In order to understand the words and analogies of Jesus, we must first understand the culture He was in. All of the disciples of Jesus were from Galilee. When it came to weddings, the Galileans had a bit of a different tradition than the rest of Israel. Once all of the details are factored in, Bible prophecy regarding the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, will make perfect sense.
To begin, let’s look at how a marriage covenant was obtained. In Galilee, the couple would have all the details placed into a written, legal document. This was a covenant between the two, which was read in front of many witnesses, usually in the presence of the town or village, publically. There was no way that either of the two could claim they didn’t know what was written. It was read by the Bride Grooms Father. He would also be the one to keep the covenant document. It was the most significant part because it testified of the most serious commitment expressed by that man and woman.
Next, the Bride Groom would drink from a cup of wine, offering her, marriage. She, at this point, could change her mind and the covenant would be broken, but if she accepted, she too would drink from the same cup. Once she was finished, the covenant would be sealed and they would be considered a legally married couple, although they would be called “betrothed.” At this time, the Bride Groom would tell the Bride, “I shall not drink from the fruit of the vine, until I drink it with you, in my Father’s house.” This betrothal, would be a spiritual binding between the two and after a year, the physical consummation would occur. There would be a waiting period of one year to ensure the Bride was a virgin and that she was not pregnant, but pure. The Bride Groom would then give the Bride’s Father a dowry. This was not to purchase the Bride, but an insurance policy, should the Bride Groom die or not be able to care for her, the Bride’s Father would have the means to.
At this time, the Bride Groom would return to His Father’s house during that year in order to add a room that would be their new dwelling place. The Bride would be busy with her Bridesmaids purchasing items to make her wedding dress, as well as the Bridesmaid’s dresses. Once the year was approaching, the Bride and her Bridesmaids had to be dressed and ready for the Bride Groom’s arrival, that would be imminent.
Traditionally, the Bride Groom would not know what day or hour the wedding would occur, neither would the Bride. It was a day and time that only the Father of the Bridegroom knew, so the Bridegroom too, would have to wait, greatly anticipating his special day. Once the Father decided the wedding chamber was complete and ready, he would signal to his son that it was time to go get his Bride. This happened in the middle of the night. The Bridegroom would have a shofar that he would blow, like a trumpet and this would wake up the town’s people. They would have to also be anticipating his arrival and meet him outside, in order to be in the wedding procession. Once the Bridesmaids heard the shofar, they would have to make sure they had enough oil in their lamps to not only get the Bride up quickly, but to last as they walked back to the Bride Groom’s Father’s house, in the dark, to help light the way.
Once their eyes would meet, the Father would show the covenant contact was in his hands. The Bridegroom would walk his Bride over to a type of chair and allow her to sit. She would be lifted up and carried the rest of the way to the wedding chamber. Once they arrived, they would walk into their wedding bed chamber and be given their privacy to consummate their marriage, physically. The door to the wedding would be shut and any late comers, would literally be shut out from the wedding. The guests would meet and greet and once the consummation was complete, the Bridegroom would bring out their bed sheets. If there was blood, it was a time for the guests to rejoice because the Bride had kept herself a virgin and her hymen was indeed broken. The shedding of this blood, sealed their physical covenant. If there was no blood, there was no wedding. It was considered a permanent, eternal seal between then. So after it was confirmed she had waited for her Groom, the wedding celebration would continue for seven days!
Now this brings me to the explanation of the rapture of the church, of Christ. Because all the disciples were Galileans, they all had attended many weddings and understood the phrases Jesus was telling them. At the last supper, Jesus would reveal to them that He was indeed the Passover lamb. God’s lamb that would be sacrificed for the sins of the world. In Luke 22:18 Jesus told His disciples, “For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” They understood this phase from a traditional wedding. In Luke 22:20 Jesus said, 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” They understood that like a wedding covenant, Jesus was declaring a new covenant with them. They were beginning to understand that Jesus was saying He symbolized the Bridegroom and they symbolized the Bride.
In Matthew 24:36, the disciples had previously asked Jesus how the end of the age would come and what would the signs be. Here, He tells them, 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” They also understood this phrase from a wedding ceremony because only the Father would determine the timing of a wedding and likewise, Jesus was saying that only the Father would know the day and hour of the end of the age too. In Matthew 24:43-44 Jesus says, 43 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” They understood that they too, were to always be ready.
The parable of the ten virgins is one that the disciples could relate to because they were so familiar with their own cultural weddings:
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
Israel is always referred to as God’s wife in the old testament, but because Israel kept following other God’s, she was called an unfaithful wife. The story of Hosea, in the old testament, is the story of Israel being unfaithful to God. God disciplined Israel many times for “cheating” on Him and so when Jesus came, He made a new covenant that would bring God a willing Bride. This is the church, all believers in Jesus’s salvation, from the day of Pentecost, until the rapture of the church. It was not replacing Israel, but adding Gentiles into the covenant, that was previously only meant for Israel.
In 1 Corinthians 15:52 we read, “52in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” This same future event is mentioned again by Paul, the Apostle in I Thessalonians 4:16-18, it reads, “16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise. 17After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the cloudsto meet the Lord in the air. And sowe will always be with the Lord.18Therefore encourage one another with these words.…”. Just like in the Galilean wedding, where the Bride is carried off to meet her Groom, the church too will be snatched away to meet the Bride Groom ( Jesus). Just like the Bride had to be ready and watching for her Groom, Christians are watching and waiting for Jesus to come to take us ( the Bride) to the marriage super of the lamb. The seven days of celebrating for the church( marriage super of the lamb) will be the seven years of the Tribulation period.
Just as God took Elijah and Enoch (a type of foreshadow and rapture), He will also take the church believers before the wrath of God comes, during the Tribulation. Just as God saved Noah and his family before the flood came and took Lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah before God’s judgement came, He will in like manner, take out His church. The scriptures tells us that “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” I Thessalonians 5:9. God’s wrath will be on the non-believers that refused to believe His Word, not on His followers. In scripture, there has always been a pattern of rescue for the ones that follow His ways. You will not find an incidence where God abandons His people and includes them in judgement. Rest assured, God is merciful, but this age of grace will come to an end and just like Noah’s ark and the Galilean wedding, the door will be shut! Make sure you are ready waiting and watching for His soon return, for it is very soon!
In the book of Revelation, were read, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” Revelation 3:10. Here, God is speaking to the church, His followers and believers in Christ. The whole point of the Tribulation period is to judge non-believers for rejecting Jesus, but the main reason is to purify Israel, to make her a worthy Bride for God. God had chosen Israel and made a Holy covenant with that nation. Although, Israel chose to cheat on God many times and God considered divorcing Israel, He chooses to forgive, but Israel will have to endure a serious purification (spiritual cleansing) during the Tribulation period. Jeremiah 3:1-25 speaks about this situation, a must read! In the book of Revelation, there is no more mention of the church, after chapter four, so like John is asked to ” come up here” in Revelation 4:1,
“After this I looked and saw a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had previously heard speak to me like a trumpet was saying, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things.” Yet another foreshadow of the pre-tribulation rapture. Make no mistake,
12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” Revelation 22:12-14.
Believe, for He’s coming soon!