However, it is exciting for both of us to see many new writers on matters of eschatology who are now rising to the forefront as never before, which makes old “Anti-Pre-Trib” folks like Dave and myself feel that these new young, hard-working and dedicated researcher and writers of this subject are handling the word of God with a greater responsibility to truth as opposed to the mythology that has predominated Christendom written by the likes of John Darby, C.I. Scofield, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye et al for the last 150 years.
One of those particular subjects being scrutinized more so concerns the many premillennial dispensationalists who use the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Revelations 19:1-9) as a Biblical proof that the church can be seen getting ready to return back to earth with Christ (at His Second Advent) after participating in a great wedding in heaven; the church being the Bride of the Lamb which supposedly was wedded to Christ. This, as they contend, happens after the church experienced the Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven seven years earlier to escape the so-called “Great Tribulation.”
In truth, any Bible students worth their salt (if they dig deep enough) can discover Bible facts that refute the metaphoric nonsense Pre-Tribulation Rapture devotees promote, especially that one claim that the timing of the so-called “catching away” to Heaven theory is proven by having knowledge and or an acute understanding of the rituals and stages of a Jewish wedding.
In today’s blog, we will first present an analytical perspective from my dear friend and colleague Dave MacPherson, followed by an excerpt from my book, The End Times Passover, which can be found in Chapter 11, “Jesus Possesses the Promised Land, Forever, When The Lord Marries The Bride.” While both Dave and I provide information based on our own researching endeavors, it is obvious that we both are on the same page concerning the need to once and for all put to bed the theories and conjecture that Jewish wedding rituals have anything to do with the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, which itself is becoming an even weaker theory than ever before.
PRETRIB RAPTURE: A STAGED EVENT! By Dave MacPherson
Can pretrib rapturists find support for their view in the stages of a Jewish wedding, as some assert?
Every encyclopedia I checked (including the Jewish Encyclopedia) states that there are two stages in such a wedding: the "kiddushin" (betrothal) and the "nissuin" (marriage).
Although some pretrib leaders find proof for their rapture view in Jewish wedding stages, there is widespread disagreement among them over how many stages there are.
In his comprehensive book "The End Times Passover," media figure Joe Ortiz refers to John Walvoord's book "The Rapture Question" which accepts R. C. H. Lenski's view that a Hebrew marriage has three stages.
Charles Monk sees 5 "customs" (stages).
Arnold Fruchtenbaum has found 6 "steps" (stages) that Thomas Ice has appropriated.
The ReturnToGod.com site observes 12 "steps" (stages).
Not to be outdone, Renald Showers actually sees 17 "customs" (stages).
(Think of all the work to boil down 17 or even 5 stages into a two-stage second coming!)
An internet blog titled For The Love of Truth is representative of not a few that reveal that it's dangerous as well as unscriptural to base a pretrib rapture outlook on Jewish traditions. In an article titled "Jewish Wedding and Rapture" the same blog has some startling information:
It says: "Jewish Wedding traditions being discussed are the rabbinic teachings found within the Talmud and Kabbalah." (Not only are these sources occultic and anti-Biblical but the Talmud is filled with lies and blasphemy about Jesus that are as irrational as they are totally evil!)
It reveals that certain pretrib leaders "have taken snippets of the various Jewish wedding traditions" and "rearranged and reinvented the content and events and then made the declaration that the Jewish wedding tradition is really the story of Christ and the rapture...."
It also states that "the seven blessings [during the ceremony] obviously have nothing to do with Jesus Christ or His return," adding that "Nowhere does the Bible tell us to interpret scripture by looking to man's traditions."
Incidentally, it's well-known that pretrib rapture defenders claim that certain Bible passages are on "church" ground while other passages are on "Jewish" ground and that we should always maintain the Darby-approved "church/Israel separation" principle. However, with impunity they can jettison that principle in the twinkling of an eye if they need support for their 180-year-old novelty from occultic Jewish traditions or from Lev. 23's Jewish feasts!
Since far too many pretrib leaders seem to be "stage-struck," and since their strickenness has rubbed off on me, I hereby share a personal "revelation" I've had lately that I've titled "The Seven-Stage Coming (I Thess. 4)" which proves that pretribs should be looking for a seven-stage coming and not just a measly two-stage coming:
1 - The Lord descends.
2 - The shout.
3 - The archangel's voice.
4 - The trumpet of God.
5 - The dead rise.
6 - The caught up (rapture).
7 - The meeting in the air.
Yes, seven stages. And isn't 7 supposed to be a perfect number?
Something else. Have you noticed the unnatural language pretribs like to use? If a friend visits me, goes away for a month, and then comes back and visits me again, he never says: "I'm back for the SECOND stage of my one visit." But pretribs use wording like this when they place SEVERAL YEARS between their two stages!
During their short history pretrib promoters have disagreed on many things in addition to the number of stages in a Jewish wedding. They have also disagreed on which Jewish feast is symbolic of a pretrib rapture, and disagreed on which symbol in the book of Revelation is the best "pretrib" symbol. (For 30 years Darby's basis for a pretrib rapture was Rev. 12:5's "man child" that is caught up!)
For 300 pages of the most accurate documentation anywhere on the long covered up but now revealed history of the pretrib rapture view, I invite you to obtain my book "The Rapture Plot" at Armageddon Books and other online stores. Google "Scholars Weigh My Research" to see how eminent scholars have evaluated my discoveries. Also Google "Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty."
Finally, it's apparent that pretrib teachers are experts in arithmetic - the MULTIPLYING of stages which has caused a lot of DIVISION among Christians!
The following is an excerpt from The End Times Passover, Chapter 11, which provides biblical evidence that New Jerusalem (not Old Jerusalem located in the Middle East state of modern day Israel), is The Promised Land prophesied in the Old Testament, and that it is not the church, as many theorists claim. This excerpt is only part of the entire chapter titled Jesus Possess the Promised Land, when the Lord Marries the Bride, which addresses a major misconception that the “wedding” metaphor mentioned in Revelations 19:1-9 should be viewed in a literal fashion. Here, we will focus on the more in depth meaning of two key words in this group of scripture (marry and husband), which have been misinterpreted for centuries, and have been primarily responsible for misunderstanding the intended message God promised to remnant Israel, the faith believing ecclesia of God!
Jesus Possess the Promised Land, When the Lord Marries The Bride!
By Joe Ortiz
"As a New Testament scholar, Ladd no doubt is acquainted with the facts relating to a Hebrew marriage that makes his position untenable. As Lenski and others have pointed out, -- Hebrew marriage has three states: (1) the legal marriage consummated by the parents of the bride and the groom; (2) the groom goes to take his bride from her parent’s home; (3) the wedding supper or feast. Most Greek scholars take the Greek word GAMOS, translated “wedding” in Revelation 19:7, to mean, “Wedding feast.” With the exception of Hebrews 13:4, this is the uniform meaning in the New Testament. Ladd himself alluded to this inferring to the event as “the marriage banquet” and “marriage supper.” It should be clear, then, that if the marriage supper is in view here, the wedding has already been legally consummated and the bridegroom has already come for his bride." (John Walvoord, The Rapture Question, page 163, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979)
We don’t have any argument with Walvoord’s (and other theorists’) understanding of Jewish wedding rites; however, what we see in Isaiah 62:4 and Revelation 19:7 is not a picture of a marriage ceremony in the Jewish cultural (or even in the Western traditional) sense. To fully understand exactly what is transpiring here, one must examine the word “marry” and “husband” in the original Hebrew text to clearly understand what the words “husband” and “marry” precisely mean. Let’s examine these two words.
In the NASB Concordance, the word for “marry” is rendered ba’al, a primary root that is translated in most Bibles “to marry” or “rule over.” Unger and White, the two Hebrew scholars we have referred to before, state that the word ba’al is rendered “master.” They state, “In Akkadian, the noun BELU (Lord) gave rise to the verb BELU (to rule). In other northwest Semitic languages, the noun BAAL differs somewhat in meaning, as other words have taken over the meaning of “sir” or “Lord.” (Cf. Heb.’ ADO.) The Hebrew word Ba’al seems to have been related to these homonyms.” (Unger and White, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 19)
Unger and White go on to state that “the word BAAL (ba’al) occurs 84 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, 15 times with the meaning of “husband” and 50 times as a reference to deity. These two Hebrew scholars add, “The primary meaning of “ba’al” is “possessor.” They state that “Isaiah’s use of ba’al in parallel with QANAH clarifies this basic significance of ba’al: “The ox knoweth his owner (QANAH), and the ass his master’s (ba’al) crib, but Israel does not know, my people doth not consider” (Isa. 1:3) Man may be the owner (ba’al) of an animal (Exod. 22:10), a house (Exod. 22:7), a cistern (Exod. 21:34), or even a wife (Exod. 21:3),” (Unger and White, An Expository Dictionary Of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page19). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
Unger and White go on to state that ba’al’s secondary meaning; “husband” is clearly indicated by the phrase “ba’al ha-issha,” literally “owner of a woman.” They also state that “ba’al” may denote any deity other than the God of Israel, the ba’al or BAAL’s that modern Christianity has come to understand as the false gods that were worshipped by many Israelites throughout history.
Having gained a much more clear definition of the words marry and husband, we can now examine the more succinct meaning of Isaiah 62. If you will notice very carefully, in verses 4 and 5 of Isaiah 62, it specifically states (in no plainer words) that, No longer will they call you (faith-believing Israel, the ecclesia) Deserted, or name your land (Jerusalem) Desolate. But you (faith-believing Israel, the ecclesia) will be called Hephzibah (Hebrew: Chephtsiy bahh, my delight is in her) and your land Beulah (Hebrew: ba’al, married, possessed), “as a young man marries (Hebrew: ba’al, possesses) a maiden, so will your sons marry (Hebrew: ba’al, possess) you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will God rejoice over you.” [bold and parenthesis by the author, solely for emphasis]
As we can clearly see, verse 12 of Isaiah 62 succinctly delineates between who they are (they will be called the Holy people, the redeemed of the Lord), and you (now speaking about the land) which will be called sought after, the City No Longer Deserted. Verse 12 speaks about two subjects: They (the redeemed) and you (the city no longer deserted). Therefore this verse cannot be saying that the redeemed Christian Church (or Israel) is the land (or the city of) New Jerusalem. This prophecy in Isaiah 62 is clearing making a distinction between God’s faith-believing Israel (the ecclesia) and the land (New Jerusalem), which is the soon to come Holy City of God! This prophecy is speaking about the final outcome of salvation. It speaks about the eternal rest of faith-believing Israel (which was purchased at the cross), and it also speaks (symbolically and metaphorically) about the glorification of the old (Holy City of) Jerusalem through the eventual (and final) realization and supernatural manifestation of God’s new Holy City, which descends to earth at The Second Advent. The prophecy of Isaiah 62:1-12 is fulfilled at the cross, and the great hallelujah of salvation’s completion that we witness in Revelation 19:1-10 is the resounding proclamation of the everlasting dominion of Christ. New Jerusalem is the Holy City of God that will house faith-believing Israel (the redeemed ecclesia). New Jerusalem is the true Promised Land. (See also Hebrews 11:10-16 and 13:14). And the eternal resting place for His redeemed, which Isaiah 62:7 states cannot be attained until till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. Revelation 21:1 through 7 clearly shows this happening as the Bride of the Lamb, New Jerusalem, descends to earth:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, it is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son, (Revelation 21:1-7, KJV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
If Isaiah 62 doesn’t describe the true “wedding of the Lamb to His bride” more graphically than the hypotheses theorists conjure up from the passages referred to in Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 25:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:22-23 (which are used by theorists in their Christian Church-is-the-Bride scheme), then there is no hope for understanding the word of God! More importantly, as we see in Isaiah 62, verse 11, you will notice that this message is not intended for Jews or the national state of Israel, but for God’s people of promise, His ecclesia! We see this verified as Jesus uses the very same words in Revelation 22:12 that we see in Isaiah 62:11: Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. Does not Jesus speak those same words to the ecclesia in the Book of Revelation 22:12?
The matrimonial metaphors we see in Isaiah 62:4 and Revelation 19:7 are not describing the scene of a man coming to be ceremoniously wedded to a woman, but rather, what we truly see here is Jesus Christ, the Almighty Lamb of God, getting ready to ba’al (possess, rule, marry or master) New Jerusalem, the Promised Land, and become its everlasting ruler and possessor as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
As much as theorists would like us to believe, that Jesus in the future is planning to become one with the Christian Church through a wedding ceremony, after examining what is really represented in Isaiah 62:2 and Revelation 19:7, it becomes clear to us that these two verses are not describing a wedding in the matrimonial sense we understand today. Besides, is not the ecclesia already the Body of Christ?
But theorists would answer back and say that these prophecies (by Isaiah) refer solely to national Israel. We would respond by saying that these future events are for faith-believing Israel, God’s children, those who believe in the Messiah, which includes the engrafted Gentiles into God’s original ecclesia, the faith-believing Israel of God. The redeemed will include tribulation saints, holy ones, the remnant, the elect, the 144,000 (of which 12,000 are Jews and the rest from the other tribes of Israel) and all of the great cloud of witnesses (that we see in Hebrews 11) who believed in the Messiah… by faith!
Whether God’s people experience a secret pre-tribulation escape to heaven (which we don’t believe will be the case); whether they become martyred during the so-called Great Tribulation, or remain alive when Christ returns (all of those names which are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life), one thing is certain, the Christian Church is not the Bride of the Lamb. New Jerusalem, God’s Holy City, His eternal dwelling place, is the true Bride of The Lamb! If theorists persist and continue to believe that the Bride of the Lamb is the Christian Church, then, pray tell, who are all of these people that are seen as the only ones who will be allowed entrance into that Holy City? Revelation 21:26 clearly states:
The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, (Revelation 21:26, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
If the Christian Church is the Bride, and if the Bride of the Lamb is New Jerusalem, then who are these people whose names are written in this Lamb’s Book of Life, the only ones who will have access to this Holy City? They are God’s ecclesia, His called out ones! And if those people that are described in Isaiah 62:12 (They will be called the Holy people) also possess access to the city, then the only conclusion we can come to is that Isaiah’s prophecy is directed to faith-believing Israel, God’s ecclesia!
Those of us who now call ourselves Christians have been grafted into God’s original ecclesia, by the atoning works of Messiah on Calvary, and by the grace and mercy of God. Therefore, those promises spoken of in Isaiah 62 – concerning Jerusalem becoming married - clearly speak about the same heavenly promises the Christian Church embraces for itself. However, whereas the Christian Church pictures itself in heaven for an eternity, as the Bride of the Lamb, soon to be wedded to Christ, the reality is that the Bride of the Lamb is the soon-to-descend Holy City of God, which Messiah Jesus possesses forever, right here on earth. Whereas faith-believing Israel, God’s chosen remnant, that great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 11 that were looking forward to a heavenly city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14), Isaiah tells us that Messiah will marry (possess) the Bride of the Lamb, which is New Jerusalem, the soon-to-come Holy City of God! What we see in Isaiah 62 speaks about the same thing we see in Revelation 21:2 and 3. The only difference the Christian Church (and theorists) fails to see is that the Bride of the Lamb is not the Christian Church, but rather, it’s the Holy City of God, which descends to earth to be ruled by the Messiah, forever.
Therefore, the mythology of the Christian Church being seen as the Bride of the Lamb to be wedded to Christ has no scriptural foundation, whatsoever. However, the marrying (possession) of the promised land (New Jerusalem) by God has a tremendous amount of scripture to convey to us God’s true message, which is, that Jesus possesses the Promised Land, forever, when the Lord marries the Bride!
To conclude this chapter, the author wants to state that whatever geopolitical fulfillments many theorists interpret regarding the Promised Land referred to in Old Testament prophecies have no biblical foundation. Theorists merely view these prophecies as claiming the restoration of a Jewish geopolitical Kingdom in present day Jerusalem, in the land now called the State of Israel. What we read in Isaiah 62:1-12 clearly reveals a prophetic fulfillment of that great land promise God made to faith-believing Israel, His ecclesia, in the manifestation of New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, mentioned in Revelation 21:2, 9-10. If they are the same, as all scriptural indications prophetically point to that fact, then there can be no doubt that the Lamb’s Bride is none other than New Jerusalem, the true Promised Land, and the soon-to-come Holy City of God, (Hebrews 13:14). This we believe is the perfect picture of faith-believing Israel’s true Promised Land, not a recaptured earthly territory, which theorists believe was fulfilled in the Middle East in 1948.
The true Promised Land is New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, the soon-to-descend new headquarters for the Kingdom of God, where a positional status for each individual member of God’s ecclesia in that Kingdom is being prepared by Jesus Christ before its soon-to-come journey to earth.
We realize that many theorists and dispensationalists will challenge us for doubting, questioning and providing correction to the current teachings and perception that the Christian Church is the Bride of The Lamb. Removing this myth from the Christian psyche, they feel, may be damaging to many Christian’s Blessed Hope. The author was taught and personally believed that concept for many years. However, after careful scrutiny of God’s word, it is absolutely clear that the Bride of Christ cannot be the Christian Church; but, rather, the Bride is the soon-to-come City of God, New Jerusalem, which will forever be the Lord’s headquarters on earth. It is there where the ecclesia, God’s called out ones, will be able to enter into it by virtue of their names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, those who will be called by a new name, who will rule and reign with Him, forever, after God’s sons and daughters (the ecclesia of God) will have participated (as His guests) in that great Wedding Banquet that is to come!
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[To get a greater understanding of this entire matter (Israel vs. church, God’s promises to remnant Israel), please read a profound book I recently completed reading, The Israel of God in Prophecy by Hans LaRondelle (Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, Michigan). Had I read this book when it first came out in 1983, I probably would have never written The End Times Passover. It is indeed greatly satisfying for me to have recently read one of the most biblically accurate works I have ever read, which contains (almost word for word) material and biblical references that confirms the study I began in (oddly enough) 1983].
For more information about this blog and the authors two books, The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, please click on Joe Ortiz' web sites and blogs