Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wedding preparations

Ephesians 5:22-32

"Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain of wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless...For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and become united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church."

2 Corinthians 11:2

"I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin."

Biblical scriptures make it clear that the church is viewed as the bride of Christ. In fact, one of the most compelling arguments for the rapture of the church, is taken from John 14:1-3, where Jesus gave numerous parallels to the ancient Jewish wedding customs, and His returning to "catch up" or "gather up" His bride, to take her to the place (living quarters, "mansions", "rooms") that He has prepared.

In the scriptures above, we see the biblical view of the church - seen as the bride of Christ. When we are gathered up, by Christ and taken to that place which has been prepared for us - by Christ Himself - we will experience a heavenly, spiritual communion with Christ, paralleling the Jewish customs of that day, as the bridegroom unexpectedly returned for the bride, in order to take her to her new home:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled, Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father's house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3).

The book of Revelation continues with this parallel, down to the last detail, where we see the conclusion of this "wedding process", and our purification through Christ. In chapter 19 of the book of Revelation, John allows us to see a glimpse of Heaven just before the second coming of Christ - there we see a massive celebration taking place:

"Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
'Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen bright and clear was given her to wear.'

Then the angel said to me 'Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' And he added, 'These are the true words of God.'"

Obviously, during the seven year tribulation period, the "wedding' took place, and according to Revelation 19, the wedding feast is about to take place. Jesus referenced this wedding feast at the last supper with his apostles:

"Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until THAT DAY WHEN I DRINK IT ANEW WITH YOU IN MY FATHER'S KINGDOM." (Matthew 26:27-29). Emphasis mine.

Jesus referenced that day - the day that John saw, in the future, when we will sit at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

So there you have it. We are the bride of Christ. We will be "taken" to the place that Jesus prepared - we will then complete the wedding process and just as the ancient customs dictated, we will have a wedding feast, where Jesus will again "drink it anew with you in my Father's Kingdom." This is a reality. It will happen.

So what are we to do with this information?

I recently heard a sermon addressing this very point. On the day of her wedding, a bride attempts to be in perfect condition. Every part of her has been done perfectly - every detail has been covered. Her gown is spotless. She has prepared for that day for weeks, maybe months. In some cases, for years.

Are we preparing to meet Christ in this same way? With this same level of vigor? Because we know that one of the "orders of business" will be to meet with Christ, where we will give an account of our lives (Romans 14:12).

The apostle John referenced this as well:

"I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray...And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming." (1 John 2: 26-28)

"But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3)

We all have a wedding date coming up - and we believe that day is approaching very rapidly. We are called to prepare for that day - as a bride prepares for her wedding day. We are called to be spiritually pure, and to "continue in him" so that we can be "confident and unashamed before him."

The main question then becomes: Will we be prepared at His coming? How will Jesus find us? Living in Him? Trying to live a holy life? Seeking Him, through constant prayer, scripture reading, and fellowship with other Christians? Or will he find us deep in sin, ignoring Him, and ignoring His word? That is the essence of the apostle John's warnings seen in 1 John.

We have an advantage - one that was offered by God through His prophetic scriptures. We know that the time is near - we know that the day of being in the presence of Christ Jesus will occur very soon. We all need to be preparing spiritually for "that day" - now more than ever - because we realize that it is approaching so rapidly.

We have a wedding date approaching. Jesus, our bridegroom, expects us to be prepared for this date - just as any bride prepares for that special day. Knowledge of this fact helps us to prepare - knowing that His return will be soon.

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