Skeletons at the Banquet Table
I went to a family wedding yesterday that had an unusual theme. Being that it’s October, the overarching theme was Halloween, but more specifically, many of the decorations were directly from Tim Burton’s animated musical dark fantasy film titled ‘Corpse Bride’.
At the wedding banquet table, there were a pair of lifesize skeletons, dressed as the bride and the groom, saving the newlywed’s seats.
I’m undecided about how transparent I should be in sharing my thoughts and feelings about the significance of the symbolism behind the couple’s choice of theme and decorations.
I’ll just spill it.
First, I’m saddened that the first wedding two of my preteen sons ever attended was decorated like this.
A wedding is the joining together of one man with one woman, the groom and the bride, both created in the image of Jesus our Creator. The true significance of a wedding is of Jesus as the groom who is joining with his bride, the Church, for all eternity. It is both a covenant and a celebration of hope, joy, purity, holiness, life, and love.
Truth be told, the symbolism of Halloween and skeletons represent a celebration of evil spirits and death, sadness, loss and grieving, ugliness and that which is ‘filthy’ or ‘unclean’.
The officiant of the ceremony was a friend of the bride and groom. When he finished with his part a guest pastor was called up to deliver an obligatory 30-second prayer to close the ceremony.
No Bible verses. No communion. No cross. No mention of the name of Jesus.
I’m saddened and bothered. It seems that this couple places more importance on having fun and worldly entertainment than on the sanctity of marriage.
I’m not mad at them, I can’t be. Also, I don’t believe they intended to make a mockery of what a wedding is supposed to represent. Yet they freely chose to make the event their own and knew what they didn’t want it to represent.
They may sincerely believe that they are serious about each other and their public commitment to each other, but it’s hard for me to take them seriously. Their choices are more along the lines of what I would expect from unsupervised children tasked with planning an important event for adults. For some reason, the book ‘The Lord of the Flies’ comes to mind.
Their farcical wedding is a commentary on the Last Generation. Choosing death over life. Choosing the corruption of this world over God and the promises of indescribable goodness that he has waiting in Heaven for those who love him.
They chose themes tied to the Prince of Darkness rather than the Prince of Peace, the Light who came into this world, who darkness flees from. No doubt, while planning their wedding there was much laughter, hilarity, and a mindset that ‘Life is just a party’.
On our way to the wedding, while driving through the country, the sun was beginning to set. There were vineyards, orchards, and fields of grain on both sides of the highway.
Half of the grapes in the vineyards had already been harvested. Fallen apples were covering the ground in the orchards.
Grapes and apples are harvested around the time of Succot, a seven or eight-day Jewish feast that is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, which happens to begin today, October 13th.
In the Bible, grapes represent the non-believers, grain represents the Church, and Sukkot is when the last grain is brought into the barn.
There is a full moon tonight, called a Hunter’s Moon. The moon is symbolic of the Church. Having no source of light itself, the moon fully reflects the light of the Sun as the Church reflects the light of the Son of God, Jesus/Yeshua. The full moon, in all of its glory from Christ, reflects the most light in the evening sky, when surrounded by darkness.
There is a time spoken of in Romans 11:25, a time that is quickly approaching when the “fullness of the gentiles comes in”.
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
What if? What if the fullness of the gentiles, also known as ‘the Church’, were to coincide with the fullness of the moon on Succot one of these years? Another name for Succot is the Feast of Ingathering.
This is just a thought, not a prediction.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.
– 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
The time is near. If you haven’t yet accepted the gift of forgiveness for all of your sins and wrongdoings, an undeserved gift that can only come from the King by believing that Jesus/Yeshua is God, God who came down from Heaven, born as a male child, who lived a sinless life, taking the penalty for your sins upon himself before he died on the cross, and then rose from the dead three days later, conquering Satan and death for once and for all …then you better start believing. He can come back at any moment now.
There is an hourglass that was turned over a long time ago, and the very last few grains of sand are slipping away. A couple of thousand years may seem like a long time to us humans, but to God, it is as if only a couple of days have passed.
When time is up, it’ll be too late to join the Bride who God is coming to take away from this fallen world and up to Heaven before his wrath is poured out upon the planet, like never before.
No matter what wrong you’ve done… God is faithful to forgive you and restore you, and welcome you like a loving father into his arms. He’s waiting. Jesus/Yeshua said,
“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
– John 14:2
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
– Romans 10:13
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 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; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 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. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Jesus is the Son of Man. Jesus’ original name in Hebrew is Yeshua. The literal meaning of ‘Yeshua’ is ‘salvation’.
If you want to know Truth, then in your heart, in your mind, call out to him, “Jesus Save Me!” and doors will open.
The Return of Christ is Imminent
What does that mean? Was the return of Christ imminent for the apostles right after the ascension? Such a statement just doesn’t sound right. If asked, many people will say they believe the return of Christ is imminent, which they’ll explain as meaning that He can return at any moment. But is this an accurate usage of the word based on its definition?
Imminent can mean ‘about to happen’, but the return of Christ wasn’t about to happen right after His ascension, so this definition cannot be rigidly applied.
Imminent can also mean impending, close (at hand), near, (fast) approaching, coming, forthcoming, on the way, in the offing, in the pipeline, on the horizon, in the air, just around the corner, expected, anticipated, brewing, looming, threatening, menacing, or overhanging.
In consideration of these synonyms, it appears that a better choice of definitions might be ‘fast approaching’, impending, on the way, or expected.
None of these definitions are constrained by the idea that an event can happen at ‘any moment’, but do suggest an event that is approaching on God’s timeline which will happen at a specific time of His choosing.
But no man knows the day or the hour!
While I agree with this statement in a general sense, I don’t think most people understand what it really means.
The popular retort to the topic of the timing of Jesus’ return refers to Matthew 24:36,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”?
and Mark 13:32,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
But what day or hour was Jesus talking about? Was He talking about the day when heaven and earth would pass away which is described in the verse immediately preceding Matthew 24:36? Or was He talking about the Rapture or even the Second Coming? It’s interesting to note that in the original texts there was no separation of paragraphs as there is between Matthew 24:35 and Matthew 24:36 in Bibles today. Can the context be changed by separating two sentences with a paragraph break where there shouldn’t be one? It would appear so. While I’m not suggesting that anyone should be dogmatic about this alternate interpretation that results by removing the paragraph break, I do think it is worthy of consideration.
But wait, there’s more…you’ve probably noticed that Mark 13:32 excludes the son from knowing ‘the day or the hour’. More than a few people struggle with this since Jesus is God in the flesh and God is all-knowing, so how could Jesus not know the day or the hour? One explanation is that Jesus was fully man and fully God and in his human nature wasn’t able to ‘know’. Another explanation that this verse is allegorical and symbolic of the traditional Jewish wedding betrothal and wedding. The son labors at constructing a room addition to his father’s house for his bride. It is the father who decides when the room is complete and satisfactory before he tells the son to go and fetch his bride.
Hence we read in John 14:2,
“In My Father’s house are many rooms; 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
So in an allegorical sense, Jesus/Yeshua is the Groom, the Church is His Bride, and only the Father decides when it is time for the Son to bring His Bride home.
The Scientific critique of attempting to put the timing of Jesus’ return on the Calendar
Let’s assume for a moment that it is true that at the moment of Creation God set his own celestial clock into being. He ordained the balance of the Universe and the timing of the planetary orbits around the Sun. He established a method of measuring time by years and seasons based on the number of days required for the Earth to orbit the Sun with a day being the time required for the Earth to complete a revolution on its own axis.
It has already been established in Leviticus 23 that God ordained seven special ‘Feasts’, known as ‘moedim’ in Hebrew. The word ‘moedim’ is more accurately translated as ‘appointed times’ since not all of these appointed times involved an actual ‘feast’. It’s not a matter of debate, we factually know from what is written in the Bible that the first four appointed times or appointments in God’s calendar were kept by Jesus/Yeshua to the very day. He was not late.
- Jesus/Yeshua died on Passover, which is the first moed or appointed time. ( Lev. 23:4 )
- Jesus/Yeshua’s sinless body was entombed on the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is the second moed. ( Lev. 23:6 )
- Jesus/Yeshua rose from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits, which is the third moed. ( Lev. 23:9 )
- The Holy Spirit came down from above on Pentecost or The Feast of Weeks, which is the fourth moed. ( Lev. 23:15 )The last three of the seven moed have not yet been correlated with any specific past events which involve Jesus/Yeshua which suggests that these appointments are still pending. If the pattern persists of Jesus/Yeshua not being late in keeping his first four appointments then it is reasonable to expect that he will not be late in keeping the last three appointments.
- The Feast of Trumpets ( Lev. 23:23 )
- The Day of Atonement ( Lev. 23:36 )
- The Feast of Tabernacles ( Lev. 23:33 )
But what are the last three moed about? How can they be related to upcoming events involving Jesus? Why is there such a big gap in time between when the Holy Spirit came down and today? Questions like these are best answered by looking to Biblical Prophecy.
(more will be said on these three topics later)
The Feast of Trumpets is associated with the Rapture. ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16 )
The Day of Atonement is associated with repentance, redemption, and reconciliation. ( John 19:37 )
The Feast of Tabernacles is associated with God’s people dwelling with Him forever. (Psalm 27:4, John 14:2, )
The large gap in time between Pentecost and today is a dispensation. A dispensation is simply a smaller period of time which results from dividing a larger period of time. The names most commonly applied to this particular dispensation that we are currently in are The Age of Grace or the Church Age.
From a scientific point of view, there are 24 different time zones in the world. At any given moment the sun is setting in one part of the world while it is rising in another. For a small window of time each day, it is actually possible to have three different calendar days in effect based on the time zones and the International Date Line. Yes, it can simultaneously be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on planet Earth. So this is one scientific explanation for why it can not be possible to know the ‘day’ or the ‘hour’ of Christ’s return.
Regarding the Day of the Lord
In 2 Peter 3 we read that the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance…
what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…
be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace…
I have to wonder if Paul’s description of the Lord not being slow in 2 Peter 3 might also be referring to His punctuality and established history of being right on time for His appointments? It would be easy to understand how one might think the Lord was slow when considering that the length of time for this dispensation or Age of Grace is nearly 2,000 years already, but as Paul also points out in 2 Peter 3:8,
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
So 2,000 years is only two days to the Lord. Think about this. 4,000 years can be accounted for by adding the years from Adam to Jesus. 2,000 years can be accounted for by adding the years from Jesus to this day, making a total of 6,000 years which have come and gone. What comes after the sixth day? The seventh day of course. What did God proclaim the seventh day to be but the Day of Rest, or the Sabbath. How long is Jesus’ reign on Earth after His Second Coming? The answer, found in Revelation 20, is 1,000 years which would account for the seventh day. So by simply accounting for the summation of years based on Biblical history it’s easy to see that we are on the threshold of the seventh day right now. Jesus/Yeshua come quick.
Below are several other verses which relate to Jesus’ coming:
“Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
“The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know.”
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
“You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:2
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”
“The end of all things is at hand.”
-1 Peter 4:7
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and all the works done on it will be exposed.”
-2 Peter 3:10
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”
“And behold, I am coming soon.”
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Many have asked, “So what about date setters? Are people wrong to try and figure out when Jesus will return?”
If there is a Bible passage which forbids trying to figure out the timing of the Lord’s return I’d like to see it.
On the contrary, a crown of righteousness is promised to those who yearn for his appearing.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
-2 Timothy 4:8
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
So what are the key takeaways from all of the verses above?
- Be ready
- Be watching
- Be looking
- Expect him
- See the Day drawing near
- Be patient
The Rapture is an event where the groom comes to take his bride away, to be married to her forever. Seriously, that’s what it is.
Only the groom is the Messiah, the Son of God, better known as Jesus or Yeshua, and the bride is not a single person, but all people who corporately believe in Jesus and trust him, male and female alike, living and dead. The bride is better known as ‘the church’.
This supernatural event is not to be confused with the Second Coming, which happens after the Rapture, when Christ returns to defeat his enemies in Israel; namely the anti-Christ, the False Prophet, and everyone else who foolishly believes that they can fight and defeat God himself.
The Rapture is a rescue story, known as the Blessed Hope…which is the hope that all believers have, or should have, that their Savior is coming to rescue them from hell that people who remain on Earth will experience for a 7 year period of time known as The Tribulation, if they even survive it, for 2/3 of all mankind will perish, either at the hand of the anti-Christ who will tirelessly persecute and work to exterminate both Jews and new converts to Christianity, or as a result of God’s wrath that is unleashed upon earth in biblical proportions; earthquakes, tsunamis, hail storms, fire, a meteor impact,war, even nuclear war, violence, disease, famine, wild animals and more. The Bible says if these days were not cut short all mankind would perish.
The idea of the Rapture is often ridiculed and said to be something that it is not. Some people insist that the concept of the Rapture is not biblical as the word can not be found in the Bible. Others even get angry and defensive about which view on the timing of the Rapture is correct.
Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
2 Peter 3:4
While the word ‘Rapture’ itself is not in the Bible, it’s Greek equivalent is. You see, the New Testament was written entirely in Greek and later translated into Latin and English. The Greek word is ‘harpazo’ and means to be plucked out, taken up or snatched away quickly. Harpazo translated into Latin is ‘rapio’ from where we get our English word ‘Rapture’, however, in the Bible it is usually translated as ‘caught up‘.
The Comfort of Christ’s Coming
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV)
Most all Bible translations use the phase ‘caught up’, but a few say ‘carried away’, ‘caught away together’, ‘taken in the clouds’, or ‘taken up together’.
1 Corinthians 15:50-55
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
So there you have it, when the trumpet sounds, those who belong to Christ will be given their new immortal bodies and caught up, or taken away to the Father’s house in Heaven for a royal wedding.
Do you think such a thing is difficult for God? The Creator of the Universe…
He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.' In the middle of the `seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Mark 13:32 is an exact parallel.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
“For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
“Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Mark 13:33-37 is a parallel passage.
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;
1 Thessalonians 5:1-2
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
There are several passages that do suggest that the faithful believer will not be caught by surprise:
1 Thessalonians 5:4
Let us remember that the Lord has called us to be alert:
“And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” ,
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,”
“And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:36-3