Well, what a journey we have been on through this series of Quick Bites, exploring many difficult and sometimes controversial topics relating to the end-times, and one of the key principles I have adopted through this volume of teaching, has been the necessity to approach scripture, and in particular eschatology from a Bridal perspective. When we don’t look at prophecy through the Bridal lens, we are prone to come up with many different views and opinions on such matters of the future, which at times has only served to fragment and harm the church, which is the complete opposite of why the scriptures and prophecy have been given in the first place, which is to be our guide to life, and our blueprint for how the Bride should get ready. When prophetic interpretation leads to division and strife, we seriously have to question the very doctrinal foundation upon which we stand.
But when we are prepared to lay down previously held positions of eschatological thought, and allow our fingers to be prised away from what we hold onto so dearly (because in them we have found a measure of understanding), then we are ready to look again at the Biblical narrative without the presuppositions that we once held, and we are able to revisit the Word of God, without the temptation to fit scripture into our former beliefs as though looking for confirmation of an old mindset, rather than a willingness to let those beliefs be scrutinised and revised.
If the Bride is to truly prepare. then she must learn this lesson well. She must embrace the Bridal paradigm and allow her vision and Biblical compass to be recalibrated accordingly. But there is more at stake here than just her preparation, for preparation does not take place in a vacuum devoid of who she is and what she has been called to do. Her preparation is not a passive act of waiting for her rapture to escape the impending night of a world increasingly destined for judgment, but is a radical pro-activity, clothed in humility and holiness, yes, but she is a warrior, a prophetess, and mightily empowered to do great exploits. She is no cowering violet hiding in the shadows. Is that a Bride worthy of betrothal to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? I don’t think so! She will reach a place in her devotion that is uncompromising and will not bow the knee to any idol. There will be something wild, something untamed about her, a rare beauty of an untethered soul, she will show a ferocity for holiness, and yet a gentleness like a lamb. Her heart will overflow with love, and her words will be filled with wisdom and great insight. Throughout this process, she will resemble her Bridegroom with increasing glory.
This is our passion, our vision, and our mandate, to prepare the Bride to become all that she was created to be, and to fulfil all that she has been mandated to do. That requires a solid Biblical exegesis, upon which she is not left disorientated, confused or unaware of what lies ahead, but rather a firm scriptural foundation upon which she can depend as though her life depended upon it, because that’s exactly the point, it does depend on it!
So, this has been my hope and prayer, that in writing this volume of Quick Bites, it has been as though I were writing “The Gospel according to the Bride”. To give her a voice, so that she might help us to understand what she knows, and to see what has been revealed to her. By adopting the Bridal paradigm, we are given a glimpse into her world, without which we would simply be none the wiser, but as the writer of Hebrews instructs:
“Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and advance forward to maturity, and perfection and spiritual completeness” Heb 6:1a
With this in mind, I will complete this first volume of “the Gospel According to the Bride”, as promised, with a new series on the 144,000. If you remember, in our previous study the ‘Second Exodus’, it was always necessary for Jesus to return as the Son of Man, to complete the work of salvation, not only for those who eagerly await His appearing, but also for the Nation of Israel, upon which so much depends. For ultimately, there can be no Bride, and no wedding without her, for as the apostle Paul writes “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory and the covenants; theirs the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises.” Romans 9:4 Where we ended the “Second Exodus” series was upon the return of saved Israel, who had been gathered into the wilderness of the nations, but now were returning on the Highway of Holiness, back to Mount Zion with great rejoicing, singing and dancing. The New Covenant with Israel has been ratified, the Day of Atonement fulfilled, and the closing question we asked was this: If the Wedding of the Lamb takes place in Heaven, how do those returning back to Israel, back to Zion, enter into Heaven for the wedding? Since the rapture or the gathering up into the clouds when the Lord comes as the Son of Man has already happened, does that mean that there is another rapture now for returning Israel? Or is there some other way in which Israel shall be admitted? That’s a really good question, and it deserves a really good answer, which I’m excited to get to. but before we go deeper into this study, I’ll finish today with the two passages which refer specifically to the 144,000 as the springboard for next time:
Revelation 7:1-4 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3. saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4. And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred [and] forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel [were] sealed:
John then accounts for 12,000 sealed from each of the tribes of Israel. We then come across these 144,000 again in
Revelation 14:1-5 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred [and] forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred [and] forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from [among] men, [being] firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Fascinating isn’t it? Well, this is where we’re pick up next time.