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Are Christians Supposed to Watch for Christ’s Return?

October 22, 2015

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In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus was describing the state of the Church before His return in the context of the Jewish wedding.

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Hidden within the wedding feast we are better able to recognize who the Messiah is. We can also discover clues about His return.

Ancient Jewish Wedding

Image credit, Bill Risk. Please click on link to find owner of this image and to enjoy his teaching on the ancient Jewish wedding as it relates to our relationship with Jesus.

Why ten virgins? I have heard it said that in the Bible, the number ten represents the legal congregation. (I heard this in a Youtube video abut the Jewish wedding from Rebecca at the Well Ministries. I love these videos! I highly recommend them.) So, it makes sense that the whole Church would be represented by ten virgins.

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The five wise virgins have enough oil for their lamps to proceed to the wedding feast once the Bridegroom arrives. The five foolish virgins do not.

After a Jewish couple in ancient Israel agreed to get married, the bride (symbolically and prophetically represents the Church) had to wait for her bridegroom (symbolically and prophetically represents Jesus) for an indefinite period of time. The bridegroom had to go home to his father’s house to build an addition for he and his new bride to live in once they were married. Once this structure was complete, he was to return in order to retrieve her to celebrate the wedding feast.

Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus Christ indicated that He (like any bridegroom) must go to His Father’s house to do the same for us before He returned for His new Bride (the Church).

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

There are many references to the Church being the Bride of Christ and Jesus being the Bridegroom. You would be blessed to do a search of the word bridegroom as well as several others like, bride, husband, wife, married, marriage in Biblegateway.com. For our purposes, though, I will only share a few.

Jesus very specifically referred to Himself as the Bridegroom in several of the gospels including Matthew in chapter 9 the 15th verse. He inferred that He was speaking of Himself as the Bridegroom in this parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.

The bride and bridegroom are also familiar themes in the Old Testament particularly in the Song of Solomon and when symbolically and prophetically referring to Christ and His Bride. In Isaiah 62:5 God is referring to His affection for Israel within the context of marriage. Then prophetically, the word bridegroom is referring to the second coming of Christ in Revelation 18:23 and in Joel 2:16.

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Referring to the Church as the Bride can be seen in Revelation 22:17. But first in verse 12 Jesus says,

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

[Then] the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

The idea of the Messiah even having a Bride is described in the “The Glories of the Messiah and His Bride” in Psalm 45. We also hear of ourselves as the Church referred to as a wife Ephesians 5. God often refers to Himself as a husband and Israel as His wife.

It is within this backdrop of the Jewish wedding that many believe that there will be what is referred to as the rapture; a time when Jesus may rescue His faithful Bride from the “wrath to come” just before all hell breaks loose during the tribulation.

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The the event known as the rapture was taken from a Latin word which was meant to translate the original Greek word, harpazo, in the original biblical text. This means “to snatch away.” There are several verses where this word is used. But I will share 1 Thessalonians 4:17:

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.

flying people

As Christians, we should always be prepared to endure difficult times. But there is a growing body of believers who are starting to think that this teaching on the rapture is wrong. In that case, we would really need to strengthen our faith and prepare ourselves for the hard times to come. Either way, taking our clues from this parable of the ten virgins, we should still watch for our Bridegroom and make ourselves ready for Him.

Still, there are a lot of arguments in favor of the rapture.

Rapture Hidden in Jewish Wedding

I got this image from this video sermon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT24LR6iZLE) or click on image to go there. The sermon speaks about the rapture hidden in the Jewish wedding (Warning: This is not an endorsement of the biblical accuracy of that video as I have not watched all of it, but I’d like to when I have some time).

Regarding this time period when the wrath of God approaches, the apostle, Paul, states in I Thessalonians 5 that we need to be ready and watching (below). It also contains another indication that we may be spared the “wrath to come:”

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

This article is meant to comfort you and to encourage you to be ready for His return “as a thief in the night.”

The belief is that since God did not appoint us to wrath, that we will also escape the suffering that comes onto the earth during the end-times tribulation. As indicated earlier, some evidence for this as well as more proof of the rapture may be found within this parable of the ten virgins.

In this parable, the Bridegroom, Jesus, arrives at the midnight hour. All of the virgins had been awaiting the return of the Bridegroom. They all had lamps that were lit.

Lamp

We know from Scripture that the oil and fire represent the Holy Spirit. So all ten of the virgins are Christians. But only half of them taken enough oil with them in case the Bridegroom was delayed in coming. The other half had not adequately prepared themselves so they were left behind during the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

wise and foolish virgins

Does this mean that those who are prepared will be raptured and spared from the wrath to come during the tribulation? Let’s look into this further…

The Bridegroom in this parable arrives at midnight. This is the darkest hour of the night.

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We know that midnight is still many hours before daybreak. It is actually halfway between dusk and dawn. From this it might be inferred that, although the Church will see the arrival of Earth’s darkest hour, Jesus will not leave them to endure it all night long.

Wouldn’t Christ’s arrival to set up His glorious Kingdom on Earth for 1,000 years be represented by daybreak rather than the midnight hour? Midnight is halfway between night and day! His arrival at the midnight hour appears to indicate that:

  1. The Bridegroom has comes to snatch away His Bride from the wrath to come, in the middle of Earth’s darkest hour.
  2. There looks to be an interlude between the darkest hour on Earth and the setting up His Kingdom here because:
    • In the Jewish wedding tradition, the arrival of the Bridegroom, is always the start of the celebration of the feast.
      • This will be the expected “Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”
    • Half of the virgins (unprepared Christians), are going to be left behind to endure the rest of the night.

Think about it, would any bridegroom subject his beloved bride to a beating just before such a festive occasion? It doesn’t make sense! What’s more, when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom on Earth, the saints (Bride) will be with Him.

As members of the Bride of Christ (i.e., the Church), we are taught by Jesus that we are to be like the “five wise virgins” and make ourselves prepared for His return. We don’t want to be left behind.

Parable of Wise and Foolish Virgins

Tapping into the Holy Spirit is an important, daily undertaking for every Christian. This is not a one time event. We must remain continually filled with the Spirit, as we can see from this more “true to the text” translation of Ephesians 5:18:

Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Besides being left behind, we are told by Jesus in the parable of the vine and the branches found in John 15 that branches which dry out and are unfruitful in their own growth or in God’s Kingdom will be cut off and thrown in the fire because they are useless.

pruning

Abiding-in-the-Vine

So, the secrets to being included in this wedding feast is to:

  • Never “burn out” of your love for God.
  • Remain full of God’s Spirit (as shared above in Eph. 5:18).
  • Be fruitful in building God’s Kingdom.
  • Bear your own spiritual fruit (see Galatians 5:20); love, forgiveness, patience, etc…
  • Walk in the Spirit.

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To do this, to be full of God’s Spirit, to keep from burning out, and to grow in your spiritual fruit, we must “abide in the Vine” (see John 15) on a regular basis.

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Of course, for some of us all of this is pretty easy to accomplish because the amazing love of God has been imparted into us. It is easy to do anything for one’s beloved when one is in love. For others, those who have been raised Christian or accepted Him on faith but have not had a tangible experience of His Love yet, it takes some real effort.

What’s more, it is not unusual for even those who have encountered this incredible Love to get tired after enduring a great deal of difficulty. But our trials are supposed to strengthen us, not tear us down. If they are tearing you down, then that means one of two things. One, either, there is still some pride within your heart that needs to be torn down so that the only thing left standing inside of you is your faith in God. Or two, you have never learned how to utilize the many Christian skills we are taught to take advantage of to benefit from a life lived in Christ; peace (that surpasses all understanding), joy, and righteousness in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17).

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

So make yourselves ready! Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Allow His Holy Spirit through your time in worship, prayer, and study of the Scriptures as well as your time fellowshipping with other Christians encourage and comfort you so you can endure your trials.

matthew-25-13For similar articles on this topic check out:

Heavenly Sign from Revelation 12 to Appear during Fall 2017

Does God Intend for us to Watch the “Signs in the Heavens?”

Blood Moons: Signs in the Heavens Point to Christ’s Return 

Mind Blowing Certainty of Christ’s Imminent Return 

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This article was written by Tracey Nelson, MALC, M.Ed. from the blog The Spotless Bride (https://thespotlessbride.wordpress.com)

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