Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready. It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure, for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:7-8)
The most obvious reason why Jesus will certainly not come back on May 21, 2011, is that His Bride has not yet made herself ready. So we have to understand what that means, and even more fundamentally, who she is.
In both the Old and New Testaments, God’s holy people are characterized as a bride being made ready for her king. Her betrothed husband and king is the Son of God, whose true name is Yahshua.1 Paul’s letter to the Ephesians makes it very clear what this king is looking for in His bride:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
These qualities cannot be considered optional or out of reach, as though they will only be hers in heaven. No, they have to describe her actual condition before He returns — at least according to her king, Yahshua. He Himself set the standards to which His bride must attain in order to show that His sacrifice was not in vain.
One of the most essential attributes is the perfect unity she must have within herself:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:21-23)
This unity cannot be the least bit mystical, because real, observable unity is what it takes for the world to believe. After all, that is why He came — so that the world might believe. It is nonsense to say that all “true believers” everywhere are in unity, regardless of the 41,000+ Christian denominations that exist today,2 with two more being formed every day. The unity Yahshua described is something the world must be able to see in order to know that He actually came the first time. The mystical unity that Christians claim to possess is merely an abstract theological concept that has no concrete reality, and therefore cannot be perceived by the world. It doesn’t cause anyone to believe in Him and keep His word.
The Bride Loves just as her King Loves
Furthermore, Yahshua said that His bride would be known to the world by her self-denying love:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
And there was to be nothing mystical about that love either. Rather, it was to be the practical reality of their daily lives, as the description of the early church in the Book of Acts shows,3 and as the Apostle John wrote many years later:
By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
There can be no excuse based on “human nature” or fantasies about all being one in heaven, for the apostles who walked with Yahshua brought it right home to the here and now:
... but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. (1 John 2:5-6)
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. (1 John 4:17)
So let’s dismiss once and for all the absurd notion that anyone is going to be “raptured” who has not been perfected in love so as to be just like Yahshua. Instead, such presumption will cause them to shrink back in terror at His coming, for they are not righteous as He is righteous.4 But Yahshua’s bride will be like Him, for because her hope is in Him, she purifies herself just as He is pure.5 And He will only return for a compatible bride.
The Bride is Twelve Tribes
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband... Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed. (Revelation 21:2,9-12)
Regardless of whether any individual person considers himself to be “ready to meet the Lord,” if he has not entered through one of the twelve gates so as to be grafted into one of the twelve tribes of Israel, then he is definitely not part of the Bride.
“Twelve tribes?” you may wonder.“What do tribes have to do with being a true believer?”
The Bride is characterized as a city with twelve gates, one for each of its twelve tribes, but this is not simply a colorful metaphor. It is a practical reality. Yahshua purposefully chose twelve apostles and told them, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”6 Of course, just those twelve men were not a city, but He chose them to be the nucleus of a new, spiritual Israel of twelve tribes.
The Twelve Tribes of the First-Century Church
After the first church was born on the day of Pentecost, it grew and spread throughout the Mediterranean world under the oversight of the apostles. In his defense before King Agrippa, Paul described the composition and occupation of the church about 25 years after it began:
And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by the Jews, O king! (Acts 26:7)
Some, in reading this passage, jump to the conclusion that Paul is speaking of the Jews in saying “our twelve tribes,” but that is impossible, since the Jews were his accusers. Besides, Israel had not been twelve tribes “earnestly worshiping night and day” since the days of King Solomon, a thousand years earlier. They divided after Solomon’s death, and the northern ten tribes were later carried away into exile by the Assyrians. There they lost their identity and merged with the nations around them.
No, Paul was speaking of the restoration of the tribes of Jacob prophesied by Isaiah, and he understood his commission as an apostle in terms of that very prophecy:
It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying,“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:46-47)
As Paul labored to preach the gospel among the Gentiles, he understood that they were being grafted into the faith of Abraham, into the same spiritual root system from which old Israel had been severed,7 in order to make them jealous:8
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree... (Romans 11:17)
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12-13)
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:29)
With that spiritual identity, the apostles labored in their different geographic regions within the Mediterranean world to establish a close-knit network of messianic communities where all who believed lived together as a commonwealth, sharing their lives and possessions.9 When one tribe was suffering financially, the others gave generously to meet the needs of their poorer brothers, under the administration of the apostles:
I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of equity your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be equality. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)
This tribal life of love, care, and devotion to their God grew into a spiritual nation dwelling in the midst of the political nations of their day, insulated but not isolated from the surrounding culture. The Apostle Peter described it this way:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Because all of the members of this holy nation of twelve tribes took their priesthood seriously, their gatherings were characterized by a lively spontaneity and outspokenness. This was sharply distinct from the rote and ritual of the established religion of their day — and from what would soon overtake the generations following them.10 There was no professional clergy, no pews, not even any church buildings. Following the pattern their Master Yahshua had established, they gathered together in a circle in their homes or courtyards,11 so they could look into one another’s eyes as they sang or spoke whatever was on their hearts.
The Fall of the First Church
Thus the bride began to grow and develop over the first few decades after she was born on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after Yahshua’s resurrection. But sadly, it was not long before signs of decline began to appear, such as the Apostle Paul addressed in the Corinthian church:
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or brings a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)
Obviously, Paul was very concerned that this betrothed Bride was in danger of falling far short of her high calling, and committing spiritual adultery. In the last decade of the first century, Yahshua delivered to the Apostle John letters to seven key churches of the tribe that dwelt in the province of Asia (present-day Turkey). All but one of those letters, which are preserved in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, depict churches in an advanced state of decline, in imminent danger of losing their lampstand. In other words, the Holy Spirit who gives illumination was grieved, quenched, and nigh unto departing if they did not quickly repent and go back to their first love and first works.12
History tells a sad tale of the subsequent centuries. Their fervent communal life of love, unity, and equity13 disintegrated into rich and poor,14 living separately and “going to church” one day a week. Their once-lively gatherings descended into stale rote and ritual, with a professional clergy and a passive laity — the works of the Nicolaitans, which Yahshua hated.15 The virgin bride-to-be became a harlot, giving herself to “another Jesus, a different spirit,”16 and eventually marrying the Roman state under the Emperor Constantine. Then the bloodbath began as the once-persecuted became the persecutor, cruelly suppressing all dissent within and equally cruelly making converts at the point of the sword.
Where is the Bride Today?
Although there have been many promising movements of sincere people over the centuries, desiring to be obedient to the Scriptures, none have proven to be the Bride for whom Yahshua would return. All have either been eliminated through persecution or declined into compromise after one or two generations.17
So where is the Bride today? Certainly she is not to be found within the ranks of Christianity. There is nothing that even comes close to meeting the requirements of Yahshua, as they are uncompromisingly laid out in the Scriptures. Therefore, there is not the slightest possibility of Yahshua coming back any time soon.
There is, however, a bride in the making. Twelve tribes are emerging in twelve different geographic regions of the earth. They are in embryonic form, just beginning to develop into networks of vibrant communities that are living out the Scriptures, striving with all that is in them to be obedient from the heart to the greatest commandments:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
When she has grown to full stature, and been perfected in her love, fulfilling all the Law and the Prophets by living out the gospel of the kingdom as a witness before all the nations, then the end will come.18 Only when the Bride has made herself ready by doing those righteous deeds prepared for her,19 by the grace God provides, will Yahshua the Messiah return for her.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them... We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 2:10; 4:15-16)
If you want to be a part of the Bride, which is the Body of Messiah on earth, you must enter in through one of the twelve gates.20 Come and visit one of the clans of the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel. You will find our addresses in the back of this freepaper.
The Spirit and the Bride say,“Come.” And let the one who hears say,“Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life freely.21 (Revelation 22:17)
- 1. See The Name Above All Names .
- 2. http://www.gordonconwell.edu/sites/default/files/IBMR2010.pdf
- 3. Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35
- 4. 1 John 2:28-29
- 5. 1 John 3:3; Revelation 19:7-8
- 6. Matthew 5:14
- 7. Matthew 3:9-10; 21:43
- 8. Romans 11:14; Deuteronomy 32:20-21
- 9. Acts 2:44; 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 2:14
- 10. 1 Corinthians 14:26-33; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19
- 11. Mark 3:34-35; Acts 8:3; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2
- 12. Revelation 2:4-5
- 13. Acts 4:32
- 14. James 2:2-4 (The letter of James was written early in the second century.)
- 15. Revelation 2:6,15; the word Nicolaitan is derived from nikao, meaning “to conquer,” and laos (from which comes laity), meaning “people,” hence, “people conquerors” — preachers who do all the speaking.
- 16. 2 Corinthians 11:4
- 17. See our freepaper, The Black Box, for a revealing survey of Christian history: http://twelvetribes.org/publications/black-box/ Write or call us for a free copy.
- 18. Matthew 24:14
- 19. Revelation 19:7-8; Ephesians 2:10; 4:15-16
- 20. Revelation 21:12
- 21. Freely means without any cause to hold you back from drinking the water of life.