The Escape of the Bride to the Marriage of the Lamb

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Matthew 25:1-13
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

This parable is representative of the harpazo of the bride of Christ to the marriage of the Lamb. We can see upon examining some ancient Hebrew wedding traditions how these were physical foreshadows from earthly marriage to the future marriage of the church to Christ. As we will see, this study highlights the importance of obedience to God’s Word as true Christians living a life of selfless love toward God and others. It should also be noted that marriage to Christ is in the spiritual sense of two becoming one as mirrored in marriage. The church is the body of Christ and He is the head of the church. The head gives direction to the body as God has done in His Word. We are promised to Christ now for a future time when we will be together in more than just spirit. The point of first meeting is upon being called out to meet Him at His coming.

This going out at Christ’s coming to meet Him can be placed in the timeline of prophetic events based on how Christ’s coming is described and a time we are promised escape from. Both Matthew 24:36-39 and Luke 17:26-30 associate Christ’s coming with sudden destruction like the days of Noah and Lot. Prior to both of those times coming, the earth was in a place of spiritual wickedness and ignorance to their impending destruction until it came suddenly and they did not escape.

It should be noted that in both cases used to compare the coming wrath of God, the righteous were removed from the destination of God’s wrath

Likewise, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 describes a time when God’s wrath comes beginning the day of the Lord. This time comes suddenly like a thief in the night from which those caught by surprise will not escape. We are warned to not be caught up in the cares of this life and a life of ignorance so this day doesn’t also catch us off guard. Our point of escape from this destruction of God’s wrath is laid out in Luke 21:34-36 regarding a time coming on all them that dwell on the whole earth.

Luke 21:34-36
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earthWatch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Our escape coincides with Christ’s coming followed by sudden destruction. Ephesians 5:1-8 states that God’s wrath is for the children of disobedience whom we are not to be partakers with. So if God’s wrath is for the children of disobedience and we are removed prior to that wrath, a dividing line of obedience vs. disobedience to God is laid out determining who escapes when Christ comes to gather His bride and who does not. This highlights the importance in a Christian trying to remain obedient to God’s Word of selfless love for God and others.

As you will see, this isn’t just an escape, but the point of departure to attend the marriage of the Lamb. Some interesting points of similarity are highlighted when we examine ancient Hebrew wedding tradition that I believe is relevant to understanding the details of this parable. There are two parts to the marriage according to tradition.

The Erusin or Kiddushin (Betrothal or Engagement)

“This is a significant time before the actual marriage when the groom pays a price to show he is serious about the marriage, this is in the form of a wedding ring today. He also gives a speech of promise that he will come back and get her soon. The reason he then leaves for a while, sometimes a year or more, is because traditionally the groom would leave to his father’s house to prepare a place for him to return with the bride and live.” 1

This first part was fulfilled by Christ upon His first coming as the suffering servant. He came and paid the price by dying for our sins to show that He was serious about His proposal for marriage to the bride, His church. Our wedding ring is the receiving of the Holy Spirit, who is our seal of promise. Ephesians 1:12-14 | Ephesians 4:30 Moreover, He also made a promise in John 14:1-3 regarding His plans to return and gather us to Himself.

John 14:1-3
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

The Nisuin or Chuppah (Ceremony or Nuptials)

“The word Nisuin means ‘to lift up’ or ‘carry.’ Lifting up the bride is an ancient wedding custom of carrying the bride to the ceremony in a carriage lifted by poles. Although seldom done today, the ceremony bears the name. The Chuppah is not only related to the bridal chamber, it is also ‘lifted’ by poles like the ancient carriage. The custom of lifting the bride and now the groom in chairs is rooted in this processional. The last part is Yichud – Seclusion- After the Wedding Ceremony the Bride and Groom now retreat to a private room to enjoy one another. This is a time of togetherness before the great feast that awaits them.” 1

The Chuppah:

“A traditional chuppah, especially within Orthodox Judaism, recommends that there be open sky exactly above the chuppah. The bride lived with her parents until the actual marriage ceremony, which would take place in a room or tent that the groom had set up for her. At this new ceremony, the chuppah, or the portable marriage canopy, was included as a symbol of the chamber within which marriages originally took place. The groom enters the chuppah first to represent that it is like his home or garment. When the bride then enters the chuppah it is as though the groom is providing her with shelter or clothing, and he thus publicly demonstrates his new responsibilities toward her.” 2

This second part will be fulfilled by Christ at His second coming I went over above just before the pouring out of God’s wrath. His arrival, according to the marriage tradition, means that the preparations of the chuppah are completed and He is calling out the bride to come and meet Him. I find the traditional name’s meaning of lifting up or carrying interesting given the nature of the rapture in catching away from the earth and our journey to the Father’s house with many mansions, New Jerusalem. As Matthew 25:1-13 shows, the bride leaves with the bridegroom to the marriage.

Are all Christians the Bride of Christ?

When we read the Bible today, before these future events have come to pass, we see written that a Christian is the bride of Christ. It is therefore easy to assume that if you are a Christian, you will be the bride. However there is an element and determining factor of who attends the marriage and who is shut out based on obedience. Yeshua stated that our obedience to His Word and Commandments was a demonstration of love for Him and a requirement to remain in God’s love. John 14-15 In light of that and the idea of marriage, we see that the determination of who Christ marries is based on obedience and one other factor, timing.

In the kingdom parable meant to associate the coming of Christ and marriage tradition, 50% of those who call Christ Lord and desire to attend the marriage are shut out of it. Since the bride must attend the marriage to be the wife, it follows that those not taken at the harpazo will not be the bride of Christ. This shows how Bible prophecy, telling of events within earth’s timeline of history, further defines who the bride of Christ is. I’m not trying to be divisive, although many have taken this subject as offensive. I’m pointing out the scriptural reasoning for my conclusions on this matter in hopes of clarifying the importance of obedience to Christians now before the wrath comes suddenly.

Really, the harpazo could come as unexpectedly as one’s death. We usually live as if we aren't going to die suddenly. Yet on a daily basis sudden tragedy comes to people who find their time on this earth suddenly over. At that time any future plans are cut short. Similarly Christ's coming to gather His bride will be sudden and as shown in the parable, those who aren't ready are shut out. However the main difference between the harpazo and the death analogy is that one who misses the harpazo will still have time to repent and turn to the Lord through the time of God's wrath and the tribulation of the man of sin on Jews and believers.

Those who are ready when the time of escape comes will pass through the door to the marriage that also shuts some out from the marriage. Those shut out aren’t spoken of in the weeping and gnashing of teeth sense, so I don’t think this escape is a determination of eternal salvation that is through Christ alone. However, it is a defining moment for those who would be the bride of Christ since the marriage follows it and those who don’t pass through the door do not attend the marriage. Scripture makes it clear that there are those who die for Christ’s name during the time following the rapture of the bride of Christ. And in addition we see that there is a resurrection of the just after Armageddon and the binding of Lucifer for 1,000 years. Revelation 20:4-5 So I don’t view being left behind at the rapture as an eternal death sentence, but given what those left behind will be going through, physical death is very likely a part of being left behind.

Is the bride of Christ special? To God she is because she believed God and it was counted to her for righteousness. When Christ is dwelling on the earth it is no longer by faith, but seeing. If faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1, then during the millennium it is not by faith we live but by obedience when Christ is ruling with a rod of iron on the earth. I think that is the difference of who the bride is defined as. She believed God when it was not necessarily convenient, being in the world, or the disobedience didn’t have immediate consequences. She read the Bible and understood the wages of sin is death and so tried to separate herself from sin and be obedient to God’s ways of love.

The bride of Christ are soul mates to Christ by faith, accepting the free gift of salvation by Yeshua's sacrifice. In addition, the obedience in purifying themselves by conforming to the ways of God before the point of escape is passed. It's not by works they are saved, just the acceptance of Yeshua into their hearts and the desire to be more like Him. They do this not because it is easy in this dark world, but because they understand the Truth and God’s ways and love them. The Bible warns us that alliance with Christ will mean the world views us as an enemy and will hate us as they hated Christ. This very moment around the world people are dying for their faith in Christ. It can cause Christians problems in this world and many who begin that path to Christ find it much easier to do their own thing and satisfy the lusts of the flesh forgetting God’s ways. This is not the kind of wife the Lord wants, He desires a bride who loves Him. How do we show our love for God? According to John 14-15 by our obedience we remain in God’s love.

God determined a time at which point He would come to gather His bride as the kingdom parable of Matthew 25:1-13 shows. He warned those who would listen and read His Word, believing it to be true, to watch for that time of His coming and not be caught off guard like those reveling and drunk of the world. He told us only those who obey would escape the wrath intended for the disobedient. So given this prophetic event tied to earth time and not eternity, is Christ going to become one body with those who would not listen without being shaken from their complacency of a life lived for the flesh? Or is Christ going to marry those who heard, repented, watched, prayed and obeyed?

The point is that eternal salvation is through Christ alone. Everyone in eternity will be Christians because all have accepted Christ as their savior as He is the only way to heaven because He is the only one who died for our sins so that we would be found blameless before God. Since the wages of sin is death and Christ is the only one who loved us enough to die for our sins, we have been freed from the bondage of sin and given eternal life through faith in Him. However, we have also seen that before eternity there is coming a time of God’s wrath on the children of disobedience. Those who are obedient escape to the marriage of the Lamb while the disobedient are shut out of the marriage. Since the bride must attend the marriage to be the wife, it follows then that not all who are eternally saved by Christ’s blood are married to Christ. These are the wedding guests.

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Part of the tradition discussed above was the marriage supper. According to tradition, this takes place after the consummation and is the point when the wife is presented to the wedding guests. There are guests present at the marriage supper as opposed to the time the bride and groom spend alone together prior to this celebration of the marriage. My position in the timing of the marriage supper of the Lamb is based on the following scriptures.

Revelation 19:7-9
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. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Daniel 12:11-13
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

I realize the connection is not an extremely strong one, but given the blessings to both groups and the need for guests to be able to attend the wedding feast, I believe the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place on the earth during the millennium and after the resurrection of the just in Revelation 20:4. They are not the bride of Christ because they missed the marriage itself, but they are the guests and they are eternally saved by the blood of the Lamb. Traditionally the feast is placed after the time the bride and groom spend alone following the marriage, so this timing of the feast after Christ’s return in glory at Armageddon and about 45 days after the end of the 70th week of Daniel fits the criteria for guests being there and following the time spent following the marriage.

New Jerusalem: Home of the Bride and Groom

This brings me to another point regarding the timing of our removal to the marriage and the connection of New Jerusalem, the Father’s house with many mansions being prepared for the Christian church right now. This scripture ties the escape following a resurrection to hide during God’s wrath.

Isaiah 26:19-21
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpastFor, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

So what is New Jerusalem? According to scripture it is a central theme of the eternal kingdom of God following the destruction of this current heavens and earth. Upon the creation of the eternal new heavens and earth, New Jerusalem comes down to the earth and is as a city among the nations of saved that dwell on the new earth. A description of its purity and beauty can be read in Revelation 21. What I want to discuss here is how New Jerusalem is related to the bride of Christ.

Revelation 3:10-13
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 21:23-27
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Here we see the home for the bride of Christ is the city of God, New Jerusalem. We also see in Revelation 21 that there are those dwelling outside of New Jerusalem in eternity on the new earth who bring their glory to New Jerusalem where the Father, Son and the bride of Christ dwell.

The time of Christ’s coming is fast approaching, are you ready? Do you have a personal relationship with Christ based on love and obedience to His Word? Do you communicate your heart to Him in prayer and wait upon the Lord? Nobody is perfect and God doesn’t expect perfect obedience because it is not possible for us to be perfect by our own works. His grace is sufficient to cover our sins, but we must try to conform ourselves to God’s ways of selfless love as demonstrated in the 10 Commandments, the shadows of love. So even in our failings, let us glorify God and get back up to walk on the spiritual path that leads to Christ and assures by the sealing of the Holy Spirit of promise, our participation as the bride of Christ in the marriage of the Lamb.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.


Reference:

  1. http://www.yeshuatyisrael.com/PDF/The%20Messiah%20and%20the%20Jewish%20Wedding.pdf
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupah