I could not let the Jewish festival season go on without mentioning the minor festival of Tu B’Av and pointing out some Rapture-like symbolism in it. Although I am not trying to set a date, there are some interesting components to this holiday that should be noted. Please remember, however, that Tu B’Av is not one of the major festivals listed in Leviticus 23. It is a minor rabbinical holiday that has evolved into a sort of Valentine’s Day in Israel.
A Great Day for a Wedding
Tu B’Av follows the solemn observance of Tisha B’Av, a time when weddings are prohibited. So, it has become a popular time for weddings in Israel. It is also connected to the passage in Judges 21 where unmarried Jewish women danced in a vineyard and men from the tribe of Benjamin snatched out wives from among them. Even today women in Israel will dress up in white dresses and dance in vineyards in commemoration of this holiday.
Which should remind us of the prophecy where we too will be clothed in white garments before our wedding to Christ. Revelation 19:7-8: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
The Unidentified Festival
While the passage in Judges 21: 18-23 alludes to an annual festival, it does not identify it: “Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin. Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty. And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.”
Of course, for us Rapture watchers (and date speculators) it would be nice to know the identity of this annual festival, but we may have at least been given a clue as to its season.
Grapes and a hidden firstfruits fruit harvest?
Tu B’Av celebrates the start of the grape harvest in Israel. Remember that the maidens in Judges were to dance in the vineyards? Well, grapes are a summer fruit.
Is there a biblical festival that commemorates the firstfruits of the fruit harvest? There does not appear to be one designated as such in the Bible.
The Feast of Firstfruits celebrates the firstfruits of the barley harvest; the Feast of Pentecost celebrates the firstfruits of the wheat harvest and the Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the final harvest of the year. So, why isn’t there a firstfruits harvest for fruit? Perhaps it is a hidden festival?
The Bible compares His people to both to fruit and fruit trees. Hosea 9:10: “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.” Psalm 1:3: “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
Tu B’Av is also tied to the story of the twelve spies who were sent to explore the land of Canaan. The spies were sent out at the time of the firstripe grapes. Numbers 13:20: “And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.” According to Numbers 13:23 the spies even brought back a harvest of summer fruit. Numbers: “And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.”
Ten of the twelve spies brought back a bad report, however, and convince the people to rebel against God’s mandate to conquer the Promised Land. As punishment for their unbelief, the people are told that they will never enter the Promised Land. They will wander in the wilderness for 40 years until they all die. Only their children (those who did not know right from wrong), and Caleb and Joshua (who expressed faith), were permitted to enter the land.
According to Jewish tradition, the people believed the bad report of the ten spies (of how intimidating the inhabitants of Canaan were) on the 9th of Av. Tradition further holds that, on each subsequent 9th of Av, the people would dig graves for themselves and sleep in them. And some would die in their graves in accordance with the curse. This practice supposedly continued until the fortieth year when the mass deaths stopped. It was not until a few days later, on the 15th of Av that they finally realized that the curse had been lifted.
In a way, the dead rose from their graves on Tu B’Av.
Although there is probably more folklore than fact to this rabbinical version of the story, we do know that the spies made their trek during the summer season. So, it is possible that the curse was lifted during the anniversary of the time that it was imposed.
Thus, the season of Summer may be significant if the Rapture is tied to a firstfruits harvest of fruit (grapes?). Since there is no express Biblical celebration for it (except perhaps in the unidentified festival of Judges 21:18) it could be a hidden festival. So, we may not know the day, but we might know the season.
Song of Songs 2:13: “The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
The Lord of the Vineyard Comes
In the Bible, the vineyard is either Israel or likened to the kingdom of heaven.
Isaiah 5:7: “For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.”
Matthew 20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
The vineyard is used in several parables and even in one that foretells the death of Jesus. Matthew 21:33-43: “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”
We are the workers of God’s vineyard, helping to bring in a harvest of souls for Christ.
Harpazo Old Testament Style
Remember that the men in Judges 21 were directed to catch a wife from the group of dancing maidens at the time of an annual festival? Significantly, the word “catch” is the word “harpazo” in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) translation of this verse. Harpazo is the word we currently use to describe the Rapture as found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”).
So, we may actually have an Old Testament pattern/picture of the Harpazo, and a pattern where a bridegroom snatches up his bride, or a picture where multiple brides are caught up at the same celebration (like in the Great Bride Snatch/ the Harpazo of the Church).
Son of the right hand
The grooms in Judges 21 were also from the tribe of Benjamin. The name Benjamin means “son of the right hand.” If you think about it, the name can also apply to Jesus since He is literally seated at the right hand of God. Matthew 22:44: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Matthew 26:64: “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Acts 7:55: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God …” Hebrews 1:3: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
So, it may be possible that the grooms of Judges 21 (from the tribe of Benjamin, the sons of the right hand) point to Jesus Christ (the Son of the right hand of God).
Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
So, how do we get clean, white wedding garments? White represents righteousness. Revelation 19:7-8: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do on our own to make ourselves righteous. Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Our sins make us filthy. Only God can wash our sins away. Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” For us righteousness is now a matter of faith in Christ. Romans 1:17: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 10:10 “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Galatians 5:5: “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Christ shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin. It is through our faith in His sacrifice for our sins that we receive that forgiveness. Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….”
We can be clothed in righteousness (our wedding garments) right now – we have only to repent of our sins and believe in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.
We can be dressed for the Wedding right now. Isaiah 61:10: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
We can wear white garments – garments washed in the blood of the Lamb of God. Revelation 7:14: “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
I don’t know if Tu B’Av is the unidentified festival for the Rapture. But it is wonderful to imagine that split-second moment when Jesus will snatch us off the earth to be with Him forever. Until then, we eagerly look for all the clues He may have left us.
It appears that Israel will miss the Summer harvest and that a time of judgment will follow.
Jeremiah 8:20: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
Amos 8:1-2: “Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.”
Micah 7:1-2: “Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit. The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.”
In this verse it is interesting to note that the good man is no longer on the earth at the time of the summer fruit harvest. Is this prophetic of the Rapture? Will we also be gone from the earth at the time of the summer fruit harvest “as the grapegleanings of the vintage”?
For those of us who believe that the Tribulation will follow the Rapture, we can well imagine the regret that will be experienced by those who are left behind. They will wonder why some were taken.
I think that most of us are more than ready to go home. I know that I am. I am looking forward to fellowshipping with you all. Maybe there will be a Five Doves table at the Wedding Feast. I think that we are going to be surprised by the number of clues that God has given us concerning His coming and the Rapture. It will be nice when it is no longer a mystery. Take care and keep looking up. Maranatha.
– Lisa Taylor