Since the day of Pentecost up until this present day, the world has been under the dispensation of the Age of Grace, (a.k.a. the Church Age). Bible believing Christians are well aware of this special time in history; even the unbelieving secular world benefits from living in this current dispensation.
After the Rapture, God will begin to judge the remaining inhabitants of the world that have rejected the free pardon that was offered by His Son at Calvary. This will last for seven years and the horrific details of that judgment can be found in the book of Revelation from chapter 6 to chapter 18.
Those that have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior have become a part of the Body of Christ, known as the bride of Christ, and have been sanctified from that coming time of judgment.
”Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
To be sanctified means to be set apart and made holy. It also means to be made legitimate, free from sin and purified. This is something that none of us can do on our own, and has been done solely by the sacrificial blood of our Lord Jesus Christ when He willingly bore our sins at the cross.
”For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
Jesus prayed to the Father for this sanctification toward us in His intercessory prayer on our behalf as recorded in John chapter 17 verses 17-19. Jesus said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” According to John 1:14, Jesus Himself is the Word, and according to John 14:6, Jesus Himself is the Truth. So we are clearly sanctified in Christ.
Much of the world does not realize the privileged time in which we live. There was never before a time in history where one could be sealed with the Holy Spirit. Before Christ, in Old Testament times, God did not “seal” people with His Holy Spirit.
Through His grace He allowed His Spirit to commune and dwell with certain people whom He chose, but the promise of being sealed with the Holy Spirit did not come until after Pentecost.
David even prayed that the Lord would not remove His Holy Spirit from him in Psalm 51:11. Even though David was a man after the Lord’s own heart, David still realized that he was not “sealed.” This was not due to the lack of the Lord’s love, but because of the timing of the dispensation in which David lived.
Since Pentecost, we the Church—the bride of Christ, have been given the seal of His Holy Spirit as an engagement ring to our coming Groom. We are currently engaged to Christ who purchased us with His blood at Calvary and there is soon coming a Day when He will redeem His purchased possession.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The above verse should be a comfort to anyone that has accepted Christ as his or her personal Savior. The key words in that verse are believed, sealed and guarantee. Simply by believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ we are guaranteed eternal life in Heaven with Him by the seal of His Spirit within us. If that isn’t the deal of a lifetime, I don’t know what is!
Since our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, came from the tribe of Judah it is essential to remember that by being His Bride, some ancient Jewish wedding traditions should be considered. For one, in ancient times when a Jewish man proposed to a woman he would offer her a cup to drink from. When she accepted the cup and drank from it, it was a symbol of her acceptance of his proposal.
When Christ constituted the ordinance of Holy Communion, He was in like manner proposing to us, and asked that we remember Him every time we do it. Taking communion isn’t a form of obtaining salvation (we obtained that the moment we first believed). But it is an outward expression of our acceptance of His proposal to be His Bride.
Furthermore, when we take communion we are remembering the blood that He shed for us with His body and it is because of that sacrifice that redemption is made available for all of us.
In ancient Jewish wedding traditions the groom-to-be would go to his father’s house to prepare a place for his bride after the proposal was accepted. The father would inspect the place he had prepared and then tell the groom-to-be when to go and get his bride. The bride would not know when he was coming for her so she always had to be ready. The son also would not know when the father would tell him it was time. I believe that this is why Jesus said:
”But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).
For a long time I always wondered why the omniscient Son of God would not know when He was coming back, but I believe that the above statement may have been an illustration of Christ’s devotion to His heritage allowing the Father to dictate when to get His Bride. (Even though Mark’s gospel was geared to a Gentile audience, the fact of Christ’s Jewish heritage remains unchanged.)
There is a foreshadow of this devoted marriage of heritage in the book of Ruth where Boaz (a Jew), takes a Gentile bride (Ruth), to redeem his impoverished relative Naomi. Boaz represents Christ, Ruth represents the Church, and Naomi represents Israel.
At the end of the Tribulation period Christ returns with His Bride (the Church), when He redeems Israel. But first He must redeem His Bride at the Rapture before the Tribulation begins.
In the ancient Jewish wedding tradition, the groom and the bride would consummate their marriage for seven days before the wedding banquet occurs. We see a biblical example of this in Genesis 29:27-28 where Jacob had to fulfill his “week” with Leah before he could receive Rachel as his second wife.
This week of consummation is symbolic of the “week” of seven years that the bride of Christ will spend with her Groom while the seven-year Tribulation is occurring on earth.
This will be the time when the saints are rewarded for their service toward the Lord during their lives on earth. Afterward, the wedding supper of the Lamb will take place as written in Revelation 19:7-9. When we compare Revelation 19 verse 7 with verse 9 we can see that the “marriage” of the Lamb and the “marriage supper” of the Lamb are two separate events.
A close examination of Revelation 19:7 reveals that the wedding and the consummation (the awarding of the saints), has already taken place during the seven years prior to the Second Coming as it says: “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.”
The Lamb’s wife had made herself ready by the evidence of the righteous clothing that she had been “granted” (verse 8a), at the award ceremony. The wife’s clothing is the “righteous acts of the saints” (verse 8b), and the saints don’t earn their own righteousness.
We are only righteous through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-26), and according to 1 Corinthians 1:30, righteousness, sanctification and redemption are the three things that have made us right with God by our unity with Christ. This is truly a marriage made in Heaven!
The three attributes of the bride of Christ listed in 1 Corinthians 1:30 are strong evidence that the Church does not belong in the Tribulation period when God is pouring out His wrath upon a Christ-rejecting world. For one, God doesn’t judge righteousness but rather has reserved His wrath for unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
Next, those in Christ are sanctified from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 23). And lastly, those that have accepted Christ’s sacrificial atonement of redemption are justified by His blood and saved from the coming wrath (Romans 5:9).
This is why the wedding “supper” of the Lamb doesn’t occur until after God’s wrath and judgment upon earth has been completed. Those that come to accept Christ during the Tribulation period will then be invited to the wedding banquet (Revelation 19:9).
It is important to remember that there will be Christians on earth during the Tribulation, but they are separate from the Bride because they did not accept the invitation that was available to them before the Rapture occurred. These “Tribulation saints” are seen in Revelation 7:9-17 and serve the Lord in His temple (vs. 15).
However, they are not unhappy in their service as the Lord wipes away every tear from their eyes (vs. 17). Any regret that they may have had in missing the Rapture will be completely gone when they are before the Throne serving the Lord. Serving the Lord is always a joy.
In Ephesians 5:22-33, the apostle Paul portrays the Church as the bride of Christ and he even quotes Genesis 2:24 (as Christ did when He was addressing the issue of marriage and divorce to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:5).
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Just as God intended the man and the woman to become one, He also intends the bride of Christ and her Groom to be as one.
The Lord designed this union in His creation when He made male and female. We are currently witnessing a rebellious (and satanic) attack upon this divine ordinance with the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Same sex partners cannot “become one” and produce new life as God intended His creation to do. This in itself is another of the many prophetic signs that we must be close to the end of the Age of Grace, for the law of the land will never trump the laws of God, especially one that He intended to symbolize the sanctification of the Son of God and His Bride.
Jesus often used the ancient Jewish wedding pattern in many of His parables and they almost always were linked to the end of the age (see Matthew 22:1-14 and Matthew 25:1-13 for notable examples). Throughout recorded history we have seen the preparation in progress for a great heavenly wedding ceremony that is to come at the end of the age. For the first 4,000 years the Groom was being prepared.
He then came and proposed to His Bride and sanctified her with His atoning sacrifice. After accomplishing that, He returned back Home to His Father to prepare a place for His Bride (John 14:2). We are currently living in the age where the Bride is being prepared and very soon the Groom is going to return for His Bride (John 14:3).
Right now when Jesus Christ looks down from Heaven, He sees three groups of people: Jews, Gentiles and His Bride. He loves all of these groups of people but the Jews don’t recognize Him and the Gentiles don’t know Him. However, the Bride (born-again Christians) love Him, know Him and belong to Him.
They have responded to Him and have been set apart until He returns. While the Bride waits, she is empowered by the Holy Spirit to gather in all those that have been called to be sanctified in Him.
The invitation to be His Bride is still available to anyone thirsting for righteousness and salvation. If you have not responded to His proposal, do it now while there is still time; because this current Age of Grace is the only time in history that this special offer, to be part of the bride of Christ, is available and according to the signs of the times—it is almost over.
The heavenly wedding bells for the marriage of the Lamb to His Bride are about to start ringing!
”And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).