Studying the "themes" of the Bible offers one of the most rewarding and fulfilling ways of studying the Bible. It certainly offers some of the greatest examples for the reason which God gave us as a "hint" from Proverbs 25:2, "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter." If for no other reason than to study the Bible thematically, one will discover a Supernatural nature or dimension to the Bible. I note this because it is easy to dissect the Bible much like a chemist or scientist. The need for rigorous exegesis and hermeneutics ought never be lost without a sense of balance with God's dimension of the Spiritual or Supernatural.
There are about a hundred or so "key" themes in the Bible, and upwards of a thousand worthy of study and serious consideration. When I left the UMC in 1998, I did pulpit supply, filled in for vacationing pastors, sick leave, and interim supply, while I was candidating with churches searching for a pastor. I had free mornings and afternoons and I decided to take advantage of the idle time by doing something that I had wanted to do for a long time. This was doing independent research, in depth Bible research without accountability to a professor for time constraint reasons. I did a number of "theme" studies but none were quite as exciting as my study on the the "Biblical Theme of the Bride." My study was exhaustive, lasting nearly a year, roughly about 1,800 hours in actual time spent. I had a two-foot high stack of yellow writing pads with notes.
I discoverer that there are 850+ verses that have connections with the amazing "Theme of the Bride." I was reminded of the words of Isaiah 28:10 & 13 regarding God's Word ("here a little, there a little"). Since I first did my study in 1999, there have been others that have done similar studies and posted them on the Internet. The scope and degree of their comprehension level in detail varies, however, they all came to have the same conclusion as I had.
I could have posted this under my series: "Absence of Proof is Not Proof of Absence" but since I have so much more to share in the corroborating evidence that supports a Pre-Tribulation Rapture for that series, I decided since this thematic study of the Bride really is the "icing on the cake", I decided to do it as a separate series. The "Theme of the Bride" motif will bless your socks off, especially if you are a believer in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. You are in for a treat and it should eliminate any doubt as to why the Rapture will be "Pre-Tribulational". The "Theme of the Bride" motif is God's quintessential Biblical proof for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine.
To fully understand Bible prophecy about the return of Jesus Christ, we need to understand the ancient Jewish wedding. Because of our Western culture, we miss many of the nuances of Middle Eastern marriage customs and practices. We need to understand the Bride motif in the ancient Jewish wedding, as presented in Scripture, because Jesus Christ spoke of His return with many wedding analogies. Just look at Matthew 22 and 25; Revelation 19 and 21; Luke 12:36, "And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding..." Many of our western marriage and wedding customs have their roots deep in the Biblical concepts of marriage customs.
The Bible says the Bride of Christ is the Church: Ephesians 5:25; 2 Corinthians 11:2; and Romans 7:4.
The wedding analogy shows the Pre-Tribulation Rapture because the union of the Bride and Groom (the Rapture) takes place at the start of the Bridal Week, which is a "type" of the Tribulation week. The word used for Bridal Week is used in Genesis 29 and Judges 14, and is the same word in Daniel 9:27. The word "week", or "shavuah' in Hebrew, simply means a "seven"; it means "seven" days or "seven years". Furthermore, there are two Old Testament examples where a day from a prophetic "type" turns into a year of judgment: Numbers 14:54 and Ezekiel 4:6. The signature of Deity is all over the Bible when the number "Seven" is tagged. It's like the tell-tail fingerprint. That was actually one of my other in-depth studies I conducted back then. If we are not Raptured out by the time I have finished this series, I will share the amazing study of "sevens" in the Bible, and it is far more than just the number itself. It extends throughout the Bible like a spider web in an incredible master framework.
Here are a few examples of the significance of the "Bridal Wedding" motif. The bride price is paid by the groom for the bride. Jesus paid for us with His life. The virgin girl shows that she accepts the written covenant agreement of the marriage by drinking a glass of wine, and this became known as the communion ritual that Jesus gave to the Church. The betrothed bride would also have a ritual cleansing bath, and this is like our baptism of water and spirit, or the cleansing of the Word in Ephesians 5. The groom departs to build the bridal chamber, where they will live together, and Jesus said in John 14:2, "In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you". In the very next verse John 14:3, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
When finished the groom would return at a time unexpected "Of that day or hour no man knows" to fetch, or take away (rapture) his bride, like a thief in the night, which is a "type" of the action of the Rapture. At the end of Judges 21, there is a mass bridal abduction. In Deuteronomy 22:25-29 and Exodus 22:15-17 we see the penalty for taking a virgin (through force or seduction) is a permanent marriage with no divorce provision. This is like the "incorruptible immortality" as described 1st Corinthians 15:51-54. Thus, the intimate union between man and wife in the bridal chamber is a picture of being in Heaven with our Lord Jesus Christ after the Rapture. At the end of Bridal Week, the Bride and Groom emerge at the wedding feast or marriage supper. Even the slaughter at the marriage supper, or Armageddon, pictured in Judges 14 as Samson kills 30 Philistines.
Studies on this "theme" of the Bride motif vary in the specific steps identified; they vary between 8 and 13. That's fine, however, I believe there at least 18 steps in the process of "connecting the dots" of the "hidden in plain sight" "Theme of the Bride" Motif.
In introducing the reader to the "Theme of the Bride" here, I will first list the eighteen steps so noted in this process. It really is enough for the believer to shout hallelujah and sing "The King is Coming" at the top of your voice. The full Scriptural details of each of these steps or detail will begin in the next post.
1. The Holy Spirit chooses the Bride, and brings people to God through repentance.
2. A Bride price (dowry) is established, Christ gave His Life to purchase and redeem us.
3. The consent: The Bride agrees and choose to accept her husband's offer.
4. A written document, covenant, agreement, written registry is made.
5 The drinking of a glass of wine; a toast, a communion, seals the covenant agreement.
6. The betrothal: The Bride is espoused/engaged/promised.
7. A ritual cleansing bath: A "Mikveh" or baptism is performed.
8. Gifts are given to the bride.
9. The Bridegroom departed, going back to his father's house to prepare the bridal chamber, apartment, closet (many mansions).
10. The Bride consecrates, set apart, and kept herself ready for the Bridegroom to return, and wore a veil which is like the blood of Jesus Christ covering our sins, the righteousness of the saints.
11. The Bridegroom comes for his Bride in "a day or hour no man knows, but my father only" with a shout, command, last trump, trumpet blast.
12. Jesus comes for (raptures) His Bride as a Thief.
13. Going through the open door into Heaven (at the Rapture).
14. The Bridal Week (a day for a year) in the wedding chamber as the Tribulation week of Daniel 9:27 begins.
15. The Marriage Supper/Wedding Feast commences when the Bride and Groom emerge from the Bridal Chamber at the end of "seven" days (seven years), and the Lord returns with the Bride at the end of the "seven" year Tribulation.
16. The slaughter at the marriage supper.
17. The Bride and Groom were seen as King and Queen, trumpet blasts herald the reign of a new King, at the Rapture at the trumpet blast, Christ and His people begin to rule in Heaven.
18. The Judgment Seat of Christ (pictured by the Feast of Trumpets), is a picture of the Messiah and the Rapture.
Again, you can begin to see the pattern or "Theme of the Bride" Motif, which to me, is just another confirmation of Proverbs 25:2. I would be kind by simply stating that only a fool and the Biblically illiterate dare proclaim there is no such event as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Its hard enough to have people tell you that the Rapture is not found in the Bible, but the problem doesn't end there. Most of the Church (roughly 90%) today believe in the aberrant teachings and understandings offered up by very misguided people that "spiritualize and render the Bible as allegory". The fact is the "Covenant/Reformed" hermeneutic obscures the truth from them.
The "Theme of the Bride" Motif is like a children's connect-the-dots coloring book. I discovered 850+ verses in the Bible, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation, that all build a case for one of the most powerful themes in the Bible.
In case any of the readers still question whether the Rapture is Biblical, I will provide a basic lesson here to show that the Rapture is in the Bible. The Biblical word in Greek is "harpazo", and it is found 14 times [7 x 2] in the New Testament, note the multiple of "7" that I have noted to be a pattern theme in the KJV Bible. The following passages are where the word '"harpazo" is found in the Bible. It is a verb.
The definition of "harpazo" means to carry off, take (or) snatch away, catch up, catch away, or seize.
This little lesson will illustrate how Greek or Hebrew words do not necessarily appear exactly the same way in English. It all has to do with the grammatical forms, which are based upon: Gender, Case, Voice, Tense, and Mood. I have included in the following list, the grammatical form for "harpazo" in (brackets) to the right of the English word used in the passage for each of the 14 occurrences of "harpazo". The 14 occurrences of this word take 10 different grammatical forms. I don't use the Greek and Hebrew fonts on my computer as a matter of efficiency in my typing. It simply takes too long to find them on an English keyboard.
Matthew 11:12 -the kingdom ... and the violent take (harpazousin) it by force.
Matthew 12:29 -and carry off (harpasi) his property, (NASB)
Matthew 13:19 -catcheth away (harpazei) that which was sown in his heart.
John 6:15 -that they would come and take him by force, (harpazein)
John 10:12 -the wolf catcheth (harpazei) them, and scattereth the sheep.
John 10:28 -neither shall any man pluck (harpasei) them out of my hand.
John 10:29 -is able to pluck (harpazien) them out of my Father's hand.
Acts 8:39 -The Spirit of the Lord caught away (herpasen) Philip.
Acts 23:10 -and to take him by force (harpasai) from among them,
2nd Cor. 12:2 -such an one caught up (harpagenta) to the third heaven.
2nd Cor. 12:4 -How that he was caught up (herpage)into paradise,
1 Thess. 4:17 -shall be caught up (harpagesometha) together with them.
Jude 1:23 -others save with fear, pulling (harpazontes) out of the fire;
Rev. 12:5 -child was caught up (herpasthe) unto God, and to the throne.
The most significant theological contribution of "harpazo", "to seize, grasp, to snatch", is the role in the New Testament reference to the "snatching or catching away" of believers at the return of Jesus Christ. But the term also occurs in other important contexts.
In the New Testament "harpazo" appears a total of 14 times, as noted. Most of them are not unusual and pose no special difficulties in understanding. The term functions literally in John 6:15 in reference to the peoples' desire to make Jesus king "by force". Similarly in Acts 23:10, the Roman captain instructed his soldiers to "snatch" Paul from the crowd of Jews who were about to tear him to pieces. The "evil one" "takes away" the Word sown in the hearts of listeners -(Matthew 13:19). In the Epistle of Jude the term depicts the rescuing of a sinner from the fire of hell -(vs. 23).
"Harpazo" characterizes the activity of the wolf who "seizes" the sheep when the hired shepherd deserts them -(John 10:12). Then it is echoed in Jesus' statement that no one can "pluck" anybody out of the hand of the Good Shepherd, Jesus -(John 10:28,29).
Many opinions have been held about the meaning of "harpazo" in Matthew 11:12: "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Some understand "harpazo" in the sense of "men seize the kingdom". Others conclude that such "seizure" involves using violence against the Kingdom. Still others suggest that it is the kingdom of God itself which spreads and moves forward "forcefully". The text must be considered in light of he parallel text of Luke 16:16.
In the remaining five places where the term appears, it stands for some kind of "supernatural transfer". It carries three different meanings under these circumstances.
In 2nd Corinthinians 12:2,4, Paul related that he had been "caught up", "harpazo", into the third heaven -(vs. 2) and that he had been "caught up" into paradise -(vs. 4). Paul himself was unable to explain this phenomenon. He did not even know whether he was "in the body" or "out of the body". But he considered his experience as some form of a "vision or revelation". This may imply that Paul experienced a spiritual ecstasy similar to the experience of John on the Isle of Patmos -(Rev. 1:10).
In Acts 8:39, "harpazo" refers to a supernatural "relocation" from one place on the Earth to another place. Luke reported that the Spirit of the Lord "caught away" Philip. The eunuch did not see him anymore, but Philip reappeared in Azotus. Philip's experience resembles the experience that Obadiah feared would happen to the prophet Elijah in 1st Kings 18:12.
1st Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 12:5 also contain the word "harpazo" and both of these passages convey a different perspective of transfer than the preceding texts. Whereas Philip was caught away from one location on Earth and relocated to another place, these texts refer to a "relocation" from Earth to the heavenly realm. Paul wrote of a transfer from the temporal to the eternal - to a new form of existence. The phrase in the book of Revelation is "caught up unto God, and to his throne."
This "transfer" is a literal transfer like the one Philip experienced. The passage speaks of being "caught up in the air"; therefore, a totally new dimension has entered the picture. The events of the Old Testament, of Enoch -(Genesis 5:24, confirmed in Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah -(2 Kings 2:11) are similar events which may anticipate the events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ Jesus -(confirmed in 1st Corinthians 15:51,52).
"Harpazo" in this case denotes a movement from the earthly existence to the eternal condition or state which is a direct result of God's intervention into the affairs of men. It will take place "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" -(1st Corinthians 15:52). Just as Paul was "snatched away" from the murderous crowd that surrounded him, so, too, the Church will be delivered from its opponents -(2 Thessalonians 1:6). In fact, believers may actually be "snatched" physically away from the temporal and ushered into the realm of the eternal.
It is noteworthy that this expression never occurs in describing the ascension of Jesus. He was taken up or received; and the Greek word is "epairo" where he was lifted up; He ascended; but it is never said that He was "caught up" "harpazo". When "harpazo" appears in Rev. 12:5 in reference to the male child who is "caught up" to the throne of God, we can be fairly certain that this is not a reference to the ascension of Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:1 and following describes a woman who gives birth to a male child which is a dragon that stands ready to devour. But the child escapes when he is "caught away" to heaven. It would seem to be inconsistent if Jesus, following His victorious death on the Cross and His triumphant resurrection, would be "snatched away" to heaven in order to escape the dragon, i.e., Satan. Jesus ascended to return to the Father and to show the victory of the Cross.
When Jesus was lifted up to heaven, it was witnessed by the disciples -(Acts 1:9). When the two witnesses of the last days ascend into heaven, their enemies will also watch -(Rev. 11:12). But when the Church is caught away "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye", humanity will not see or recognize what is happening.
It is important that the reader recognize that the Greek language and even the Hebrew are quite specific in the manner and detail of our word "harpazo" or Rapture. Such specificity is not to be taken lightly or discounted as merely a play on words to describe an event for which we are waiting upon and can't fully grasp in human understanding.
The next time we will look at the Scriptural passages that affirms the "Theme of the Bride". When I did my initial research and study back in 1999, I had just bought a new computer and Hermeneutika, a Bible software package which is considered the best and most costly Bible software for academic research.
I am not sure everyone has been on board with all of my posts, however, I have been posting material that clearly builds an iron-clad proof case for the Pre-Tribulational Rapture. I have been building a foundation for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, block-by-block.