Who is going to be the bride of Christ and who will the wedding guests be? Do I have a chance to be the bride or just a guest? In Revelation 14:1-5, who is this about, the bride, if not then about whom?
1. Who will the Bride of Christ be?
It is a well known fact that the Bride of Christ is the Church. The Apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth who were engaged to the Lord Jesus Christ by the fact that they had received the Gospel which he (Paul) had preached to them and they had entered into the New Covenant.
2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy ; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. (II Corinthians 11)
The Apostle Paul also makes this same reference in his epistle to the church in Ephesus when he compares the relationship between a husband and wife with the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church. Paul affirms that we are members of the body of Christ and that this union with Christ and the Church is a mystery.
29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great ; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5)
The question is, who is considered part of the body of Christ? In I Corinthians 12:13, Paul explains that the Church is made up of all the saints who were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
How can one receive the Holy Spirit? It is possible by faith in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1)
In order to be prepared for the wedding of the Lamb, you must know the Gospel and believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Promised One of God who brings salvation), the Son of God (equal with God), and enter into the New Covenant with God through the person of Jesus Christ.
2. Who will the wedding guests be, those called to the wedding feast of the Lamb?
It will be of great help to us in understanding who the wedding guests are if we learn some of the Hebrew wedding traditions and the time that the wedding will take place.
- Let’s start with the traditions connected to the Hebrew wedding ceremony. Immediately after the engagement ceremony, the wedding preparations began. The groom’s father was the one who would establish the wedding date. No one other than the father, not even his son, the groom, would know the date chosen by the father. The father would prepare the future living conditions for the new family and when he felt that everything was ready, he would tell his son to go and get his bride. On the evening of the day that the wedding is decided, the groom, along with his friends, around mid-night, would go and get the bride and bring her to the ceremony. The bride did not know when the groom was coming so she had to be ready at all times from the time of the engagement until the time of the wedding ceremony. Once the bride arrived at the groom’s house, the invitations to the wedding were sent out and the food was prepared. The wedding feast would last from 3 to 7 days. The young couple would prepare a special place for their first night (what we would call a large tent today). It would be well decorated and prepared for their first night as a married couple. The sign of her virginity was presented to the witnesses and the garment was kept by the bride’s parents. After the wedding, the young couple would go to the home prepared by the groom’s father.
- Now let us examine “when” the wedding of the Lamb will take place. It takes place after the 7th bowl is poured out, after the judgment of Babylon, just before the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, when He puts His feet on this earth for the second time in history. This is the time when He will return to govern the Nations during the 1,000 year reign:
1 After these things (after the fall of Babylon – Revelation 18) I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ” Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; 2 BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS ; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.” 3 And a second time they said, “Hallelujah ! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOREVER AND EVER.” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah !” 5 And a voice came from the throne, saying, ” Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ” Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean ; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ ” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” 10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus ; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems ; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron ; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron ; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. (Revelation 19)
It would seem that this weeding takes place in heaven before the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth (Revelation 19:7-8). But, if we read the context carefully, we observe that before Jesus’ Second Coming, the wedding is announced and the bride learns of it so that she can prepare for the event. She is dressed in her wedding garments. In Revelation 21, which describes events that will take place after the 1,000 year reign of Christ and final judgment, we find the Groom’s bride still dressed in her wedding garments (Revelation 21:9-10) for her Groom. This shows us that the wedding is not over yet.
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth ; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, (Revelation 21)
It seems that the wedding guests are the ones who will take part in the 1,000 year reign (apart from the Church because she is the Bride). They are the “saint” of the Old Testament (they died before the Church came into existence), the 144,000 Jews, the people who were martyred during the reign of the Beast (because they would not worship the Beast/Antichrist and the image of the Beast), the remnant of Israel, and the nations that treated Israel with respect during the Great Tribulation.
3. Who makes up the 144,000?
Some believe that the Bride of Christ are the 144,000 whom we see written about in the book of Revelation. Let’s see what the Scriptures teach about this. We learn about them for the first time in Revelation 7:1-8. The events of this chapter take place after the 6th seal is broken and natural calamities like never before will run wild on the earth. It will be so bad that the people of the earth will believe that the “day of the Lord’s wrath has come and who can survive?” (Revelation 6:12-17). According to the context of Rev. 7:1-8, we learn that the 144,000 come from among the Hebrews (they are Jews), 12,000 from each of the tribes. It is true that the tribe of Dan is not mentioned in this illustration, because it is called the tribe of Joseph and Manasseh. Manasseh is one of Joseph’s two sons. They were born while he (Joseph) was still in Egypt. All 144,000 will be on the earth during the Great Tribulation. They will be sealed with the Lord’s seal and they will not be affected by the plagues that are coming upon the earth.
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God ; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel : 5 the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 6 the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7 the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 8 the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7)
At the time that these 144,000 are on the earth, the Church is stands before the throne of God in heaven and before the Lamb.
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands ; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ” Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures ; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, ” Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “For this reason, they are before the throne of God ; and they serve Him day and night in His temple ; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore ; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat ; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life ; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7)
As you can see, the Church and the 144,000 are two different groups of people. In Revelation 14:1-5, we learn that at that moment, when the Beast will reign from Jerusalem (during the second half of the 70th week which was foretold by God for the children of Israel by the prophet Daniel) the 144,000 are in heaven with the Lamb and they follow Him wherever He goes.
1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders ; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And no lie was found in their mouth ; they are blameless. (Revelation 14)
Here we see that the 144,000 are Hebrews, they are men, and they are blameless before the Lord because they lived a faithful lifestyle before the Lord. The description of this group is different from the description of the saints that make up the Church.
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6)
As a conclusion, we can say that now is the time to get prepared for the wedding of the Lamb so that you can be present at the wedding feast of the Lamb, dressed in white robes, standing next to the Groom. If you die before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ then you will not be able to participate at the wedding feast of the Lamb. Even if you are alive and do survive the Great Tribulation (the chances are slim) the chances of you making it to the wedding feast are slim because after the rapture of the church, God will send a deluding spirit upon those who will be on the earth because they did not believe the Gospel before and they will be condemned.
8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming ; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (II Thessalonians 2)
My dear friend, if you have not entered into the New Covenant and become a part of the body of Jesus Christ then now is the time to do it, because you do not know what tomorrow brings.
Translation by: Erik Brewer