Appointed To Hope: The Bridegroom Has Not Tarried

…this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27

While I’ve been aware of these last days at other points in my life,  this degree of high-alert is new to me. I’ve never felt so urgent. I’m jumping at everything sort-of-trumpety. I ache with lovesick longing. And as we move deeper into autumn with one significant high-watch season left for 2017, truth be told: I’m also a little tired. But this is a good thing. My sister, a brand new mom, tells me that when you’re exhausted and think you can’t go on, that’s when the baby comes.

Come, thou long expected. 

As we continue to watch, wait and occupy, how do we stay vigilant? How do we continue to endure? How do we protect our joy?

I want to share a study that I hope encourages you as we watch for our Lord’s appearing. Grab a fresh cup of coffee…this is long, but covers a lot of important ground.

Rightly dividing the word of truth

While all of Scripture is written for us (2 Tim. 3:16-17), not all is written to us. And to be workmen that need not be ashamed before God, we must rightly divide it. (2 Tim. 2:14-16)

However, passages can hold more than one meaning or application, and there are shadows & typologies all throughout Scripture. We need to examine them in context and determine who is speaking, who they are speaking to, when, for what, and more in order to glean the fruit of them. I don’t always get this right & am not ashamed to say I’m still learning! And I love God for His kindness, patience & faithfulness.

So I share this with humility as I feel like my “right dividing” is a little messy at times and my edges aren’t perfect.  

I believe that everything Jesus said as He answered His disciples’ questions about “the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world” (Matt. 24:3) was about His 2nd Coming. We can learn so much about Jesus and the end times by studying His parables and the passages about the end of the age, but it’s important to remember that Jesus was a Jew speaking to Jews who did not know about the harpazo. The catching-away of the body was a mystery kept hidden from the foundation of the world until God revealed it to Paul, which means the disciples would not have known to ask about a rapture, and Jesus did not reveal it to them.

However, because His 2nd Coming occurs only seven years or so after the catching away, we watchmen can see and apply many things He said because it’s still a short period of time. (And they also help to illuminate other prophetic Scriptures, such as the book of Daniel.)

Take, for example, the parable of the ten virgins. Scholars have discussed the meaning of it for years. I believe it has various applications, but I want to say softly that this parable was not given directly to the body of Christ, nor is it about us. Jesus, sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, spoke it to the Jews when they asked about His 2nd coming and the end of the world.

It’s about the Kingdom of Heaven. 

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” (Matt. 25:1)

The word “then” suggests a chronological & ongoing conversation about unfolding events. Looking back, we see the immediate context and learn the message of the parable.

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart [note: what is said in the heart is what one believes, rightly or wrongly], My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” (Matt. 24:42Matt. 25:1)

The faithful and evil servants are not part of the body of Christ. The wise & foolish virgins are not part of the body of Christ. They are a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven, which could have been established if Israel had received the One who stood in the synagogue to read from the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:18-21)

Likewise Matthew tells us,

“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:16-17)

The kingdom of heaven is at hand … remember, Jesus spoke only to the ones he was sent to: the lost sheep of the house of Israel. God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way, and this is what the Lord said of him:

“Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11)

And finally, John said of himself:

“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.” (John 3:29)

John the Baptist, friend of the bridegroom and of the kingdom of heaven, is not the bride of Christ. 

The body of Christ is of the kingdom of God. This is an important distinction which helps us to rightly divide and discern, so let’s look at a brief overview of the two kingdoms.

The kingdom of God

Preacher Robert Breaker teaches that the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom for believing Jews and Gentiles (the Church). It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). It does not come with observation; it is within (Luke 17:20-21). To enter, one must be born of the Spirit (John 3:35-6). The gospel of the grace of God is the gospel of the kingdom of God (Acts 20:24-25) and those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21-22). We are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33), which we know is found in Christ.

The kingdom of heaven

Breaker goes on to teach that the kingdom of heaven is a physical kingdom for the Jews. Rejected the first time, the Messiah will restore it in the millennium. He told his disciples not to go to the Gentiles, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-7). As Jew to Jew they preached “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2Matt. 4:17) The Jewish kingdom-mindset revealed itself when they hailed Jesus as the king of Israel in John 12:13Mark 11:9-10 talks about the kingdom of David (or the Millennial Kingdom). To enter the kingdom of heaven, one’s righteousness by keeping the commandments & works of the law must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees (Matt. 5:17-20).

This kingdom was put on hold because Israel rejected God in three ways: they rejected God the Father (Matt. 21:23-33), God the Son (Mark 15:11-15) and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51-60). (See also Matt. 23:1337-39.)

 “Jesus saith unto them, did ye never read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. 21:42-43)

The great mystery: Christ and the church

Even when Jesus returned to the Father & sat down on His throne, Israel still had a chance for the kingdom of Heaven to begin. The Messiah could have come back right then (see Luke 13:7-9). But after Stephen’s testimony and death (Acts 7:51-60) God gave them up (Micah 5:3 / Romans 9-11) and revealed his secret to Paul: that the Gentiles would also be partakers of the inheritance (Rom. 16:25-261 Cor. 2:6-8Eph. 3:1-3, et al.). 
“This is a great mystery,” he wrote, “but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:32)

As the body of Christ, we the Church belong to the Kingdom of God. We are the future New Jerusalem. The parables about the kingdom of heaven can inspire, encourage and inform us, but they are not specifically to us. So when we read the parable of the ten virgins, which Jesus said the kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto, we can begin piecing together an even bigger story. Let’s take a look.

The secret message of the ten virgins

The setting is the 2nd Coming and the “end of the age.” We know this occurs at least seven years after the body of Christ is caught up to be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:15-17), so these passages do not specifically apply to us. The audience are the Jewish disciples of Jesus. In this parable, ten virgins are waiting for the Bridegroom. “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom.” The ten virgins are not the bride; without the bride there would be no wedding at all! The virgins are guests.

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”

Notice that none of the virgins were watching. At this point, they all were asleep. On the outside they all looked the same, which parallels another kingdom-of-heaven story:

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.” (Matt. 13:24-26)

Tares are weeds that look like wheat, but do not actually produce fruit. Only in the appointed season are they made manifest. In the parable, like the wise and foolish virgins, they continued together until the end when truth was revealed. The tares were gathered and burned. Not all of the virgins were ready. For even though they all slumbered and slept, we know there was a crucial difference between them: the wise had enough oil for their lamps. The foolish did not.

“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” (Matt. 25:10-12)

Lord, Lord 

In this parable, Jesus is reminding the disciples of an earlier warning:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:21-23

Those who protested with their “wonderful works” were declared workers of iniquity by the Lord. Why iniquity? Because they put their faith in their own ability to enter the kingdom, receive eternal life and enter the rest of God. They relied on their own righteousness. They trusted in their works to buy entrance to the kingdom, rather than trusting in what was already purchased for them by the blood of Jesus. They didn’t have enough oil. But those who do have enough oil, the ones who do the will of the Father, are the ones the Lord knows and allows to enter in.

What is the will of the Father?

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:28-29)

It is about faith.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. 119:105)

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest…” (Heb. 4:1-3)

So while the parable of the ten virgins is about the kingdom of heaven, we can reap a powerful application because readiness, for us, is about one thing and one thing alone: putting our faith in Jesus Christ.

He already did all the work.

Do you believe? If so, you are ready. If you believe, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and He knows you. He will never turn you away! If you have yet to trust in the blood of Jesus which takes away your sins and grants you eternal life, I implore you to do so today! The gospel is found in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 and is so simple and free. It is truly free to you.

As you see the Day approaching

So now let’s bring this home. We are not the ten virgins. The wife of the Lamb is not found in Matthew 25. The virgins are waiting to go to the wedding feast, where many are called, but few are chosen. We see that they are of Israel, or are Gentiles who become tribulation saints during Jacob’s trouble.

This means our bridegroom has not delayed!

As we, the future New Jerusalem, watch and long for our Lord’s appearing, gather together, share Scripture and end-time theories and videos and encouragement, I know that many of us, including me, are feeling weary. But take heart! I want you to remember this: our beloved is not delayed. He is not tarrying. In fact, Scripture says He will not tarry:

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” (Heb. 10:36-37)

Dispensationally this refers to the 2nd Coming, so we are at least 7 years closer than even this. He is right on {appointed} time, and yet a little while, He will come. I believe He is longing and eager to gather us. Paul says that the Lord Himself will descend for us, while at the end of the age, He sends His angels! (Matt. 13:37-43Matt. 24:30-31) But He is coming. And while God turns back to Israel during Daniel’s 70th week, we will be hidden in the bridal chamber that the Lord has lovingly created for us (John 14:1-3Is. 26:20). Afterwards, Christ will return to earth and reign for a thousand years.

This time will begin with joy!  

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called [see also Matt. 22:1-14] unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Rev. 19:7-9)

We’ll know in a few more days if our Father chooses to send His Son for us during this season, or if we are to wait and continue watching for The Blessed Hope. In the meantime, let’s talk about hope.

Hope is the medicine for disappointment (Rom. 5:5). It keeps our inner fire alive as we eagerly wait for our beloved. We can only hope for what we do not yet have (Rom. 8:23-25), and we who watch are blessed! Think of it…you and I were chosen by God to be alive now as He fulfills all He declared from the foundation of the world. We get to witness things that prophets longed to see. We could have been born at anytime in the last six thousand years, but the Most High chose us to be the ones who are alive and remain.

We are so blessed!

And so now, as we eagerly wait with perseverance, let’s continue to hope and to encourage one another to walk in the Spirit and do the work that He has given to us with joy, knowing our redemption draws nigh.

We may not know everything we want to, and we may not always get our eschatology right. But as we speculate, circle days on the calendar, study the moedims, fervently pray, and jump every time the school band practices their brass on the football field,  know this: right now, every one of us is appointed to hope.

This is our appointed time: hope.

And we can never go wrong with hope.


Protect your joy

It feels like we are on our collective toes here, on the edge of our seats with the expectancy of this season. How are you holding up? How are you choosing to occupy until He comes? How are you holding fast to joy?

Let’s discuss!

Due to Paul’s use of simile, some do not believe the body of Christ is the same as the bride. I have studied this out and respect those who hold a different view, but what I gather from Scripture is that the church (made of believing Jews & Gentiles who were caught up before Daniel’s 70th week) is the New Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb. God was married to Israel, to whom He gave a certificate of divorce but will restore. Thoughts? (Click to Site)

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