"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming."
"Be Ye Ready" Rick Aharon Chaimberlin, Litt. D.
THE above statement by Yeshua pretty much sums up what this article is about. None of us knows the day and hour of His return. No doubt, this led many of the early talmidim (disciples) to presume that Yeshua was coming back soon to establish the Messianic Kingdom. I don’t think Yeshua was deliberately misleading anybody, because only the Father knew the time of His return. However, it no doubt helped to ensure that his followers lived more righteously than they might otherwise have done. It doesn’t hurt to have a little extra incentive to do good, does it? Besides, none of us knows when our last day on this planet might be. Anyone of us could accidentally walk out in front of a truck and be dead in a hurry. We always need to be ready to meet our Maker.
Yeshua told the story of the owner of the house and the thief. If the owner of the house knew the time that the thief would come, he could watch for the thief and be ready. Then Yeshua said, "Therefore, be ye also ready. For in such an hour as you think not, the Son of man comes."
There are some who think that to be ready you only need to have said the "Sinner’s Prayer" at some time in your life. You know the doctrine: "Once saved, always saved." This pernicious doctrine is responsible for a lot of false hope. If that were the case, why would Yeshua warn his own disciples to be ready?
Yeshua warned us, "And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, but he that endures to the end shall be saved." None of us should go out looking for enemies or deliberately cause people to hate us. However, simply by virtue of being a Believer in Messiah, it is inevitable that some will hate you. If nobody hates you, you might have good reason to wonder how "saved" you really are!
Yeshua said, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name have cast out devils? And in your name have done many wonderful miracles?’ And I will profess unto them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice Lawlessness.’" These are good "church" people, people who cast out demons, prophesy, and do miracles. I don’t know about you, but I would love to see such "gifts" being manifested every week in my congregation. However, Yeshua tells them, "Depart from Me, you who practice Lawlessness (literally, you who transgress Torah)." These miracle workers aren’t even saved! Those who believe that Torah was abolished at the Cross should take careful note of what Yeshua said. What He said is of far more importance than what is taught in any church or seminary.
As time marches on, as it has for almost 2,000 years, many might get the impression that Yeshua will delay his return for a few more centuries. Some might have the mistaken impression that He will never return. Those individuals are in for a nasty shock, when Yeshua "shall come in a day when he looks not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. Weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth." Yes, I believe that there is a literal place of punishment, and I don’t intend to be there.
A back-slidden Believer is in just as precarious a position as the one who served wickedness his whole life. "When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them, for his iniquity that he has done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is Lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive."
Parable of the Virgins & Ancient Jewish Wedding Customs
THE chapter divisions in the Bible are somewhat artificial. In the early centuries of the Common Era, there were no chapter or verse divisions at all. Some Catholic monk did us the favor of dividing the Scriptures into chapters and verses over a thousand years ago. In most cases, this is a blessing. At other times, as in this case, the chapter division is unfortunate. The last part of Matthew 24, from about verse 32 on, should really be combined with the first 13 verses of chapter 25, because the theme is the same: "BE READY!"
We have heard various interpretations of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, most of which miss the primary point of the parable. In this parable we have, of course, ten virgins. Attending the ancient Jewish wedding ceremonies would be several virgins who would be the modern equivalent of "bride’s maids." The Ten Virgins are the bride’s maids in this parable. That, of course, is relatively easy to comprehend, and usually correctly interpreted.
In ancient times, the weddings were sometimes arranged years ahead of time. Unlike later Jewish custom, the parents of the bride and groom did not arrange the marriages. The young Jewish man would choose his bride-to-be. He would go to her home to discuss the possible match with the father of the young lady. He would negotiate the price that he would pay to ‘purchase’ his bride. The young man and his bride would drink from the same cup of wine. From that point on, they would be considered "betrothed" to each other.
The ancient Jewish wedding ceremonies may look "sexist" to some, in that the negotiations were conducted solely between the prospective groom and the father of the prospective bride. In actuality, "The woman had to give her own free and expressed consent, without which the (wedding) union was invalid." Likewise, Yeshua gives the invitation to receive Him as Messiah and Savior, but the choice is voluntary on our part, without pressure. Salvation is not forced down the throats of unwilling sinners.
Edersheim also wrote, "It is on similar grounds that the rabbis argue that a man must seek after a woman and not a woman after a man. It was observed by ancient traditions that God had not formed the woman out of the head lest she become proud, nor out of the eye lest she should lustÖ but out of the rib, which was always covered. Modesty, therefore, was a prime quality in the women of Israel."
Similarly, it is the Messiah who seeks after us. It is generally not the nature of the sinner to want to become a born-again believer in the Messiah. The Holy Spirit places the conviction in the heart that woos the individual to Messiah, the Bridegroom.
Betrothal was stronger than the modern engagements in that it required a get (bill of divorcement) in order to break the betrothal. However, there were no sexual privileges until after the marriage had actually occurred. Virginity was highly prized. In most cases, the bride was a virgin until the wedding night. In nearly all covenants, there was the shedding of blood. The blood that resulted from the breaking of the hymen symbolized the marriage covenant between the man and his wife.
The young man would leave the home of his bride-to-be and return to his father’s house. He occupied himself for several months, perhaps even a year, in preparing a bridal chamber, usually attached to his father’s house. It wasn’t uncommon for the young man to not even see his bride-to-be during that entire period of time. When the task was completed, he would go to his bride, usually at night, often accompanied by some groomsmen. They would conduct a nighttime torchlight procession to the home of the bride. Likewise, Yeshua has been preparing bridal chambers for us for over 1900 years! "You believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansionsÖ. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
Although the bride was expecting the groom, she did not know the exact timing. The groom’s arrival would be preceded by a shout, to forewarn the bride to be prepared for the return of the bridegroom.
The groom received his bride (together with her bridesmaids), and the enlarged wedding party returned to his father’s house. There the wedding festivities would begin. Except for the groom (who sneaks a peek) , no one else would see the bride’s face, which remained veiled. After a relatively brief wedding ceremony, the bride and groom would enter the bridal chamber with each other and no one else. As soon as the wedding was consummated, the festivities would begin. The wedding guests would begin to feast and make merry, often for the seven-day period talked about in the Scriptures.
These wedding customs provide us with a beautiful picture of our returning Bridegroom, Yeshua the Messiah. Rav Sha’ul (Paul) said, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy. For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Messiah." And who is the bride? If Yeshua is our Messiah and Savior, it is us!
Just as the young man paid a price for his bride, Rav Sha’ul tells us, "For you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body." The price for our betrothal was not paid with "perishable things like silver or goldÖ but with the precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish, of Messiah."
Just as the bridegroom shares his cup of wine with the bride, Yeshua said the b’rukha (blessing) over the wine and passed it to His disciples on the night before his death. The sharing of the cup of wine symbolized the "betrothal" that we as believers have with the Messiah.
In the parable of the Ten Virgins, the bridesmaids were awaiting the return of the bridegroom. When the bridegroom returned, the five wise bridesmaids were ready with extra oil for their lamps, whereas the five foolish bridesmaids lacked the extra oil that they needed. They had to rush out to buy extra oil. The five wise bridesmaids got to enjoy the festivities. When the five foolish bridesmaids arrived, they said, "Lord, Lord, open up for us." The bridegroom, who is a symbol of Yeshua, responds, "Truly, I say unto you, I do not know you." Then the parable concludes with, "Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes."
Since the bridesmaids were virgins, I believe that they symbolize all those who were "born-again" of the spirit of God. However, only half were ready for the return of the Bridegroom. I suspect that at the return of Yeshua, only half of his followers will be ready. I don’t have a clue as to when Yeshua will return, although I would suspect that it would be in the next century. However, it would be wise for anyone of us to be ready for his return at any time.
Normally, the groom would arrive to meet the bride between about 8 and 10pm. However, in the parable, the bridegroom’s party arrives "at midnight." I suspect that Messiah will arrive at a very dark period of human history.
1. Matthew 24:42.
2. Matthew 24:36
3. Matthew 10:22.
4. Matthew 7:21-23. The word translated "Lawlessness" is anomia, which literally
means, "against the Law," or "opposed to Torah." Doesn’t this characterize much
of Christianity today?
5. Matthew 24:50-51.
6. Ezekiel 18:26-27. Read the whole chapter!
7.Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Albert Edershiem, page 143.
8. Yochanan (John) 14:1-3.
9.Ever since the incident where Laban tricked Jacob into marrying the wrong
daughter, the groom has gotten to check out the bride to make sure he hasn’t
been tricked into marrying someone else. Why take another chance?
10. 2 Corinthians 11:2.
11. 1 Corinthians 6:20.
12. 1 Peter 1:18-19.
13. Matthew 26:27-29.
14. Matthew 25:13.