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The Feast of Trumpets, a thief in the night, and the Bride

What does the Trumpets have to do with the term “AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT” and the wedding of the Messiah?

The Feast of Trumpets is often associated with the term “Like a thief in the night.” This phrase is also used in the Bible for the return of Yeshua and the wedding of the Messiah. How are these related to  each other? The Feast of Trumpets is also known as the “hidden day” (Yom HaKeseh), or the day of the sudden unveiling of what is hidden. Jews learn that the true meaning of the Feast of Trumpets is hidden, because it’s real meaning lies in the future. For already 3000 years Jews have celebrated this holiday in obedience to the God, knowing that one day it’s true meaning will be revealed.  

The Messiah Yeshua said, “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17 (NKJV)

A thief in the night

The expression “like a thief in the night” is in Israel a Hebrew idiom (a kind expression in a language) meaning that we should pay attention and not fall asleep because we never know when the thief comes.

The Feast of Trumpets is the only feast of all Biblical feasts that begins on a new moon and not on the full moon. In ancient times, the festival could not begin until the new crescent moon was seen in Jerusalem. Before the new moon became visible, the moon was invisible for several days and it was not exactly known what day the moon would appear. It was possible to estimate approximately  which night the moon would come, but not the exact night. Therefore they had two days to watch carefully for the moon to appear, because otherwise the Feast could start without them noticing. When two or more witnesses saw the new crescent moon, they reported it to the Sanhedrin. The leaders then announced that the new month (1 Tishri) would begin and the Shofar was blown. With fire signals they passed on to the whole country that the Feast of Trumpets had started. The Shofar was blown every day in the month before the Feast of Trumpets, but not on the expected day of the Feast of Trumpets (until the moon appeared). According to Jewish tradition they did this so that they  would not wake up Satan and warn him that the feast was about to start.

The term “like a thief in the night” was also used in the Second Temple in Jerusalem. There is a Jewish tradition that the head of the guards made rounds at night to check that the guards had not fallen asleep. He walked around quietly and when he found someone who had fallen asleep he set their clothes on fire just a little bit, causing them to take off their clothes and walk around in shame. This captain was known as a “the thief in the night”.

“Like a thief in the night” is also compared to a Jewish wedding. In ancient times, during a Jewish wedding, the groom came to get the bride in the evening at an unexpected time. The bride had to watch because she knew that the bridegroom could come unexpectantly at any time on that night and would suddenly stand at her door, taking her away and marrying her. This tradition was called “the thief in the night.” Also, the term “only the father knew” is a Jewish idiom imagery associated with Jewish marriage, because only the groom’s father knew when he would pick up his bride.

The wedding of the Messiah

One of the important themes of the Feast of Trumpets is the wedding of the Messiah, or the wedding ceremony of the Messiah. In a traditional Jewish wedding, no one knew the day or hour the groom would come, only the father knew, and the groom comes as a thief in the night. The bride had to be prepared and wait and have her white clothes ready. Traditionally, spotless white clothes are worn on the Feast of Trumpets and on Yom Kippur to show that we are clean and prepared. The feast is a prophetic symbol of the rapture of the bride, who is taken by the groom on a dark night. It is also the next Biblical Feast Yeshua will fulfill, and therefore many people think that this referring to the rapture, or preparing us for the rapture. As the bridegroom, Yeshua will also come to pick up his bride in one night, and we must watch and be prepared for His coming.

The ten wise and foolish virgins

It is also reminiscent of the well-known parable in Matthew 25:1-10 of the 10 virgins who were all waiting for their bridegroom. Jesus tells this story when He speaks about the end times and His return.

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. Matthew 25:1-5 (NKJV)

Since the five foolish girls did not have enough oil and did not wait, they missed the groom when he suddenly came. At the end, the Lord says:  “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25:13 (NJKV)

This is a very familiar story in Christianity and I have heard 20 different explanations! It does not mean that we should not think about it, but rather that we should always stay filled with the Holy Spirit and be vigilant and alert. Here too it is a nice comparison with Jesus who comes to get his church and tells us to always be prepared. Just like the crescent moon, we know roughly when it comes, but not exactly, so we need to be alert and not fall asleep.

Being prepared for the coming of the Lord, is a big theme of the Feast of Trumpets. We also see this  in the entire month prior to the Feast, which is called a time of “Teshuvah” (repentance), in which we confess our sins and prepare ourselves spiritually for the coming of the King. We confess our sins to God and get our white clothes ready. The ten virgins’ parable also reveals that we need to prepare ourselves by having enough oil. Five of the girls ran off to get oil and therefore missed the bridegroom. What, then, is the oil? The oil is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We want to be like the five wise virgins, prepared and alert for His coming, and above all filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit! We cleanse our hearts by repentance through the blood of Yeshua and pray that we are filled with the Holy Spirit so that we are ready when He comes.

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3: 5 (NKJV).

All three stories above of “the thief in the night” speak of the fact that the bride should stay awake and not slumber! So the term “thief in the night” is not used to say that we do not know when He is coming, but rather to indicate that we know He is coming soon, and therefore must stay alert within a specific period of time.

unexpected but prepared

Matthew 24:43 says, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.” (NKJV)

In Revelation 3: 3 it says, “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” (NKJV)

This means if we don’t pay attention he will come as a thief! But if we do pay attention, he will come and take us.

“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”

Revelations 16:15 (ESV)

Paul says, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6

Paul tells the Thessalonians that they know that that day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5: 1-2). He also says that the day will not come upon us suddenly, because those that are awake will be ready for it.

On the Feast of Trumpets we practice each year for the wedding of the Messiah and prepare ourselves for the coming of the Bridegroom.

Are you ready when He comes?

Do not fall asleep and keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning! Make sure your oil lamp (your body) is filled with the Holy Spirit. Don’t let it burn out and don’t go to bed if there is something between you and God, but rather confess your sins and ask Jesus to cleanse your heart… so that you also have white clothes when he comes.

Many people think that Jesus is coming back for his bride (the rapture), on this day because He  literally fulfilled the first four Biblical Feasts with His life and will do the same with this Feast. Indeed, it is very special that this Feast is called “As a thief in the night!” For Jews, this term is a direct reference to the Feast of Trumpets. Just as Passover is associated with redemption and the exodus, the Feast of Trumpets is associated with a groom who unexpectedly comes to get his bride. The biblical feasts have a very deep spiritual meaning that describe God’s plan of redemption for man through the Messiah Yeshua and physically also for Israel.

The Biblical Feasts reflect what Jesus has done in the past, is doing in us right now, and is going to do in the future.

The Feast of Trumpets reminds us to be prepared for him … every day and every night. It is a prophetic feast and image of Jesus himself, in which we can meet God on His appointed time.

God has instituted this holiday so that we do not fall asleep, and will always be reminded to stay filled with His oil. The feast is for everyone who belongs to the God of Israel and who has been grafted into Israel through the Messiah Yeshua.

At the same time it is also a prophetic feast for the future because when Jesus comes back He will literally fulfill this festival with His life on earth….

And will come to us like a thief in the night…. So be vigilant and don’t fall asleep!

Come Lord Jesus Come!