Monday, June 29, 2009

The Second Coming of Christ Pt. 3

Nobody knows the day or hour except the Father. This verse is clearly speaking about the 2nd coming, which Christ has just described in some detail, yet people use it to speak of a rapture that precedes the 70th week. This is incongruous. If, as they say, the rapture is secret and not mentioned here in Matthew, then this verse cannot be speaking about the rapture. And yet, this verse is used to defend a secret rapture. It is clearly speaking of the 2nd coming, and that needs to be kept in mind, as there are associations that go with this phrase that do point to it being the rapture, but a rapture that is at the time of Christ’s 2nd coming.

Actually while some people have said that it can’t be known when Christ will come, that it could be at any minute, that is not accurate. We need to look at Scripture more carefully and see what He was really saying. First of all, we have already seen that the tribulation, and Day of the Lord signs have to happen first. So we know it can’t be at any minute. As to more than that, once those signs have occurred, is there any way to know when He will come? Yes, there is. First we need to acknowledge that we have been told that we should have an idea as to when He will come.

Luke 21:34 “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” In other words, only by being totally living an indulgent life with no attention to God’s Word, would this take you unaware. So we are to be aware that it is upon us.

1 Thess.5:2-6. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” We are not to be overtaken as the rest of the world. The only way that is possible is for us to know when it is about to happen.

Matt. 24:36-44. We have been told we will not know the day nor the hour. The day and the hour. Vs.43 indicates though that we should know the watch. In those days, there were four watches a day, each six hours long. To know the watch, we should know the “time of day” or the relative time it is coming. We have studied the festivals and know that the fall festivals are all about the 2nd coming, therefore we know that the Lord‘s return will be in conjunction with the fall festivals of Rosh ha Shanah and Yom Kippur. We know the watch. It will be in the fall.

So we know from what we have previously learned that Christ cannot return until the temple is built, the abomination of desolation occurs, the tribulation comes to an end, and the signs of the Day of the Lord occur. We know that these events occur in the second half of the 70th week, so there are only a few years in which this could happen. Now on top of that, we know that it must happen at the time of the fall festivals, so we will know the season (fall) or watch in which Christ will return. Is there a way we can know which year it will be? Actually when we get into Revelation, we will see that God has even given us enough information to pinpoint that. It is said we will not know the specific day nor specific hour. There are reasons why this will be so, partly because we don’t follow the Jewish calendar, so we don’t know when these festivals will occur. Plus there are reasons to believe that the rotation of the earth around the sun (orbit) will be changed, which will change the calendar (probably back to a 360 day year). All of this, plus the fact that the Jewish month is begun based on the new moon (which will no longer give its light) will make it impossible to know exactly what day it is in the Jewish calendar. However, there is still more to understanding this scripture verse. And it is the following that reinforces the fact that the gathering of the elect when Christ returns is indeed the rapture.

The marriage ritual of the Jews at the time of Christ gives us a picture of what Christ was trying to get across when he said that nobody but the Father would know the day or hour. It seems impossible, given that the Father and Son are one, that Christ wouldn’t know the hour. The marriage ritual explains why this is so. And the disciples would have immediately referenced this tradition when Christ used the phrase “nobody knows the day or the hour” as it was a commonly used phrase of the day in conjunction with the marriage ceremony.

Many marriages were arranged by the parents from the time the children were infants. Others were arranged in one of the following ways. The young man might want a particular girl, or his parents may choose her for him. The arrangements could be arranged in one of the following ways: the father would make the arrangements for his son, an agent would arrange it on behalf of the father, or an agent could arrange it on behalf of the son. Using the last example, this is how the ritual of Christ’s time took place. The young man went to the home of his potential bride-to-be. He carried three things with him, a large sum of money to pay the bride price, a betrothal contract, and a skin of wine. After approaching the father and possibly the brothers, the contract was put forth and the bridal price discussed. Then a glass of wine was poured. If the father approved, the girl was called in. If she approved, she would drink the wine. That would commit her to the man and the contract was now signed and binding. They were called husband and wife, however it was called a betrothal instead of a marriage. Some research I came across (Jewish in origin) said that another way she could accept the contract was to have sexual relations with him, as they were considered husband and wife once the contract was signed. That is why scholars always say that a betrothal was much more than an engagement and required a divorce to end it. This would mean Mary being pregnant before she was considered married to (living with) Joseph would not have been a problem as far as the community was concerned. It was only a problem for Joseph, who knew he had not slept with her. If this information about the custom is accurate, and I have no reason to suppose it isn’t, it was not a shameful thing for her to be pregnant before the ceremony actually took place, so she would not have been shunned or considered a sinner and no shame would come upon her for having a baby less than nine months after the wedding ceremony. To dissolve the contract required a divorce. Back to the marriage. After the contract was secure, the young man would state that he would go to his father’s house and prepare a place for her. This place was known as the chadar (chamber) and the chupah (honeymoon bed). From the time the contract was ratified, the young woman was consecrated or set apart for her husband. She was bought with a price. She was then to spend her time preparing herself to be his wife and a mother. She spent her days in waiting, learning how to please her husband. In the meanwhile, the man returned to his father’s home to start constructing the chamber and bed. They would retire here after the wedding ceremony. When asked when that ceremony would be, he was to reply “no man knows (the day or hour) except my father.” In Israel the father had to be satisfied that all was ready before he would give his son permission to go and get his bride. However one look at the young man’s work would show how close he was to being done and how soon the girl could be expecting him to come. There were “signs” of his being about to come and get her. But the young man could not actually leave until the father gave permission.

All of Christ’s listeners were Jewish and very familiar with this ritual. In saying what he did, Christ was indicating that he was the groom of those who would follow him. This was not made as a statement to make us think that there was no way at all that we could ever even suspect that Christ’s coming was near. We are told that we should know the watch. We are told the signs. It is simply that the particular day and hour are up to God to give His permission for Christ to come get us. So even Christ, who knows the mind of God, can’t say when the day or hour is, as he has to actually wait for the Father to verbalize the command for Him to go. Christ was letting them know that the same ritual that they used was basically what was going to happen when He returned. It wasn’t that there were no indications. The construction being done by the groom and the signs that it was near its completion were easy to see. In the same way, Christ gave many signs that were to herald His return. What was required was the permission of the father to go forth and claim his bride (at which time the ceremony and wedding feast would take place). This is how the disciples would have interpreted what Jesus said. Especially when added to the other statements Christ made. In John 14:2-3 “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 unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also.” This is the bridal chadar and chupah. In 1 Cor. 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are God’s.” 1 Cor. 7:23, “Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men.” The bride is bought with a price and set apart to prepare herself for her husband. We were bought with a price and set aside for our groom, Christ. He said He was returning to His Father’s house to prepare a place for His bride, (us) and then He would return and get us. When the groom, who doesn’t know the day or the hour that his father will actually say, “Okay, go get her,” even though all is ready, returns to get his bride, there is a wedding ceremony and feast. This is what we are told will happen when Christ returns for us - a wedding feast. THE “Feast” the Feast of the Lord. (Feast of Sukkoth) All of this helps us to understand better the Second Coming of the Lord. Our job is the job of the bride to be preparing herself to please her groom. And look how we fail. Seeing how the marriage ceremony developed to pattern what Christ will do with His bride, does it seem logical that the groom would leave and secretly run off with his bride? That wasn’t the way the ritual was done, and I don’t think elopement is what God had in mind for us. The getting of the bride will follow the marriage traditions. Since the phrase nobody knows the day or hour clearly refers to the Second Coming (if you don't believe a rapture is spoken of in Matthew, you have no choice but to accept this), and if the phrase nobody knows the day or hour clearly refers to the son being released by his father to go get his bride, then you have to acknowledge that this is speaking of Christ getting his bride at the time of his return, which nobody knows the day or the hour. It is simple deductive reasoning.

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