“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is our life appears,
then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth:
fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience...”
According to reliable sources, Jesus of Nazareth will be returning to our planet very soon now. He won’t be taking up residence in Nazareth, his old home town, but in Jerusalem. Jesus was about thirty years old when he left us. But he has a new body now. He will be bringing his bride, a goy (a gentile), with him. A grand wedding in New Jerusalem is scheduled, with a later reception in Israel when Jesus returns there, with wife.
In earlier times the term "virgin" meant a woman who had never had any sexual relations. Later, "virgin" was applied to men who had never been sexually active either. The virginity of girls was zealously protected, but the "foolin around" of us guys was tolerated--"boys will be boys." Eventually, "virgin" meant never having sexual relations with another person--but masturbation was not included, nor pornography. Never mind that the Bible clearly limits all sexual expression to MF marriage,
The Bride of Jesus will not be one single person however. She will be perhaps 1 billion or even 2 billion men, women and children—of all ages—and from every nation! She will be spectacularly beautiful! (Most followers of Jesus are not white, Anglo Saxon, or Protestant.) Jesus the Jew, never married and He lived an impeccable moral life for His allotted 30+ years on earth. Then He was brutally killed by His own countrymen. Fortunately Jesus did not stay dead. His return out from among the dead is in fact a template for all who know Jesus now and have hoped for a restored earth and redeemed citizenry. Jesus is imminently qualified! See: The End of Sex as we Know It.
The true church Jesus is building is ALSO symbolized by "Body of Christ"--a masculine figure, as well as by the symbol, Bride of Christ, a feminine figure! (The false church is symbolized as a prostitute.) Jesus is fully righteous, He never sinned. He did not marry in a culture where most men married before the age of 20 or so.
Lots of kids will be there in heaven, and they'll be quite at home with Jesus! After waiting for 2000 years now should Jesus not take a wife? Yes, but not a lone Jewish virgin, but a gentile Bride. Not one female but many millions of men, women, and children. Not a marriage about sex and having children. That's Old School.
God told our first parents to be fruitful and multiply which they’ve done numbers-wise quite nicely. Over population is a huge problem today! Everyone on earth living or dead who has allowed Jesus into their lives is a member of the Bride of Christ!
Jesus announced He would build His Church while traveling with His disciples up North around Mt. Hermon. The last living stones are now being fitted into place into this living organism known as the "Body of Christ." (There are several figures of speech the Bible uses to describe the glorious church of Jesus).
Note also that the Bible speaks of Israel as the Wife of Yahweh, but the church as the Bride of Christ.
Brand new bodies are already waiting for us to put on like a set of new clothes while we are in transit to the wedding. Of special interest to us today (since we are living right at the end of the age), are the Scriptural admonitions written just for us. There are Two Aspects of the Return of Jesus. First, Jesus will show up unannounced to take His betrothed Bride to his Father's house where he has prepared a "room" for her. Then follows a royal wedding up in New Jerusalem with great festivity enjoyed by all. Seven years of earth time will elapse before Bride and Bridegroom step out in the open in a great disclosure event centered around Jerusalem, Israel. Present day Jerusalem will experience a wonderful renewal as the heavenly city descends to earth. Read the Bible!
“Behold, He is coming with the cloud, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:7-8)
Jesus can't marry any old whore, recluse, drunken bum, serial killer or fagot. We who have received Jesus into our live must all be revirginized. Certain people are excluded because they refuse to be remade on the inside. Genital sex will be unnecessary since the planet is way overpopulated now. There will however to no lack of intimacy in New Jerusalem (aka as "heaven").
Actually, the word "virgin," a noted, originally meant a young woman who had never had intercourse with a man. Today a virgin is someone, of either gender, who's never had sex. A man who has never had actual sexual intercourse with a woman is today said to be a virgin. "Heavy petting" doesn't count, or all sorts of "fooling around," or an active fantasy life, or watching porn. A guy may well have been sexually active with himself (fapping) or engaged in heavy petting or masturbated with porn, or jerked off with a a buddy. With today's gender confusion and frequent hookups something is wrong with you, it is said, if you aren't sexually active in one way or another. For others, a standard, unredeemed heterosexual marriage may not solve the basic conundrum of our brokenness apart from Jesus.
See Symptoms of a Huge Meltdown.
To recover the original meaning we need to rediscover the archaic term "pure in heart." Motives matter! Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28) He also said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8)
Welcome back to the Podcast on this Friday to close out the week. As you know, we get a lot of touching emails about marriage, like the one I’m going to read today. It’s from a grieving woman, an anonymous young woman, who lives in the Philippines. Here’s what she writes: “Dear Pastor John, I have been up until recently very happily married. I am now widowed. My husband died just a few weeks ago, and I am devastated. I believe there’s a reason for why I have been left behind. I trust God on that. I believe there’s a reason why he had to go. I can trust God on that. I believe that we can make it without him — myself, our young son, and the church my husband led. I find myself experiencing joy and longing, trust and nervousness, peace and homesickness for heaven.
“Aside from missing him and wanting the life we had back, what I can’t seem to wrap my head around are these questions. Why did God even allow me and my husband to share a love like ours on earth if this will mean nothing in heaven? Can’t I at least be guaranteed that my husband will still be my best friend in heaven? Will he even be excited to see me when I get there? In marriage, two become one. Am I just half a person left behind? I know when I get to heaven and enter God’s presence, none of these questions will matter. But they matter now. And I struggle to find wisdom and comfort as to how I must approach my remaining years on earth. Thank you.”
That’s a beautiful question, because it’s just so full of faith at the front end and then perplexity at the back end. The loss is still painful, and the questions are still real and urgent. So let me sit down, so to speak, with her for a few minutes and think out loud about three of her questions in the hope that maybe my reflections from the Bible and experience will bring some measure of Christ-honoring comfort to her.
Behind her questions is the teaching of Jesus in Mark 12:25: “When [married people] rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” In other words, marriage as we know it will not exist in the age to come. That’s behind her questions. That very fact is raising numerous perplexities for this young widow.
Echoes in Eternity
So, first, she wonders, “Why did God even allow me and my husband to share a love like ours on earth if this will mean nothing in heaven?”
The first thing to say in response to this question is that, in this present life, every relationship of love, and faithfulness, and loyalty, and sacrifice, and care will be celebrated for all eternity in tribute to the grace of God and the faithfulness of his obedient child. The “well done, good and faithful servant” that Jesus speaks to his faithful followers at the resurrection is a well done in every fruitful relationship (Matthew 25:23). Well done for that beautiful love. Well done.
God’s gracious approval of our imperfect works of faith is not a celebrative bubble that pops at the second coming and is forgotten for eternity. There are eternal good effects to all good done on the earth. Ephesians 6:8 says, “Whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord.” Good parenting that lasts five years before a child is snatched away in a car accident; good chastity during engagement before a fiancé dies of a heart attack before the wedding; good faithfulness and intense, mutually self-giving romance in marriage that she describes — these will not be meaningless in heaven. They won’t.
Every good and beautiful fruit of God’s Spirit in your life will reverberate forever to the tribute of his grace and your faith. That’s the first thing to say. The sweetness and intensity of the love between you and your husband will have its echo in the music of heaven. It wasn’t in vain.
God Saves the Best Wine
And the second thing to say about this question of why God gave them such sweet love is this: this world, in its most exquisite pleasures, is designed by God to show something of himself. The heavens and everything else are declaring the glory of God, the psalm says (Psalm 19:1). And all these pleasures are meant to awaken thankfulness now and strong anticipation of the age to come when the pleasures of this age will seem as foretastes of something vastly greater. They are. The pleasures of this present age, even the most godly of them, are not the point of the universe, but they are pointers to the point.
The Bible pictures the age to come as better than this life, not just because bad things will be taken away, but because good things will be seen to be only foretastes of better things — a better feast of pleasure. Jesus showed this when he said that marriage gets replaced by something better (Mark 12:25). Paul showed it when he described the resurrection as replacing this world with something gloriously better. Listen to these words from 1 Corinthians 15:42:
Now, we can’t conceive fully what a spiritual body is. But in Paul’s mind, it exceeded this present body, with all its pleasures, like the brightness of the glory of a blue sky exceeds a decaying, rotting seed in the ground.
“The happiest marriage in the world is but a head start on the joys of heaven.”
So, I conclude that the happiest marriage in the world is but a head start on the joys of heaven. It is the appetizer before the feast. It is the warm-up singer who’s really good before the great artist sings. God saves the best wine, just like Jesus at Cana, till the last (John 2:10). And in a happy marriage, even the first wine was really good.
Greater Melody of Love
Then our young widow asks, “Can’t I at least be guaranteed that my husband will still be my best friend in heaven? Will he even be excited to see me when I get there?” Now, she knows as well as I do, and she says as much at the end, that Jesus is and will be her best friend. She knows that. “No longer do I call you servants . . . but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).
But I think what she’s feeling is that, while her husband lived, he bestowed on her something that nobody else on earth could give — a unique kind of affection, a love that gave her a very precious sense of belonging that nobody else could give on this earth. And she wonders whether she will have that sweet experience in the age to come, which only he was able to give her.
And I think the answer is we just don’t know what the music of love on earth is going to be like when it is transposed into the greater melody of the love of heaven, where there’s no sin whatsoever. This is the great unknown about the immeasurable joys of heaven. What will it be like when she and her husband are beyond the possibility of sin — the sin of self-pity, the sin of disregard? What will it be like when we are not capable of being disappointed, when we’re not capable of being sad at any relationship that God has established? Your husband, I venture to say, will be for you, and you will be for him, all that you need each other to be in order for your joy to be full in the presence of God.
Not Less, But More
And finally, she wonders this: “Since in marriage the two become one, am I just half a person left behind?”
The answer is no, you are not only half a person left behind. It’s not that simple. Yes, part of you is gone. I’ll admit that. I think you should own that, and that’s sad. Part of you is gone. Only he could draw out of you certain desires, certain kinds of laughter, anger, peace, and countless other inner responses that you can’t even put into words. He had become so embedded in your life that for him to be absent is, yes, for part of you yourself to be absent. That’s true. Things will never be just the same again. And it would dishonor him to think that they should be.
But consider this: not all that you became by union with him is lost. You know it’s not. You became a wiser, deeper, better person because of life with him. He did not take all of that with him when he left. You know he didn’t. You know who you are. And what you became through him is not less, but more than you were before he entered your life. God has not made you less, but more.
Things will never be the same. That’s true. But God’s call on your life now is to be the person you became through love with your husband, for the glory of God.
Ray Stedman says we need to do more than wash our faces and apply deodorant in order to be ready to meet Jesus personally when He summons His Bride to be:
"I (Jesus) counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." (Revelation 3:18 NIV)The key to that verse is the three little words "buy from me." Jesus has all the church really needs to function. It is nice to have buildings, great choirs and beautiful music. These are not wrong, I do not mean in any way to suggest that they are, but they are not what the church needs. What it needs is what our Lord describes here, "Gold, and white clothing, and eye salve." We will see in a moment what those symbols stand for, but he alone possesses them. That is why it really does not make any difference whether we are persecuted, hounded by the government, put to death, or patronized and accepted. What the church needs is to be obtained only from Jesus, and our Lord tells us what it is.
First, "gold refined in the fire." Peter interprets that for us. He tells us that our faith is like gold refined in the fire: "More precious even than gold that perishes, though it be tried by fire," (1 Peter 1:7). Faith in God. Faith in his Word. Faith comes from Jesus. As we look to him our faith is awakened and stirred. We then see how true the Scriptures are, how they explain life and fit with all that we experience daily. That awakens a sense of confidence and faith, and that is what this church needed first. It lacked faith in God, but was resting on its own abilities or the world's resources.
Then, second, they needed white clothes: "white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness." Everyone is morally naked before God. Every one of us knows something about ourselves that we would not want anyone else to know. But God knows! He sees us in our nakedness. What does he offer for it? The righteousness of Christ! All through these letters we have seen that white clothes stand for redemption, for righteousness imparted by Christ. We are no longer to be clothed with our own self-righteousness, which Isaiah says is nothing but filthy rags in the sight of God, but we are to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ himself, a perfect righteousness which God accepts.
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head."
White clothes stand for a changed character; they mark someone who has taken his robes and washed them in the blood of the Lamb, as we will read in Chapter 7. Then the third thing that is needed is eye salve. Laodicea was noted for their eye ointment. But Jesus says they need spiritual eye salve that will enable them to see. Everywhere in Scripture we have mention of an anointing of the Spirit which opens eyes to understand the truth of God. John speaks of this in his first letter. He says, "The anointing that you received from him remains in you and you do not need anyone to teach you, but his anointing is real, not counterfeit, and teaches you all truth," (1 John 2:27 NIV). That does not do away with the need for human teachers. It means that unless the Spirit in you is opening your eyes to the meaning of truth taught it will fall upon deaf ears. But if we have the Spirit of Christ within, our eyes are opened to understand the Word of God and we see the Bible in a new, fresh and wonderful way. Are you having trouble with your Bible reading? Is it hard going? Is it difficult to understand? Then ask yourself, "Do I have the Spirit of truth? Have I received him or do I need this counsel of Jesus to "come to me and I will give you that anointing which opens your eyes to see"?
The second division of our Lord's appeal is given in Verses 19-20, where we learn how to get this gold and white clothes and eye salve. This is, I believe, one of the most beautiful sections of Scripture, a most gracious offer our Lord makes to individuals within the church of Laodicea to change. Here is what he says:
"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:19-20 NIV)
What a kind and loving word! Our Lord is simply telling this church, despite its terrible weakness and failure, "I love you, and it is because I love you that I rebuke you and discipline you." Does that remind you of the way your father treated you? Did he ever take you aside and paddle you for something and say as he did it, "I am only doing this because I love you"? You go away rubbing your behind and saying, "I wish you didn't love me so much!" But Jesus speaks with bluntness because he loves this church, and he offers them a wonderful way out.
Verse 20 is one of the finest explanations in the whole Bible of how to become a Christian. I have used it hundreds of times and seen it work. It has three simple divisions: First, there comes a sense that Christ is outside your life and knocking at the door of your heart, wanting to come in. That occurs when you feel your life is not what you want it to be. You feel empty and disturbed about yourself. You hear the good news in song and word about Jesus, the kind of Lord he is, what he can do, and something within you responds. You sense the knocking of Christ and you want him to come in. You long for it. You begin to be awakened to your need, and you sense him offering to enter your life. That is step number one. Then the second step is very important. You must open the door. He will not open it. He is not going to force himself upon you. He never forces anyone into salvation. He offers it to you.
Everywhere in Scripture Jesus offers himself to men and women, and he grieves over the fact that people do not receive his offer. Remember that remarkable scene in the Gospels during Jesus' last week in Jerusalem when he comes over the top of the Mount of Olives and sees the city spread out beneath him. He wept over the rebellious city, saying, "O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You stone the prophets and kill everybody God sends to you. How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not," (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34).
So he offers himself here, if you will open the door. You must invite him in. You must say to him, "Come in Lord Jesus. Enter my life. Be my Lord. Be my Savior. Deliver me from my sins -- and myself." Then the third step is very clear. He will enter in! He says so. You do not have to feel him enter. He does not say he will give you the feeling that he is there, although certainly that will come in time, but he says, "If you open the door I will enter in and remain with you. We will eat together and be together." It is a beautiful picture of permanently dwelling with you. He will move in to live with you.
There may be some here...who have never opened their hearts to Christ. If you turn away from his knocking you will remain lost, and, eventually, if you never repent, you will enter eternity lost forever. But our Lord says if you will open the door (you can do it even while I am finishing this message), and say in your heart, "Lord Jesus, come into my life and deliver me, change me, save me; I receive you, Lord," he will enter. John promises in his Gospel, "As many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name," (John 1:12 KJV).The third aspect of our Lord's appeal is his word to the overcomer. It is given in Verses 21-22:
"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:21-22 NIV)
Again, as we have seen in the last three letters, the promise is to share in our Lord's reign. The true church is intended to reign with Christ.
But our Lord makes a very careful distinction here. Notice how he distinguishes between his throne and his Father's throne. The Father's throne, of course, is the sovereign government of the universe. God is sovereign over all. The whole universe is under his control. Every human event comes under his jurisdiction. That is the Father's throne. When our Lord had overcome, when he, too, had endured faithfully to the end of his life, trusting God (as we are to trust God throughout the rest of our lives), he sat down on his Father's throne. When he ascended, we are told, "He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God," (Hebrews 12:2). Hebrews says that and Psalm 110 had predicted it. Thus he is Lord over all the universe right now, on his Father's throne.
But he too has a throne. He calls it "my throne." The overcoming Christian is invited to reign with him on it. In Scripture that throne is called the "Throne of David." When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, as recorded in the first chapter of Luke, he told her that she would have a son, that he would be called the Son of God and that the Lord God would give unto him "the throne of his father David, and he would reign over the house of Jacob forever," (Luke 1:32-33).
The house of Jacob is the nation of Israel; all twelve tribes are descended from the sons of Jacob. So this is a promise particularly relating to the time yet to come when Jesus assumes the throne of David and Israel is made the head of the nations. It is the millennial kingdom which has been mentioned several times in these letters already. The church, resurrected and glorified, is to share with him in that reign. That does not end the reign of the church with Christ. It goes on into the new heavens and the new earth. But this is a particular promise looking to the coming kingdom on earth when Jesus will reign over the earth. Our Lord had explained this to his disciples in a rather amazing passage in the 19th of Matthew. In verse 28 it says, "Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth [i.e., verily, verily, or, Amen, Amen] at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel,'" (Matthew 19:28 NIV). You could not put that any plainer, could you? "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters of father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first," (Matthew 19:29-30 NIV). That is our Lord's amplification of this promise here. From Ray Stedman's Commentary on Revelation.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.
And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”
— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden,
and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. “Furthermore it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” (Matthew 5:21-35)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Some men today think they are still virgins because they have never had actual sexual intercourse with a woman or never masturbated.
From a survey of “virgin males:”
Masturbate? Man A: I don't watch any porn. Not much of a desire to watch it either. I looked at pornographic pictures when I was 12 and got caught and never really had an urge to go back to it. Masturbation is probably three to four times a week.
Man B: I don't watch porn anymore since I feel uneasy with the reality of porn industry. Now I masturbate about one or twice a week, to the images of a celebrity or a friend.
Man C: My habits ebb and flow. Sometimes my sex drive is higher than at other times. Typically a few times a week, often every other day. Other times, I can go a week or so without doing it. I actually didn't masturbate until I was 18. I guess I figured doing it would just make me feel worse about not having a girlfriend. Nowadays, it's an outlet for sexual frustration.
This is self-deception for sure! Celibacy means no-sex. How to get there is quite another matter! Only Jesus can tame a man's libido, (or a woman's). He will, if you ask. Your thought life and fantasies are a big deal to Jesus. (Pure in Greek is katharos Whence “catharsis.”) No self-pleasuring, see Masturbation and the Bible. No "hooking up," nor sleeping around either. Jesus is holy! See Human Sexuality from a Biblical World View.
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us,
an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness,
let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness,
nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting,
but rather giving of thanks.
For this you know, that no fornicator,
unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater,
has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words,
for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not be partakers with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.
Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation;
but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:1-21)
After these things (meta tauta) I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.”
Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!”
Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.“ (Revelation 19:1-15)
|Rapture Shock||Jesus Plain and Simple||Jesus is (now) a Single Man||The Bema Seat Judgment|
|Rapture Resources||Six Hours on the Cross||A Glorious Church||Love and Relationships: Song of Solomon|
|God is Holy||In the Cross||Eternal Separation from God||The Wife of Jehovah; The Bride of Christ|
|New Bodies||New Bodies for Old||Rebellious but Religious||Commentary on the Song of Solomon|
|The Great Harlot||Compromised Christians||Psalm 45 The Wedding Psalm||Seven Churches in New Jerusalem|
|Cultural Christians||Closeted Christians||Carnal Christians||The Judgment of the Great White Throne|
In ancient Israel, a bride did not know the exact time her groom would come to take her permanently to his home, nor did the groom know himself. The groom’s father set the timetable.
It was based on completion of a few tasks. All the preparations for the wedding had to be finished. The bridal chamber where the new couple would consummate their union had to be prepared. Only the father could say when this work had been completed.
Jesus referred to this tradition when He spoke of His own return:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”—Mark 13:32–33
In Israel, bridegrooms usually came to retrieve their brides sometime near the midnight hour. Trumpets, probably shofars, were blown to signal the approaching bridegroom. The groom’s party would then follow him through the streets shouting to proclaim and celebrate the groom’s procession to the home of the bride’s parents. By the light of burning torches, the groom’s entourage would wind its way through the streets in a noisy, makeshift parade.
Meanwhile, the bride would receive word of the groom’s imminent arrival, which is described in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins:
And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”—Matthew 25:6
All the members of the bride’s household are now on their feet. Lamps are ignited, and the bride takes just a few extra moments to prepare herself.
In several places, the New Testament describes Jesus’ return as quick and unexpected. But once she has heard that the bridegroom is coming, the bride’s only appropriate response is to prepare herself with urgency.
In this 1st century wedding event, a procession would then head back to the bridegroom’s home accompanied by musicians, singers, dancers, friends, family, and the bride’s attendants (see Jeremiah 33:11). Once they arrived, the groom would check under the bride’s veil to make sure he had the right bride. She would wear an exquisitely beautiful dress and fine jewels. She would be beautiful, and she would know she is loved.
This ancient Jewish wedding description is but a dim shadow of what will happen when Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom, returns for His beloved Church. God the Father will give the signal, and Jesus will appear to gather His bride from the ends of the earth. We will hear a shout and the sound of a trumpet. Light will split the sky.
It will happen quickly, but it will arrive at just at the right time. For those who are prepared, we will welcome His coming with great joy.
But there will be those who are left with no time to make themselves ready.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.—1 Thessalonians 4:16–18
Today, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you know intellectually that you are His bride, and you may even know it in the depths of your heart. But until the Bridegroom comes, the bride cannot fully know the joy that comes from being totally present in body with the One she loves. God has an endgame, and it has always been to love us with an everlasting love.
As the bride of Christ, what will be your new experience when you see your Bridegroom face-to-face in the Rapture? You will experience many emotions, and your mind will race with all the sights and sounds, but there are two heightened experiences you will have as the bride when you see Jesus: intimacy and security.
As a believer, you know these experiences now, but when Jesus comes, they will be more real for you than they have ever been before. While the people who remain on earth will be going through the worst Tribulation in human history, we will be marrying our Lord Jesus at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We will hear the clear passion of His voice as He says,
Rise up, my darling!
Come away with me, my fair one!
—Song of Solomon 2:10
Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is an eternal Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. God is three Persons who have always been united in a dance of ongoing, intimate love. We will never be able to fully understand that love because it is beyond human comprehension. God has an intimacy within Himself that is deeper than any human relationship. God is fully complete within Himself. He does not need us, but He created us, and He loves us. He did it because He is love.
God exists to love, and love must have an object to extend itself to. He created humans for no other reason than to love them and for them to love Him. We are the only creatures suitable for the kind of intimacy God had in His divine mind. He did not need us, but He wanted us very much. In a way, it was not good for God to be alone, just like it was not good for Adam to be alone.
So God, who is Spirit, went beyond the spiritual realm and created a physical realm. In that realm, He made people so He could have an intimate relationship with them. God always wanted to make a being like Himself, in His image and likeness, so He could become one with that creature. He wanted to reproduce His love in and through them. He breathed His Spirit into Adam, and the first human’s very life came from God’s very breath.
He made you in His image to represent and reflect Him. He wanted to know you intimately before you were even in your mother’s womb. He loved you, and He wanted you to return that love to Him.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God in creation. He was there from the beginning, calling all humans, including you, to be His eternal bride. The Christ wanted to walk with us, talk with us, and live with us forever. We were created for an intimate relationship with Him so we would know and love Him in His fullness. God always wanted us to grow into a mature intimacy with Him.
As the founder of a marriage ministry, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and talking about marriage. I love that God gave us marriage. It is one of the greatest gifts we have as humans. And earthly marriage is special, because it foreshadows the marriage we will have with Jesus, the Bridegroom. He left God the Father and God the Spirit to join with humanity so that one day He would become “one flesh” with us (see 1 Corinthians 6:17). When He comes again, we will take on our identity as His bride completely and eternally. It begins now, but it will be fully consummated on the day Jesus returns.
And as much as I appreciate my own marriage with Karen, I understand that marriages here are earth are only a shadow of the “real” marriage we will have with Jesus. We should not look at human marriage and say, “Our marriage with Jesus will be like that.” Instead, we should look at our marriage to Jesus the Bridegroom and pattern our earthly marriages after that.
In the Garden of Eden, God created Eve and brought her to Adam. On the day Jesus returns, God will join us individually and collectively as the Church with our eternal Bridegroom. God made you for this. You were created for intimacy with the God of the universe. So what would ever cause us to feel insecure in our relationship with Jesus Christ?
That answer is one word: sin.
Sin can be defined as missing your purpose or missing the mark. If God created you for a loving relationship with Him, then sin is anything that destroys your relationship. On the day of the Rapture, sin will no longer have a place in your life. All that will be left is you and your Bridegroom.
Think about your human relationships, particularly your romantic ones. Have you ever felt insecure in a romantic relationship? Almost all of us have. Why did it happen? Usually, it is because someone violated the relationship in one way or another. I have been working to strengthen and restore marriages for many years, and I am always surprised when a spouse says something like, “I don’t know why my spouse wants a divorce. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Then when I begin to explore the situation with that person, I find they have been neglecting their spouse in certain ways, or regularly choosing something above their spouse. You see, sin isn’t always about the bad things we do. Often, it is simply choosing something else rather than an intimate relationship with Jesus.
I have told the story many times how, early in my marriage, I chose to golf rather than spend time with my wife and family. It almost destroyed my marriage. Is there anything wrong with golfing? Of course not. However, there is something very wrong with choosing golf over your spouse—or choosing anything else over your spouse, for that matter.
You destroy your intimacy with Jesus when you choose something over Him. The Bible calls that “idolatry.” God will give you the desires of your heart, but you have to seek Him first (see Matthew 6:33). If you have willfully chosen to walk away from God’s love, no wonder you feel insecure in your relationship with Him. No one else can protect you and provide for you. In fact, if you walk away from Him, then you open yourself up to stronger attacks from the enemy.
If you want security, then stay by Jesus’ side.
I am secure in my relationship with Jesus Christ, but I also know I will feel completely secure when I look into His face. Yes, you can have security now, but it will pale in comparison to the assurance you will feel when you are in His presence. His love for you is unconditional.
Even if you have walked away from Him, He stands waiting for you. And on the day He returns, nothing will ever again come between you and your Bridegroom.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
“Let not your heart be troubled; you 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. “If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:1-15)
I see now that true spiritual rebirth send ripples both backward and forward in time. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away behold all things have become new.”Paradoxically I now see that when anyone comes to Christ, “everything is changed; but nothing is changed."
But way earlier, as I very young boy I discovered “Border Radio” —beamed up from Mexico by megawatt AM stations. I came to love the Carter Family especially. Tears come easily when I listen to them today. “You’ve Been a Friend to Me” goes as follows:
…My bark of life was tossing down
The troubled stream of time
Since first I saw your smiling face
And youth was in its prime
Chorus: Oh, I'll ne'er forget where e'er I roam
Where ever you may be
If ever I have had a friend
You've been that friend to me
…Misfortune nursed me as her child
And loved me fondly too
I would have had a broken heart
Had it not been for you
…Oh, now I look back upon the past
Across life's troubled sea
And smile to think in all I've seen
You've been a friend to me.
Songwriters: A. P. Carter
To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.”
A Contemplation of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
And in Your majesty ride prosperously
because of truth, humility, and righteousness;
And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies;
The peoples fall under You.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.
Listen, O daughter,
Consider and incline your ear;
Forget your own people also, and your father’s house;
So the King will greatly desire your beauty;
Because He is your Lord, worship Him.
And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift;
The rich among the people will seek your favor. The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace;
Her clothing is woven with gold.She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors;
Notes by Lambert DolphinLambert's Main Library
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March 4, 2020. Revised June 17, 2020. March 31, 2021. October 9, 2022. April 22, 2023. September 25, 2023.