What will happen to the church during the Tribulation Period? Scripture teaches that while those on earth are enduring the terribleness of the Tribulation Period, those in heaven will be experiencing the: ‘The Bema Seat of Christ’ and ‘The Marriage of the Lamb.’ Details concerning the Bema Seat can be found in another study. In this article we will direct our attention to the Marriage.
Scripture often compares the saint’s relationship with God to a bride’s relationship with her husband. In the Old Testament, the nation Israel is often referred to as the wife of God. (Hosea 2:19-20, Isaiah 54:5, Ezekiel 16) In the New Testament, the church is said to be the bride of Christ.
For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. (2 Cor 11:2)
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. (Eph 5:31-32)
Someone has rightly said, “The marriage of the Lamb will be one of the most magnificent events in all of human history. It will be the consummation of all the hopes and desires of the Father for His Son.” At the Marriage of the Lamb, Christ will be rewarded for His work on the cross. According to the Apostle Paul, His reward will be a redeemed people – His bride, the church. Again to consider the teachings of Paul –
Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. (Eph 5:25-27)
When will the Marriage of the Lamb take place? As with many areas of prophecy, there is some disagreement; however, many Bible scholars believe that the Marriage of Christ to His church will take place between the time the Lord comes ‘for’ His bride at the Rapture and and when He returns ‘with’ His bride at the end of the Tribulation. Consider what these words of scripture have to say:
Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. (Rev 19:7-9, 11-14)
The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 14-15)
If indeed the Bema Seat of Christ and the Marriage of the Lamb take place during the Tribulation Period, it is only logical that they will occur in this sequential order. The reason we say this is because in Revelation 19, the bride is said to be wearing a garment of white linen. At first we might think that this garment represents salvation; yet this same passage also tells us that the white linen represents the bride’s ‘good deeds’ and that she has ‘prepared herself’. Knowing that we cannot cleanse ourselves through good works, we can only conclude that these ‘good deeds’ or ‘righteous acts’ (KJV) are those things that we as believers have done, not as the means of our salvation, but as the result. Again we turn to scripture for clarification. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 –
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Eph 2:8-10)
Prior to the Marriage, saints will stand before the Bema Seat of Christ and have all of their earthly works examined to determine which are ‘gold, silver, and precious stones,’ and which are ‘wood, hay and stubble.’
Purity is a gift the Lord is able to give to His bride as the result of His sacrifice. Preparedness is a gift the bride is able to give to her Lord as the result of her service.
For a outline of other End Times Events covered in this study, click on END TIME EVENTS.