Ketuba (their wedding contract or covenant) and sealed it with a glass of wine.
After the ceremony we all walked back to base where the tables were set up outside, lavishly decorated. It was a feast. Salmon and tagliatelli alfredo with sweet potato and salad. It was a superb meal.
It started spitting with rain towards the end of the meal, so we all grabbed a chair and a fork and headed for the cafeteria, which had now been tidied after all the betrothal prep that took place there. There is always a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. Then it was time for some dancing. The girls and guys dance separately, unless they are married of course. It’s so fun to watch the girls do their elegant dancing and the guys their high energy dancing. Cassie and Thomas did actually dance, but they used a tea towel, one holding either end.
AFTER THE BETROTHAL
Thomas and Cassie have chosen not to touch at all until their wedding day. They are staying at HaYovel until the 15th November, when Cassie will be going to her home in Oklahoma, and Thomas to his parents in Oregon until their marriage in January.
It will be difficult being separated , but will be a time of preparation and a build up of excitement for that day when he comes to take her home.