Summary: What is the significance of a woman in Bible times losing one particular coin and how does it relate to us today?
THE LOST COIN of Luke 15:8-10
"Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' 10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.'
For many years I've wondered about this scripture and questioned its meaning.
For instance, why did Jesus say a woman lost a coin in this story?
Why didn't He say, "When someone (or anyone) loses a piece of silver, don't they light a candle & seek. etc."?
And, why would you call in your friends and neighbors to celebrate over finding a coin?
Finally, what does this story have to do with verse 10, with angels rejoicing over a repentant sinner?
First of all, the coin in the parable was very important to the woman.
The background: In the Jewish culture of that day when a man was going to marry he would negotiate a price with the father of the Bride. When the price was settled the young man would give the woman 10 coins to symbolize a covenant of Promise for marriage.
In the meantime, he would return to his father's home in order to build a house for him and his bride-to-be. The house, or bridal chamber, would have to meet the approval of the bridegroom's father. When he thought it was good enough he would tell the son to go get his bride.
The bridal chamber had to be stocked with enough provisions to last 7 days because that's how long the bride and groom would remain in the chamber.
The 10 coins symbolized the woman's relationship with the Bridegroom and so they were very important to her. Every day when the bride would go out she would put on a veil in which she had sewn the 10 coins. The veil was an indication to the public that she had been bought with a price and was waiting to be married. Each coin represented part of the covenant that the man made with the woman. The veil was significant because it separated her from the world and told them she was given to someone for marriage.
She would wear the veil until the day that the bridegroom came to take her away to the house he had prepared. Sometimes the bride had a long wait because it could take up to a year or more for the groom to build the house to the satisfaction of his father.
During this time of waiting the bride was consecrated or set apart. She was bought with a price and the 10 coins sewn into her veil were evidence of it.
In the meantime, she and her bridesmaids would wait with lanterns filled with oil. It was the custom for the groom to come suddenly to steal away the bride. Since he could come in the middle of the night, the bridesmaids had to have lanterns ready to accompany the groom and bride back to the bridal chamber.
If, and when, she lost one of the coins, she also lost part of her relationship because the Bridegroom may consider her unfaithful or defiled if she didn't have all ten coins when he returned for her.
In the same way the Church, the Bride of Christ, has been given a Promise of Marriage. It's the new Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah 31:31-33.
"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
We were given something much more valuable than a coin.
Turn to Ephesians 1:13-14. This says we were sealed with a Spirit of Promise: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest (or down payment) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."