Dearly Beloved in Messiah,
Love to the Rescue
Who on earth does not long to be rescued by love?—To be so desired and so sought after that joy becomes inexpressible. To be enraptured, filled with delight at the thought of being with one who is deeply loved. To be taken from a place of sin, pain, suffering, bondage, and evil to a place of healing, peace, freedom, and eternal bliss.
Love—God’s love—rescued me on July 25, 1973, when I surrendered my heart and life to the Messiah Yeshua and was born again of His Spirit. Love also rescued me on February 7, 1971, the day of my wedding to Neil Abraham Lash. This month would have been our 50th wedding anniversary. I was sure we would still be together to celebrate this milestone. I was wrong; Neil is in heaven, and that leaves me eagerly awaiting another rescue by love—the return of my Heavenly Bridegroom to earth. Some call it the “Rapture”—not a bad term when you consider that Yeshua is returning for a people who are enraptured with Him.
“Believers Will Be Leaving”
This was the title of a teaching that caught my attention one Shabbat afternoon as I was flipping through channels on my TV. The teacher was Max Lucado, and he was expounding on the PreTribulation Rapture of the Body of Believers. I was intrigued by what he was saying since Neil and I have always based our belief about a Pre-Trib catching away of Yeshua’s bride on the Ancient Jewish Wedding Customs. Max Lucado was confirming this position in my heart. After that, I flipped channels again and landed on a panel of three teachers, Amir Tsarfati, Jan Markell, and Pastor Barry Stagner, discussing the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. I was astounded at the juxtaposition of the two programs and began to take notes. It seemed that the Lord was drawing my focus to His soon return.
I felt it was time to re-visit “The Ancient Jewish Wedding and the Return of Messiah for His Bride,” especially as I looked at the front of our booklet by that name and saw Neil and me dancing in Jerusalem as we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I look forward to dancing with Yeshua at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and to seeing my best friend and soul-mate again.
The Ancient Jewish Wedding
Following is a brief synopsis of the traditional steps taken in marriage at the time of Yeshua. We believe that the One spoken of by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:2 followed these same steps in taking a bride for Himself: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to the Messiah.” (The final steps of the marriage customs have direct bearing on when we can expect our Messiah to return for His bride—Us!)
Step #1: Selection of the Bride – The father of the groom sent out his most trusted servant to seek a bride for his son. As the servant of God, the Holy Spirit goes out into the highways and byways seeking a bride for God’s Son. We did not choose Him. He chose us (Jn. 15:16)
Step #2: The Bride Price – Brides in Bible times were “acquired” (kinyan in Hebrew). A bride price was paid to the father of the bride (mohar in Hebrew). Since the wife was purchased, she belonged to her husband. This was a step above what was happening in the pagan world at that time and showed that women had value, and they were to be cherished. Believers in Yeshua have been purchased at a high price—the blood of Messiah Himself (1 Pet. 1:18-19). We now belong to Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Step #3: The Betrothal – The betrothal or engagement was the first of a two part ceremony known
as erusin (AIR-oo-SEEN) or kidushin (kih-doo-SHEEN). The betrothed women was mikudeshet (mekoo-de-SHET) set apart for her bridegroom. Covenant was involved, including a marriage contract or ketubah (keh-TOO-bah) which included provisions made for the bride. As the bride of Messiah, we are betrothed to Yeshua, set apart for Him, and partakers of the NEW (Marriage) Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34), our ketubah. This ketubah contains promises for us from our Bridegroom, e.g. Matthew 6:28-30.
Step #4: The Bride’s Consent – Although the bride was selected for the bridegroom, she had some say in responding to the proposed marriage contract. Remember Rebekah in Genesis 24:57-58? She was asked, “Will you go with this man?” She responded, “I will go.” This willing consent in Hebrew is da’at (dah-AHT). The same occurs in our spiritual betrothal to Yeshua HaMashiach. God never forces anyone to say. “I do” to His Son Yeshua. It is a decision that each one of us must make for ourselves. It is the best decision that I ever made. If you have never received Yeshua as the One who paid the bride price for you—dying on the tree and rising from the dead—please do not delay in embracing a Love that will never fail you. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Yeshua and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
Step #5: Cup of the Covenant – When the terms of the ketubah were accepted, a cup of wine was shared to seal the marriage covenant. The Hebrew word for bridegroom chatan (khah-TAHN) means “one who enters into covenant.” The bride and groom shared the cup; the blessing is called the Birkat Erusin (Beer-KAHT Eh-roo-SEEN). The cup that Yeshua took at His last Passover seder on earth was the cup of the New Marriage Covenant with His bride (Lk. 22:20). We will partake of a second cup with Yeshua in person at the second part of our marriage ceremony (Matt. 26:29).
Step #6: Gifts for the Bride – Betrothal included the giving of gifts by the bridegroom to his bride. Eventually the customary gift became a ring. God’s Holy Spirit is our spiritual engagement ring, a token of our bridal inheritance (2 Cor. 1:21-22). Just as a diamond is many faceted, so is the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are precious jewels that adorn Messiah’s bride.
Step #7: Mikvah – Brides in ancient Israel, as well as Jewish brides today, go to the mikvah (MIKvah) prior to their wedding for a tevilah (teh-vee-LAH) or ritual immersion. This ancient Jewish custom represents a separation from an old life to a new one, as well as a change in status and authority. Water immersion is the New Covenant equivalent of the mikvah (mihk-VAH). When believers in Yeshua, Jewish or Gentile, are immersed, we reckon our old self dead to sin. We are no longer under the authority of the evil one. We are alive to God—submitted to the lordship of our Bridegroom/King Yeshua. If you have never been immersed in this way, please consider it! See Mark 16:16.
Step #8: Departure of the Bridegroom – Once the marriage covenant was sealed, the bridegroom in ancient Israel left his beloved to go to his father’s house to prepare a wedding chamber, a chadar (kha-DAHR) for her. He would be gone for up to twelve months before returning for her. During this time of separation, the bride would be preparing herself for married life. Now consider Yeshua’s words to His disciples right before He left this earth, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 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” (Jn. 14:2-3). Yeshua was definitely speaking in bridal terms with which all His disciples were familiar. He was leaving, but the Messiah promised that the “Helper,” the Holy Spirit, would come to be with the bride until His return (Jn. 16:7, 13-14). The question remains—when would He return? But first…
Step #9: The Consecrated Bride – The Jewish bride, kallah (ka-LAH) in Hebrew, was consecrated or set apart while she awaited the return of her bridegroom. She was expected to remain faithful to him, always looking for his return (2 Tim. 4:8). “You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain” (Song. 4:12, NIV). That is us today, we are either “wise” or “foolish,” as it says in Matthew 25, filled with the oil of the Spirit, eagerly awaiting Messiah’s return, or occupied with things of the world, the flesh, and self.
Step #10: The Return of the Bridegroom – The bride did not know when the bridegroom would return. Neither did the groom. Only the Father of the groom knew. It would be at the midnight hour. Like a thief in the night, the bridegroom would come to whisk his bride away. There would be a procession back to the father’s house following the cry, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming.” Some things to note: Yeshua, our Heavenly Bridegroom will return for us when the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob instructs Him to (Mk. 13:32). There will be a shout and the sound of the shofar, but it remains to be seen (heard!) if only the bride will hear them. The mood will be joyous—a loving reunion, being carried away with joy. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:16-17). This is called the natzal (nah-ts’AHL), rapture in Hebrew, literally the catching up. It will be quick and sudden (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 5:2). I have a difficult time picturing this romantic stealing away occurring in the midst of a Tribulation.
Step #11: The Huppah – This second half of the ancient Jewish wedding ceremony is the home taking, or nisuin (nis-sue-EEN). Nisuin comes from the verb nasah (na-SAH), to lift up, bear or carry. The bride was lifted up in a bridal chariot, aperion (a-peer-ee-ON) in Hebrew, and carried to her bridegroom. They entered the bridal chamber and were alone there for seven days (the week of the bride). The marriage was consummated, the best man awaited to hear the voice of the bridegroom affirm that fact, and the guests began a week-long celebration. It makes sense that we, as followers of Yeshua, will be “lifted up” from the earth to be taken to our heavenly bridal chamber. We will spend one week (7 years) with our Bridegroom and all will be revealed (1 Jn. 3:2). I see no way that the bridal chamber can be on earth as some suggest. Also, Scripture seems to indicate that Yeshua’s bride will be in the bridal chamber while the rest of the world is in a time of tribulation (Luke 21:35-36; Is. 26:20-21). Love will come to the rescue.
Step #12: The Marriage Supper – Following the seven days in the huppah, the bride and bridegroom joined their guests (b’nai huppah) for a joyous marriage feast. The festive meal was called a seudat mitzvah (seh-oo-DAHT mitz-VAH). There was great rejoicing with music since this was considered a religious duty. There will be a marriage supper for the bride of Messiah (Rev. 19:6-9). Verse nine says, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” There will be a glorious Jewish wedding in heaven.
The Blessed Hope
The theme that pervaded the two programs that I viewed on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture seemed to be summarized in three words, found in Titus 2:13, “…looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Yeshua HaMashiach.” The message of our catching up is to be one of comfort and encouragement. This does not fit very well with the concept of suffering through the Great Tribulation as Yeshua’s beloved bride.
The Bible gives us hope that God will spare us from the horrible mass destruction, martyrdom, and cataclysmic events of the Tribulation: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev. 3:10).
If the Rapture is before the Tribulation, the posture of believers must be READINESS NOW. Otherwise, one could think, “I’ll have time to prepare during the Tribulation” (even if it’s only the first half of it). The Pre-Trib position is the only one where we don’t know the timing. It seems to me that it is God’s will for us to be ready TODAY, living righteous, godly lives. If I’m wrong about the timing of Messiah’s return, I have encouraged you to be ready NOW which would also prepare you for whatever lies ahead.
Wrath and the Anti-Christ
The rule of the Anti-Christ includes great wrath. I never understood that there is more than one wrath: the wrath of man, the wrath of satan, and the wrath of God. There are believers around the world today who are experiencing great tribulation, but not the Great Tribulation. They are experiencing the wrath of man or satan, but not the wrath of God. This is the fierce wrath directed against the ungodly, rebellious,
disobedient, haters of the Almighty—not against His bride. Consider these verses: “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach” (1 Thes. 5:9). “…to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Yeshua who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thes. 1:10). Revelation chapters 6-19 have much to say about the wrath of God. (The word “Church” does not appear in chapters 4-18 of Revelation as if believers are absent from the Tribulation.)
Max Lucado mentioned that Yeshua compared the Tribulation to the days of Noah and Lot. In both cases, the righteous were rescued prior to the calamity. He maintains that Yeshua’s talmidim (disciples) will not feel the evil of the Anti-Christ. (We will not be here.)
Another point made by both Max Lucado and Amir Tsarfati’s panel was that the Anti-Christ can not be revealed until the “Restrainer” is taken out of the way. Who is the “Restrainer?” The Holy Spirit. Where is the Holy Spirit? Inside all true believers. When believers are taken up, the salt leaves and decay is free to take over. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will
do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thes. 2:7-8).
As I understand this verse, the “lawless one,” or Anti-Christ, will not be revealed until after the bride is taken up to the Bridegroom’s Father’s house.
The Time of Jacob’s Trouble
Please understand that I have only scratched the surface on the topic of the Rapture and Tribulation. I know that there are various opinions on this topic, and I have many books and articles on the subject. There is no need to send me additional materials. God’s anticipatory love is preparing His bride for His coming. Whenever that may be, we must be ready. I pray for you, as I hope you pray for me, that we may hear His voice clearly as the day approaches.
In closing, I must distinguish between the Rapture and the Second Coming. The Rapture involves the Body of Messiah, Yeshua’s bride. The Second Coming involves Israel. It follows the seven year Tribulation period, also known as the 70th week of Daniel or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. This is when God deals with the Nation of Israel. According to Scripture, Israel will experience the Great Tribulation, confirm a covenant with the Anti-Christ, and only one-third of the nation will survive (Dan. 9:27; Zech. 13:8-9). When Messiah appears at the end of this period, Israel will embrace Yeshua as Messiah and Lord, and Yom Kippur will be fulfilled (Matt. 23:37-39; Dan. 9:24-27; Zech. 12:10).
Along with the surviving Jews, there will be Gentiles who embrace Yeshua as Lord during the Tribulation. (Could this possibly include the “foolish virgins” of Matt. 25?) All will move into the Kingdom Age when Yeshua rules and reigns. In the meantime, let us be love to the rescue for millions of lost souls, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (Rom. 1:16).
Stay Faithful, expecting Messiah’s soon return for you and me!
Love in Him,