In antiquity after a marriage contract was established, the father of the groom paid the bride price. The contract then began in its initial phase, the betrothal; the couple was considered married. The groom, however, had to go prepare a home for his bride. She was to remain with her family until he came for her. This usually took one year. During this time, she had to remain pure. The final stages of the marriage were the ceremony. At the end of the procession where the groom gathered his bride, the groom took her bride into the bridal chamber he had prepared and they consummated their marriage. The groom would declare the contract fulfilled and spend the next seven days coming and going between his bride in the bridal chamber and his guests. The newly wed bride, however, would remain hidden in the tent. After seven days, he would present her to all in attendance.
This is the best representation of what is in store for saints during the seven-year Tribulation. Christ will come to reclaim his redeemed bride, which his Father paid for at the start of this marriage covenant in blood. For seven years, he will celebrate. And the bride will be hidden from the world.
Understand Israel’s marriage is to God, whom she rejected. Yet God sent his Son to reclaim the bride and pay the bride price. Then, after this designated time, there will be the Second Coming. After Armageddon and the judgment seat, the bride will be presented. The great mystery is that the church, whom Christ redeemed as his bride, also makes up his body, with him as the head. And those who were gathered from Paradise at Christ’s resurrection, those who died before Christ and the Church Age, will meld together to also be part of this body. Gentile believers will be grafted into Israel. Remember, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. We are all Israel. I do recognize that John the Baptist called himself a “friend of the bridegroom” and some scholars take this to mean he is stating that those retrieved from Paradise by Christ will be the banquet guests. This may be so. But I cannot let go of all of the imagery of weddings and brides and grooms woven throughout both the Old and New Testaments, and that Israel is still in a marriage covenant with the Lord. I take John the Baptist’s metaphor to stand alone in this instance.
I believe those that will die as martyrs after the Church Age are the invited guests at the banquet.
The banquet will not begin before the Second Coming. During the Tribulation, the bride is hidden with Christ. Once the banquet begins, it will continue. Some theologians say this banquet carries on into the New Jerusalem, when she comes down. Consider that all of these saints combined will make up the New Jerusalem, or the “wife of the Lamb”. Revelation 21:2 “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
The website Endtime Pilgrim captures the moment brilliantly in the article, Marriage Supper of the Lamb. “John saw the Holy City descending from heaven in a single climactic moment of God’s eternal agenda. Every true believer is destined to be part of that holy city. The New Jerusalem is destined to come together as a spiritual construction of living stones not made with hands. They, as Christ, are rejected by men, chosen of God, and precious. The prophet Malachi saw the Refiner come to claim and to make up His jewels. (Mal.3:16-17) And our apostle Paul described our ultimate union with Christ using this same imagery. The saints are as living stones being built up into a holy habitation in the Spirit of God. These are just some of the elements of what is going to be a glorious wedding.”
Just like the Church is not a physical building, but has a physical body, New Jerusalem is not a physical city, but it will be a city. A living city comprising a space of around 1500 square miles.
Looking at the marriage of the Lamb from this perspective makes it easier to understand. This interpretation holds strong probability, as it is supported by Scripture, and gives us understanding to everybody’s role at the wedding. So, if my Messianic rabbi friend looks at it in this light, there is no problem with too many brides. He need not worry or fret like he is as to how God is going to solve “this problem”. God has masterfully woven His tapestry. How privileged we are to understand it as it takes form. How wonderful it will be to see the New Jerusalem descending.
By Jori Sams
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