Where will the Church be at the time of the 70th week of Daniel 9 (the last 7 years prior to the Second Coming of Christ, which has been widely called the Tribulation period)? A number of things put forth in the Book of Revelation show that the Church will remain in Heaven with Christ throughout that time period. Among those things is the prophetic evidence for the marriage and marriage supper of the Lamb.
The Reference to the Prophetic Evidence for the Marriage and Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
In Revelation 19:7 John documented part of the loud pronouncement of a great multitude in Heaven: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Regarding the wife of the Lamb, John continued to pen, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”
A research study of Revelation 5– 7; 12– 15; 17; 19; 21– 22 plainly shows that the Lamb is Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords who shed His blood to cleanse sinners. Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2; and Ephesians 5:22– 33 show that the wife of the Lamb is the Church. Because of these recognitions, it appears that Revelation 19:7– 9 is describing the marriage of Jesus Christ to the Church and the subsequent marriage supper.
Inquiries and Views Related to the Prophetic Evidence for the Marriage and Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Revelation 19:7– 9 triggers 2 significant inquiries: When and where will the marriage and marriage supper of the Lamb happen? A minimum of 3 answers to these questions have actually been proposed. First, the marriage will take place when the Church is raptured to meet Christ in the air at His Second Coming and the marriage supper will happen on earth throughout the Millennium. Second, the marriage will happen in Heaven when the Church is raptured prior to the 70th week (Tribulation period), and the marriage supper will occur on earth throughout the Millennium. Third, the marriage will happen in Heaven when the Church is raptured prior to the 70th week (Tribulation period), and the marriage supper will happen in Heaven throughout the 7 years of the 70th week.
The Relationship of Revelation 19:7-9 to Jewish Marriage Customs
There are excellent factors for being persuaded of the 3rd view; however before those factors are taken a look at, 2 things need to be kept in mind. Initially, the terms “marriage” and “marriage supper” in Revelation 19 relate to Jewish marriage customs in Bible times. More specifically the Jewish Galileans.
Second, Jewish marriage customs in Bible times consisted of 3 significant stages. The first stage was betrothal, the establishment of the marriage covenant that bound the man and woman together as husband and wife (Mal. 2:14; Mt. 1:18– 19).
The 2nd stage was the taking of the bride or wife by the groom from her house to his father’s house (Mt. 25:1– 8). “The essence of the marriage ceremony or festivities was the taking of the bride from her father’s house and bringing her to the house of the bridegroom or his father.” This taking of the bride was typically done during the night around one year after the betrothal. It included the consummation of the marriage through physical union of the groom and bride on the first night at the groom’s father’s house. Because this 2nd stage was the essence of the marriage ceremony, it was considered as the wedding or marriage (Mt. 22:2– 13; 25:10). Therefore, it is this 2nd stage that represents the expression “marriage of the Lamb” in Revelation 19:7.
The 3rd stage was the marriage supper or feast to which guests had actually readily been called and assembled. As soon as the marriage had been consummated by the groom and bride, the wedding guests would feast and make merry for 7 days. Hence, the marriage supper lasted for one week (Gen. 29:21– 23, 27– 28; Jud. 14:1– 2, 10– 12, 17), and it represents the expression “marriage supper of the Lamb” in Revelation 19:9.
Due to what has actually been seen, the following conclusions can be drawn regarding the relationship of the 3 stages of Jewish marriage customs to the marriage of Christ and the Church. To begin with, the betrothal of Christ and the Church is happening throughout the present Church age as individuals trust Jesus Christ to be their Savior (2 Cor. 11:2). Second, in the future Christ will take His bride, the Church, from this world to His Father’s house in Heaven when He comes to rapture it (Jn. 14:2– 3; 1 Th. 4:13– 18). This will be the “marriage of the Lamb.” Third, after the Rapture of the Church, the “marriage supper of the Lamb” will accompany the wedding guests who will have readily been called and assembled.
Evidences for the Third View
Previously it was specified that there are excellent factors for thinking that the marriage of the Lamb will happen in Heaven when the Church is raptured prior to the 70th week (Tribulation period) and that the marriage supper of the Lamb will happen in Heaven throughout the 7 years of the 70th week. Those factors will now be taken a look at.
First, generally the wedding event or marriage (the 2nd stage) did not happen at the house of the bride. One need to bear in mind that the recognized custom was to hold the wedding event in the home of the groom or his parents. The groom fetches the bride and brings her to his house, where the bridal table and chamber are ready. In harmony with this custom, Christ pointed out that after preparing living accommodations for His bride in His Father’s house in Heaven, He would emerge from there once again and receive His bride unto Himself so that His bride could be where He is (in His Father’s house in Heaven) (Jn. 14:2– 3). Christ did not state that He would come and join His bride so that He could be where she is (on the earth). This recognized marriage custom and Christ’s teaching in harmony with it suggest that the Rapture of the Church and marriage of the Lamb will not occur at the Second Coming of Christ, because at His Second Coming Christ will not return to His Father’s house in Heaven. Rather, He will come down to the earth. Hence, the Rapture of the Church and marriage of the Lamb need to happen at some point prior to the Second Coming of Christ, and the Rapture of the Church and marriage of the Lamb need to be different occasions from the Second Coming.
Second, in Bible times the marriage was a wondrous, festive occasion. The taking of the bride by the groom was defined by mirth and gladness (Jer. 7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11). Jesus suggested the exact same thing when He highlighted that it is difficult to blend the happiness of a wedding event with the grieving of a funeral service (Mt. 9:15; Mk. 2:19; Lk. 5:34).
It ought to be kept in mind that the emotional state at the Second Coming will be simply the reverse of the jubilant, joyful emotional state of the marriage. The description of the Second Coming in Revelation 19 depicts Christ, not as a delighted groom coming along with cheerful companions to take His bride to His Father’s house, however as a frightening warrior-king coming with armies from Heaven to administer judgment and death upon defiant humankind. The marriage customs of Bible times offered a joyful marriage supper for wedding guests, however the Second Coming will offer a drastically opposite type of supper– a funeral supper of dead flesh for the fowl of the earth (Rev. 19:17– 18, 21).
Because Jesus taught that it is difficult to blend the delight of a wedding event with the grieving of a funeral service, and considering that the Second Coming will produce death for a huge mass of humankind, it needs to be concluded that the marriage of the Lamb will not take place at the Second Coming of Christ. The Rapture of the Church and marriage of the Lamb need to happen at some point prior to the Second Coming and need to be occasions different from the Second Coming.
Third, it was traditional for the marriage supper to be held at the house of the groom or his parents, not at the house of the bride. One author states, “The bridegroom escorted the whole wedding party, now including the bride and her companions (Ps. 45:14 b), to his own or his father’s house for the ‘marriage supper’ (Rev. 19:9) … The wedding banquet … was generally offered by the father of the groom.” Matthew 22:1– 4 shows the exact same thing. Regarding the place of the marriage supper, another author states, “The older tradition indicate the house of the groom’s parents as the correct place.” In harmony with this custom, the marriage supper of the Lamb ought to occur at Christ’s Father’s house in Heaven, not at His bride’s dwelling place on earth. This militates in opposition to an earthly marriage supper of the Lamb.
Fourth, the marriage supper started on the very same night that the groom took his bride to his father’s house and consummated their marriage through physical union. After the marriage was consummated, the groom revealed the consummation to his good friend standing outside the bridal chamber (Ps. 19:5; Jn. 3:29), and the announcement was then presented to the wedding guests who had actually already assembled at the groom’s father’s house. Upon getting this news, the guests started to feast and make merry. Therefore, the marriage supper started really quickly after the groom brought his bride to his father’s house. In harmony with this custom, the marriage supper of the Lamb need to start really quickly after Christ takes His bride, the Church, to His Father’s house in Heaven at the time of the Rapture.
Because, as mentioned previously, the Rapture of the Church and the marriage of the Lamb will happen at some point prior to the Second Coming, and because the Millennium will start after the Second Coming (Rev. 19– 20), it appears that the Millennium will not start really soon after Christ takes His bride, the Church, to His Father’s house in Heaven at the time of the Rapture, and the marriage supper of the Lamb will not, for that reason, occur throughout the Millennium.
Fifth, the Old Testament teaches that throughout the Millennium there will be another marriage supper, separate from the marriage supper of the Lamb. This millennial marriage supper will be related to the 2nd marriage of God and the nation of Israel. At the start of Isaiah 25:6, a passage explaining the true blessings of the future Millennium, Isaiah stated, “And in this mountain shall the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees.” The word for “feast” in verse 6 is the same as that adopted for the wedding feast in Judges 14:10, 12, 17. Isaiah’s declaration suggests that the wedding guests at this millennial marriage supper for God and Israel will be all the other people residing in the world at that time. “Isaiah was mentioning a future time when (after God’s global judgment) His people in Israel and other countries will feast together in peace and prosperity. This is the 1,000 year reign of Christ.”
The background behind this millennial marriage feast is as follows: The Old Testament teaches that God betrothed Israel (bound the people to Himself as His wife) through the Mosaic Covenant at Mount Sinai (Jer. 2:2; Ezek. 16:8), however Israel consistently broke the covenant through spiritual infidelity (Jer. 3:1– 3, 6– 9, 20; Ezek. 16:32, 59; Hos. 1:2; 2:2, 5; 3:1; 4:12, 18; 5:3– 4; 6:7, 10; 7:4; 8:1; 9:1). God divorced Israel, however temporarily (Isa. 50:1; 54:7– 8; Jer. 3:12). He did not refer to the divorce as a termination of His marriage with the nation (Jer. 3:14; cp. v. 8).
God has actually been judging the nation for its infidelity (Ezek. 16:38). Through this judgment He will stop Israel’s unfaithfulness, calm His fury, and lose His jealousy and anger (Ezek. 16:41– 42). When Israel repents in the future at the Second Coming of Christ (Hos. 3:5; 5:15– 6:1; Zech. 12:10– 14), God will cleanse the nation (Zech. 13:1), love it freely (Hos. 14:1– 4), and betroth it to Himself permanently (Hos. 2:19– 20) through the establishment of an everlasting covenant (Isa. 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 32:40; 50:4– 5; Ezek. 16:60– 62; 37:21– 28). Israel will be decorated like a bride (Isa. 61:10); God will enjoy and rejoice over Jerusalem as a groom rejoices over his bride; and the land of Israel will be married to God (Isa. 62:1– 5). Hence, at the Second Coming God and Israel will go through betrothal and marriage a second time, and after that their marriage supper will occur throughout the Millennium after the Second Coming.
Sixth, as mentioned previously, it was traditional for the wedding supper of Bible times to last for one week, or 7 days. It is the conviction of this author that, in relationship to the marriage supper of the Lamb, the 7 years of the 70th week of Daniel 9 will associate to that time period. According to this view, then, the Rapture of the Church and marriage of the Lamb will take place prior to the 70th week (Tribulation duration), and the marriage supper of the Lamb will occur in Heaven throughout the 70th week.