Imagine that you and your family are at dinner in your home. A strange man lets himself into your house, sits down at your table, and starts eating your food. When you ask him what on earth he thinks he is doing, he tells you he is “building your kingdom.”
You are big into kindness, forgiveness, and charity, so you let him stay, just for right now. However, day after day he sits at your table, asks all sorts of questions, and eats your food. He never helps with the grocery bills, never cleans up after himself, and never offers to help out around your house.
He continually takes what is free, asks lots of questions, and offers a lot of opinions. Each day when you politely inquire as to when he is going to start doing something to help you in return, he either looks at you with curious stares, or gets mad and yells. How long will it be before you call 911 and have this man forcibly removed from your home?
Let us take a second scenario. A man lets himself into King David’s palace, sits down at King David’s table, and begins feeding himself. Day after day, all he does is sit and eat. He gives all sorts of unsolicited advice without truly understanding how King David’s court really works, but he never does anything that King David really finds helpful in expanding David’s empire. When King David asks him how he intends to help him expand his empire, he just gives him a hostile glare. How long will King David let this man live?
Now imagine that a man lets himself into Yahweh’s throne room in heaven, seats himself down at Yahweh’s table, and begins eating. This man never did anything tangible to help build Yeshua’s empire on earth, and yet he feels it is his right to eat at Yahweh’s table. When asked why, he says that he “got fed” on Sabbath each week.
Yahweh’s table is very long, but still there are only so many places. For this man to take a seat, one of the patriarchs, one of Israel’s righteous kings, one of Yahweh’s prophets, or one of Yeshua’s apostles has to stand.
If you were Yahweh, what would you do? Would you make one of the patriarchs, one of the righteous kings of Israel, one of your prophets, or one of your Son’s apostles leave the table, just so that this man could sit down? Or would you not rather see this man bound hand and foot, and cast into the outer darkness?
A Reward Based on What?
What would you do if this were your own house?
Very few believers honestly live their lives like the apostles did, forsaking all to do His will. Yet, most believers believe they will receive the same rewards as the apostles will, simply because they “got fed” on Sabbath. But does this really make any sense?
Do those who read about the good works of others usually receive the same rewards as those who actually did the good works? Or do they usually receive the same reward as those who helped the workers in their work? Does Yahweh hand out rewards just for eating?
Reward Based on Works
Very few believers dedicate their entire lives to furthering His empire here on earth. Very few believers show the same devotion to duty as King David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the apostles did, and yet these same people seem to believe they will be part of His bride.
What is wrong with this picture? Why are most believers’ expectations of their reward so completely out of line with their contributions in building His empire? How can they neither work, nor help those who are doing the work, and yet expect a reward just for getting fed?
Hitgalut (Revelation) 20:12-13
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before Elohim, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
Why do such large discrepancies between perception and reality exist? Why do His people seem to believe they can live their lives in the world, and yet be counted as having laid them down?
How is it that so many in Ephraim do not want to help His priesthood bring the stick of Ephraim together, and yet they still expect to receive the same eternal reward as if they had dedicated their whole lives to extending and furthering His empire?
A Fresh Look at Bridehood
Most Christians have always been taught that all they must do to be taken as part of His bride is just to “believe” on Yeshua (in an intellectual sense). How many times have we heard the preachers say, “Just call on the name of Jesus, and you shall be saved!” However, is this what Scripture really teaches? Or is there not something more to it than that?
Strangely, at least judging from their behavior, most Messianics (and even some Nazarenes) seem to believe that all they need to do is just accept Yeshua as the Messiah, and then keep the Sabbath and festivals. They seem to believe that by picking and choosing what commandments they want to keep (i.e., whatever is easy for them), they automatically become part of His bride. Scripture does not teach this.
Scripture teaches again and again that there are different levels of reward for different levels of sacrifice and service. As we will show in the chapter “Heart of Wisdom,” those who do not actively further and expand His empire will not even make it into the kingdom, so why would they make it into the bride?
And why do those who make less than their best effort believe they will eat at the King’s table, or enter the King’s bridal chambers? Although they might make it into the kingdom, why would they be part of His bride?
Think about it: In any kingdom, there are many different positions. There are cooks, clerks, drivers, farmers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, officials, courtesans, and even the court jester. While all of these are noble professions, are all of these the bride?
Or is not bridehood reserved only for those who strive?
Running Our Best Race
Indeed, the apostle Shaul (Paul) teaches us that we are not to sit back and just assume that our entry into His kingdom is assured. Rather, we are to give our all for His kingdom at all times, as if we were running a race.
Qorintim Aleph (1st Cor) 9:24
24 Do you not know that of those who run in a race, indeed all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain.
Correspondingly, while there will be many who may make it into His kingdom, in order to be taken in marriage, one must give everything one has to His service (and without thought of self). One must earnestly strive to do one’s utmost to serve Him, and His people.
From His Perspective
Most of us are familiar with the concept of a free market economy. In order to succeed in a free market economy, one must somehow provide the “best” product. One way or another, one must provide the best quality, the best price, the best service, or in some other fashion one must be “the best” at something, in order to get business at all.
Is it any different with Yeshua? As the King of kings, does He not also look for the “best”? Or why would the King of kings marry anything less than the very “best of the best”?
Put yourself in Yeshua’s sandals for a moment and see what kind of selection of bride you would make. Then ask yourself, “What kind of a bride am I to Him, really?”
Imagine Yourself a Prince
Imagine for a moment that you are a prince. Your father the king will soon give you absolute authority over the realm.
When you take charge of your realm, you will have to assign positions in your court. You have many applicants, but to be wise, you should select only those who have shown their prior dedication in service to your father. Moreover, your father bids you to wed, and soon you will have to choose at least one bride. Since you are an absolute monarch, you can take as many (or as few) brides as you want. Your decision is absolute and final.
There are many maidens in your soon coming realm who dream of becoming your bride, but you know that you must choose wisely. The question then becomes, young prince, which one (or ones) do you choose?
The first maiden curtsies and blushes when she says she loves you. She thinks of you lovingly all day long, and she spends all of her money and time trying her best to further your reign. Each day she reads transcripts of your speeches, trying to memorize what you have said, so she can teach your words to others. She has given everything she has to your service, and she is constantly looking for ways to convince others to treasure you as much as she does. Clearly, this maiden loves you.
The second maiden also says she loves you. She pays her tribute, but also gives you additional gifts, and tries to help those who work for you just as much as she can. She tells all of her friends how much she loves you, and even composes songs about you in her spare time (and teaches these songs to others).
The third maiden tells you that she loves you, but you can see that she is not very happy about paying tribute. While she would love to be your wife, you cannot shake the feeling that she does not really want to do anything more to help build your kingdom than she really has to. She happily eats at your table, but while she sings the songs that others compose, she does not really do so with heart.
The fourth maiden loudly protests that she loves you, but she never pays her tribute, and never helps your officials in their work. She rests on the days that you have set apart, and she sings songs about you on that day, if someone else leads. She loves to eat at the Sabbath table, but whenever anyone asks her why she does not pay the necessary tribute, she hotly snaps that it should be obvious how much she really loves you.
The fifth maiden has dedicated the rest of her life to telling other people about you. She has traveled to distant countries, suffered many hardships, and has told many people what a wonderful prince you are, and what a great king you will soon be. She has even spent time in jail for trying to convince the citizens of other nations that they should pledge their allegiance to you (rather than to their current king or flag). This damsel has given her life for you and has even suffered bloody torture in faraway places for your benefit.
The sixth maiden gladly pays her tribute, and helps your ministers and officials with their work. She also sends you gifts from time to time, and she went to special expense to hire a lawyer to get the fifth maiden out of prison.
The seventh maiden gives no regular tribute, but sends you small gifts from time to time. She sings in a local choir, and she loves to meet and fellowship with others who eat clean foods on the Sabbath day.
Apart from these seven maidens, there are thousands of other women who would love to be your queen. Some of them pay their regular tribute, and some don’t. Some of them keep your commandments, and some don’t. Although you love each one of your subjects deeply, and would gladly lay down your life for them, you cannot take all of these maidens for your queen. You do not need many brides, just pure ones.
So the question, young prince, is this: Which of these maidens will you take as your wife (or wives)? Remember that you must choose wisely, as your father forbids divorce. If you marry the wrong woman, she is yours forever (so choose wisely).
As a newly crowned king, you will also have many other jobs to fulfill in your kingdom, besides handpicking your bride(s). Which of these maidens will you assign to work in the fields, in the bakery, or in the stables? Which of these maidens will you assign to work in these areas? And which of these young women will you take to be your queen?
Dear brothers and sisters, isn’t this precisely the kind of decision that Yeshua will have to make with each one of us on Judgment Day? So now ask yourself, which type of maiden are you (really)? Are you doing all that you realistically can to help your Prince build His empire? Regardless of your present station, are you doing all that you can to help your Prince become King over a greatly expanded empire? Or are you just sitting down at His table feeding yourself and waiting for the wedding?
On Earth, as it is in Heaven
What Yeshua will look for in His bride is probably the same thing that you or I would look for in a bride. You or I would look for someone who loves us so much that she is constantly searching for pleasant and agreeable ways to help us build up our house.
So ask yourself again this Sabbath, “Am I really doing all I can to help Yeshua build His house? Or am I just sitting down at His table and feeding myself?”
It is your eternal salvation that is at stake here, so if you truly treasure the thought of being taken in bridehood forever, then why not make His decision easy for Him? Why not start giving your all for Him, right now?
Qorintim Aleph (1st Cor) 9:24
24 Do you not know that of those who run in a race, indeed all run, but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may obtain it.