Sermons

Summary: A message that examines the close parallel between the ancient Hebrew wedding ritual and the marriage of Christ and the Church.

Pt 7: The Rapture of the Bride (part 2)

The Hebrew Wedding and the Rapture

As I pointed out in my last message ('The Rapture of the Bride pt 1'), there appears to be significant misunderstanding concerning the nature and purpose of the Lord's 'parousia' ('coming’ / ‘presence') for his people. I believe this failure to distinguish between the 'rapture' of believers and the actual 'second coming' itself, has been brought about by a relative unfamiliarity in recent times with Old Testament teaching in regards to the Old and New Covenants.

As I hope to show in this message, the truth of the 'rapture' of the Church is quite inseparable from the marriage of the 'Bride' and the 'Bridegroom', as it takes place under the terms of the New Covenant. We'll only grasp the real significance of the 'rapture' when we understand how it parallels the penultimate stage of an actual wedding ("nissu'in") in ancient Hebrew culture. As some-one has said: 'He who denies the 'rapture’ of believers is some-one not sufficiently acquainted with the ancient Hebrew marriage ritual.'

So let's begin:

As we know, the relationship between Christ and the Church is right now the relationship between the spiritual 'bridegroom'-to-be and his prospective ‘bride’. As Paul describes it in Ephesians 5:31-32,

“...a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery---but I am talking about Christ and the church."

Accordingly, the apostle expresses the purpose of his life and ministry in the following terms:

"I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him." (2 Corinthians 11:2)

The wedding itself takes place when we reach the Father's house in Heaven. There we’ll be married to the Lord and there we’ll enjoy a wedding supper (reception).

Revelation 19:7-9 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. [8] Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.) [9] Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"

We can't describe every detail of the ancient Hebrew marriage process itself but we'll pick out a few salient points and parallei them to our developing relationship with Christ. This will enable us to understand the true nature of the 'rapture'.

Shiddukhin (mutual commitment)

The ancient Hebrew marriage process was actually divided in two parts: betrothal ('Shiddukhin') and the wedding itself ('Nissu'in'). These two events were separated by an interval of (usually) twelve months.

'Shiddukhin' involved a promise to wed: a commitment to the contemplated marriage. It refers to the first step in the marriage process leading up to, and including, the legal betrothal. This betrothal process was considered to be of the utmost importance: a betrothed couple were considered married even though not enjoying the actual benefits of marriage.

Here's how ‘Shiddukihn’ began:

The father chose the bride for his son:

It was common in ancient Israel for the father to select a bride for his son - in fact the match was often arranged by the respective fathers (Genesis 24:3-4; 24:51). According to some Jewish rabbis, this first step in ‘Shiddukhin’ is seen in Genesis 15, where Abraham, the father of the bride (Israel) negotiated the terms of the proposed marriage with the prospective groom (Yahweh).

This was customary in Israel in Old Testament times; a suitable marriage would, in a typical case, be arranged between the families of the prospective couple. In fact, romantic love was often considered secondary and something which would develop over time. We come across the first record of such an arrangement in Genesis when Abraham sends a messenger (probably Eliezer of Damascus) to procure a bride for Isaac, his son (Genesis 24.3).

In other instances, a young man might spot what he perceived to be a beautiful young woman and he would either ask his father's permission to take her as his bride (as Samson did with Delilah [Judges 14:1]) or ask his father to procure the girl on his behalf - as in the case of Shechem and Dinah (Genesis 34:4). In all cases, the parents would play an active part in arranging the union on behalf of the young couple.

Our Father chose us

This begins the parallel between the Hebrew marriage ceremony and Christ's relationship with the Church. We were chosen by our Heavenly Father as a bride for Christ, the Son; therefore our ‘Shiddukin’ began in eternity and everything has proceeded from that point.

We read about this ‘moment’ in Ephesians 1:4-5,

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