The Bride Theft
What if the majority of Christians have been so wrong about the security of their destiny that they find themselves left behind when the Lord comes for his Bride? Wouldn't that be devastating? Like so many of you who have come to read this I had long been of the opinion that every Christian would go to be with the Lord all at once at his coming; first the dead, then the living. I believed the Lord would deal with the matter of separation between the ranks of saints based upon the individual's reward or worthiness upon arrival in heaven ... but I was wrong! I invite you to search the scriptures to test my work and draw your own conclusion. As you do this and search out answers to the questions that will surely arise, I pray that the Lord will grant insight into the truth of these matters. To the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ - Y'shua HaMashiach!
Separation by Resurrection
After learning the significance of the Mount of Olives (bearing the meaning of "division") and of a special place on that mount called Gethsemane, I began to understand how the church would be divided in the last days. Eventually, after much study and prayer, I came to the startling realization that a separation of the church was going to occur by means of selective resurrection. As noted in the scripture, one will be taken and another left behind. This intentionally vague phrase will be fulfilled at various times in various ways, but, I'm convinced one of the correct interpretations and the one most relevant as I write is that one worthy member of the body of Messiah will be taken in resurrection while another member will be left behind. This resurrection divides the unified body of believers into two distinct groups. After a time, those remaining will once again be divided into two, resulting in a total of three ranks. The full harvest of this entity we know as the church will therefore take place in three phases, one resurrection at a time, corresponding to three harvest festivals: Pesah, Shavuot and finally Succot. Each believer will go in his own turn.
The first rank separated out are the cream of the crop, so to speak. They are the worthy of all the age, the Bride, who are those selected to be wed to the Bridegroom himself. This resurrection event (that I have come to know as the "Bride theft") is appointed for Nisan 21, the Yom Tov or last day of Pesah. From among those left behind after the Bride has been stolen away, a great multitude are separated out, being translated or resurrected to their reward after the counting of the Omer is complete on Shavuot. Much later, those found unworthy after the first two selections had been made will receive their reward as part of the final Sukkot harvest.
As I already mentioned, it was after long and prayerful consideration that insight finally came. The following is the passage that finally convinced me that many of this present church will remain behind after others will have been taken.
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" 13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" 14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
It is the very matter of identifying who these people are that is pointedly brought to our attention by one of the elders around the throne in verses 13-14, suggesting that insight into the passage depends upon being able to identify them properly. Sure enough, that's what did it for me! Only after identifying them as those who will remain behind after the Bride is stolen away did I understand. For these people to come out of the great tribulation they must first have been in it. For them to have washed their robes, they must have first received a robe and then soiled it. It must be noted that this great multitude are not exclusively Israel but from every nation, tribe, people and language. This feature directs us to relate them to this present church age where the Gentile shares in the blessings afforded the Jew. The matter of when they received the robe is critical. When did the great multitude get robes? During this present age when robes are given to those of every nation, tribe, people and language, a season with a definite moment of closure! You may well ask the question the holy spirit leads us to ask, "Why were they in the great tribulation if they had robes?" Then, the answer the holy spirit gives is that the robes they had previously received were not white but soiled when the Bridegroom came for his Bride. Being left behind as unworthy they immediately enter into the time of great tribulation. They now have a fresh opportunity to wash their robes and make them white. Those who do are pictured here in Revelation 7. The features mentioned in verses 16-17 reflect the nature of what will have befallen these "second-round" saints during the great tribulation, as noted in other passages of scripture. While there will be great lamentation, weeping and gnashing of teeth, every tear will be wiped away. Praise the name of the Lord for his mercy and goodness.
Willing to be Martyrs
I have noted that the condition of the robe (indicating the status of the wearer) is the determining factor in who is found worthy to be selected as the Bride, but what exactly does this mean? I believe there is a deep literal spiritual truth associated with the robe and its condition, but we need to know what they figuratively represent. A robe is a garment of salvation that is white at the time it is given. The color white represents purity and righteousness. The scriptures are specific about what it takes to make a robe white. This multitude in Revelation 7 are observed to have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, so the blood of the Lamb is required. The lamb's blood was only spilled once - at the cross. If you're going to wash your robe in the blood of the Lamb, you're going to have to go the way of the cross. The way of the cross is willing sacrifice, even unto death.
From the following verses, note that the white robe and the blood of the Lamb relate to one's willingness to die as a martyr.
Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
The willingness to live for the Lord even to the ultimate sacrifice of death for his sake is most essentially what determines a saint's assignment into one of the three ranks. This next passage should clarify that taking up your cross is more than simply crucifying your flesh in a casual sense of limited sacrifice.
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
When the Lord said "take up his cross and follow me," although it certainly does involve a lifestyle of sacrifice, the literal giving of your physical life may be required. When the Lord mentioned about being killed and on the third day beind raised to life, he was speaking of literal physical death. In this same context we must understand about the lives of those who have in mind the things of God. A man may give his physical life in exchange for his soul, to find it - if it is asked of him. For then, when the Son of Man comes in his Father's glory with his angels He will reward each person according to what he has done. Friend, the blood of the Lamb is found at the cross. When you truly take up your cross, the blood of the Lamb makes your robe white. All sin and guilt stains the robe but it is made white in your willingness even to die for him if he asks it of you. This laundering service is costly, is it not?
So, the people who are seen in Revelation 7 had dirtied their robes, being, in the final analysis, unworthy by reason of their unwillingness to lay down their lives for the Lord's sake, and so were left behind when the Bridegroom came for his Bride.
In the following passage, all three ranks of saints may be observed - the Bride, the white robed great multitude, and, by implication, those saints who are neither.
3 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
Make note that the above passage is addressed to a church. The few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes are among the Bride. He who overcomes and who will, like the Bride, be dressed in white, is accounted among the multitude observed in Revelation 7:9-17. Now, it makes little sense to say that the Lord would "never blot out his name from the book of life" if there will not be those whose names will be blotted out. Right? This is a very serious statement. Those who do not make the second cut, so to speak, who are disqualified when the Bride is selected and then further fail to overcome and become dressed in white will surely have their names blotted out from the book of life. Their names will not be acknowledged before Y'shua's Father and his angels. As it is written:
32 Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
We may infer that the matter of acknowledging him before men can be understood in the context of the willing sacrifice of life for the Lord's sake. As it is also written:
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
After learning the significance and symbolism of the robe, I have come to appreciate the rich prophetic message given Isaiah.
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
I feel it is necessary to address whether or not someone we would consider a Christian could possibly take the mark of the beast. Consider the following two passages.
9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Why would patient endurance be required on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus if there were not some consequence attached to disobedience and unfaithfulness? That consequence must be seen as it is in the context in connection with worshiping the beast and receiving his mark. So, even the saints are threatened by the hazards of this deadly mark!
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Why would we be told what they had not done if there were not those of their kind who had indeed done those things? Obviously, some had been threatened with beheading, with losing their lives for Jesus' sake, and chosen instead to attempt to save their lives, worshiping the beast and receiving his mark. Those will not come to life and reign with Christ a thousand years!
There is, however, what appears to be the merciful provision of a solution for those who may repent of having received it.
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
You may never have considered the connection between the above verse and the mark of the beast, but when you really know there is nothing in the Bible that is trivial or superfluous and that the literal time of greatest tribulation is nearly upon us, the whole body being thrown into hell at the expense or keeping an eye (bio-metric retinal scan access to the beast system of provision) or a right hand (implanted microchip capsule access to the system) points directly to the implementation of the mark and the choices available.
I would like to note the contrast between those who will wash their robes during the great tribulation and those who won't.
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
The right to the tree of life and access to the city is conditional. Some will be denied access because of their failure to wash their robes. I believe the denial of the right to the tree of life noted in the above verse compares to the name blotted out of the book of life mentioned in Revelation 3:5. What a difference between the two ends, dear friend. Should you miss out on the Bride Theft, take a lesson from it and do not hold this present life so dear.
There's an issue some of you reading this presentation have that makes this presentation hard to accept, so I will digress to address matters of salvation. You may be upset or offended about the idea that some "Christians" who were saved now are seen as not being saved. Salvation is not merely an issue of saved or not, but a three part matter, encompassing the fullness of what makes you complete as a child of God. Salvation concerns spirit, soul and body. There is something of each that may be saved or lost. The salvation of one part doesn't necessitate the salvation of the others in whole or part.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I thessalonians 5:23
When the three parts of man that can be saved from loss are considered instead of limiting salvation to one particular kind, the "once saved - always saved" controversy (Armenian / Calvinist) can be viewed with a different perspective. Both sides of this issue are largely right in what they include and wrong in what they exclude. When you come to the topic of salvation, learn to identify what exactly is being saved from loss and you will be more discerning in matters of the separation of the church. It's helpful to note whether a biblical usage of "salvation" is an all or nothing proposition or a matter of degree, and whether the salvation takes place in the past, present or future.
Consider the simple perspective on salvation and reward from the following passage.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
There is something that will be saved of everyone who builds upon the foundation, no matter what the quality of his work. This saving of "he himself" is the salvation that is by grace through faith, a gift that is not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) But beyond this mere saving of "he himself," reward is promised that is based upon works. Your reward depends upon what you have built upon the foundation, upon that which survives the fire. With this broader perspective on salvation, you can perhaps lay aside the resistance you may have had to the matter how some saints will have their names blotted out of the book of life. All will not be lost - but much will!
Now, let me introduce what the apostle Paul had to say about a resurrection-separated church from the epistles in this new light.
23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
1 Corinthians 9:23-10:6
There certainly are gifts in the life of a saint, and there is also a prize offered at its end. A prize is different from a gift because it must be won, which means it must be earned according to performance in a competition. The distinction is made in the passage above between the corporate body of runners and one who runs in such a way as to get the one prize given to the winner. The emphasis is upon how the race is run. A crucial and extremely relevant point is driven home as the comparison is made with Israel's exodus from Egypt and their wandering in the wilderness. Consider how all the runners in the race are compared to all the Israelites. The runners who don't train diligently compare to the Israelites who set their hearts on evil things. These runners, who are disqualified for the prize, compare to those Israelites who had their bodies scattered across the desert. Did you get that? These points of comparison should be well noted. As were all the Israelites so are all the runners. As were most of the Israelites, so will be most of the runners! Even though it will be such that all the runners ( including you and I ) "drank from the spiritual rock which is Christ," most of their bodies will be "scattered over the desert" landscape of the world under great tribulation - left behind after the Bride is removed. That's right - MOST! That's not a comforting thought for complacent and casual Christians. But, on the other hand, the runners who so run as to get the prize compare to Joshua, Caleb and those Israelites who had been under the age of accountability, the remnant who crossed over into the promised land. Might this knowledge keep you from setting your hearts on evil things? I pray that it will, my friends.
The only other occurrence of the Greek word translated "prize" (brabeion) appears in this same context (of the Bride theft reward) in the following passage.
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
In this passage Paul emphasizes the effort he's expending to attain his goal, esteeming the prize worthy of his best effort. The prize relates to a better resurrection that will separate those who win the prize from those who don't. I pray that God does indeed make it very clear to us. In the verses that precede the above passage, a distinction is made between those who put confidence in the flesh, and those who don't - between those with two kinds of righteousness. I believe this is another way to state the difference between the Bride and the Body.
I want to point out the fact that the Greek from which the phrase; "the resurrection from the dead" is translated in verse 11 is a special construction, appearing only here. (exanastasis ten ek nekron) E. W. Bullinger's comments in the Companion Bible reflect the emphasis upon a separation. He translates the Greek word exanastasis (which appears only here) as "out-resurrection." In his notes, he writes about this "resurrection from the dead," that it... "implies the resurrection of some, the former of these two classes, (just and unjust, or, perhaps better stated: worthy and unworthy) the others being left behind. ...The exanastasis must therefore mean a further selection of some before the anastasis of 1 Thes. 4:14, and Paul was not yet sure of attaining to this." This student of the scriptures obviously saw something of a resurrection separated church with the more worthy being taken out first!
You may have noticed that verse 14 parallels verse 11. After looking closely at the Greek and comparing various translations, I believe a better translation of verse 14 is thus: "toward the goal, I pursue unto the prize of the heavenward calling of God in Christ Jesus." The prize of the heavenward calling is this particular resurrection from the dead Paul referred to in verse 11.
16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
He is addressing brothers, those who have attained or reached the status of "having a robe," so to speak., not those who have attained nothing to live up to. He further tells us to take note of those with a particular lifestyle, not with a particular heritage. He goes on to say:
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Stay with me, now. He didn't state that "there are many enemies" of the cross of Christ, nor did he state that "many are enemies." The NIV and NRSV offer "live as" instead of "are" enemies, an excellent interpretation within the context in which it appears. The manner of living is the theme of the context, right? So, we must ask, "many WHO live as enemies of the cross of Christ? Have you jumped outside the context of the church yet? Many CHRISTIANS live as enemies of the cross of Christ! Notice, too, that they live as enemies specifically of the "cross" of Christ, and not of Christ himself. If these people to whom he refers are not his brothers in the Lord, why would Paul be saying it again with tears?
He then speaks about their destiny and why this will be so.
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
This is cause for sadness, knowing the destiny of so many of our brothers and sisters. The fact that their mind is on earthly things points us back to verses 3 and 4, the matter of confidence in the flesh. Paul concludes his sobering lesson with the contrasting destiny and encouraging hope of those who walk after his example:
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Indeed, this is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! Because, if you do not stand firm you will not eagerly await a Savior from heaven and your destiny will be destruction! The resurrection associated with a prize is worth contending for, the one I call "the Bride theft."
The Bride is going to be taken first, as the hardworking among all the farmers in the Lord's harvest field.
5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
2 Timothy 2:5-7
The following passage is filled with now familiar themes - a better resurrection, the willingness to endure suffering and death, a race.
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Verse 40 suggests to me that these martyrs from ages past will be made perfect with those in the last days who will gain a better resurrection. WOW! What an awesome plan! The reason why our Lord endured and why the martyrs from ages past could and did was because of joy in hope. And so shall it be with you and I, as necessary.
The separation of those who are worthy out from among the unworthy will appear to those who are left behind as a theft. As though a thief had stealthily broken into their house, the unworthy will awaken to find their most precious valuables gone.
40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Let's clearly identify the references. The Lord is going to be the one coming as a thief, coming stealthily to remove the valuables from the house. The house that is broken into represents the house of Ephesians 2:19-22, variously known as the temple, his Body, or the church that is composed of those in Christ who are alive and remain when he comes. The owner or head of the house (oikodespotes) refers to those who have been appointed over the church with authority - the respected and recognizable "big name" leaders. This event where the Bridegroom-thief comes and steals away his valuable Bride by resurrection thereby removing those with white robes from the Body-house is what I call the Bride Theft.
This passage is very cleverly constructed in order to conceal the truth and then to reveal it in due time to those for whom it is intended - you and I. Make note that verse 43 above does not say, "If the owner of the house would have kept watch, he would have known at what time of night the thief was coming and not let his house be broken into," a logical sequence that might seem to make more sense than what is actually written. What is written, however, makes perfect sense to me. Just as the knowledge of the time will come to those keeping watch, it is the ability to truly watch and understand the signs seen that is given according as the times and dates become known. The watching and the knowing the time and dates are woven together.
Before I move on to the next passage, I'd like to elaborate just a bit on the owner of the house. Verse 39 reveals important information about his attitude at the time of the theft. The owner will not know at what time of night the thief is coming, will not be keeping watch and will not want his house to be broken into. These compare to the religious leaders of Israel at Y'shua's first advent but now also to the recognized church leadership. Friend, wisdom dictates that you don't follow them and their ways. Lay aside your pre-conceived ideas, which are largely the deceiving doctrines promoted by the owners of the house and take a fresh look at the revelation being opened to us about the close of the age. Amen?
Moving on, we find a similar set of statements in Luke. Here, a particular time of night is specified, naming two of the night watches. Make note of them, as they are neither superfluous nor trivial.
38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Now, in a familiar passage written to those who have become knowledgeable about times and dates, we read:
1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction (olethros) will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you (katalambano) like a thief. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled 7 for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-8
This passage is about the Bride theft, when the Bridegroom comes like a thief in the third watch of the night. The statement that some will not escape makes no sense whatsoever unless others will! The escape is by means of removal by the thief, and this is desirable for those who are taken. We want to escape the destruction!
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
The word for destruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 appears elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 5:5. Beginning in verse 4, we will begin reading a very interesting portion of a passage that has been wrestled with for many centuries, one that can be viewed in the context of the Bride theft with fresh insight.
4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:4-5
None of the popular English versions seem to translate the Greek word, whose root means "to assemble or gather," properly. This word, "sunachthentwn," is in the aorist tense. Bullinger offers this as a translation: "Having been gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye and my spirit." This accurately reflects the aorist tense, and also properly translates the connected phrase. Think about this for a moment. When will some have been gathered together with Paul's spirit, who assuredly is accounted among the Bride, if not when the Bride theft occurs? Paul, as one who is dead in Christ will rise first and then those who are alive and remain will be gathered together with him and the others of the Bride to meet the Lord in the air, right?
Consider that the day of the Lord is that same day of the Lord that comes like a thief. When the Bridegroom steals the Bride away in that day, he provides escape for her from destruction. Those who are handed over to Satan do not escape the destruction, but are left behind for Satan to destroy their sinful nature primarily through his agent assigned this task - the one known as the lawless one. By means of their new predicament, these who will have been handed over to Satan in the day of the Lord will actually have a blessing in that they are given an opportunity for the spirit to be saved. What a gracious God we have to extend such an opportunity!
A similar warning comes in the book of Revelation. The distinction between the people is made again in the matter of being awake or asleep. The awake are alert and self-controlled, obeying what they have received and heard; repenting.
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.
There are definite benefits for being awake that relate to knowing at what time the "thief" will come and to keeping one's clothes with oneself.
The following verse is of like kind, appearing in the context of Jesus' arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. It is a prophecy about Jesus leading the church of the last days to the cross.
51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
If you have read and understood the lesson I presented about Gethsemane, you know when the Lord leads you to the cross you go willingly with joy and thankfulness that you are counted worthy to suffer for his sake. If you rather choose to flee, you will leave what is here portrayed as a linen garment behind.
38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Consider the promise and the prayer about the trial in the following pair of verses.
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial (peirasmos) that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
And lead us not into temptation, (peirasmos) but deliver us from the evil one.
Mercifully, provision has been made for deliverance from the evil one, who has a specially appointed period of reign through the agency of the lawless one. Will you be kept from the hour of "peirasmos," or, will you be left behind to endure it? What about those whom the Lord might be placing on your heart as you read?
According to this prophet's description of the last days:
The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.
Who are the righteous who perish, or, who are taken away to be spared from evil? In the next resurrection on the Lord's schedule, they are the precious Bride, taken away to be wed to the Bridegroom Y'shua HaMashiach!
Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth
When the worthy are separated out and taken to be with the Lord the unworthy who remain behind will not enjoy their new circumstances. The wicked and the unworthy are cast into a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not very pleasant sounding, is it? I'm not sure you can lump every place weeping and gnashing is mentioned into one place or one event, but various accounts associate it with:
- "the fiery furnace" (Matthew 13:42)
- "outer darkness" (Matthew 22:13, 25:30)
- "a place or portion with the hypocrites" (Matthew 24:51)
Let me introduce you to such a place in the words of Amos.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says: "There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail. 17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst," says the Lord. 18 Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. 20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light-pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
Verse 20 is descriptive of the outer darkness. The fiery furnace into which Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown (Daniel 3) was a type of this same period of time; the great tribulation. This is where the hypocrites will be, who claim to be what they are not. As most honest people realize, the worst hypocrites are religious, and today, they are found in the church.
In typology, Matthew shows Peter as a particular faction of the church who denies the Lord.
Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly
The three times signals a time of a resurrection. The rooster crowing watch is the third watch of the night - the Bride Theft watch. Going outside and weeping bitterly is what those who deny the Lord will do after the Bride is stolen away. Do you see it?
30 But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of (or, cast out. See Mat 22:13, 25:30, Luke 13:28) the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." 31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Stand firm, then, if you desire to be a child of the free woman. But let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (that is to live after the flesh and to be carnal minded) and you will be cast out and denied sharing an inheritance with the free woman's son. Is this not one of the lessons of the Bride Theft?
My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.
There is going to be a harsh lesson taught to the people of the world. The message is clear: Learn righteous now, or learn righteousness later. Or, not at all. It is still your choice, brothers and sisters.