Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christ and his beloved bride.

This was a time unlike any other time in history. In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul affirms that the Son of God came to this earth at just the right time in the divine scheme of things. He expresses the thought like this: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law.” (Galatians 4:4) For centuries this time had been in preparation.

Paul also tells us that Jesus came to fulfill all the promises made unto the fathers. Romans 15:8 I SV For I tell you that the Messiah became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God's truth in order to confirm the promises given to our ancestors.

The problem was during Jesus' time the Jews were under Roman domination. Many of the Jews were hoping the Messiah would be more like a political Savior, a King the Messiah who would free them from the Roman yoke.

In response to this hope, a huge crowd set up a virtual parade for Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. They laid down palm branches across the road as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (also prophesied regarding the Messiah). And they called out, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Even Jesus' disciples enthusiastically asked him, "Is this when you will set up your kingdom?"

In short, Jesus did not fit who they expected the Messiah to be. In fact, most of what Jesus did was contrary to their view of a Messiah. The Old Testament Scriptures do contain a multitude of prophecies about the Messiah who will come as ruling, triumphant King and set up his kingdom. In addition to this portrayal of the Messiah as King, there are hundreds of other Old Testament prophecies clearly refer to the Messiah as a Savior from sin. (Isaiah 53:5)

They thought if Jesus was the Messiah, he should think and behave more like themselves. As time went on many of the Jews were going apostasy from the church 1John 2:19; Act 15:24 and became the primary enemies of Christians in the early years. Paul said, “Five time I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes” (2 Corinthians 11:24) as well as in ‘dangers from my countrymen’ (11:26). Then at Lystra,’... Jews came from Antioch and Iconiun, and having won over the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to dead’ (Acts 14:19) Of course, when the unbelieving Jews instigated the Gentiles, they also joined in persecuting Christians. (Acts 14:2) It shows how passionate the Judaizers hatred was against the Christians. Acts recording in 23:14 how the chief priests and elders has made a great oath to even kill Paul.

They were extremely bitter toward believers and inflicted much tribulation. One of the main purposes of Revelation was to encourage the “bride” in the midst of severe persecutions and tribulation they were undergoing. John calls himself their brother and companion in the tribulation. Revelation 1:9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

As time progressed things became worse and Nero began his assault on the Church. This began a great persecution of the Church for 3 ½ years from A.D 64 till A.D 67, These early churches, staggering from both persecution and apostasy. Rather than stand up for Jesus and die, many of the Jews went apostasy. It was a rugged time for the infant churches.

The first collective persecution of the Christians took place in Rome under Nero, towards the close of the year 64, very soon after sentence had been passed on to Paul.
Nero came up with some most extraordinary ways to torture Christians. Nero performed the worst atrocities upon his victims he did not want to just kill Christians, he wanted to make them suffer first. Nero enjoyed dipping Christians in tar, or oil, or resin, and nailed them on pine poles were lighted and burned as torches for the amusement of the mob; while Nero, in fantastical dress, figured in a horse race, and displayed his art as charioteer. Burning alive was the ordinary punishment of incendiaries; but only the cruel ingenuity of this imperial monster, under the inspiration of the devil, could invent such a horrible system of illumination.

Around his palace, were also Christians torches that illumined the night while he yelled: "Now you truly are the light of the world." Nero also performed many other kinds of torture, often killing them in the Amphitheater in front of large crowds of spectators where he did some of his most gruesome murders. The ghastly way in which some of the victims aroused were put to death was to wrap Christians up in animal skins and throw them to the lions, or wild dogs to be ripped apart. Many others men and woman were tied between two oxen or horses tearing these men and women apart in front of thousands of entertained spectators.

At other times he would crucify them, and after the crowd would get bored, he would set the Christians on fire. Nero falsely accused and executed Christians, who were infamous for their faith in Christ. Ultimately, Christians were executed not for the public good or any criminal acts, but on the account that they were believers in Christ.

These are the ones who John said came through that great tribulation in Revelation 7:14 And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The bride’s is clean and bright, denoting her sinlessness before God. The clean and bright linen, which the bride wears also corresponds to the clothing promised to the over comers in the church at Sardis (Rev. 3:4-5).

These Christians had not been defiled by the “harlot woman” and are “virgins to the Lamb of God.” Revelation 14:4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These saints were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Pentecost, the Feast of Firstfruits, represents the first part of God's spiritual harvest.

Notice how the New International Version interprets this verse. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were (purchased from among men) and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4) [emphasis added] The purchase here is the betrothed or bride-price for the virgin. We first see this concept of a bride-price in. (Exodus 22:16-17)

Revelation 14:4 states unequivocally that these first century saints are the virgin to the Lamb Christ. The Bible also unequivocally states, these numbers of them which were sealed are from the tribes of the children of Israel. (Revelation 7:4-10) The 144,000 are called "virgins." Isaiah tells us how God loving delights, over this virgin. “For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:5)

Revelation tells us the bride has made herself ready and the fine linen is identified as the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:7-9 "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His “ wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the “fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' " And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." [emphasis added]

The characteristics describing the bride, making herself ready, and being “arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright,”the righteous acts of the saints” identify those who have been redeemed. In Isaiah 61:10 the saints are joyful to be clothed with the garments of salvation, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah. 61:10)

The chapter begins with a prophecy of Jesus Christ: Isaiah. 61:1-3 Uses the imagery of marriage pictures God's supreme gift. Jesus righteousness, is presented to the saints as a costly robe of righteousness adorning His bride. Just as the bridegroom is adorned with a beautiful robe on his marriage day, so is the bride decked out or adorned with her jewels.