Previously I shared there can be no wedding before the resurrection because to become “one flesh” with our Bridegroom first requires our lowly bodies to be transformed to be like His glorious body (Php 3:21). I laid this point down as our first foundational principle because when considering eschatology (the study of the end times) I believe we need to do so from a Bridal perspective and that requires our solidarity with Israel. Now that should come as no surprise since the culmination of this era will end with the Wedding of the Lamb and yet alarmingly in my personal experience I still find the Bride woefully misunderstood or even accepted. Now since this series is entitled “The Rapture of the Bride”, I need to explain why my approach to understanding the timing of the rapture is to look at the resurrection and the wedding. So let’s begin with the only passage which explicitly mentions the rapture which is found in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.
“(15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive [and] remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. (16) 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. (17) 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 4:15-17 NKJV
Now if we simply read this passage and allow it to speak for itself then we have no alternative but to accept the rapture does not happen until the resurrection. Furthermore, one might argue that the resurrection and rapture happen when Jeshua comes again, descending from heaven with a shout, the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God. It’s at this point where the debate between a pre-tribulation or post-tribulation really hots up. Those holding to a post-tribulation view will refer to Jeshua’s teaching in Matthew 24 that the gathering which includes the resurrection/rapture event is immediately after the great tribulation, whereas the pre-tribulation view argues the gathering does not refer to either the resurrection or the rapture but is the gathering of “the elect” viz the tribes of Israel and the resurrection/rapture has already taken place. Here’s the passage in question:
“(29) “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (30) “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” – Matthew 24:29-31 NKJV
It’s at this point where we could get lost down any number of rabbit holes and I have no intention of following worn-out trails which so many have taken before, rather as I’ve often said I believe the key to understanding the end times, is through the Bridal lens which holds Israel at the centre. So that’s the approach I’m taking here to see if by looking through this lens we might observe from a higher elevation and perceive more clearly what has been partially obscured until now.
As we shall see, perhaps the biggest contributing factor to a multiplicity of end-time perspectives is the sidelining of Israel and the creation of a different set of promises for the Gentile church.
For example, there is a popular supposition made by pre-tribulation advocates who adopt the ancient Jewish wedding custom as an argument to support a pre-tribulation rapture of the Gentile church to enter into the Wedding of the Lamb for a seven-year period, whilst Israel suffers during “Jacob’s Trouble”. This is a very salient point because it highlights the danger of a Bridal identity not in solidarity with Israel but separate from her. And yet, did you know there is only one Bride? Furthermore, did you know that the only arranged wedding was for Israel and the date has not been cancelled, brought forward or postponed? The Bride will be on time, hallelujah! This point is powerfully demonstrated when Jeshua taught the parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-14. Jeshua used this parable to admonish the Pharisees and those opposing Him. They had been invited to a wedding but refused to come and therefore as the parable teaches the King said to his servants:
“‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. ‘Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ Matthew 22:8,9
Notice in this parable the wedding arranged for Israel was not cancelled but instead, the invitation was extended to as many as could be found in the highways, and that means the Gentiles who Paul describes in his letter to the Romans:
“(25) As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.” (26) “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You [are] not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”” – Romans 9:25-26 NKJV
The only wedding is the one that has always been arranged for Israel, and we have been invited to it! This is consistent with every blessing or promise that we have ever received from the Lord. Whether salvation, being gathered, married, reigning, raptured or resurrected, they have all been made first to Israel and we will do well to remember this and anchor it into our eschatological roadmap. In other words to understand salvation, look at God’s promises to Israel. If we want to know about being gathered, look to Israel. When the wedding will be, again look at God’s covenant with Israel. If we want to know about reigning, look to God’s promises to Israel, or when will the resurrection and rapture be, you’ve got it – look at God’s promises to Israel. This is where I’ll pick up next time.
“(4) They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. (5) To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”– Romans 9:4-5 ESV