The Signs of The Feasts – Part III: The Thief In The Night


Part I of this series on the Signs of the Feasts discussed the meaning of the Hebrew idiom / phrase “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” and found that this was associated with the three pilgrimage feasts for Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles; and that by using that phrase Christ had told the Pharisees the time of their judgment.

Part II of this series discussed the meaning of the Hebrew idiom “no man knows the hour” and found that it was associated with the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Teruah; and that by using that phrase Christ had told His disciples when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.

Those phrases were associated in the Hebrew traditions with certain days.  By using those phrases, Christ had pointed to those specific holy days as the time of His return in that generation of the first century A.D.

This post will explore the meaning behind the use of the phrase “the thief in the night,” as it was also associated with a certain feast day, and as such it became a time marker.

The NT is filled with the analogy of the wedding of Christ to His bride, the “ecclesia”, or those called-out to which we usually refer today as His assembly / church.

Matt. 22:2, “`The reign of the heavens was likened to a man, a king, who made marriage-feasts for his son,”  (YLT)

2 Cor. 11:2, “… for I did betroth you to one husband, a pure virgin, to present to Christ,” (YLT)

Luke 12:36, and ye like to men waiting for their lord, when he shall return out of the wedding feasts, that he having come and knocked, immediately they may open to him.”  (YLT)

John the baptizer (immerser) was the friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29).  Yeshua was called the bridegroom (Matt. 9:15-16; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35).

The ancient Hebrew customs of betrothal and marriage were based upon the patterns presented in the scriptures, and is correlated to the marriage of the Lamb.

“Jewish marriage included a number of steps: first, betrothal (which involved the prospective groom’s traveling from his father’s house to the home of the prospective bride, paying the purchase price, and thus establishing the marriage covenant); second, the groom’s returning to his father’s house (which meant remaining separate from his bride for 12 months, during which time he prepared the living accommodations for his wife in his father’s house); third, the groom’s coming for his bride at a time not known exactly to her; fourth, his return with her to the groom’s father’s house to consummate the marriage and to celebrate the wedding feast for the next seven days (during which the bride remained closeted in her bridal chamber).1 ”  Source: See Note 2.

This process is also broken down even further into about twelve steps: (Note 1)

1) the selection of the bride,

2) the bride price established,

3) the betrothal,

4) the written contract / ketubah, or covenant,

5) consent of the bride, drinking of the wine cup of the covenant

6) gifts to the bride, or bride wealth,

7) after which the groom departed to his father’s house to prepare a room for his bride,

8) the bride made preparation, and was consecrated for her groom,

9) the mikvah, or purification washing of the bride

10) when the father deemed all was ready for the bride, the groom would return for his bride with a shout, and a blowing of the shofar, or trumpet

11) the bridegroom would “abduct” his bride, usually around midnight and take her to his father’s house for the consummation, and

12) the marriage supper would be held with the invited guests.

All of the above steps are associated with the marriage of the Lamb, and can be matched to the scriptures for Christ’s coming in the first century AD for his bride.  ALL OF THEM.  And, all in the first century A.D.

The point is that the time of His coming was also indicated.

Christ told them to watch, and gave them the warning to be watchful, as the five virgins who bought the oil for their lamps ahead of the time of the wedding ceremony (Matt. 25:1-13).  Yeshua (Jesus) associated the same Hebraic idiom in Matt. 25:13  – no man knows the day or the hour that was discussed in Part II of this series – which referred to Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets on the first of Tishrei.

And, in Matt. 25:6, ” and in the middle of the night a cry was made, Lo, the bridegroom doth come; go ye forth to meet him.” (YLT)

The thief in the night was the ancient Hebrew reference (idiom) for the time the bridegroom would come for his bride.

Luke 12:35-36, 35 `Let your loins be girded, and the lamps burning, 36 and ye like to men waiting for their lord, when he shall return out of the wedding feasts, that he having come and knocked, immediately they may open to him.”  (YLT) (2)

Excerpt from Gill’s Exposition of the Bible at Luke 12: 35,

“The allusion is to persons waiting at a wedding in the night, with torches and flambeaus in their hands.”  Source : Biblehub

Lamps are kept burning at night, during the dark hours.  The wedding feast was held when the bridegroom came for his bride during the night hours – as a thief in the night.

The Hebrews / Judeans knew the references of the wedding ceremony were also to Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets because of the association with the blast of the shofar / trumpet.  (3) (4) (5) (6)

The parable comparing the kingdom to a wedding feast in Matt. 22:1-14 lays out the sequence of events for the marriage of the Lamb and the time of Christ’s second coming… at the destruction of Jerusalem.

The King (YHVH) sent His servants (John, Christ and the apostles) to call the invited guests (the Jews) to the wedding feast (Matt. 22:3). Those invited ignored His call, so He sent more servants to the invited guests, and they again ignored the call (of the gospel),  some going about their daily lives (Matt. 22:3-4), while some laid hold of the King’s servants and killed them (Matt. 22:6).

The King was very angry and sent His army (the Romans) to destroy them and their city (Jerusalem), and set it on fire (Matt. 22:7)  (This one sentence encapsulates the entire battle depicted in Rev. chapters 12 – 20.)

Immediately after the city (Jerusalem) was destroyed the wedding feast took place (Matt. 22:8)  As the wedding feast is already in process when the bridegroom goes to fetch his bride, then the consummation of the marriage also took place during the wedding feast…..after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The invitation (gospel call) was sent out to all who would come (the gentile / nations), and the King’s servants (the apostles and disciples) brought in all they could find (Matt. 22:9-10).  Then, judgment began at the marriage feast (Matt. 22:11-14).

Destruction of Jerusalem – 1st of Tishrei

Bridegroom came for his bride as a thief in the night – 1st of Tishrei

Judgment began at the wedding feast, which would last for either 7 or 10 days after the Feast of Trumpets, after the 1st of Tishrei. (7)

Matt. 25:31-33, 31 `And whenever the Son of Man may come in his glory, and all the holy messengers with him, then he shall sit upon a throne of his glory;

32 and gathered together before him shall be all the nations, and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd doth separate the sheep from the goats,

33 and he shall set the sheep indeed on his right hand, and the goats on the left.”  (YLT)

2 Pet. 3:10,  and it will come — the day of the Lord — as a thief in the night, in which the heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, and the elements with burning heat be dissolved, and earth and the works in it shall be burnt up.  (YLT)

(The earth and the works in it were Jerusalem and the animal sacrifices at the temple. See the posts Frequent Mistakes – Part III: The Last Day, and Part VI: The End of the World? at the right margin.)

1 Thess. 5:1-3, “And concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need of my writing to you, for yourselves have known thoroughly that the day of the Lord as a thief in the night doth so come, for when they may say, Peace and surety, then sudden destruction doth stand by them, as the travail [doth] her who is with child, and they shall not escape;”  (YLT)

Joel associated the day of judgment with the wedding day of the bridegroom and his bride.

Joel 2:9,  In the city they run to and fro, On the wall they run, Into houses they go up by the windows, They go in as a thief.  (YLT)

Joel 2:15-16, 15 Blow ye a trumpet in Zion, Sanctify a fast — proclaim a restraint.

16 Gather the people, sanctify an assembly, Assemble the aged, Gather infants and sucklings of the breasts, Go out let a bridegroom from his inner chamber, And a bride out of her closet.  (YLT)

Rev. 3:3, “`Remember, then, how thou hast received, and heard, and be keeping, and reform: if, then, thou mayest not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou mayest not know what hour I will come upon thee.”  (YLT)

Rev. 16:15, `lo, I do come as a thief; happy [is] he who is watching, and keeping his garments, that he may not walk naked, and they may see his unseemliness,’ –“  (YLT)

Christ compared himself to the bridegroom who came as a thief in the middle of the night to collect His bride.  The Hebrews / Jews understood this idiom and the reference to Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets.

Rev. 19:7-9, may we rejoice and exult, and give the glory to Him, because come did the marriage of the Lamb, and his wife did make herself ready;

and there was given to her that she may be arrayed with fine linen, pure and shining, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.’

And he saith to me, `Write: Happy [are] they who to the supper of the marriage of the Lamb have been called;’ and he saith to me, `These [are] the true words of God;'”  (YLT)

These passages in Rev. 19 are called out just before Christ – the Faithful and True of vs. 11 – entered into the battle that destroyed the city of Jerusalem.  The marriage of Yeshua (the Lamb of God) to His bride – the called out ones / assembly of the first born – was associated with the destruction of the earthly Jerusalem which occurred in  Sept. A.D. 70 and was completed on the 1st of Tishrei.  (See Parts I & II of this series.)

Those teaching today that Christ has not yet returned for His bride are missing the very clear association of the wedding and the wedding feast with the destruction of Jerusalem.  They are claiming that the called out ones – the ecclesia – are still only in the betrothal stage, and that Christ has not yet come for His bride.  They are teaching that the betrothal period has lasted almost 2,000 years and counting.

But according to the clear message of the scriptures, Jesus was the thief in the night.  Jesus was and is the bridegroom.  The time of His return to collect His bride was immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

If you will allow the romance –  Christ had to slay the dragon in order to rescue His bride.

Today, we are not in the betrothal period.  We are not waiting for Christ to collect His bride.  Christ Yeshua has already done that.

Ever since the destruction of Jerusalem and that old Mosaic temple in A.D 70 we have been in the marriage of the Lamb, the new heaven and the new earth of the new Jerusalem, and the continual ingathering of the harvest, and in the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, …..the season of our joy and the feast of the nations.

All bold emphasis is mine.  Please see the other posts at the right margin for more scriptural evidences of the first century AD fulfillment of Christ’s second coming.

Further Reading:

The Feast of Tabernacles at Berean Bible Church

“The Significance of Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah)”  here

Feast of Trumpets Bible Teaching  here

Kiddushin – Betrothal  here

The Bridal Canopy (Chuppa) at here

Hebrew Feast days here

Notes:

(1) A Thief In The Night at Sweetmanna

(2) The commentary from Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible at Lev. 23:24 has identified many of the Rabbinical beliefs assigned to the Day of Trumpets. Biblehub

(3) “ The Call for the Wedding When the Father decided that all was in order, he would have his servants start putting together the things needed. Have the shofars blown, and send the word out that the wedding was about to happen. It was customary for one of the Groom’s party to go ahead of the (bride)-Groom, leading the way to the Bride’s house – and shout – “Behold, the bridegroom comes.” And the Father would say to his Son, “Go and get your Bride!” This would usually happen at night, and when the Bride got the word, she would run to meet the Groom and together they would head for the ceremony.”

Source: Ancient Jewish Wedding Customs, & Jesus Christ, His Bride, The Church –  here

(4) ” First, the father of the groom made the arrangements for the marriage and paid the bride price. The timing of the arrangement varied. Sometimes it occurred when both children were small, and at other times it was a year before the marriage itself. Often the bride and groom did not even meet until their wedding day. The second step, which occurred a year or more after the first step, was the fetching of the bride. The bridegroom would go to the home of the bride in order to bring her to his home. In connection with this step, two other things should be noted. First, it was the father of the groom who determined the timing. Second, prior to the groom’s leaving to fetch the bride, he must already have a place prepared for her as their abode. This was followed by the third step, the wedding ceremony, to which a few would be invited. Prior to the wedding ceremony, the bride underwent a ritual immersion for ritual cleansing. The fourth step, the marriage feast, would follow and could last for as many as seven days. Many more people would be invited to the feast than were to the marriage ceremony. In the Marriage of the Lamb all four of these steps of the Jewish wedding ceremony are evident.2”   Source: Jewish Wedding Analogy – here

(5) “At the end of the period of separation the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. The taking of the bride usually took place at night. The groom, best man and other male escorts would leave the groom’s father’s house and conduct a torch light procession to the home of the bride.9 Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the exact time of his coming.10 As a result the groom’s arrival would be preceded by a shout.11 This shout would forewarn the bride to be prepared for the coming of the groom.”  Source: Jewish Marriage Customs –here

(6) “Jewish bridegrooms usually came for their brides late at night, near the midnight hour. Shofars would break the silence of night. There would be shouts in the streets, and a torch-light procession which would wind its way through the town to the home of the bride. This gave her a few extra moments to make final preparations. ”  Source: Ancient Jewish Wedding by Jamie Lash, p. 16 – here

(7) Day of Judgment – Yom HaDin

According to Hebrew tradition the month of Tishrei is assigned to the tribe of Dan, which is symbolic of judgment –  Gen. 30:6.  Dan was the son of Rachel’s maid, Bilhah.

Gen. 30:6, “ and Rachel saith, `God hath decided for me, and also hath hearkened to my voice, and giveth to me a son;’ therefore hath she called his name Dan.”

Hebrew tradition teaches that the month of Tishrei was the month of judgment.  The Jewish sign for the month of Tishrei are the scales.  They believed that Yom Teruah / Yom HaDin was the day for full repentance, a calling and last opportunity to address their sins during the ten days of “awe” or penitence and reconcilliation before the final judgment day on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement on the 10th day of Tishrei.

 

 

 

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