Introducing the Groom
I, John, made it public that I was not the Messiah but simply the one sent ahead of him to get things ready. The one who gets the bride is, by definition, the bridegroom. And the bridegroom’s friend, his ‘best man’—that’s me—in place at his side where he can hear every word, is genuinely happy.
The bride and groom to be drink of a cup of wine to symbolize the bridegroom’s willingness to sacrifice for his bride, and the bride’s willingness to marry him.
During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples:
This is my body.
Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them:
Drink this, all of you.
This is my blood,
God’s new covenant poured out for many people
for the forgiveness of sins.
“I’ll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I’ll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father.”
The Bride Price
Then the groom would pay the price and he would pay dearly to marry the girl of his choice.
“That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”
The Groom Goes to Prepare
“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”
The Groom would go to prepare the bridal chamber, a separate temporary building on his father’s property which would be beautiful and simple, for their week long honeymoon. The preparation would take about a year, and it was the Father of the groom who pronounced it ready. If anyone asked the groom, he would answer…
“The exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.
The Father’s House
You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave Paul as an architect, he designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.
You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
While We Were Waiting…
Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.
The Sign of His Coming? Persecution
“They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.
“In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.
“This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.
“Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.
The Groom is On His Way!
“Yes, I’m on my way!… “How blessed are those who wash their robes! The Tree of Life is theirs for good, and they’ll walk through the gates to the City. But outside for good are the filthy curs: sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters—all who love and live lies.
The Arrival of the Son of Man
“Following those hard times, Sun will fade out, moon cloud over, Stars fall out of the sky, cosmic powers tremble…
“Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he’ll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
“God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.
“In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bridegroom’s here! Go out and greet him!’
“The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’
“They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’
I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.
“Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride. Whoever hears, echo, “Come!” Is anyone thirsty? Come! All who will, come and drink, Drink freely of the Water of Life!
Meanwhile, The Beast…
Earth dwellers whose names weren’t written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be dazzled when they see the Beast that once was, is no longer, and is to come.
The Beast had a loud mouth, boastful and blasphemous. It could do anything it wanted for forty-two months. It yelled blasphemies against God, blasphemed his Name, blasphemed his tabernacle, especially those already dwelling with God in Heaven. It was permitted to make war on God’s holy people and conquer them. It held absolute sway over all tribes and peoples, tongues and races. Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world’s foundation in the slaughtered Lamb’s Book of Life will worship the Beast.
Just then I heard another shout out of Heaven:
Get out, my people, as fast as you can, so you don’t get mixed up in her sins, so you don’t get caught in her doom.
The Father & The Bride
The Father pronounced: “I’ve come back to Zion, I’ve moved back to Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s new names will be Truth City, and Mountain of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and Mount Holiness.”
“Old men and old women will come back to Jerusalem, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, move around safely with their canes—a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing—a good city to grow up in.”
“Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much? But is anything too much for me? Not if I have my say.”
“I’ll collect my people from countries to the east and countries to the west. I’ll bring them back and move them into Jerusalem. They’ll be my people and I’ll be their God. I’ll stick with them and do right by them.”
“Get a grip on things. Hold tight, you who are listening to what I say through the preaching of the prophets. The Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies has been reestablished. The Temple is being rebuilt. We’ve come through a hard time: You worked for a pittance and were lucky to get that; the streets were dangerous; you could never let down your guard; I had turned the world into an armed camp.
“But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people:
Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green.
“My core survivors will get everything they need—and more. You’ve gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I’m coming to save you. From now on, you’re the good-news people. Don’t be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.”
“In the same way that I decided to punish you when your ancestors made me angry, and didn’t pull my punches, at this time I’ve decided to bless Jerusalem and the country of Judah.”
“Lots of people, powerful nations—they’ll come to Jerusalem looking to get a blessing from God.”
“At that time, ten men speaking a variety of languages will grab the sleeve of one Jew, hold tight, and say, ‘Let us go with you. We’ve heard that God is with you.'”
The Angel said to me, “Write this: ‘Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.'”
He added, “These are the true words of God!”
“While the virgins were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked…
“God’s kingdom is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come!
“He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’
“They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city.
“Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled.
“When the king entered and looked over the scene, he spotted a man who wasn’t properly dressed. He said to him, ‘Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!’ The man was speechless. Then the king told his servants, ‘Get him out of here—fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn’t get back in.’
“That’s what I mean when I say, ‘Many get invited; only a few make it.'”
“Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’
“He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’
“So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.
Hallelujah! The Marriage
The Master reigns, our God, the Sovereign-Strong! Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give him the glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come; his Wife has made herself ready. She was given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen. The linen is the righteousness of the saints.
The Celebration of the Wedding Feast
He thundered to the Four Angels assigned the task of hurting earth and sea, “Don’t hurt the earth! Don’t hurt the sea! Don’t so much as hurt a tree until I’ve sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads!”
I heard the count of those who were sealed: 144,000! They were sealed out of every Tribe of Israel.
I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages.
“These are those who come from the great tribulation, and they’ve washed their robes, scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why they’re standing before God’s Throne. They serve him day and night in his Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch his tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.”
Excerpts compiled from The Message. Copyright 2002 Eugene H. Peterson by NavPress Publishing