I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25-28).
Two thousand years ago, if a young Jewish man proposed marriage to a young Jewish lady, he would go to her home and present her with a betrothal contract, a legally binding instrument, specifying the terms of the marriage. Chief among these terms was the price he was willing to pay for her.
The price paid for the bride was not trivial. Raising children was seen as investing in one’s future. If one raised boys then they could work on the farm. Daughters, on the other hand, were a long term investment and the bride price was a reflection of the worth of the bride to the groom. It was an insult to offer too little for a bride.
So the girl and her father would negotiate and the bride and groom would seal the contract, the betrothal, with a cup of wine. This is reflected in modern Jewish weddings by the performance of (kiddush) during the (kiddushin), performed with a cup of wine and/or a loaf of bread.
Once the betrothal was sealed, the groom would immediately pay the price for his new bride. The price Jesus paid for His Bride, the Church, was His own life blood as He indicated at the Last Supper.
And Jesus took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26-28).
Once the betrothal was accepted, sealed with the cup, and the groom had paid the price for his bride, he would ceremonially tell his betrothed that he was going to make a place for her.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14: 2).
Two thousand years ago the new couple’s home was built on the property of the bridegroom’s father. It was also to be the bridal chamber and was stocked with provisions to last a week so that the bride and groom could retire there, not to emerge or be disturbed for an entire week.
On this point, the modern ceremony and the old tradition diverge most significantly. Two thousand years ago, the bride and groom saw no one else except each other for the whole week.
The time of betrothal was expected to last approximately one year, until the groom’s father determined when the new home, the bridal chamber, was complete. The groom’s father alone decided when it was time to go and get the bride.
Tell us, when shall these things be? … But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father (Mark 13: 4,32).
During this betrothal period the bride would wait to be taken away at any moment. She would keep a lamp filled with oil, ready to be lit should her groom come for her in the night. Also during the betrothal period the bride would select her sisters and/or friends who were to accompany her to the wedding. They would often spend the night at her house and would carry lamps filled and ready, so as not to be left out when the wedding night arrived.
At last the groom’s father would declare the new home completed and the groom would set out to claim his new bride, usually at night. As the young men drew near to the bride’s house, one of them would run ahead and sound a trumpet or shout that the groom was approaching. This alerted the bride to grab her clothes and her lamp. It also alerted any of her sisters and friends who wanted to attend the wedding party to get their clothes and lamps.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them (Matthew 25:1-10).
The bride and her bridesmaids, and the groom and his groomsmen, would then all go to the new home the groom had prepared. The bride and the groom would retire to the bridal chamber where they would remain for one week. The most trusted of the groom’s friends would wait outside the chamber door for the groom to confirm that the marriage had been consummated. He would then share the news with the other members of the wedding party and with the guests that the groom’s father had assembled, and the celebration would begin.
After a week the bride and groom would emerge as husband and wife, and all would celebrate with a glorious marriage supper.
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(es) of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7-9).
Understanding the Parable of the Ten Virgins
The parable of the ten virgins has been interpreted as Christ coming for His Bride (the Church) at the Rapture but this cannot be the case. The virgins were only friends of the Bride and not the Bride. Also, five foolish virgins fail to gain entrance to the marriage, but at the Rapture ALL that are “in Christ” must be caught up to the Father’s house.
The parable begins with the words, “THEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto…” Jesus was speaking to Jewish disciples about entrance into the kingdom at the end of the Tribulation. The Church did not exist when Jesus spoke the parable of the virgins.
There is no doubt that Christ is the heavenly Bridegroom but there is no mention of the Bride in the parable. John the Baptist stated:
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. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:29-30).
The Church is not just a friend of the Bridegroom but the Bride, and the three parables told by the Lord in Matthew Chapter 24:45 to 25:30 are warnings to those who will be living on earth at “the end of the age” ie., during the Tribulation, for they conclude with the words,
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. (Matthew 25:31).
That is not the Rapture before the Tribulation but the throne of Christ’s glory before the Kingdom. The Lord will judge the living nations at the end of the Tribulation in order to separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the saved from the nations that survive the Tribulation and who enter the kingdom. Only the “wise virgins” who possess the oil of the Holy Spirit in their lamps, will be permitted to attend the marriage supper of the Lamb on earth, at the beginning of the kingdom.
The marriage supper is after the Lord will “return from the wedding”at His glorious appearing (Luke 12:36). Luke adds:
Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them (Luke 12:37).
This is an obvious reference to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb where only the “blessed” attend.
We should note that the second coming of Christ is AFTER the wedding in heaven, therefore the Bride must be caught up to heaven BEFORE the Tribulation. There can’t be a wedding in heaven without the Bride! In Revelation Chapter 19 the Bride comes WITH Christ from the wedding to attend the celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb on earth!
The foolish virgins in the parable relate to the goats who will “go away into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt.25:46). The door to the marriage supper of the Lamb and the kingdom will be shut to them for when the foolish virgins came it was too late, the door was shut. Like the false prophets described in Matthew 7:22-23 they will say,
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 (Matthew 7:22-23).
The foolish virgins will say:
Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not (Matthew 25:11-12).
Some expositors have seen in the virgins, five that represent born again Christians, and five that represent unsaved professors who have never received the Holy Spirit. The oil being a symbol of the Holy Spirit. This interpretation ignores the context. We repeat:
- The parable is pre-Church.
- The Bride is not mentioned and the Bride is the Church Only her companions are Jewish saints like John the Baptist are the friends of the bride and bridegroom (John3:29).
- The Bridegroom is Jewish believers and Gentile Tribulation saints who join Israel in Israel’s 70th “week” are the friends of the Bride and Bridegroom.
[You can read more at Ten Virgins in Context]
Understanding the Olivet Discourse
The Olivet Discourse answers three questions:
- When will the Temple be destroyed?
- What is the sign of the Lord’s coming?
- What is the sign of the “end of the age?”
The “end of the age” is the seven-year Tribulation, and the Coming of the Lord to reign is “immediately after the Tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29).
Who was the Lord speaking to? Were they Jewish believers or New Testament believers? They weren’t Christians because the Church was not formed till Pentecost and the “mystery” of the Church was not revealed until it was given to Paul (Ephesians 3:8).
The Olivet discourse gives signs to the Jews of
- The destruction of the Temple: Jerusalem would be “compassed with armies” (Luke 21:20).
- The coming of the Lord: “They shall see the Son of man coming in the ..” (Matthew 24:30).
- The end of the age: “then shall be great tribulation” like the days of Noah and Lot and when there is a global disappearance of We know, that is the Rapture.(Matthew 24:21).
The Bridegroom paid the price for His Bride 2,000 years ago on the cross and He has gone to prepare a place for her in His Father’s house. Every born-again believer is espoused to Christ.
While He is away in His Father’s house, the 10 virgins “all slumbered and slept.” Israel has “the spirit of slumber” in this Church age while Christ is preparing mansions for His bride (Romans 11:8).
When the Bridegroom comes for His Bride, “one shall be taken and the other left.” There will be a global disappearance of people as a sign to Israel that the “end of the age” has come.
Immediately, 144,000 Jewish men will respond, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. These are the “firstfruits” of Israel (Revelation 14:4) and through them many Jews will be saved. Two thirds will die (Zechariah 13:9) but the entire remnant will be saved (Romans 11:26) at the Russian/Islamic invasion (Ezekiel 39:22). Gentiles who are saved in the Tribulation will join Israel and become “strangers in Israel.”
The parable of the Virgins therefore is a warning to Israel and the world to be ready and heed the final call. Only Tribulation saints with a “wedding garment” (Matthew 22:12) will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb at the end of the Tribulation.
We must remember that the 70th “week” is a continuation of the 69 “weeks” and is the time of Israel’s testimony on earth. Just as saved Gentiles became Jews in the Old Testament, so saved Gentiles in the Tribulation will become Jews in the Tribulation. That is why, when the sheep are judged at the Judgment of the living nations, they will be judged according to how they relate to the Lord’s brethren, Israel.
The King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40).
In the Tribulation the final conflict will be between the God of Israel and the idols of the Beast (Antichrist).
The Olivet Discourse is a message to Israel to be ready.