Sunday, February 26, 2017

Our Kinsman Redeemer

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.   Galatians 4:5  NKJV

I may have mentioned once or twice that the Church today bears little resemblance to the Church I grew up in so many years ago.  There are many reasons for that but one which I notice often, and probably miss the most, is the singing of the hymns that were for so many years the mainstay of worship in the Church.  Now before you start thinking I am some sort of traditionalist opposed to change, let me assure you I enjoy and listen to Christian music and am blessed by many of the artists who write and perform today.  What I miss, and to be truthful something which I believe is lacking in many of the songs sung in the Church today, is the theology written into the hymns of the past.

We talked a bit last week about the redemption of the bride of Christ, the Church, and the pattern we see in the story of Ruth.  Redemption is a term many have heard, but often take for granted and never truly explore.  It is, also, something you used to hear preached about often but of late rarely is expounded on from the pulpit.  Yet not only is it taught throughout the Word, it is something all believers should understand is not only necessary for our salvation, but something we could never do for ourselves.  It is a gift from God for which we as believers owe Him our very lives.  Take a minute to read the words from this old hymn I remember singing when I was young.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.
Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.
Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus, No language my rapture can tell; I know that the light of His presence With me doth continually dwell.
Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.
I think of my blessèd Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long: I sing, for I cannot be silent; His love is the theme of my song.
Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.
I know there’s a crown that is waiting, In yonder bright mansion for me, And soon, with the spirits made perfect, At home with the Lord I shall be.        Fanny Crosby  1882

The word redeem in Biblical times was specifically a term applied most often to slaves.  In the Greek, it is the word exagorazō, which is translated; “by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off.”  If you are wondering why a term used in relation to slaves should be applied to mankind, the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans makes it very clear.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.   Romans 6:5,6  NKJV

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 6:16-23  NKJV

As slaves to sin, mankind is destined to be paid the wages of sin, which is death.  But as Paul said in his letter to the Galatians, when the time was right, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Kinsman Redeemer.  In the book of Leviticus we are told that the Law specifies that only a kinsman could redeem a person or his property.  This is why Jesus had to be born as a man, to become man’s kinsman.  He also had to be God, in order to have the power to forgive sin.  Having God as His Father, and Mary as His mother, Jesus fulfilled the requirements necessary to redeem us all.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.   Matthew 5:17  NKJV

“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  Titus 2:13,14  NKJV

Those who choose to believe that Jesus was God in the flesh, lived a perfect sinless life, died on a cross and rose again from the dead on the third day, have been redeemed.  By accepting the redemption offered to us by His death and resurrection we become children of God and part of the Church which is the bride of Christ.  He is coming soon to take His bride away to be with Him forever, and by all accounts the signs of our approaching rapture to be with Him are all around us.  If you have never accepted the payment Jesus made to redeem you, I pray you do it today, before it is too late.

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”   Luke 21:28  NKJV

Keep watching.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Redeeming the Bride

“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ “  Isaiah 46:9-10  NKJV

I would be the first to say that I am sure someone could write an entire book expounding these two verses from the prophet Isaiah.  This is my “go to” passage when someone tells me we don’t need to study the Old Testament anymore because we have the New Testament to rely on.  In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth for there is so much to be found in the stories of the Old Testament, especially as it relates to the future of this world in general, and the Church in particular.  Paul even discussed this in his letter to the Corinthian church when speaking about all that happened to the nation of Israel during their history.

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”   1 Corinthians 10:11  NKJV

Typology is the term used to describe the study of past events as a picture revealing the truth of a future event.  In essence what this means is that many of the events in the Old Testament were actually pictures of what was to occur in the future.  Many scholars see the rapture of Enoch, which occurred just before the flood of Noah, as a type or pattern of the rapture of the Church, which will also happen just before the start of the final period of God’s judgment of an unbelieving world.  

Other examples would be the story of Abraham being told to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and God providing a lamb as a substitute. Or Joseph, sent by his father to visit his brothers and being “killed” in a sense by his imprisonment in Egypt only to reappear as second only to Pharaoh as ruler in Egypt. Also, there is Jonah, being thrown overboard allowing the others to survive while he suffers the punishment of God's wrath in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights. There are many more, but hopefully these are enough for you to begin to see what is meant by the study of typology.

The past few weeks I have been talking about the relationship between the Church and Jesus, especially as it has been described as a relationship between a bride and her groom. If we consider that picture, and apply the study of typology, what we would do is look for stories of weddings in the Old Testament and examine them closely to see if there might be an application to the future wedding of Jesus to His bride, the Church. Using that perspective, the story many have found most applicable is the one we find revealed in the book of Ruth.  Many believe that the story it tells, especially in light of typology and the Church, reveals some amazing truths that say much about our future, and quite possibly even the timing of the wedding.

Why is that?  Consider just a few of pictures we find in this little book.  Naomi, (as a picture of the nation Israel), Ruth, (as a picture of a Gentile bride, the Church), and Boaz, (the kinsman redeemer who restores Naomi’s land and then marries Ruth the Gentile bride).  If we look closer at the wedding between Boaz and Ruth, many believe we can also discover clues concerning the future rapture of the Church.  The wedding occurs after the harvest season, specifically the wheat harvest, which in Israel would usually be at the very beginning of summer.

“So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law.”  Ruth 2:23  NKJV

Coincidentally, one of the seven feasts of Israel occurs at this same time which is the Feast of Shavuot.  Shavuot means literally “weeks” and it is a celebration of the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai which according to the Torah, was a journey from Egypt that took exactly seven weeks.  It is one of the three “pilgrimage” festivals where travel to the temple in Jerusalem was required.  Shavuot is also considered to be a harvest festival as during the temple period this is when Jews would bring their firstfruits to the temple.  It is also a Jewish tradition that the book of Ruth be read on the Feast of Shavuot, the sixth of Sivan, as they stay up all night.  Is it any coincidence that the Church is admonished to wait and watch, using illustrations like the “thief in the night”?

Speaking of the Church, another name for this holiday is the Feast of Pentecost, the word for fifty being penta.  Many will recognize this holiday by that name, especially considering what occurred on this day, just fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead.

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Acts 2:1-4  NKJV

The sixth of Sivan, the Feast of Pentecost, is the day the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples, and also the day many consider being the birthday of the Church. Could this be significant?  Just as there always is when studying the scriptures, there is more to the story if we take the time to look a little deeper. There is a Jewish rabbinical tradition that Enoch was not only born on the sixth of Sivan, but was taken on his birthday as well.  Looking at Enoch as a type of the rapture, is it possible the Church could be raptured, taken to Heaven as a bride for her wedding, and the Holy Spirit (restrainer) removed on its birthday, the Feast of Pentecost, just as Enoch was?

Whether or not this proves to be true, the book of Ruth is not only a wonderful love story but also beautiful picture of Jesus redeeming His Gentile bride, the Church.  He is our kinsman redeemer who chose to give His own life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins. If you have never accepted this gift, I urge you to do it today. Jesus paid the price for His bride, and the Church could disappear at any time.  Simply pray this prayer or put it in your own words but tell God you believe He sent His Son to pay the price for your sin, and that you will turn control of your life to Him.

"Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen."

Keep watching.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Tale of Two Brides

As I was researching the subject of the Church as the Bride of Christ, I came across this study by Jack Kelley of Grace thru Faith who I have quoted often in this blog.  I thought I would let you read it today as I believe it is a great answer to the questions many have concerning the Church, and our position before the Lord.  Enjoy.

A Tale Of Two Brides
Saturday, July 24th, 2010

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Whenever I get several questions on the same subject within a few days, I assume someone is trying to give me a topic for the feature article. This is especially true if it’s unrelated to anything I’ve recently written about, as was the case this week.
The questions this time concerned a view taught by some that Israel is the bride of God and the Church is the bride of Christ. In the Bible, God often describes our relationship with Him in terms of a marriage. He does this for our edification, to help us understand Him better. For example, when Paul said he wanted to present us to the Lord as a pure virgin (2 Cor. 11:2), he meant that just as a virgin bride has never been defiled by any sexual relationships before being joined to her husband in marriage, he didn’t want us to be defiled by any false doctrine or idolatry before being presented to the Lord at the rapture.
As for Israel, one of the most intimate portrayals of the way God felt toward His people can be found in Ezekiel 16.

The Bride Of God

‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. (Ezekiel 16:3-5)

When God called Abraham, He was creating the Israelites out of the idol worshiping Gentile world. Right from the beginning the world seemed to be at odds with them.

” ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare.
” ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. (Ezekiel 16:6-8)

This is reminiscent of the night Ruth came to the threshing floor and asked Boaz to spread the corner of his garment over her (Ruth 3:9). It’s a sign of promise and protection. You could say this was the point at which Israel became the bride of God.

” ‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 16:9-14)

God treated Israel like a king treats his queen, lavishing her with blessings the likes of which the world had never seen. But as the rest of the chapter shows, Israel became unfaithful and used these blessings to court the surrounding nations with their pagan gods, showering the gifts God had given her upon them to win their favor. Finally He had enough.

” ‘You adulterous wife!” He shouted. “You prefer strangers to your own husband! Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.” (Ezekiel 16:32-34)

In His anger God divorced His unfaithful bride (Jere. 3:8).  He gave Israel over to the nations to be stripped and cut to pieces, but promised that after they were done with her, “Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 16:42, 60, 62)

And so Israel went from being an innocent bride to becoming an adulterous wife. About 150 years before Ezekiel wrote this, the prophet Hosea had been raised up to act this story out in his own life, a live action parable of God’s relationship with Israel. At God’s direction he married a prostitute, and when she left him and returned to her former profession, Hosea provided her lovers with gifts. When she was no longer desirable and was sent to the slave auction, Hosea bought her back and took her home. It’s the story of Israel’s rebellion and redemption.

Shortly before the 2nd Coming, Israel will discover that one like Hosea has purchased her out of slavery with His own blood, the price of redemption. (Hosea and Yeshua, the Lord’s name in Hebrew, are both derived from yasha, which means to save.) And so, the adulterous wife will yet be reconciled to her Husband, and He’ll renew His vows with her. (Isaiah 54:5-8) The Old Covenant will be replaced by the Everlasting Covenant (Jer. 31:31-32).
Isaiah described it for us.

In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:2-6)

The word for branch is tsemach, and refers to the Messiah, who made the reconciliation possible. With the curse gone the land will flourish like never before. After the end times judgments that follow the 2nd Coming, only believers will remain on Earth, and everyone left in Jerusalem will be holy. The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night remind us of when the Lord sheltered the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21). The Hebrew word for the canopy is chuppah, the wedding canopy, and the one for shelter is sukkah, the booth each Israelite builds on the feast of Tabernacles to commemorate the time the Lord spent with them in the wilderness. The entire creation will rejoice at this long overdue reconciliation.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. (Isaiah 35:1-2) You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.(Isaiah 55:12)

The Bride Of Christ

During the time of Israel’s rebellion, the Lord turned to the Gentiles once again to take a people from among them for Himself (Acts 15:13) called the Church. He loves the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word to present her to Himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephes. 5:25-28)

Right from the beginning the Lord determined to do everything necessary so that the Church’s exalted position could never be lost. Before the Church was ever born, the Lord compiled a list of every one of our sins and carried it to the cross with Him where He forgave all of them in advance (Colossians 2:13-14). This allowed Him to always look upon us as if we’ve never sinned at all (2 Cor. 5:17), as if we’re just as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21) having been made perfect forever by His once-for-all-time sacrifice (Hebrews 10:12-14). God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even while we were still dead in our transgressions and has already seated us with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephes. 2:4-6).

Having prepared the way, the Lord went to His Father’s house to make a home for us, promising to return and take us there to be where He is (John 14:2-3). On a day no one could have predicted in advance He’ll meet us in the clouds and in a flash we’ll be gone, our old sin infested bodies replaced with new immortal ones, specially designed for eternal life with Him. The place He’s preparing for us will be enormous and made entirely of gold and precious gems, its radiance such that it will light the world (Rev. 21:24). The Kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into it and we will take our place in the Royal household of God, the place He’s seen us in since before the foundations of Earth were laid.

What’s It All About?

Of course all this marriage terminology is metaphorical. God doesn’t marry humans in the sense that we think of marriage. And how could God marry Israel and Jesus marry the Church when God and Jesus are one and the same? Jesus is what God looks like when he wants to take on a physical appearance. (Hebrews 1:3)

I believe the sense in which we’ll be married comes from the closeness we’ll feel, the intimacy that can only by achieved through a long term committed relationship. It’s really how two become one. Our hearts are knit together. In our present fallen state this is difficult to achieve even in marriage. Untold numbers of husbands and wives can speak of the loneliness they feel because instead of growing closer they’ve drifted apart.

New believers often experience a closeness with the Lord they’ve never felt with another human, and those who no longer conform to the pattern of this world but allow themselves to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2) can retain much of that closeness. Yet even then we come to understand how our sin nature prevents us from becoming as close to the Lord as we’d like to be.

We can only imagine how it will feel when that barrier to intimacy is finally removed. During the entire beating and crucifixion ordeal the only suffering that was too great for the Lord to bear in silence was when He took our sins upon Himself and the Father had to turn away, unable to look upon Him (Habakkuk 1:13). We’ve never had His kind of intimacy with the Father, but He had never been deprived of it and when He was it caused Him more pain than anything else they (we) did to Him. Paul said when the barrier comes down we’ll know as we’re known (1 Cor. 13:12), and John promised that when the Lord appears we’ll be like Him because we’ll see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). We’ll finally have the kind of intimacy with Him we’ve always craved.

The comparison of the adulterous wife to the virgin bride is meant to symbolize the difference between Law and Grace. The former shows what we can make of our selves, an adulterous wife, and the latter shows what God can make of us, a virgin bride. Speaking of this in Ephesians 5:32 Paul said it’s a profound mystery, and believe me that was not an understatement.

The truth is that the Church has been no better behaved than Israel. Before the first Century had ended the Lord was complaining of neglect.

“Yet I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Rev. 2:4-5)

And from the 4th Century until the 16th the Church was worse than dead, it was a force for evil in the world. There have been several major revivals since then, yet today only a small percentage of born again believers holds to a Biblical world view.  Most cannot be distinguished from the unbelieving world. Even so, because of God’s grace, Jesus continues to see us as His radiant bride, holy and blameless.

At the End of the Age the Lord will pour out His Spirit of Grace on the people of Israel like He has on the Church (Zechariah 12:10). As they realize that Jesus also died for their sins, they too will experience the immense benefits of His Grace. The blood guilt they’ve borne since the crucifixion (Matt. 27:25) will be finally pardoned (Joel 3:21) and they’ll truly be one with the Lord.

Both Israel and the Church will have amazing, not-to-be-believed relationships with the Lord in the age to come. They will be of a different nature and in a different location, at least for the first 1000 years, but neither group will envy the other. The adulterous wife will be reconciled with her husband, her sins forgiven and forgotten, just like ours. The bride will be among those rejoicing, and they’ll both be looking with heartfelt gratitude to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). 


Keep watching.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Bride of Christ

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.     Ephesians 5:31-32  NKJV

On several occasions in the past I have had the opportunity to share something with other believers during small groups or Sunday School classes when studying Paul’s letters to the churches.  It might not be an earth shattering revelation but I have enjoyed seeing the look on peoples’ faces when I explain what I am thinking, and it goes something like this.  If you have ever participated in a study of Paul’s writings with others in a group setting, and discussed among yourselves just what Paul was trying to say, you are doing exactly what the church members did in Paul’s day when they received his letters.

If you think about it in that light, does it not make sense that when the members first read the letter there were differing opinions about just what point Paul was trying to make?  I am sure there were some very spirited discussions, along with the perplexed looks when Paul said something which at first glance did not seem to make a lot of sense.  When it comes to the “mystery” of the Church, and it’s special relationship with Christ, I believe there was probably quite a lot of discussion considering that Paul spent much of his time teaching and clarifying questions on that subject.

Something that I discovered about this relationship, however, came only after I had spent several years focusing on eschatology and the future of the Church, and studied the writings and commentaries written by Jewish scholars.  Why Jewish?  Simply because they, like the believers in the early churches Paul wrote to, had an advantage that most of us in the west simply do not, and that is the understanding and familiarity with the steps and procedures of a Jewish wedding.  As I began to study and learn more about the complexities surrounding this celebration, I began to understand exactly why Paul chose to explain the relationship between Christ and the Church in this way.

Many of you may already be familiar with what I am talking about, but for those who may not be, I will take a little time today to explain why Paul, inspired by God, uses the picture of a Jewish wedding and the traditions which accompany it to illustrate where we, as the body of Christ, finds ourselves today.

Choosing the Bride.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.     John 15:16  NKJV

Jesus chose those who believe to become His bride, the Church.  All who respond to His invitation become members of the body of believers known as the Church and are referred to by Paul as the bride of Christ. 

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.      2 Corinthians 11:2  NKJV

Paul here assumes the position of the father of the bride and explains that the Church has been betrothed to Christ, and as the father, he is concerned with how the Church conducts itself while waiting for the wedding.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.     Ephesians 5:25-27  NKJV

Paying the Bride Price.

After choosing the bride, in Jewish culture a price to recompense the family had to be agreed upon.  Jesus paid that price by dying for His bride on the cross.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  John 19:30  NKJV

The phrase “It is finished!” is the Greek word “teleo”, which not only means to bring to a close, but also to pay a tribute or price.  As the bride of Christ, the Church was paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Building the Home.

“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.  John 14:2  NKJV

After choosing a bride, and agreeing to a price, the future bridegroom goes away to build the house in which he and his bride will live.  He cannot return until the home is completed, and his father inspects it and declares it ready for habitation.  When complete and given permission, the bridegroom will return for his bride.  During this time, the bride is to watch and wait because she has no idea how long it will take or when her bridegroom will return.

The Return for the Bride.

“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.  John 14:3  NKJV

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’  Matthew 25:6  NKJV

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. 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.  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17  NKJV

After receiving permission to fetch his bride from his father, the bridegroom comes with a shout and the blowing of a ram’s horn.  It usually would occur at midnight, and he would call out for his bride to join him for the ceremony.  When Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonian church that Jesus will return in the clouds and call for the Church to join Him, it mirrors this tradition perfectly.  At some future date, known only by God the Father, Jesus will receive permission to return for His bride, the Church, and He will call out with a shout and a trumpet blast, for us to join Him in the air.

In the time when the bridegroom is away preparing their future home, the bride is busy preparing herself to be, as Paul states, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”.  I have mentioned often in the past my personal experiences watching my daughters prepare to meet their bridegrooms, and describing the lengthy, arduous process.  The question all believers should continually ask themselves is how hard are we preparing to meet our Lord when He returns for us?  Are we striving to serve and clothe ourselves in righteousness, or are we more concerned with the world around us and the cares of this life?  My prayer is that the Church focuses on being the best bride she can be, especially considering the price the bridegroom paid for her.

Keep watching.