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ONCE UPON A TIME : A TRUE STORY
Authored By : Bill Kochman (aka The WordWeaver)
Published On : December 15, 1998
Last Updated : July 29, 2012
Post-Tribulation Rescue, Post-Resurrection Resurrection, The Elect, Seventh Trump, Impregnated Earth, Harlotry of Israel, Bride And Bridegroom, Married To Christ, Woman In Wilderness Sealed 144,000, Marriage Of The Lamb, New Jerusalem, Fruit Of The Lord's Virgin Bride, Final Harvest Of Souls, Dividing The Cities, Saint's Millennial Rule, The Regeneration, Elect Lady, All One In Christ, Defining Elect, The Prince Returns, Future Home, Predestinated By God, Wedding Garment Parable
As I explain in such articles as the thought-provoking series "The Great Tribulation and the Rapture", contrary to what is believed by Pre-Tribulation Rapture theorists, God's Holy Word clearly indicates that the Lord's children will go through the dark period known as the Great Tribulation; also referred to by some Bible students as the time of Jacob's Trouble. In the following verse from the Gospel of Matthew, we are told that these terrible days of suffering will be shortened for the Elect's sake. The Lord loves His children so much, that as soon as He has determined that the ungodly forces of antichrist have filled their cup of iniquity, He is going to suddenly return, and stop the terrible slaughter of His faithful followers:
"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
Matthew 24:22, KJV
Exactly who is "the elect" to whom the Lord is referring? Based upon my current understanding of the Scriptures, I believe that this Elect represents all saved Christians, be they Jew or Gentile, who will have ever lived on the Earth up until the time of His Coming. The only exception will be those Saints who were already resurrected at the time of the Lord's own Resurrection almost two thousand years ago. We find the following interesting account in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
"Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Matthew 27:50-53, KJV
What I find interesting about the previous verses is that this event is not mentioned in any of the other Gospels. Neither is it mentioned in the Epistles or the Book of Acts. Considering the importance of such an event, I can only wonder at the silence of the other Gospel writers, as well as the writers of the Epistles. What adds further mystery to these verses is that in the Book of Revelation, John refers to the Resurrection of the Saints at the end of the world when Christ returns, as the First Resurrection; followed a thousand years later by the Second Resurrection of all of the remaining dead; thus we have an enigma with no clear answer for now.
Some Bible teachers have suggested that the Lord's Church is male, allegorically speaking, but I believe otherwise. I am quite convinced that the Lord views the Body of Believers as His spiritual multi-national, worldwide Bride. In the not too distant future, like a gallant knight of old who fights for the hand and honour of his beloved princess, the Lord will suddenly return to rescue His virgin Bride-To-Be from the clutches of the Beast; all with the blessings of His kingly Father. Just when all appears to be lost, we will be caught up to Heaven, to meet Him in the air at the sound of the Last Trump; that is, the Seventh Trump, as is discussed by Jesus, Paul and John in the following verses:
"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Matthew 24:31, KJV
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, KJV
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, KJV
"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
Revelation 10:7, KJV
From the very first chapter of the Bible, clear to the end, the Lord uses the male/female relationship as a symbol of His own relationship with His Creation. For example, the Earth itself is symbolic of an egg which was fertilized by the very Spirit of God which hovered over and around it; just like the male sperm which must penetrate the female egg in order to create an embryo:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
Genesis 1:1-2, KJV
Just like an egg, once the Earth was fertilized by God's Spirit, that formless shape began to come alive under the Lord's guidance for the next six days, and took on a clear identity. Please do not misinterpret my words. I am by no means suggesting that the Earth itself is a live being as is espoused by New Age thought advocates who refer to the Earth as Gaea, a name borrowed from ancient Greek mythology; I am simply using this clear Biblical symbolism in order to make a point. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel and Jerusalem are also both characterized by many of the Prophets as a rebellious unfaithful wife who has repeatedly committed the sin of spiritual adultery by following after other heathen gods. Consider the following verses:
"How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers."
Isaiah 1:21, KJV
"For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot."
Jeremiah 2:20, KJV
We will be taking a closer look at this issue later on in this series. Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus shared a variety of Parables in which virgins and a wedding feast were a part of the symbolism He used. These would include the Parable of the Ten Virgins, as well as the Parable of the Wedding Garment. I will be discussing these Parables later on in this series. Even John the Baptist was aware of the spiritual parallel between Christ and His Church, and the role of the Bride and the Bridegroom. In the third chapter of the Gospel of John, we find the Baptist saying:
"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."
John 3:29, KJV
The Apostle Paul also was not ignorant of these spiritual realities. In discussing the issue of grace versus law in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul made the following comment:
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV
In like manner, the Book of Revelation follows this same pattern of equating the Body of Believers to a woman. In chapter twelve, we find the mysterious woman who is forced to flee into the wilderness, in order to escape persecution by the Red Dragon; that is, by Satan, via his earthly rulers. This topic is discussed more fully in my Endtime article "The Woman in the Wilderness and the 144,000". I trust that you will read it:
"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
Revelation 12:6, KJV
In chapter fourteen of the Book of Revelation, John also describes the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed servants of God as being spiritual virgins:
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."
Revelation 14:4, KJV
In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we find that this female symbolism continues with the Body of the Believers being represented by a female virgin Bride, who has kept herself pure and unspotted from the things of the world:
"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 of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."
Revelation 19:7-9, KJV
Finally, in the last two chapters of the Bible, we also discover that the Heavenly City, New Jerusalem, is depicted as the Bride of Christ. She is a reflection of the actual Body of the Believers:
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband . . . And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,"
Revelation 21:2, 9-10, KJV
Thus, we can see that the Lord's true Church is His spiritual Bride, who will go through great travail during the Great Tribulation, "that we should bring forth fruit unto God"; exactly as was stated by Paul in the previous verse from his Epistle to the Romans. Of course, we know that Paul was only repeating what he himself had learned from the Lord; who indeed taught that, as His spiritual Bride-To-Be, we are to bear spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God. You see, just as our Salvation is by faith, even though we don't fully experience it now in the flesh, our future as the Bride of Christ is also something which we accept by faith, now, in this life. That is why even though our marriage to our Heavenly Bridegroom has not yet been consummated, we bear Him spiritual children, now, in this life, as if the event had already happened. Consider the following verses found in the Gospels of Mark and John:
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
John 15:16, KJV
"And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."
Mark 4:26-29, KJV
"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
John 4:35, KJV
While there has been a steady harvest of souls since the Lord walked the Earth two thousand years ago, we also know that He looked forward to a time when there will be a final great harvest of souls, who will be freed from their mortal bodies at the time of the First Resurrection. The Apostle John made specific mention of this great harvest of the Endtime when he wrote the following words found in the Book of Revelation:
"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."
Revelation 14:14-16, KJV
As I explain in the article, "From Armageddon to the New Earth", it is when Jesus Christ returns for His beloved Bride-To-Be, His Elect, that the Age of the Millennium will finally be ushered in; and we, the resurrected and changed Saints, will sit upon Thrones, and reign with Jesus Christ for one thousand years. At that time, as Jesus indicated in the Parable of the Ten Talents, the cities of the Earth will be divided amongst us, so that we might govern them for the Lord. Consider also Jesus' promise to His First Apostles, as well as the words written by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation:
"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Matthew 19:28, KJV
". . . A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."
Luke 19:12b-27, KJV
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
Revelation 20:4-6, KJV
That word "regeneration" found in the verse from the Book of Matthew, is quite interesting. It ties in directly with the word "Elect" spoken by Jesus in the twenty-fourth chapter of the same book. It is derived from the Greek "paliggenesia", which means new birth, reproduction, renewal, recreation or regeneration. So again, as I also explain in the series "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", God is reproducing Himself through the adoption of sons and daughters of God; who are the spiritual fruit of His collective Bride-To-Be; the universal Church.
If we follow my regular practice of comparing Scripture with Scripture, we can find a link between the word "Elect" in Jesus' Endtime sermon found in the Gospel of Matthew, and the Epistles, which will further emphasize the fact that the Lord does indeed view His Church in the feminine gender. As you may know, the writers sometimes begin their Epistles by addressing a specific church located in a certain place. In like manner, they usually conclude their Epistle by sending salutations to the brethren on behalf of the Church from which they are writing. For example, notice how Paul begins and ends his Epistle to the Philippians:
"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:"
Philippians 1:1, KJV
"Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. [To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus.]"
Philippians 4:21-23, KJV
As we saw earlier, throughout the Book of Revelation, John allegorically used the feminine gender in different forms. Having set the pattern, consider now how John also used this very same form of writing when he wrote his second Epistle to a certain unidentified church. In his greeting to that church, as well as in his closing remarks, he wrote the following:
"The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth . . . The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen."
2 John 1:1, 13, KJV
It is not difficult to see that John appears to be writing from one sister church to another sister church. In addition to the fact that he addresses them as females, notice that he specifically addresses the church to whom his Epistle is directed, as "elect lady"; and to the church from which he is writing as "elect sister". In the introductory note in my Bible, it states "Unto the elect lady and her children . . . John probably meant a church rather than a family". Thus, it is evident that even Zondervan, the company which printed this particular Bible, believes that this is what John meant. Thus, as I clearly indicate in such articles as "Is God a Racist?", there is no distinction in Christ Jesus; we are all one in Him; we are all a part of His multiple virgin Bride. Consider the following verses:
"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."
Romans 10:12, KJV
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
Galatians 3:28, KJV
"Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
Colossians 3:11, KJV
The word "elect" is derived from the Greek word "eklektos"; which means to be picked out or chosen; and we have indeed been chosen and called out by God to be part of His Church, the spiritual Bride-To-Be for His very own Son; the Prince of Peace, who has gone away on a far journey to claim His Kingdom! Someday, hopefully very soon, we will be picked out, chosen, and caught up to Heaven, at the time of the Rapture, when our Prince returns for His Bride-To-Be. In that day, He will carry us across the threshold of this current life, and into the next; to a place of unimaginable beauty, which He has been preparing for us since almost two thousand years ago. Jesus told us so Himself before His departure, as you can see by the following verses:
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
John 14:1-3, KJV
That beloved brethren, is the New Jerusalem; our City of Gold which will put the land of Oz to shame! The New Testament is full of verses which clearly indicate that we have indeed been predestinated and chosen by God since before the world began. While most of the blind, foolish people of the world have chosen to go their own way down the wide path which leads to destruction, the Lord has seen fit to make us the chosen and the few. We are indeed His Elect! We are His Bride-To-Be! Please consider the following inspiring verses:
"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
Matthew 20:16, KJV
"For many are called, but few are chosen."
Matthew 22:14, KJV
"And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days."
Mark 13:20, KJV
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:29, KJV
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love . . . Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will . . . In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
Ephesians 1:4-5, 11, KJV
"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"
2 Thessalonians 2:13, KJV
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12, KJV
"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
James 2:5, KJV
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
1 Peter 2:9, KJV
"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
Revelation 17:14, KJV
So you see, we truly are, as Peter states, the "heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him". Of course, as with any marriage here on Earth, before we can attend our much-anticipated Celestial Wedding, we must all make sure that we are properly dressed for the long-awaited Reunion with our Spiritual Husband. This Reunion has been in preparation for quite some time by our Earthly standards. In fact, even in the books of the Old Testament, we find hints of this coming Marriage Celebration. Consider the following interesting verse found in the book of the Prophet Isaiah:
"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."
Isaiah 61:10, KJV
As I discuss in such articles as "The Gospel of Thomas: Introspection or Heaven-spection?", "So You Really Think You Are So Humble?", and "As a Thief in the Night? Not for Me!", this same Garment Of Salvation, or Robe Of Righteousness is also discussed throughout the books of the New Testament. Jesus Himself discussed it on a number of occasions; and why shouldn't He; after all, it was He who spoke through the Prophets of the Old Testament. Many of us are familiar with the following Parable found in the Gospel of Matthew:
". . . The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen."
Matthew 22:1b-14, KJV
As you have probably already surmised, the reason this man was thrown out of the Wedding Feast, is because he was not saved. As I explain in such articles as "The Urantia Book: Attack on the Blood Atonement", "Dracula: Fighting Fear With the Word, Faith and Love", and "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", this man's crime was that he was not found to be without spot or blemish in the Lord's Eyes; that is, he was not found to be free of sin; and thus he was not worthy to participate in this wonderful celebration. As Christians, we all know that the only way to be found free of sin before the Lord, is by being washed in the Blood of the unblemished Sacrificial Lamb of the New Testament; that is, in the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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