By Kenneth Allan Clark.
Copyright © 2000 and 2012, all rights reserved.
The Bible teaches us that there is a day, referred to as the Day of the Lord. On that day, Jesus Christ our Bridegroom will return for His bride (The Church). The dead in Christ will be raised from the dead, and then together with those Christians who remain alive at the coming of the Lord, we will be caught up to meet Jesus our Bridegroom in the air. ‘We are the bride of Christ.’ As Christians, we know God as our Father, individually we are known as the sons of God, and collectively we are known as the bride of Christ. It is our being the bride of Christ that I want to focus on at this time.
When God speaks to us through His written Word, about the important things, like our marriage to His Son, God speaks to us in parables. The Old Testament prophets wrote in parables. Jesus Christ spoke to us in parables. Paul, the New Testament writer, wrote to us in parables.
What is a parable? A parable is a true story about something the original hearers or readers of the parable would have been very familiar with or knew all about. For example; Jesus Christ spoke about fishing, ploughing fields, sowing seed, harvest, baking bread, looking after sheep, births, weddings, deaths, building houses, invading armies. All the things that Jesus spoke to the masses about in parables, they would have known all about. Running parallel to this story was an equally true story about the kingdom of the sky. The masses listening to Jesus would understand the story about the familiar, but most would have little or no understanding of the story about the kingdom of the sky. Even the disciples could not fully understand the parables, without Jesus explaining it to them.
Matthew 13:10 Then the disciples came, and said unto him, why do you speak unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the sky, but unto them it is not given.
When Jesus Christ spoke in parables, He was basically speaking to two groups of people.
1: The masses: This included the curious, the undecided, and those who were there only for what they could receive, either from God or man.
2: His disciples: Those who had given up their all to follow Jesus.
When Jesus says, “It is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the sky, but unto them it has not been given.” He is saying that the full understanding of the parables is only given to we who are His disciples. But to the masses that come to Jesus to hear the parables, to them no understanding of the mysteries of the kingdom will be given.
Mark 4:33 With many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. 34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he explained all things to his disciples.
It has become very clear to me, in my studies of the Bible it is only when the disciples gathered in small groups with Jesus, away from the masses that Jesus explained all to His disciples. Knowing this, and given that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. This means that the only way possible for us to understand all the Scriptures, the parables and the mysteries of the kingdom; is for us, His disciples to meet with Jesus in small groups, away from the masses. What I share with you today will help you understand the parables. But unless you are willing to meet in small groups to discuss the mysteries with Jesus and listen to what He has to say you, you will never fully understand the mysteries of the kingdom.
I believe that the Jewish wedding customs of 2,000 years ago were very much based on the Word of God and that they were God given to the Jews. What I’m going to do now is to go through some of the Jewish wedding customs of that time. It was the custom in those days for the parents to choose a marriage partner for their children. It was considered one of, if not the most important decision, the parents would make in their lives. And I believe it is a decision, all God fearing parents should be heavily involved in, even in this day and age.
God our Father chose Eve for Adam, Abraham sent his servant back to his people to choose Rebekah for Isaac, and Isaac sent Jacob to his uncle Laban to marry one of his daughters. So we can see that it is very much a Godly thing for parents to be heavily involved in the choosing of marriage partners for their children. Even in the world until about 60 years ago, parents were usually heavily involved in the choosing of marriage partners for their children, and they usually got married in a Christian Church. God blessed these marriages; they lasted, and were generally a good environment for bringing up children. Yes some arranged marriages did fail, but the vast majority succeeded.
But today the world has turned their backs on God’s ways. Children are choosing their own partners without seeking their parents or God’s guidance. Most live together before they even think of getting married, then most don’t get married in a church. No wonder there is so many broken families and so many divorces in the world today. But don’t criticise the world. They are sinners and because Satan has blinded them to the truth, therefore most of them don’t know any better. But we the Church should know better. We have the Word of God to guide us, in how to choose partners for our children and how to have a successful marriage. But instead of reading the Word of God and following God’s guidelines, we follow the world.
Then we wonder why in the Church today, we have just as many marriage break ups and divorces as the world, and why most of our families are in just as big a mess, as the families of the world. Why? Because we choose to follow the world and conform to their values and their standards, instead of choosing to follow the word of God and being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Back to our young Jewish couple: In the months before our young couple got married, they like any young couple today, would discuss things like; where are we going to live, are we going to rent or buy a home, live with our parents, how many children would we like, what school would they go to, what will our children be when they grow up. Beyond that, even before they were married themselves, they would discuss, who will our children marry when they grow up. This was an important decision for them to make and they may take some time to come to a decision on this. But long before their first child was born, male or female; they would have decided and made a tentative approach to the possible future parents in-law of their child.
If the child the child born to them were a son, soon after their son was born, the father would travel to the home of the tentative future parents in-law, to make arrangements for his son to marry the next daughter born to them. The two fathers having come to an agreement on the future marriage of their children, the father of the bridegroom would return to his home. Having arrived home, if he was one of those fathers who kept a copy of the family tree, one of the first things he would do, would be to open the book of the family tree. Then he would write down his newly born son’s name, and next to his sons name he would write the name of the yet to be born bride. Thus it was the custom for the bride to be chosen before she was even born, in many cases, even before she was conceived.
To use terms that many of us in the church are familiar with; the father of the groom, foreknew the bride, he chose her and predestined her to be his son’s bride, even before she was conceived.
The Bible refers to those who repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour as both the sons of God and the bride of Christ. This is because once we are born again, our relationship with God the Father is that of a father and son, while our relationship with Jesus Christ becomes that of a bride and groom. We cannot be one without being the other. If we are born again, we are both the bride of Christ and a son of God.
So when it says in Romans 8:29 & Ephesians 1:3 – 5 that God foreknew us, chose us and predestined us to be the sons of God before the foundation of the world. This also means, in keeping with the Jewish wedding customs, God the Father foreknew us, chose us and predestined us to be the bride of Christ, before we were even conceived.
According to God’s, word, when God laid the foundations of the world, He wrote your name and my name in the book of life, along with the names of everyone else who would be conceived throughout all time,
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written from the foundation of the world, in the book of life of the Lamb slain.
Revelation 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to damnation. And all who dwell on earth whose names are not in the book of life, written from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.
Some of you may be thinking, “Mum and Dad never planned me, they never wanted me, they never loved or accepted me.” But I tell you, “God planned you. Even before you were conceived, God foreknew you; God chose you and predestined you to be His Son’s bride. God loves you so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for you. In Jesus Christ you can find both love and acceptance into the family of God.”
Ephesians 1: 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us highly favoured in the beloved.
I want you to get this clearly in your mind. You were no accident that just happened in the back seat of a car, an unwanted child, conceived by rape or any other way. God your loving Father planned you. Long before you were even conceived, God chose you and predestined you to be Jesus Christ bride. God has written your name down next to Jesus Christ name in the book of His family tree (The Book of Life). Your conception may not have happened how God your loving Father intended for it to happen. Never the less, God foreknew you, chose you and predestined you for great things. In Jesus Christ you can find the love, the acceptance and the destiny God your Father chose for you.
Back to our bride and groom. Growing up as children, the two would have known that they were promised to each other and usually became good friends. But there would be no dating, as we know it in the world today. Dating, as we know it today, is not God’s way, it’s the way of the world and often leads to temptation and sin.
When the young bridegroom was a little older, he himself would approach the father (or the guardian) of the bride, to pay the bride price. From that time until the wedding day, although the bride now belonged to bridegroom, she would still be expected to live in her father’s (or guardian’s) home, under his protection and guidance.
Our guardian is the Law, the written Word of God. And the bride price the Law demanded from Jesus was His life. Thus Jesus Christ the Son of God came to earth in the flesh and died on the cross, paying the bride price to set us free from our guardian the Law.
It is written in 1 Corinthians 6: The later part of verse 19 into verse 20.
You are not your own. For you were brought at a price. (Acts 20:28)
Nevertheless, Jesus who now owns us still expects us to live under the protection and guidance of the Law until our wedding day. As born again Christians, we are no longer owned or bound by the Law, but we are still protected and guided by the Law. In due time the bridegroom would approach his bride, to ask her for her hand in marriage. For although he had already paid the bride price and now legally owned the bride, it was still the custom for the groom to ask his bride for her hand in marriage.
But what if the bride said no! Ever since he was a little boy, the bridegroom only ever had eyes for his bride. He both loved her and desired her very much. The groom’s father also loved his son’s bride, and longed for the day of her marriage to his son. So if the bride said no! The bridegroom would not be easily put off, and he would come often to his bride, to ask for her hand in marriage. If the bride continually said no to the groom, this could go on for some time. But in the end, she would either say yes, or reluctantly, with great sadness, the groom’s father would say; “There is no more time, my son must now marry.” And with tears in his eyes, he would blot the bride’s name out of the family book.
Did you know that Jesus Christ your bridegroom loves you in the same way, although we are all part of the bride of Jesus, His love for you is as if He only ever has eyes for you. He will ask you to take His hand in marriage, and if you say no! He will just keep coming back and asking you, until either you say yes. Or God the Father says; “There is no more time.” And with tears in His eyes, He will blot your name out of the book of life.
I know of many people who continually reject Jesus as their bridegroom and yet Jesus has called on them many times throughout their life. Then Jesus will usually come and ask one more time before they die. Some accept Jesus by confessing Him before man, while others reject Jesus by denying Him before man.
One woman I know continually rejected Jesus all her life. She had Jesus come and call on her one last time as she lay in her hospital bed near death. Her sister was sitting by her bed, when Jesus appeared to her. The dying woman said to her sister; “There’s a man all dressed in white standing beside you.” The sister asked; “What is He doing?” The woman; “He’s holding His hand out too me. He wants me to go with Him.” The sister; “Why don’t you go with Him.” The woman; “I’m not going with any strange man.”
Even though Jesus Christ had called on this woman many times, she still regarded Jesus as a stranger, and before her sister she denied Him. Oh yes, deep down inside her inner being, she like all of us knew who Jesus Christ was. Yet like so many, she feared man more than God. So even on her death bed she denied Him, knowing that by denying Him at this time would probably result in her soul being sent straight to the Pit of Hell.
Jesus Christ says
Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall acknowledge me before men, him shall the Son of man also acknowledge before the angels of God: 9 But he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
Having Jesus acknowledge us before the angels of God is important, because it is the angels of God, who upon the death of our body, carry our soul either to Paradise or the Pit of Hell.
God, at the foundation of the world wrote into the book of life, all the names of all the people to be conceived throughout all time. Now God no longer adds names to the book of life, but the names of the wicked, and those who reject Jesus Christ as their bridegroom, God does blot out of the book of life. (Ex 32:33 - 34; Ps 69:28 & Rev 3:5.)
Exodus 32:32 Yet now, if you will forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I ask you, out of your book which you have written. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
Psalm 69:28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
Revelation 3:5 He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will acknowledge his name before my Father, and before his angels.
As a side issue, because God the Father chose and predestined all who would ever be conceived to be both sons of God and the bride of Christ, and wrote all our names in the book of life before the foundation of the world; because Jesus Christ died for all the sins of all mankind, and because salvation is a free gift given to all, and because it is only those who reject Jesus Christ as their bridegroom and redeemer that have their names blotted out of the book of life. God the Father can and does take straight to Paradise, unborn babies, and those too young to know right from wrong.
That is why; when King David’s new born baby died he could say,
II Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
So those who reject Jesus Christ as their bridegroom will have their names blotted out of the book of life, but what of those who accept Him as their bridegroom?
When the bridegroom came to ask for his bride’s hand in marriage, he would bring as a gift to her, the wedding robe. By accepting the wedding robe, she accepted the bridegroom. By rejecting the wedding robe, she rejected the bridegroom. The bride having accepted the wedding robe, it was then the custom for the bridegroom to go to his father’s house to prepare a dwelling place for her. But he would not leave without first telling his bride of his intention to go and prepare a dwelling place for her and to return for her when it was finished. In John 14:1 – 3; we have Jesus Christ our bridegroom, telling us of His intention to go and prepare a dwelling place for us.
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
The bride’s future dwelling place could be anything from a room in the father’s house, to a mansion built nearby. This dwelling place had to be built according to the father’s instructions, and only he could say when it was ready. It was not until the dwelling was completed to the father’s satisfaction that the son could return for his bride. For this reason no body, not even the son, only the father knew the day or the hour of the bridegroom’s return for his bride.
So it is in the kingdom above.
Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels in the sky, but my Father only.
Once the bridegroom returned to his father’s house to prepare his brides dwelling place, it was not normal for the bride and groom to meet again, until the day of the wedding. But while the bride waited for the return of her bridegroom, she also had her task to complete. The wedding robe she had been given was a raw linen garment. It was not very white or beautiful, and it was also a coarse and very uncomfortable garment to wear. In order to make this robe into a white, beautiful and soft garment, it was necessary for the bride to daily wash and iron her wedding robe.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our bridegroom, we too are given our wedding robe, the robe of righteousness. At first our robe doesn’t look very white or beautiful, and we find righteousness rather coarse and uncomfortable to wear. So we need to daily wash and iron our robe of righteousness, to make it white, beautiful, soft and comfortable to wear. And how do we do that? By daily reading the word of God and applying it to our lives.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
We are sanctified and cleansed by the daily washing of the word. So that when Jesus Christ our bridegroom comes for us, we will be found without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish.
We have already looked at the dwelling place the Jewish bridegroom prepares for his bride. So let us now look at the dwelling places, Jesus Christ, our bridegroom is preparing for we who are His bride. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul describes our earthly body that we currently dwell in as a tent. While our eternal body, which we will one day dwell in is described as a building from God, an eternal house that is from the sky.
In this life we live in an earthly body, which is described as a tent and only our temporary dwelling place. Jesus Christ our bridegroom has gone to His Father’s place to prepare our eternal body, which is described as a house, our eternal dwelling place. In comparison to the tent we now live in, the new eternal body that we will one day live in is a mansion.
In the natural, when the bridegroom had completed his bride’s new dwelling place, he would return for his bride. On that day the wedding would take place, and both bride and groom would move into their new dwelling place. Likewise, when Jesus Christ our bridegroom returns for us on our wedding day, we too will move out of our earthly home and move into our new eternal home with Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels in the sky, but my Father only.
In the natural, although at first, the bride had no idea when her bridegroom would return. She knew that he would not return until her dwelling place was finished. So she would have her spies out, keeping an eye on the progress of her dwelling. But as her dwelling progressed, harvest time was also fast approaching, and she knew that the groom’s father would not approve her dwelling place until the harvest was complete. So her spies also kept an eye on the harvest, as well as her dwelling. Reports began to come in, her dwelling appeared to be finished and the harvest was all but in. With this news the bride would post watchmen, to warn her of the bridegroom’s approach, while some of her servants would go out to gather all her family and friends to her home.
With the harvest completed, at the end of the day, the father and the bridegroom would return to their home. Then after dinner, the father would say to his son; “I’ve been looking over your bride’s dwelling - - - - it’s good son, you’ve done a good job. When you are ready you may go and collect your bride.” So with night closing in, the groom would gather his friends. Then with lighted torches they would head off to collect the bride.
It was the custom that the bridegroom and his friends would go to the home of the bride to collect and carry away the bride and all who were gathered together with her, and take them to the wedding banquet. Once the bride and all who were with her were safely inside the banqueting hall, the doors would be shut, so that no one else could enter in. It did not matter who you were, even if you were the bride’s mother, if you were not found gathered with the bride, by the groom and his party. You would not be carried off to the banqueting hall, and if you were not inside the banqueting hall when the doors were shut, you would not be allowed in.
Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of the sky be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Look and see, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, No; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Truly, I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man comes.
In this parable, the Virgins represent all those who attend Christian churches in the last days. The wise Virgins being the born again believers, they are the Bride of Christ. The foolish Virgins being everyone else who attends church and calls themselves a Christian. The bridegroom is Jesus Christ. The watchmen are the prophets of God.
There are two points from this parable that I want to draw out at this time.
Firstly; Both the wise and the foolish Virgins know that if they are not found gathered together with the bride, they will not be allowed into the wedding banquet. So both the wise and the foolish gather together with the bride, as they see the day of the bridegroom’s return approaching.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
As the end draws near, it is important that we as individuals gather together often with other believers. We are part of the body of Christ, and as part of the body of Christ, we cannot function as we ought, unless we are connected to the body of Christ. That means we must be part of a local church, under submission to local leadership, leadership that is under submission to Jesus Christ, who is the head of the body.
It is this belonging to, and being part of the body of Christ in the local church, that I believe Paul is writing about, when he tells us, ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, - - - - - as we see the Day approaching’ (Heb. 10:25). But what is happening today? On one hand, more and more Christians are dropping out of fellowship, as they abandon their local church. While on the other hand, many churches of different dominations, some wise and some foolish are coming together as one.
In the Church today we can see this gathering together of the wise and the foolish virgins. As many denominational barriers between different churches come down, many churches of the world are moving closer and closer to become one great world Church. This gathering together of the Church will continue until the watchman cries out; “Look and see the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet Him.” The next thing that will happen is that there will be a massive worldwide church split, between the wise and the foolish Virgins.
Another parable that points to this massive church split at the end of the age, just before the coming of Jesus Christ our Bridegroom, is the parable of the Wheat and the tares (Matt 13:24 – 30 & 36 – 43). In this parable, it is Jesus who sows the good seed, the Word of God; and the wheat are the sons of the kingdom. The tares are the sons of (Satan) the wicked one who Satan sows into the kingdom, where both the wheat (the wise virgins) and the tares (the foolish virgins) grown side by side until the harvest.
In the natural, when the harvest is ready, the reapers first gather together the tares and tie them into bundles to be burnt. Then the wheat is gathered into barns. So it will be at the end of the age. Jesus Christ will first send the reapers, (His angels) to “gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, (the foolish virgins) and those who practice lawlessness,” tying them into bundles for burning.
Then Jesus Christ our Bridegroom will come with His angels. The dead in Christ will be raised from the dead. Then in the twinkling of an eye, we will cast off our earthly body, this old tent that we currently live in, and we will put on our eternal body, our new eternal house that Jesus our Bridegroom has prepared for us to dwell in with Him forever and ever. Thus being clothed in our new eternal body, we (the wise virgins) will be gathered into the wedding banqueting hall and the door will be shut. Then the angles will cast the foolish virgins into the lake of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The second point is; although to the foolish virgins, the bridegroom comes as a thief in the night, the wise are not caught by surprise. In the natural, the bride could read the signs, and as the time approached, she would have known that her bridegroom would be here within a few days. Only then would she begin to gather her friends and family together.
Think for a moment; the bridegroom, his father, family and friends; are mostly all farmers, as are the bride’s family and friends. There is no way the wedding is going to take place until the harvest is completed. So the bride knows, that once the harvest is ready and her dwelling place is all but complete, she can then pin point when the wedding will take place, to within a few days. The bride having gathered her family and friends together then places watchmen along the way. When they see the bridegroom coming, the cry goes out: “Look and see, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” With that cry, the bride knows that her bridegroom is but a few hours away.
So it is in the kingdom above. As the time draws close, we the Church, the bride of Christ will be able to read the signs, and know within a few days, the day of Jesus Christ return for His bride. Then as the hour approaches, our watchmen, the prophets of God will know the hour is near, and they will cry out; “Look and see, the Bridegroom is coming; go out and meet Him.”
How will the prophets know? Because God the Father, who knows the day and the hour will tell them.
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, unless he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Let us look at times past, when God has brought destruction upon mankind. God told Noah that in seven days He would destroy from the face of the earth, all living things.
Genesis 7:4 “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.”
After seven days, God shut Noah and his family in the Ark, and they remained shut in, while the earth was destroyed by water. To the wicked, the wrath of God, the rains came as a thief in the night. But Noah and his family were not caught by surprise, and shut in the ark they were protected from the wrath of God.
In Genesis chapters 18 & 19, before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, God first told Abraham and then Lot of his intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Then the next day God did not rain down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah until Lot and his family were safely shut in the city called Zoar. Although God’s wrath came upon the wicked as a thief in the night, Lot and his family were not caught by surprise, and shut in the city of Zoar they were protected from the wrath of God.
In Exodus chapter 12, we find God telling Moses that this month on the tenth day, each man was to take for himself a lamb, a lamb for each household. They were to keep this lamb until twilight on the fourteenth day, when they were to kill it and put the blood of the lamb on the doorpost and on the lintel of their house. Then they were to stay shut in their house, protected by the blood of the lamb, while the plague of death passed over. So we can say, the children of Israel knew four days beforehand, what night the plague of death would come. To the Egyptians, the wrath of God came as a thief in the night, but to the children of Israel, shut safely in their homes, this day did not catch them by surprise.
The outpouring of God’s wrath upon the Egyptians, and the deliverance of the Israelites, is a type picture, or if you like, a parable of the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the wicked and the deliverance of the Christians into the eternal promises of God at the end of this age. At the end of the age, The Day of the Lord will come upon the wicked as a thief in the night. But Day should not overtake the righteous as a thief.
1Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they (the wicked) shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction will come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (Words in italics added)
Paul is saying the day of the lords coming should not overtake the righteous as a thief.
Isaiah chapter 26 verses 19 – 21 gives us an interesting look at the coming Day of the Lord. First of all in verse 19 we are promised the coming resurrection.
Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; together with their dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing for joy, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Then in verse 20 and 21, we are told of our preparations for the day of the Lord’s coming down from the sky to punish the wicked, and that no longer will the earth cover the dead.
Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation has passed over. 21 For look and see, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
The Lord is coming down from the sky to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their sin. The graves will open and the earth shall no longer cover the dead. But before this happens, we (the Bride of Christ) will be told by the prophets of God, “Hide yourselves in your homes, and there remain for a moment, protected from the wrath of God.”
How long will that moment be? Revelation 3:10 suggest that moment will only be an hour.
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
What are we the end time Church to persevere, or ‘endure patiently’ as the N.I.V. puts it? We are to persevere, to endure patiently the persecutions and tribulations, brought upon us by the wicked people who trouble us. As Christians, it is these persecutions and tribulations that we must stand firm against and endure. In so doing, we show that we may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. This is what Paul is writing about in
II Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, as it is fitting, because that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other abounds. 4 So that we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure. 5 Which is evidence of the righteous judgment of God that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.
Paul then goes on to tell us; it is a righteous thing for God to repay tribulation to those who have troubled us with tribulation, and to give us who have been troubled rest. This repaying of tribulation to those who have troubled us, the ending of our persecutions and tribulations and our entering into rest, will all happen on the same day. That day, being the day that the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed, coming from the sky with his mighty angels in flaming fire, to take vengeance on those who trouble us, punishing them with everlasting destruction.
II Thessalonians 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to repay tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from the sky with his mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ; 9 who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
The wicked, that is those who trouble us, will be punished with everlasting destruction, destruction that comes from the presence of the Lord. When God revealed his presence to the children of Israel, it was usually in cloud and fire and the Lord spoke to them out of the fire, and we are told that the Lord our God is a consuming fire (Deut 4:9 –14 & 24).
In Exodus chapter 24, the presence of God is described as;
1: The cloud, in verses 15, 16, & 18.
2: The glory of the Lord, in verses 15 & 17.
3: And that it looked like a consuming fire, in verse 17.
In Matthew 17:5, the prescience of God is described as a bright cloud from which God spoke to the disciples.
When Jesus Christ our bridegroom left this earth, to go to his Father’s house to prepare for us our new dwelling place; he left in the cloud, the presence of God, God who is a consuming fire. We are told that Jesus will return in the same way he was taken into thee sky. Some prophets say that Jesus, the Son of Man, our Bridegroom will return in the cloud, others in the glory of the Lord, and others in flaming fire. They are all seeing the same thing, and describing the same thing. They are all describing the presence of God.
As Christians, the one day we look forward to more than anything else, is the day Jesus Christ our bridegroom returns for us, his bride. On that day the dead in Christ will rise first. We will rejoice, we will dance, we will sing as we see Jesus Christ coming in cloud and flaming fire. We will put off our old earthly body and put on our new eternal body. We will be caught up in the cloud, the presence of God to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we will always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18). While the presence of God, God who is a consuming fire will not harm us, the very presence of God will destroy the wicked with everlasting destruction and their bodies will be ashes under our feet.
Malachi 4:1 For, look and see, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go forth, and leap like fatted calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the LORD of hosts.
We will finish up by looking at another parable, found in Matthew.
Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of sky is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were called to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are called, Look and see, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise: 6 and the remainder took his servants, and mistreated them, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard of it, he was enraged: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
In this parable, we see a picture of God the Father, as the King who arranges a marriage for his Son Jesus Christ. Those who were invited to come to the wedding are the Jews. The servants, who went out to tell the Jews that the wedding banquet was ready, are the prophets of God. But the Jews would not listen to the prophets and when God sent more prophets, the Jews made light of the prophets, persecuted and killed many of them. This continual rejection of God’s Son, and the persecution and killing of the prophets angered God and God being a just God, sent his armies to destroy the Jews and burn their city. Here Jesus Christ is prophetically foretelling of the fall and destruction of Jerusalem, by the armies of Rome in 70 A.D. Armies sent by God, to punish the Jews for their rejection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 22:8 Then he said to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were called were not worthy. 9 Go you therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, call them to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was filled with guests.
Here we have the great commission. Go into the highways and tell the gospel, meaning, go tell the good news, to as many as you can find both good and bad. So the disciples went out into the whole world and preached the good news to all they could find; both the good and the bad and invited them to the wedding. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad you are, we are all invited to the wedding.
What is the good news that Jesus Christ says we should preach? In Luke chapter 24 verse 47 it is written:
Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name (the name of Jesus Christ) among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Words in italics added)
There are two key things that we are to preach:
1: Repentance. Repentance means making a decision to turn away from sin, choosing instead to live our lives in the pursuit of righteousness.
2: The remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ. Remission means to cast away, or to throw away.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sins. So that now, all who accept Jesus Christ has their Lord and Savour can have their sins, along with the evidence of their sins cast away. Therefore, when we stand before God on Judgement day, God must find all who have accepted this free gift of salvation, not guilty.
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Mark records the great commission this way.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go all the world, and preach the good news to every creature.
And the gospel we are to preach is, repentance and the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ.
Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.
People often ask, “Why do we need to be baptized?” Well there are many reasons why we should be baptized. But at this time I’ll only touch on one. John the Baptist came preaching, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” From that time on, baptism became the accepted way of publicly declaring one’s decision to repent for the remission of sins. Even in the early Church this was so. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached:
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
On that day, 3,000 people heard the good news, believed and repented and were baptized for the remission of sins. These people were not only saved, they also received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to preach. This is still what Jesus commands his disciples to preach, and when we his disciples preach what Jesus commands us to preach, then “he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
Matthew 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which not have a wedding garment on. 12 So he said to him, Friend, how did you come here, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
There was a man at the wedding banquet, who did not have a wedding garment. The king addresses this man as a friend. Did you know, even if you are the worst sinner ever, God still sees you as a friend. As your friend God wants to save you from eternal damnation. Therefore at absolutely no cost to you, God has made available to all who will accept and call on the name of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, the remission of your sins, the robe of righteousness and salvation for your soul.
The king asked, “Friend, how did you come in here, not having a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Why was he speechless? Because there is no good reason why anyone should not have a wedding garment to wear. The wedding garment, the robe of righteousness is given freely by Jesus, our bridegroom to all who believe, repent and accept him as their Lord and Saviour.
HOW TO RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST
AS YOUR LORD AND SAVOUR.
Today you have heard the good news. Now the choice is yours to make. You can either choose to believe and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, or you can choose to reject Jesus. To accept Jesus, is salvation to your soul. To reject Jesus, is damnation to your soul.
If your choice is yes, I believe and I want to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Then I invite you to find a Bible believing church that preaches the good news and baptizes those who believe and repent. When you have found such a church, ask them to baptize you (Dunk you under the water) in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and to ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit.
You will be saved and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Attend a Christian church regularly, make friends with other Christians. They will help you in your Christian walk. Share your love of Jesus, with your non-Christian friends and family. Read God’s Word, the Bible daily and apply it to your life. Pray, (talk with God your Father in the sky, who loves you very much) every day. He wants to talk with you and listen to you. Do these things and you will grow strong in the Lord Jesus Christ.
May God bless you and keep you.
From your friend and brother in Christ,
WE ARE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.
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Scripture taken from the “Clark's English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTERIES INTERNATIONAL.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Copyright © 2000 & 2011, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior permission of the author Kenneth Allan Clark.
Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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