He WILL come, like a “thief in the night,” to snatch up His Bride.
Have you got your spiritual glam on?
Ancient Jewish weddings reveal fascinating secrets about the Last Days.
With the Feast of Trumpets coming up in the middle of next week, I’d like to share a few more thoughts about <<gasp>> Rapture timing!
What makes Rapture timing such a controversial topic? What could be more important than to fix our eyes on our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)? Two Biblical phrases spring immediately to mind:
But wait! There’s more! Both of these phrases are also catch-phrases from the ancient Jewish wedding process.
So… “no man knows the day or the hour” is an idiom that references both the Feast of Trumpets and the wedding process?
Yes, because there’s a fascinating parallel between ancient Jewish wedding traditions and the Feasts. And a parallel between both of these and our ultimate redemption. It’s all intertwined—in a way only the God who “declares the end from the beginning” and “accomplishes all His good pleasure” (Is 46:10) could possibly arrange.
More on that in a minute.
In ancient Israel, when a wedding contract was signed and the bride price agreed on, the bride and groom became betrothed. The covenant between them was sealed when the bride sipped wine from the Betrothal Cup. This happened in a ritual called Kiddushin (קידושין)–sanctification, because afterwards the bride was set apart to her husband. (The word is related to Kadosh (קדוש)–consecrated, holy.)
The betrothal was legally binding. She was “bought with a price.” From that point, the bride would go about veiled to signal she was formally off the market.
Then what? The betrothal period would typically last a year or two, during which the bride and groom would not see each other. They both had preparations to make. But the groom’s preparations were bigger!
…The bridegroom would prepare a wedding chamber for the honeymoon. This chamber was typically built in the bridegroom’s father’s house or on his father’s property. The wedding chamber had to be a beautiful place to bring the bride. The bride and groom were to spend seven days there.
The wedding chamber had to be built to the groom’s father’s specifications. The young man could go for his bride only when his father approved. If the bridegroom was asked when the wedding was to be, he might well say “it is not for me to know, only my father knows.”
– Tov Rose
Once the bridal bower was ready, the groom would come “like a thief in the night” to “steal away” his bride.
No, it’s for real. A number of phrases in the New Testament take on a deeper resonance as you learn about ancient Jewish wedding traditions. (There’s a much more detailed explanation of it here.)
The Feasts of the Lord depict the marriage process between the Heavenly Bridegroom and His Bride. When Yeshua fulfilled the Spring Feasts, He also initiated this process in a marvelous way.
During His first coming, Yeshua fulfilled the four Spring Feasts (Passover 1 Cor 5:7; Unleavened Bread 1 Cor 5:7; First Fruits 1 Cor 15:20; and Shavuot / Pentecost Acts 2:38) precisely and in order on their Biblically-proscribed dates. It’s my belief that, during his Second Coming, He will also fulfill the three Fall Feasts precisely and in order on their Biblically-proscribed dates.
As the “Day of Ingathering” of the harvest, Sukkot prefigures the gathering together of the Jewish people in the days of the Messiah’s reign on earth (Is 27:12-13; Jer 23:7-8). Indeed all of the nations of the earth that survived the Great Tribulation will come together to worship the Lord in Jerusalem during the Feast of Sukkot (Zech 14:16-17)…. We eagerly await His [Yeshua’s] return to establish His kingdom and therefore to “tabernacle with us” again.
– John J. Parsons, Hebrew4Christians.com
Am I saying the Lord will rapture His church on the Feast of Trumpets? That’s what I believe, although I certainly reserve the right to be wrong! In my last post I gave five reasons I believe the Rapture will occur on the Feast of Trumpets. Not necessarily this year–although with everything going on right now, I think this year’s making a pretty good case for itself. Maranatha!
But… if not this year, some year soon and very soon.
I touched on the groom’s laborious preparations during their time of separation. How is the bride supposed to prepare?
Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water [NOTE: the Mikveh!] with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:25-27)
This is something I think and pray about a lot. We, Yeshua’s church, are the beautiful bride He bought with a price. And what a price! But, to quote the ditty from Frozen, we’re “a bit of a fixer-upper”—to put it nicely!
Only He can make us worth such an astonishing price. Only He can “present us to Himself… without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev 19:7-8)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, [Note: eager bride preparing language highlighted :)] in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth [NOTE: Our new eternal home with our Lord], in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless… (2 Pet 3:10-14 )
Do you see the picture of the spotless and blameless bride again, eager for her long-awaited Bridegroom?
“Spotless” can only be His work, but each of us has a role to play in making ourselves ready. A calling to “diligence.” To “pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). And when we inevitably fall short, a calling to keep short accounts with God.
So… you want to put on white linen?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
True Biblical repentance isn’t lip service, though, in case we’re tempted to visualize someone reciting their litany of sins in a confessional booth.
The Greek verb “to repent” is μετάνοια (metánoia). From metá (transform) plus noús (mind). Change your way of thinking to line up with God’s view of sin.
In Hebrew, the verb is שׁוּב (shuv), a primitive root. To turn back (hence, away), not necessarily with the idea of returning to the starting point. To retreat.
We can grieve over the consequences of our sin. But until we change our mind to line up with God’s view of it (“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Rom 12:2) and turn back from the path we’re on, we haven’t reached a point of Biblical repentance.
Joel Rosenburg tells a sort of parable to illustrate how Biblical repentance works. This one has stuck with me ever since I first heard it years ago. When Joel’s children were young he would play a game with them. He’d have them run away from him as hard as they could. When he yelled “Repent,” they were to turn immediately and run back to him—where they’d be welcomed back into the fold with a big hug.
No wedding’s complete without a bevy of bridesmaids! Jesus gave us a memorable depiction of these as well, preparing to meet the Bridegroom. This comes from the same famous discourse featured in last week’s post—the one where Jesus gave five different parables to emphasize the importance of being prepared for His return.
Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the prudent answered, “No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.”
And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, “Lord, lord, open up for us.” But he answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.”
Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matt 25:1-12)
A few things from this parable strike me:
“I do not know you.”
For me, this is truly a cautionary tale. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb is one engagement I don’t want to miss! And yet this parable seems to indicate that many who expect to be there… won’t. The deciding factor? A lamp filled with oil.
There was plenty of light inside, I’m sure, but each virgin had to have her own lamp producing a little point of light out there in the darkness if she wanted to find her way in.
In “this present darkness” (Eph 6:12), does my faith produce a point of light?
In these “perilous times” (2 Tim 3:1), does my faith help illumine the narrow path?
A friend–thanks, Sue! :)–shared an anecdote with me that, for me, really sums up the perils of our times. (I apologize for giving you an excerpt from snopes.com, a site I generally see as less than objective, but surprisingly their writeup of this one is the best I found.)
Rev. Joe Wright, senior pastor of the 2,500-member Central Christian Church in Wichita, was invited to deliver the opening prayer at the 1/23/96 session of the Kansas House of Representatives…. He offered the following…:
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance.
We know your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that’s exactly what we’ve done.
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state.
Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Rev. Wright… departed, unaware of the ruckus he had created until his church secretary called him on his car phone to ask him what he had done…. His staff stopped counting the telephone calls about the prayer that came in from every state and many foreign countries after the first 6,500 or so….
Rev. Wright said afterwards: “I certainly did not mean to be offensive to individuals, but I don’t apologize for the truth. I thought I might get a call from an angry congressman or two, but I was talking to God, not them. The whole point was to say that we all have sins that we need to repent—all of us… The problem, I guess, is that you’re not supposed to get too specific when you’re talking about sin.”
I have to admit, this challenged me. Although I agree with every point in this stirring prayer, would I be willing to stand up in a public forum and say so? (Okay, I guess I am. Right here, right now! But this is still a little different from looking a couple hundred people in the face and speaking it.)
Have I really lined up my mind with God’s on these things?
Am I ready to “get specific when talking about sin”—my own first?
The Lord is showing me some areas where I need to “make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge.” (Matt 5:25) Yes, I’ve confessed everything I can think of to God! Have I been as forthcoming to the people I’ve wronged?
I want to be spotless and blameless, clean of unconfessed sin! “…Lest after preaching to others, I myself should be rejected.” (1 Cor 9:27) Lord, I turn and throw myself on your infinite mercy!
We desperately need Biblical repentance. And brothers and sisters, with the prophetic clock ticking down, the time we need it is NOW!
If you’ve never opened God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus (Rom 3:23, 6:23), please please please be persuaded to do it now! It’s simple. Just tell God from your heart that you admit you’re a sinner that needs a Savior (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23), that you’re done running your own life, and that you’re ready to make Jesus Lord of your life.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom 10:9-11)
The decision that saves you is that simple!
Simple… But no one said living it out will be easy. Especially now.
A sincere thank you for devoting your time and attention to this fifteenth post in the series on Divine Appointments: Insights from God’s Calendar. Here’s an invitation to a free eBook, and to subscribe to the rest of the series:
Here is the full list of posts, if you’d like to check them out. I’ve bolded and put asterisks on a couple that I think are critical reading right now!