Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Rapture of the Church and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Rapture of the Church and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Chapter Seven
The Rapture of the Church and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Christian-dumb is rampant with various rapture theories.  However, the Scriptures are clear.  We must be careful in our reading of the Bible texts and what they teach about the resurrection.  There are three basic positions on the rapture of the Church; Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation (included here is the Pre-wrath rapture position), and Post-tribulation.  To arrive at a Biblical understanding, we must be careful to maintain two distinct perspectives from the Word of God.  First, we must maintain a literal hermeneutic giving us an understanding of transitions between Dispensations.  Second, we must be equally careful to maintain a clear distinction between the Church and Israel in our Eschatology.  Failure in either of these areas will prove fatal.

         It is critically important to see that the resurrection of Church Age believers takes place in three phases.  Paul refers to these three phases of the “first resurrection” in I Corinthians 15:23 as “every man in his own order.” 

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming {“in the air” for the Church and then establish to the Kingdom}” (I Corinthians 15:17-23).

It is also important to understand that the resurrection of the body is not merely the resurrection of a dead, corrupt body of flesh to exist as it did before death.  The resurrected body of the believer will be glorified.  This means this new body will not be the same as the old body.  This new body will be eternal, it will not grow old, and it will not suffer from many of the limitations of the fallen body. 

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:1-3).

         The first thing we should understand is that the seven-year tribulation period is the seventieth week of Daniel.  It refers to a dispensational transitory period between the Church Age and the Millennial Kingdom Age.  It deals specifically with the judgment of this world and the restoration and judgment of national Israel just before the second coming of Jesus to the earth.  This is to what God refers in Zechariah 2:10-13.

10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. 11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. 13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation” (Zechariah 2:10-13).

The Church is not mentioned after Revelation 4:1 where the Apostle John represents all believers at the rapture.  Notice the similarities between Revelation 4:1 and I Thessalonians 4:14-17.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1).

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:14-17).

         The tribulation period is the “day of God’s wrath.”  It will be preceded by the rapture of the Church.  The first thing that will happen after the rapture of the Church is the revealing of the Antichrist on Earth (Revelation 6:2; the rider on “a white horse”) in the opening of the first “seal” judgment.  He will be a part of the releasing of God’s wrath upon the earth.  It is obvious from Scripture that God’s intent is to completely deliver all Church Age believers from this “wrath.”

“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath {not just some wrath, but ALL wrath} through him” (Romans 5:9).

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10).

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:9).

There are many who errantly believe that God will not rapture the Church from the earth until after the Tribulation.  This cannot possibly be true for several reasons.  The central evidences against the Post-tribulation rapture are twofold.  First, Christ cannot return with His “saints” at the end of the tribulation period to establish His Kingdom if they have not already been resurrected and glorified.  Yet the Scriptures repeatedly state He will return with His “saints.”

13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

“And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14:5).

“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (I Thessalonians 3:13).

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14).

         A basic understanding of the Old Testament reveals that “fine linen” was the clothing of the priests.  The saints of the New Covenant will be the “royal” and “holy” priesthood of Christ during the Kingdom Age (I Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:6; 2:26-28; 5:10; and 20:6).

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:11-14).

         The secondly thing we must also understand is that the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-10) will take place in Heaven prior to the second advent of Christ, which will obviously require the presence of the Bride (the Church).  

The common Jewish wedding celebration (“marriage supper”) lasted seven days.  Since the tribulation period is the “seventieth week” of Daniel, we can conclude that the “marriage supper of the Lamb” will last for the whole of the tribulation period.  The Church will be in glory with Christ for that whole period, not just the last few days (years).

         Some confusion regarding when the rapture of the Church happens is caused by a misunderstanding of the completion of the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:4-6.  During the Tribulation, millions of people will accept Christ as their Savior.  Most of these people will be martyred for Jesus Christ.  They will either be “beheaded” or they will starve to death because they will not be allowed to work or buy or sell goods without the “mark of the beast.”

15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:15-17).

         The resurrection and glorification of the martyred Tribulation saints will not take place until after (or at) the second advent of Christ.  This means they will be resurrected from the dead (redemption of the body, Romans 8:23 and glorification) at the beginning of the Kingdom Age.  They will share in the Kingdom Age reign of Christ.  This completes the first resurrection that began with Christ’s resurrection/glorification, then the rapture of Church Age believers prior to the beginning of the Tribulation period.

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead {the lost} lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

         The tribulation saints must be distinguished from Israel as well.  The probability is they will share in rule with Christ as part of the Church since they die prior to the second advent of Christ.  The Tribulation is transitory in nature.

9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. . .14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9 and 14).

         From all that we can see from an inductive, literal interpretation of Scripture up to this point, it would be a serious mistake to presume that because the Tribulation saints are not resurrected until after the Tribulation that the rapture of the Church will not take place until that time.  It should be clearly understood from Revelation 20:5 that this is intended to complete the first resurrection that had happened earlier. 

Christ is the “firstfruits” (I Corinthians 15:20-23), then all Church Age believers from the Day of Pentecost to the beginning of the Tribulation, and then the martyred tribulation saints at the second coming of Christ.

Another text that causes much confusion because it is taken out of its dispensational context is Matthew chapter twenty-four.  The confusion is forced upon Matthew chapter twenty-four because of a misunderstanding of Christ’s epistle to the local church at Sardis in Revelation chapter three.  Because people confuse Christ’s statement about coming as a thief, they assume He is coming for believers.  Revelation 3:1 tells us that there were lost people in the church of Sardis.  Therefore, Jesus speaks to the lost in first part of Revelation 3:3 calling them to remember the Gospel, repent, and be saved.  This manifest their being lost because they do not “watch” for the coming of Jesus.

“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:3).

         Therefore, Revelation 3:3 is not referring to the rapture of Church Age believers.  Instead, the text refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ after the Tribulation period and at Armageddon.  The ramifications of this warning are very broad.  Since the redeemed will not go through the Tribulation period and will be raptured (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) prior to this, this means that these people are lost.  This confirms the meaning behind the statement “thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1).  Christ’s coming “as a thief” is a reference to Matthew 24:43.  In this context, this phrase refers to Christ coming in judgment.

37 But as the days of Noe were {Did the lost survive the judgment of God in the great flood?}, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they {the lost} were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away {in judgment and death}; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be {this is at Armageddon, when Jesus comes to the Earth, not just in the air}. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken {killed in judgment}, and the other left {alive to go into the Kingdom Age}. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken {killed in judgment}, and the other left {alive to go into the Kingdom Age}. 42 Watch {this is for those saved during the Tribulation; saved people ‘watch’} therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched{lost people do not watch}, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready {this is for those saved during the Tribulation}: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:37-44).

         In the “days of Noah,” those taken by the flood were taken in judgment and condemned.  The “one” taken in Matthew 24:40 is taken in judgment and condemned.  Those left will enter His kingdom alive.  Therefore, the warning in Revelation 3:3 appears to be that they should carefully consider if there is any reality to their faith because their practices were contrary to their profession of faith in Christ.  The warning of Revelation 3:3 to “watch” is to be prepared for the coming of the Judge.  The only way to be prepared for His coming is to be prepared by salvation. 

1 And after these things {the judgment of the great whore} I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. 5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 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. 8 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. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy: (Revelation 19:1-10).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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