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of May 1998
Next up-date: June 1st 1998 (God willing).
What does Jesus mean when He says to wait for Him "when He will return from the wedding"? Luke 12:36.
Wow! What a big subject!! It needs the whole Bible to explain it but I'll give it a go. Please bear with me when I don't attempt to cover it all.
The context of the statement is:
"Let your loins be girded about [be working], and your lights burning [studying the Bible to know the signs of the times]; and you yourselves like to men that wait for their Lord [anxiously], when He will return from the wedding; that when He comes and knocks, they may open to Him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He comes shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them". Luke 12:35-37.
Jesus is obviously warning His followers that they will need to be ready to move at a moment's notice when He returns. This is probably because in another parable He describes His church as being all asleep at that time, the time of the wedding, and He would rather that they were not! Matthew 25:1-5. What is intriguing though, is the thought that He will be coming back from "the wedding". Not just any wedding but one His followers should know about.
Then He goes on to say that He will invite them to a supper in which He will be the waiter!
He told several other parables about the wedding and the supper which shows that He desires us to know many details of that time. Some of these are:-
Matthew 22:1-14 The calls to the marriage & how He gets His guests
Luke 14:7-11 How to behave at the supper (which tells us that He expects us to be there for that part of the wedding)
Luke 14:12-14 How we can practice having suppers like His
Luke 14:15-24 How many will turn His invitation down!
As well as these stories, there are many statements in both the Old and the New Testaments dealing with the subject.
The following will be an attempt to condense all of them into a few words.
If we appreciate the fact that ancient/ Hebrew marriage ceremonies normally lasted for a period of seven days, and required many different rituals during that time, it helps us to understand what is going on. Even before what we would call the "marriage", an engagement or contract to marry, has been announced and this is considered by some to be the real beginning of the marriage. 2 Corinthians 11:2. Up until recent years this was a binding legal contract, sealed with a ring, and a reluctant groom could be sued for "breach of promise" if he failed to go through with the wedding.
Do you remember that Joseph was considering "divorcing" Mary to whom he was "espoused" or engaged, when he found out that she was pregnant before the wedding? Matthew 1:18-25. Remember also that the details of the settlement were often worked out by the families concerned before the bride was even asked. Consider Abraham's servant and his request for Rebecca's hand for Isaac? Genesis 24:50-51. In this case, she knew what was going on and was in instant agreement with the plan.
Without going into all the details in the Bible (which I hope you will read for yourself), at the beginning of the marriage the invitations are sent out, each with a special suit of clothes supplied by the Groom and tailor-made for that individual, and each one who responds on the day must be wearing it. The first ceremonies concern only the Groom, His Father, the immediate family and a surrogate "bride" who stands in for the real one. This is mainly the processing of the invitations to see who has responded and who has rejected the calls. Then the Father of the Groom checks to see that all those who have responded are wearing their special clothes. The word "guests" is used to describe all those who have claimed to be God's people in the past.
After this the Groom goes off to the real bride's house to collect her and bring her back to His Father's house for more of the ceremonies. This is His trip to earth for the second advent. While He is doing this, in a feature different to our western way of marriage, the "bridesmaids" of the wedding group remain outside the gate of the Father's house. They are not with the "bride" because they represent the living Christians. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to..." Matthew 25:1.
There is a longer delay than was expected and the bridesmaids fall asleep and allow their lamps to dim. Then suddenly, the Groom appears and only those who are ready and prepared, go in with Him and His real bride to the last of the wedding ceremonies and the great supper. Consider Matthew 8:11 at this point.
It is then that the Groom waits on the table and serves all His guests personally. That will obviously take some time but in a timeless world that should not be any problem. Jesus also acted out this parable in another way at His "last" supper on earth, when He washed His companion's feet. John 13:4-10.
For the first part of the marriage the "guests" are all the dead Christians who are waiting for the resurrection, the "bridesmaids" are the living Christians who are waiting for translation, and the "bride" is the "New Jerusalem", the city which is their emblem and which is waiting for them. Revelation 21:9-10.
After the return of Jesus and the resurrection, ALL the saints become the "bride" and the angels become the "guests". Revelation 19:7-9.
Just to complicate the scene even further, there is another great supper which is to be held when the bride and Groom enter their new home.
The marriage is so complex that it requires many Scriptures to show a complete view of it. The answer to our enquiry is that the ceremonies commence in heaven before the second coming using a substitute bride, and partway through it Jesus will leave His Father's house and come to the earth to collect His people. He wants us to be aware of this fact and therefore He is saying that we can know when it has begun. "All things are ready", He cries, "Come to the marriage".
When He says, "He will return from the wedding" and urges us to be ready to move, it means we are to go somewhere with Him. After the resurrection of the Christians who have died, He will return to heaven with all of His people for the remainder of the ceremonies, one of which is a great banquet. See John 14:1-4.
The wedding commences in heaven before the second coming, and partway through Jesus will leave His Father's house and come to the earth to collect His people. He wants us to be aware of this fact and therefore He is saying that we can know when it has begun. "All things are ready", He cries, "Come to the marriage". Matthew 22:4. When He says, "He will return from the wedding" Luke 12:36, and urges us to be ready to move, it means we are to go somewhere with Him. After the resurrection of the Christians who have died, He will return to heaven with them for the remainder of the ceremonies, one of which is a great banquet. John 14:1-4.
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