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The Bride and her Beloved Bridegroom

In my last article, I spoke about the bride of Christ – the church.  But did you know that unlike Western countries where the focus is on the bride, in Jewish weddings, the focus is on the groom?  And that is certainly the case in the heavenly scene (Revelation 19) when the focus, the glory, the honour and the majesty all belongs, as it should, to our Beloved Bridegroom – Jesus Christ.  But when!?  That is the daily cry of our heart.  Many of us have looked forward to that wonderful promise for so long.  Our anticipation grows and perhaps, so does our impatience. 


It seems that as our excitement for the rapture grows, so also does opposition to it, particularly amongst those who are of the household of faith.  In fact, many Christians have long doubted it; many scholars have long debated it and many sceptics have long denied it.  But the truth is that the Scriptures have long declared it and therefore it will happen – in His time.  The Jewish bride did not doubt that her bridegroom would return because, at the time of betrothal, they were considered to have entered into a contract of marriage and the bridegroom was duty bound to return.  So church, we can cling to that wonderful promise just as a Jewish bride would have clung to the expectation that her bridegroom would return for her.  And just as the bride did not know the day nor the hour, the phrase “I will come” reinforces the imminency of the rapture because it indicates a present tense in the Greek.  In other words, it is so certain that Jesus can speak of it in any age in its present, not future tense. 


You see, we often get into the habit of thinking of the rapture as a future event but it is one that is ever imminent and always at hand.  Just as the Jewish bride was to expect her bridegroom at any moment, so too must we expect Jesus at any moment.  But while we wait, we should not let the enemy rob us of our joy or permit him to seduce us into spiritual adultery.  As we await His upward call, it should be a purifying hope.  1 John 3:2-3:  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.  That is why I am currently preaching a series on holiness.  During the betrothal period of Jewish weddings, the bride was being observed for purity.  Don’t you expect that Jesus is doing the same!?     


Now, when that moment arrives and Jesus comes to get His bride, I want you to note an important principle: He does not simply send for us, He said “I will receive you unto Myself”.  Let me explain.  Because it is all tied up in the Greek word paralambano which is related to the concept of betrothal and the personal nature of it.  In the New Testament, we first encounter the word in Matthew 1:20: But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take (paralambano) to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  Also in Matthew 1:24: Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took (paralambano) to him his wife.  Nobody else received Mary – it was Joseph, her bridegroom, who received her personally.  We see this same word used in John 14:3: 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 (paralambano) you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 


So, when we understand some of the context of the use of the word “paralambano”, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, we can see a distinct harmony with John 14 (emphasis added):  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  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.  In both passages (John 14 and 1 Thessalonians 4), we see Christ personally receiving His saints; in both, we see the relocation of believers from earth to heaven (from the bride’s home to the Father’s home); in both, we see truths that ease the troubled hearts of believers; and in both, we see the permanence of the union with Christ forevermore.  Hallelujah!


But there is growing opposition to the doctrine of the rapture within Christian circles.  One American preacher I know of is becoming increasingly exasperated that we are not actively doing anything to prepare the bride of Christ to face the Tribulation Period.  As a pastor who believes in a pre-Tribulation rapture, let me says this: I am not preparing the bride for wrath; I am preparing the bride for a wedding.  I am not preparing the bride to have her garments stained by the wickedness of the world, I am preparing the bride to hold onto the purity and hope of Christ.  I am not preparing the bride to live alongside the apostate church, I am preparing people to be counted amongst the raptured church.  I am not preparing the bride to meet the Antichrist, I am preparing the bride to meet her Beloved – Jesus Christ!

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