The Dry Summer
Before beginning the study of the last three feasts (Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot), there is a need to understand why there was a period of three months where there were no feasts. These three months of the Jewish calendar covered the long dry summer months, between the early spring rain and the late autumn rain. As we have seen, God has carefully planned the timing and order of the seven annual feasts to outline His redemptive program. So, just as the feasts serve as a prophetic pointer to a future time in God’s plan for mankind, so too does the long hot dry summer months where there are no feasts. The dry summer pointed to a time when the focus of God would not be on the nation of Israel but rather directed towards Gentiles.
This prophetic dry season is a result of the Jews rejection of Jesus as their Messiah: “He came to that which was his own (Jews), but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him (mostly Gentiles), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12). The Gentiles took the lead in spreading the Gospel to the world, and is the reason the summer, devoid of feasts, is referred to as the “Church period” in prophetic typology.
The last three feasts are yet to be fulfilled, so they remain prophetic in nature. With the restoration of the nation Israel in 1948, and the city of Jerusalem becoming the nation’s capital in 1967, God is preparing Israel for the soon return of their Messiah. These last three feasts point to the return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom. So, what prophetic event does Yom Teruah point to?
The purpose of Yom Teruah was to announce the arrival of the seventh month in order for the nation of Israel to prepare for the Day of Atonement, which would occur ten days later. The Hebrew month of Tishri was special, as it was the last month of the religious season. It was the month that would see God complete His dealing with his people for that year, and the last time the people would make Aliyah (going up to Jerusalem).
The Feast of Yom Teruah was not marked with any special events, other than to introduce the holy month with the sounding of trumpets and sacrifices. Since Israel’s calendar was a lunar one, the new moon had significance for them, and on the first day of every month, trumpets would sound at the sighting of the crescent moon. However, for Yom Teruah the trumpets would be extra long and extra loud (one has to only live in Jerusalem during Yom Teruah in the modern era to understand that).
There were two main types of trumpet used in Israel, a long silver trumpet, and the ram’s horn or shofar. It was the shofar that was blown on Yom Teruah, in remembrance of the ram that was sacrificed in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:13).
The Feasts are a Shadow of the Reality
“Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17)
Paul, in Col. 2:17, points out that the feast days are “a shadow of the things that were to come.” Roger Foster in his article What do the Holy days Mean for Christians Today? (1), emphasises that Paul is confirming the prophetic value of the feasts when he explains that: “Paul says [the holy days] ‘are a shadow of things to come.’ The phrase to come is a present active participle in the Greek. It means ‘things coming,’ referring to the future, not the past. Any theologian who claims that Paul is referring to the Holy Days as a shadow of things in the past is not being honest with the Greek grammar. The Greek requires it to point to the future. The Sabbath and the Holy Days foreshadow things to come – future events. There is no doubt about what Paul is saying. The Holy Days still represent future events in the plan of salvation.”
The rapture is an amazing revelation of the great love Jesus has for His bride, the Church. We as “the Bride of Christ,” should be responding to Jesus with that same love, which includes a yearning to be with Him. A Bride longs for the day of her wedding, a time when she will, at last, be truly bound to her husband in a union of love. This is the emotion our Lord Jesus expects from his Bride which is the Church. This emotion would be a fraction of His great love for us, the body of people He died for. Jesus longs for the time when we will join Him to rule and reign with Him. The rapture needs to be understood from this perspective: a bride is being called out to be with her bridegroom for the marriage ceremony. The rapture is not a rescue mission, it is the day our Lord and Saviour comes to receive his bride.
For those who are unsure of what exactly the rapture is, a short definition is required. The word “rapture” does not appear anywhere in the various English Bible translations. However, the word “rapture” was introduced into the English language by Protestants who took the word from the dominant Bible of the pre-Reformation Church, Jerome’s Vulgate, a Latin translation of the original Greek New Testament. The word “rapture” is taken from the statement in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where Paul explains that believers will be “caught up… to meet the Lord in the air.” The Greek word explaining the act of being “caught up” is harpazo, which means to be grasped hastily, to be snatched up. The Greek word harpazo translated into Latin is raeptius, which eventually became the term used today – rapture, which signifies the believer being caught up to be with Jesus in the air for the marriage supper and the union of Jesus with His Church.
The event is described in detail in both 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 and 1 Thessalonians. 4:13-18.
Yom Teruah is a Shadow of the Rapture
The requirements for the commencement of Yom Teruah was as follows: As no man knows the hour or the day of the new moon, a reliable man was assigned to wait and watch for the appearance of the smallest sliver of the new moon. Once spotted, a second reliable man would be called to confirm the sighting. They would then shout back to the Sanhedrin gathered on the Temple Mount, and the trumpet would be sounded to inform all that the new moon had been sighted. This is a direct pointer to the events of the rapture: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thess. 4:16).
In the custom of the Jewish wedding celebration, the statement “no one knows about that day or hour… but only the Father,” (Matt. 24:36) was an expression used by the Jewish groom when asked when his marriage would be. The reason for this was that the bridegroom would be responsible for building a home for his bride. He was required to be diligent and his father would continually inspect the work done to ensure that it was up to standard. Only with the final approval from the father, that the home was satisfactory, would the wedding then be able to take place. So, when the bridegroom was asked about the date and time of his wedding, his response would be “Only my father knows” – Matt. 24:36. Jesus, when answering the disciples’ question on the timing of the last-day events in Matthew 24, combines two well-known Jewish customs in His explanation. Just as in the Jewish wedding, it will be the Father who decides the actual time of the rapture, when “the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). Also, just as for Yom Teruah, no one knows the exact day or hour of the feast, so too, no one will know the exact time of the rapture. The disciples would be able to clearly glean from the use by Jesus of these two well-known Jewish customs, that they would be able to discern the season, but not the day or the hour of His return. As God used trumpets to fight for the nation of Israel, such as at the city of Jericho (Judges 6) and Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Judges 7), the Hebrews began to call God “the Horn of their salvation”. By this they meant that God was their deliver. The Church’s great hope is the rapture, so as to be delivered from “the wrath to come (Tribulation)” (1 Thess. 1:10).
The Jews also associate Yom Teruah with the day of Judgement (Yom Hadin). It is a day when the righteous are to be separated and they will dwell with God. The rapture is a day when the righteous are taken from the earth to be with God, and it signals the start of God’s seven years of judgement during the Tribulation.
The association of the feast with judgement, links Yom Teruah to another reason why the Jews blow the shofar at the start of the feast. It is blown to proclaim the resurrection of the dead. The sounding of the shofar is a call to repentance, a call to rise up and live again, to wake up from sin and be transformed through repentance. The resurrection of the righteous dead occurs during the rapture, at the sound of the trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52). The resurrection of the righteous dead and the transformation of the living from a sinful body to a sinless one will therefore take place on Yom Teruah. This traditional belief linked to Yom Teruah is likened to the removing of soiled garments, which has a wonderful parallel in the rapture.
The Jews also believed that the sounding of the shofar was to confound and confuse Satan, who, the rabbis believe uses the day to accuse the nation before God. Lucifer brings up all the sin they have committed during the past year. The rapture results in the Bride appearing in heaven ready for the marriage supper. Satan, as the accuser of the brethren, is the unwanted guest at the wedding feast. There is war in heaven and Satan is cast down to earth (Rev. 12:7-17). So, yet another facet of the Feast of Trumpets matches with events connected to the rapture occurring on that feast day.
The Jewish Messiah Has a Jewish Marriage Ceremony
In Jewish custom, the Feast of Trumpets is known as the Wedding of the Messiah, and in New Testament scripture, the Church is the Bride of Christ. So, the rapture will occur on Yom Teruah when the Church is caught up to heaven to wed the Bridegroom – Jesus.
The relationship that Jesus has with His Church is very special. Although the Church is never explicitly called “the bride of Christ” in the New Testament, scripture repeatedly uses the analogy that Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride, to underline the intimacy of the relationship Jesus has with His Church (Matt. 25:1-46; Mk. 2:19-20; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-23; Rev. 19:7-9). The Lord loves the Church and died for her, purifying her with His blood (Eph. 5:26), so that He could join with her in an everlasting covenant. God uses symbolism in scripture to convey a spiritual meaning, and the analogy of the Church being the Bride of Christ is a very good example of this. We are then able to see a strong parallel in scripture between the relationship of Jesus and His Church (His Bride) and the Jewish marriage ceremony. Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, will have a Jewish marriage ceremony with His bride the Church. Let’s look at the evidence by comparing the Jewish marriage ceremony with the rapture:
- The young Jewish man would travel from his father’s house to the home of the young lady he wished to marry.
- Jesus left His Father’s home in heaven to travel to where his future bride lived on earth.
- Once at the home of his prospective bride the young man would establish a marriage covenant, a betrothal, a guarantee of the marriage contract and a confirmation that he would return for the girl to claim her as his bride. The price for the bride (mohar) would be paid after negotiations with the bride’s father were completed.
- Jesus established an eternal covenant through his blood (Heb. 13:20; Luke 22:20). The seal of the covenant, or the ring, is the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). The price for the bride (the Church) was paid with the life blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).
- On returning to His father’s house the young man would begin the process of building a home for his bride. He was required to be diligent and his father would continually inspect the work done to ensure that it was up to standard. Only with the final approval from the father that the home was satisfactory would the wedding be able to take place. According to the Wildolive website it was because of this that, when the bridegroom was asked when his wedding would take place, his response would be “Only my father knows.”
- This custom explains the statement by Jesus in Matt. 24:36 regarding the timing of His return, saying that “no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but the father only.” Jesus, in His statements regarding His return at the rapture, continually emphasises that it would follow the customs of the Jewish marriage ceremony. Jesus will only return when “the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” (Rom. 11:25) – the full number of Gentiles God has ordained for salvation. God will approve of the work done by Jesus in building His Church and the Bride will be called to join the Bridegroom in heaven.
- The Jewish bridegroom would only be able to go and collect his bride when all was ready at his father’s house. The room he had built for his bride would have to be complete and pass his father’s inspection. Also, the wedding preparations would have to be complete. This meant that the bridegroom could arrive for his bride at any time, so at night the bride would place all she needed for the wedding next to her bed, including an oil container for her lamp. This would ensure she would be ready to leave for the wedding should the bridegroom come during the night.
- In the parable of the 10 virgins Jesus speaks of how the foolish virgins “took no oil with them.” (Matt. 25:3) and are banished from the wedding. This parable emphasises that the rapture is selective; only those with the Holy Spirit, symbolised by the oil container for the lamp which was used to light the way, will be able to go to the wedding.
- The tradition in the Jewish marriage ceremony was that the groom would come for his bride at night; and a shout of warning would be given along with the blowing of a shofar. This would warn the bride of the bridegroom’s approach and give her time to get ready, to go with the bridegroom.
- Paul in 1 Thes. 4:16 writes regarding the process of the rapture that “the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.” In 1 Cor. 15:52 he tells us that the rapture will occur at “the last trumpet.” Thus, the rapture of the Church matches the call of the Jewish bridegroom for his bride to go with him to the marriage ceremony.
- When the bride came out to meet the groom, they would then travel together to the groom’s father’s house.
- In 1 Thes. 4:17; Rev. 19:7-9 and John 14:2-3 we see that the Church is taken to the Father’s house and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
- On arriving at the father’s house, the bride and groom enter the bridal chamber (huppa), where they would consummate the marriage that was covenanted earlier.
- Dr Renald Showers in his article Jewish Wedding Traditions and the Rapture explains that “parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom and bride entering into union after their arrival… Christ and the church (bride) will experience spiritual union after their arrival in heaven; thereby consummating their relationship covenanted earlier.”
- The Jewish wedding feast lasts for seven days as seen with Samson’s marriage to his first Philistine bride in Jud. 14:17-18 and with Jacob’s marriage to Leah in Gen. 29:27.
- The Bible tells us in Daniel 9 that the Tribulation period lasts for seven years, a heptad, which is Hebrew for a week of years. The marriage supper of the lamb occurs during the seven years of Tribulation, once again confirming a pre-Tribulation rapture.
- At the end of the seven days of the wedding feast the bride is taken out and shown to all.
- At the end of the Tribulation period the bride of Christ returns with Jesus to the world.
Insights into Jewish Tradition
The Jewish Rabbis call the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) “Chevlai shel Mashiach,” which means “The birth pangs of the Messiah.” It is interesting to note the term is also one of the names for the Feats of Trumpets, indicating the belief of the Rabbis that the feast will usher in a time of accountability for Israel, which the New Testament reveals as the Tribulation. So, the rapture is the event that will usher in the Tribulation period – the time of Jacob’s trouble. The end of the Tribulation will see the return of the Messiah as King to establish His Kingdom. There is then, a remarkable association between the Tribulation period and the Feast of Trumpets.
Hebrew tradition places the births of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob during the Feast of Trumpets. Does this signify that a future Yom Teruah will be the time the Tribulation (Jer. 30:7) starts for the Jews, who are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
Other names of significance are:
- “Hidden Day” (Yom Hakeseh), speaks of the rapture as an event hidden from the world. Paul called the event a mystery in 1 Corinthians 15:51.
- “Day of Awakening judgement” (Yom Hadin), speaks of the time of judgement upon the Jews in the Tribulation period. It could also apply to the raptured Church appearing before the Bema judgement seat of Messiah – for their rewards.
One of the events that Jewish tradition says occurred on the day that became the Feast of Trumpets was Jacob’s arrival at Bethel (The House of God). It is there that Jacob had his dream (Gen. 28:10-12), in which he saw a stairway/ladder resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. The stairway/ladder signifies God making a connection between Himself and man, as opposed to the efforts of Nimrod at Babel in Genesis 11, who tried to reach heaven by his own actions, without the help of God. Nimrod was elevating man as god, and attempting to attain salvation through his works. The ladder on the other hand allows access to heaven through God’s divine provision. That divine provision is Jesus, Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
According to the Bible, Jesus is our ideal “Jacob’s Ladder” who came to earth, from the line of Jacob, through the provisions of God, and redeemed us so that we may live in heaven for eternity. That resurrection to heaven, in perfect bodies, occurs on the day of the rapture. Jacob had his dream of God’s connection with man through His Son Jesus, on the day that Bride of Christ would be resurrected to heaven.
Joseph a Type of Jesus
“Blow the shofar at the time of the New Moon… for the day of our festival (Yom Teruah). For it is a decree for Israel an ordinance for the God of Jacob. He set it up as a testimony in Joseph, when he went through the land of Egypt… I relieved his shoulder from the burden, his hands were set free from the basket” (Psalm 81:4-7 [Tree of Life version]).
The first three verses of Psalm 81 are a call to praise God with musical instruments, but the trumpet is not mentioned. The purpose of this trumpet was to call God’s people together for their solemn feast day at the New Moon – which is the reason the trumpet is sounded at the rapture. Verse 5 stresses the importance of gathering God’s people together, it was a statute, a law, and established as “a testimony in Joseph.” Now, all commentaries will tell you the psalmist is referring to God’s people when he uses the name Joseph, and this is true. However, they miss the underlying significance, the midrash interpretation. Why did the psalmist use Joseph to symbolise Israel, and not Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, who as patriarchs would better symbolise the nation? Joseph merely represents the two half tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim.
The verse links Yom Teruah with Joseph and the belief that he was released from the dungeon on Tishrei 1, and raised to the right hand of Pharaoh. Joseph as a type of Jesus, points to the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb and His being elevated to the right hand of God. With Jesus as the head of the Church there is a connection to the church being released from the “captivity” of the world (Egypt), on the Feast of Trumpets, and raise to the throne room of heaven.
Further points of note are: Joseph received his bride Asenath, a high-born, aristocratic Egyptian, before the seven years of drought. Which is evidence for a pre-Tribulation rapture, indicating that Jesus will receive His bride before the seven years of Tribulation. Joseph restores his relationship with his brothers during the seven years of drought. Jesus will restore His relationship with Israel during the Tribulation.
“You will arise and have mercy on Zion, for the time to favour her, yes the set time (appointed feast) has come… For (when) the Lord shall build up Zion: He shall appear in His glory” (Psalm 102:13-16).
The term “set time” in the verse above is the Hebrew word “moed,” which as was explained in the introduction to the feasts means “appointed times,” it is the word for the Feasts of the Lord. Psalm 102:13-16, most certainly means that the time of spiritual salvation and favour upon the Jews will begin on a feast day, and in connection with the feasts, that would be the Feast of Trumpets. Our Lord’s “appearing in glory”, would be a reference to the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation.
Psalm 102 is extremely significant for associating the rapture with the feast of Yom Teruah. There are many incredible pointers to the Feast of Trumpets being the great starting point for the salvation of the Jews, and the start of the Tribulation period. If there is any doubt that the rapture will occur during a future Feast of Trumpets, then an alternative end time scenario for the feast must be given, but there is none!
“I will provoke you (Jews) to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will anger you by a foolish nation… I was found by those who did not seek Me: I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me, but to Israel he says: All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people” (Romans 10:19-21).
According to this incredible prophetic verse, God will do something that will provoke the Jewish people to jealousy. Romans 11:11 states that It has always been a requirement for the church to “provoke the Jews to jealousy.” The difference is that in Romans 10, God will do something with a “nation” (Gentiles) to anger the Jews! So here we see that the Jews will be made jealous and angry at the same time. What will make the Jews both jealous and angry together?
The Jews are God’s chosen people and they know it! Salvation from God going to the mostly Gentile church has not made them jealous or angry, because Jews see Christianity as a mostly pagan faith with a false messiah. The fact that Jews have been persecuted by the Church has only served to confirm this belief. But, what if the Church did away with its pagan traditions and became truly grafted into the Olive Tree, absorbed the rich sap of our Jewish heritage, and celebrated the feasts recognising their prophetic pointers to Jesus? Then, what if we also informed the Jews about the rapture of the church? Would that then not stun the Jews when the rapture occurred? Would that not suddenly make them realise how wrong they have been to reject their Jewish Messiah? They would have an instant wake-up call. They would become instantly jealous and angry; their eyes would be opened to the truth of who their Messiah is. This understanding would see the fulfillment of the 144 000 Jewish evangelists of Revelation 7.
Explanation On Imminence
There will be those pre-Tribulationists who because they believe in the doctrine of imminence, will reject the idea that the rapture will occur on one of the two days of Yom Teruah. They hold that the return of Jesus can happen at any moment, with no signs to occur and no prophecies needing to be fulfilled. The belief that Jesus is indicating that the rapture will occur only over one of the days of the Yom Teruah, conflicts with a firm belief held by these Christians in the imminent return of the Lord. It is, therefore, necessary to study this doctrine, as it contradicts the evidence that the rapture will occur at Yom Teruah.
Scriptures that the supporter of the doctrine of imminence will use as evidence that Jesus can return at any moment are:
- Matt. 24:42-44 and 1Thes. 5:2-4: which refer to the return of Jesus for the Church at the rapture as His coming “like a thief in the night.”
- Mark 13:33-37: is the parable where the servants are warned to be on the watch for the unexpected return of their master.
- Heb. 10:37: where the author warns that Jesus will not delay.
- Jas. 5:7-8 and 1 Pet. 4:7: warn that the Lord’s coming is near.
- Rev. 3:11, 22:7 and 22:20: in these scriptures Jesus continually encourages the Church by saying, “I am coming soon.”
The analogy of the house-owner being on the watch for the thief in the night (Matt. 24:42-44; 1 Thes. 5:2-4) and the servants expectantly waiting for their master (Mark 13:33-37) both relate to Yom Teruah, where the Jews are required to expectantly watch and wait for the crescent moon to signal the new month and the commencement of the celebration. The Church is also required to be expectantly watching and waiting for the rapture, as it is our great hope (Titus 2:13). Just as the Jews would pray “next year in Jerusalem” at every Passover feast during their dispersion so, too, should the Church have the same hope and longing for the return of Jesus and be praying that the next Feast of Trumpets will be the rapture. Jesus wants His Church to be like the Jewish Bride longing for the call of the Bridegroom to join Him and travel to the wedding feast. The “blessed hope” of the Church is “the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13). The analogy of the “thief in the night,” is clarified when one understands that a thief steals that which is valuable and there is a true sense of loss. Jesus, by using this symbolism, is underlying the loss the world will experience when that which is valuable, the Church, is raptured.
With regards to the scriptures announcing that the return of Jesus is near, this cannot be, as it is now over 1 900 years since the Bible was completed. The idea that Jesus is coming soon cannot, then, be literally interpreted. James 5:8, which is used by the supporters of the doctrine of imminence that “the Lord’s coming is near,” actually starts with an admonition in verse 7 for believers to be patient regarding “the Lord’s coming,” saying that they should follow the example of the famer who “waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm.” James uses the analogy of the farmer waiting for the rains, as the rains match the Jewish feast days. The KJV refers to the rains as “the early and latter rain.” Just as the Jews had to wait patiently for their Messiah, who fulfilled the feast day prophecies of the spring rain, so will the Church have to wait for the return of Jesus who will fulfil the feast day prophecies of the autumn rain. The nearness of the Lord’s return must, therefore, be in relation to the whole period of prophecy. Genesis 3:15 holds the first prophecy that God gives, predicting that Satan will be defeated by Jesus. The scripture prophesies that Satan will inflict a mortal wound, but his power will be broken by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Ultimately the serpent, Satan, will only be totally defeated at the end of the millennial period after he is released for a short while just before the end of the thousand years. When Daniel interprets the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (2:24-49), he reveals that Jesus will return to destroy all the nations of the earth and establish His Kingdom. So, what was distant to Adam and Daniel is now near. In comparison, the return of the Lord is soon and is in the process of being fulfilled.
Further evidence that the return of Jesus could not be imminent is given by Jesus Himself. In answer to the question by His disciples – “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming at the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) – Jesus describes several events that will precede His return for the Church. The fact that Jesus gives more than one statement, revealing that there are prerequisite events that must occur before His return, must mean that the rapture could not then be imminent. Examples of these qualifying statements are:
- In Matthew 24:6 Jesus is implying an expected increase in the number of conflicts as a precursor to the last days when he says, “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it you are not alarmed for such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (emphasis added). The centuries since the time of Jesus have seen continual warfare; with man’s increasing inhumanity against man played out in all parts of the world, which is evidence of the accuracy of this prophecy. When Jesus issued the warning in Matt. 24:6, He gave a prerequisite to the timing of the rapture. The rapture cannot be imminent if there must be an increase in world conflicts before it occurs.
- “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines [and pestilences (KJV)], and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:7-8; emphasis added). There have always been famines, plagues and earthquakes, but as the population of the world increases the effects these three catastrophes have on mankind will intensify. Jesus uses the example of a woman giving birth to reveal that these disasters will increase in intensity over time until His return, just as a woman’s labour pains intensify until the birth. The birth of the baby brings an end to the suffering and a wonderful new life. So, too, will the return of Jesus bring an end to the suffering of the Church and a wonderful new life in heavenly bodies. The analogy of the catastrophes occurring with increasing intensity, like a woman in childbirth, must mean that the rapture cannot be imminent.
- “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14). This is a definitive statement from Jesus about the timing of the rapture. It will not occur until all nations have received the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus is returning to bring righteousness to the earth. The Greek word used for nations in this scripture is ethnos which means ethnic or cultural groups. So, Jesus is clearly stating that the rapture cannot occur until all cultural groups have received the message that He is returning to set up His Kingdom. This revelation relates to Paul’s mystery (a mystery being a hidden truth now revealed) in Rom. 11:25: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” The mystery that Paul is revealing to the Church is that God is waiting for the complete number of Gentiles to be saved before the rapture. With our understanding of Matt. 24:14, this complete number will only be reached when all cultural groups have heard the gospel. Therefore, the rapture cannot occur until this prophecy is fulfilled.
- In Matt. 24:32-34 Jesus says “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. “ In this passage Jesus warns that a sign of the last days is the formation of the State of Israel. One of the symbols of Israel is the fig tree (Matt. 21:19-21 and Luke 21:29-31). The tree “budding forth” is then the new nation of Israel springing back into life. Jesus gives an amazing promise to the Church that the generation that sees the formation of Israel, the restoration of Jerusalem as her capital and the return of the Jews from all corners of the earth will witness the return of Jesus for His Bride. Therefore, the rapture could not have occurred before the formation of the state of Israel.
- Jesus uses the story of Noah and the ark as an example of what it will be like in the last days saying, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark”. (Matthew 24.37-38). Noah took 120 years to build the ark. The flood could not occur until all the various parts of the building of the ark had been completed, all the animals God ordained to be in the ark had entered in and all the supplies and equipment the inhabitants of the ark would require during their voyage had been stored. The story of Noah and the ark is used by Jesus to compare with His return at the rapture. Just as the flood could not take place until all the preparations for the ark had been completed so, too, the rapture cannot occur until all the prerequisite events have taken place.
Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians gives another prerequisite event that must be fulfilled before the rapture can take place. “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” (2 Thes. 2:3). “That day” Paul is writing about is the “Day of the Lord,” which begins with the rapture. He is instructing the Thessalonians that the rapture will not occur until the Antichrist, the “man of lawlessness,” is revealed. The Church, through an understanding of Biblical prophecy, will be able to identify the Antichrist in his rise to power on his quest for world domination. The Church will know that the rapture is near, even at the door, when preparations are being made for the Antichrist to be a part of a seven-year treaty that will bring peace to the Middle East and will allow the Jews to build the third Temple.
Both Jesus and Paul give prerequisite events that must occur before the rapture can take place. The belief that the return of Jesus is imminent could not then be a reality. However, the desire for the soon returning of the Lord will be in the heart of the Bride who longs for His appearing.
The Jews commonly refer to the Feast of Trumpets as Rosh Hashanah, which literally means “head of the year.” It is the Jewish New Year’s Day, and is celebrated on the first two days of their month Tishri. Now this can cause confusion for Christians studying the feasts of Israel, as scripture clearly says that, “the Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan),” the first of Nisan is then the start of the sacred year. How can Rosh Hashanah be the head of the year, when God ordained the first of Nisan as the start of the year, and scripture clearly states that “the tenth day of this seventh month (Tishri) is the Day of Atonement” (Leviticus 23:26)?
The answer is simple – mankind is adept at contaminating God’s Word. There are two reasons why the Jewish New Year was made on the first day of Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah):
- The Sages did not understand the prophetic significance of Yom Teruah, as it seemed to be just designated as “a day of rest,” so they gave the day significance by making it Rosh Hashanah – the head of the year.
- The Jews are to contemplate their sins of the past year during the ten days of awe between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur. So, the sages while in captivity in Babylon, made the first day of Trishi – Yom Teruah – the start of a new year, having received forgiveness for the sins of the past year.
There is a Jewish tradition of giving apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, as the Jews of the Babylonian captivity believed apples had healing properties, and the honey signifies the hope that the new year will be sweet. Christians however, should not refer to Yom Teruah as Rosh Hashanah, as the God ordained sequence is lost when that is done, and therefore the prophetic significance is also lost. This is why God so hates man’s interference with His Word. Any believers being offered apples and honey by Jewish work colleagues, or friends, should use the opportunity to witness to them the true significance of Yom Teruah.
The great importance of the typology of The Feast of Trumpets cannot be emphasized enough, it is a major turning point in history. The feast points to the rapture of the Bride of Christ, and indicates the start of a time of judgement, the seven-year Tribulation period. The Feast of Trumpets will see the end of the Church age in the rapture, and commencement of the “time of Jacob’s trouble” – a time of God’s dealing with the Jews – which will lead to the prophesied salvation of the nation of Israel. The end of the Tribulation will see the dramatic end of man’s dominion over the earth, the end of Satan’s rule over the kingdoms of the earth, and the commencement of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His Kingdom.
The phrase “scientia potentia est” is a Latin aphorism meaning “knowledge is power”. God through the feast Yom Teruah has given the Church a great insight into the last days, with this knowledge comes great responsibility. Both Jew and Gentile need to be warned of the rapture and coming judgement on the world, that Jeremiah called “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble” – the Tribulation. Our shout to the world needs to be as loud as the sounding of the shofar – SOUND THE WARNING!
~ Neil Taylor