First Part: Betrothal Period. A marriage contract was signed by the parent of the bride and the bridegroom. The parents of the bridegroom, or the bridegroom himself, would pay a dowry to the bride or her parents. This first part of the marriage between Christ and the Church is completed when each believer places his or her faith in Christ as their Savior. The dowry (the blood of Christ) was paid by the bridegroom (Christ) to the bridegroom’s parent (God the Father) on behalf of the bride. As the Church is composed of individuals, the bride is still being formed as believers put their faith in their bridegroom. Yet, at some point in the future, the bride will be considered complete (Ro 11:25). The second part of the wedding will then commence.
Second Part: Receiving the Bride. The groom went to get the bride after a period of time – usually occurring a year or so later. One reason for this was to be sure the bride was pure and a virgin. If the woman was not a virgin, it would become evident within the year. At some undisclosed time, the bridegroom, accompanied by his male friends, would go to the house of the bride (typically somewhere around midnight) and take her and her bridesmaids to the bridegroom’s home via a parade through the city. This will be completed at the Rapture (a sudden catching up; 1Co 15:51-52; 1Th 4:13-18) when the bridegroom (Jesus Christ) returns for his bride (the Church).
Third Part: Wedding Supper. A wedding supper was held, which could go on for days. This is fulfilled as described in Revelation (Rv 19:7-9), most likely in heaven after the Rapture and before Christ returns to earth.
Attendees to the Wedding Feast: not everyone was invited. There were three main groups: the bridegroom, the bride, and the attendants. So, from this analogy, who will those be? The Bridegroom is none other than Jesus Christ; the Bride is the Church (these will now have their glorified bodies); the attendants are the Old Testament saints (these will not yet have glorified bodies but be whatever bodies souls have as we discussed in our previous post).
I know there is a lot of controversy around the Rapture event. Yet, as we see above, it does fit into the wedding scenario and would help to fulfill Rv 19 in heaven at the same time as the Tribulation Period is happening on the earth. It also allows it to last for an extended period of time similar to a normal Jewish wedding feast. There are also some other characteristics about the Rapture we should consider. It is an imminent event. There is nothing that has to happen before this event can happen. All other events are tied to a Jewish timeline. This event is not tied to a Jewish timeline (nothing has to occur prior to this event occurring). This event is for the Church and does not involve the nation of Israel. Actually, this event happens so God can once again deal with the nation of Israel (more of that later). You can see how this really ties into the idea of the bride not knowing when her bridegroom would come for her.
The Rapture occurs at the end of the “Age of Gentiles”: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Ro 11:25). The Feast of Pentecost represents this time period; two trumpet blasts occurred on this feast day (one to initiate it and one to complete it). Three types of sacrifices were made at Pentecost (Nu 10:10): the burnt offering with a trumpet blast, followed by a sin offering, followed by a fellowship offering with a trumpet blast. Isn’t that what we do currently? We accept Christ as our Savior (offering ourselves to him as a whole burnt offering), we continuously confess our sins (1Jn 1:9), and we will be with him and fellowship with him forever after the Rapture. What is the Rapture but the beginning of our eternal fellowship with Christ.
So, what will our new bodies at the Rapture be like? The intermediate bodies of those who died and are already in heaven are upgraded, or the souls receive, a glorified body that will be like that of Christ (Pp 3:20-21; 1Jn 3:2). It would seem that our future glorified body will need a physical body to be transformed (1Co 15:52). Perhaps that is why righteous souls are said to be raised as they are already with Christ in a non-glorified state. Otherwise, why would a glorified body not be given at time of death? Why do the righteous souls have to come back for a body? This is a mystery that the scriptures do not actually explain. Yet, in the light of a Jewish wedding, it may be to fulfill the presentation of the bride to the bridegroom. The why is perhaps not that important as the sureness of the event is what matters. We do get some clues to the characteristics of our future glorified state. Our glorified bodies will be solid (Thomas was able to feel the scars of Jesus’ body; Jn 20:27), they will be similar to our natural body (Jesus was recognized and bore scars; Jn 20:20) yet these bodies can also look dissimilar (disciples on road to Emmaus did not recognize him; Lk 24:13-16), they can materialize and rematerialize (Jesus appeared in a closed room; Jn 20:19, and he disappeared from the disciples sight; Lk 24:31), and the physical realm has no power over these types of bodies (Jesus defied gravity in his ascension; Ac 1:9). I’m sure that is just the beginning! Great things await us. Are you excited!
Gap in the Timeline
Heaven - Hell Summary