6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God."
The meaning of this vision becomes clear when one considers a few other key passages in the New Testament. Among them, the statement made by Paul in Ephesians 5, when in the midst of discussing how a husband and wife should relate to each other, he says, “This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Add to this Jesus’ "Parable of the Ten Virgins" (Matthew 25:1-13), shared in his "Olivet Discourse" (a sermon He delivered from the mount of Olives the week before He was crucified and recorded in Matthew 24 and 25), along with His famous statement to His disciples which he made on the night before He was crucified (as recorded in John 14:1-3), when He says,
1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am".
When we research what lies underneath these statements, we soon discover that each of them is alluding to something that the original audience would have well understood, but which has been lost to us down through the intervening centuries. The key is in understanding Jewish marriage customs of the First Century A.D.
The custom was for the groom to go from his father’s house, where he resided, to the house of the bride’s father, where she resided. Once there, he would propose marriage, negotiate and pay any price for the bride, and then seal the pact with a cup of wine. Thereafter, the couple would be officially betrothed.
The groom would then return to his father’s house, where for a period of approximately one year, he would busily prepare a dwelling place for his new bride. At the end of this time, known as the "period of separation", on an unannounced night, when his father so instructed him, the groom would form a processional and then leave to retrieve his bride.
Amidst much fanfare, including the sounding of trumpets and shouts of “Behold the Bridegroom comes”, he would arrive at the home of the father of the bride, where he would then call for his bride to come out and meet him in the courtyard. Once she came out to him, he would then take her back to his own father’s house to consummate the marriage.
An elaborate wedding feast would then ensue, which often lasted for as long as seven days. (Consider Jesus’ miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, when the hosts committed the social faux pas or running out of wine after a lengthy celebration.)*
I hope this vision of the second coming of Christ helps to inform your understanding of His first coming. I hope an appreciation for the Second Advent enriches the season when we celebrate the First Advent. I trust this Christmas will give you peace and joy. But I also pray that it will give you hope for the future as well.
Luke recorded the famous passage of the birth of Christ in his Gospel (2: 1-14). Later, in the opening chapter of the book of Acts (verse 11), he added the following: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Amen! Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
*This is admittedly a brief summary of a very complex event. To read more, check out the following web links: