by Rick Sterling
And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did to him what ever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” (Matthew 17:9-14 NASB)
The kingdom of the heavens had succeeded in separating themselves from the kingdom of the world. Like the children of Israel, they were in the wilderness, not a literal wilderness, but a spiritual one. Just as was true with their counterpart, these people knew very little of the truth about God. These advent people were “ready” to see the Bridegroom, but not ready to join Him or attend His wedding feast. At that time they all were without a wedding garment (see Matthew 22:11-12). The great deceiver moved swiftly to make sure that they would not recognize that they were naked (see Revelation 3:17). The great deceiver knows how effective a false prophet, or an unwitting messenger, can be. His success with the children of Israel proved how a well purposed deceiver can bend the religious and civil leadership to his will. The people love their prophet, but only as long as their prophet fits their paradigm. The Son of God was the greatest of all prophets, but even the few of those who profess to worship Him know His complete message. His prophecies have been made into devotionals, devoid of any literal application. It is no wonder that the Bridegroom “was delaying” His return.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36)
Never have any words of prophecy been used more than these to abrogate the responsibility to be ready for the return of the Bridegroom. “No one can know the day or hour!” These words have been preached from pulpit and street corner to counter any attempt by anyone that expresses that there is a requirement to know the time in which they are living.
In order to understand this statement in the proper context, we must understand the process of a wedding in Israel. After the father of the bride gave his consent and the young woman accepted the offer of marriage, the young man would go to his father’s house and prepare it for the wedding feast; he would also prepare a room where he would live with his bride. It was only the father of the bridegroom that would tell his son when he could go and get his bride. The son did not know the day this would take place, neither did his servants. When the Son of God made this statement to His disciples, He did not know the day or the hour upon which He would return. In His parting statement the Son of God uses these very words, so that His disciples, and those who read their words, will know what to expect (see John 14:1-3).
After the Son of God had risen from the tomb and returned to His Father’s house in the heavens, He began the preparation for the marriage feast. The prophecy states that ten bridesmaids went out to meet the Bridegroom, which occurred at the end of the 2300 evenings and mornings prophecy (Dan. 8:14) in 1843-44 CE. The number ten has been used in the context for judgment. Noah was the tenth from Adam, ten commandments, ten northern tribes in Israel, the Israelites tested God ten times then God told Moses He would destroy them there in the wilderness and make a great nation of Moses offspring (see Numbers 14:22), and the aforementioned “seventy” as the limit of forgiveness is ten times seven. The number of those who were expecting the return of the Bridegroom was much greater than ten; therefore it is clear that ten bridesmaids is a number indicating final judgment. For the Bridegroom to be delay His return He would need to know the time for the wedding. As a result, it stands to reason that the Father had not yet given the information for the time of the wedding to Jesus when He spoke the words of the prophecy recorded in Matthew 24:36. Had the Bridegroom come in 1843-44 He would have had to destroy the whole world!
The Bridegroom is coming, but only when His bride is ready to go to the marriage feast. In the Hasidic tradition, the bride would not be informed ahead of the time the father of the bridegroom told his son he could go get her. It was therefore necessary for the bride to be ready to go immediately upon the arrival of her bridegroom. She needed to be dressed in her wedding gown, with her hair and makeup in place. As the coming of the bridegroom could be a year or more after the bridegroom went back to his father’s house, it would be necessary for the bride to have knowledge of the time when her bridegroom was leaving his house to come to get her. The bridegroom would also want her to have this information, because if she was not ready when he knocked on her door, the wedding would be permanently canceled. When the bridegroom was ready to leave his father’s house he would send his servants on ahead of him to notify the bridesmaids (the bride’s attendants) that he was on his way. The bridesmaids would then go the bride’s house and help her prepare for the arrival of her bridegroom. In the account of the ten bridesmaids the absence of a bride is apparent. When the Bridegroom comes, it is for His bride that He is coming.
So here is the situation: Since 1844 CE the bridesmaids have been in a “lukewarm” condition, they acknowledge the commandments of God but know little of the testimony of Jesus. They, like the children of Israel before them, keep the seventh-day Sabbath; and having made this agreement to keep the covenant they have accepted God’s offer, His offer to be their God if they will be His people. Like the children of Israel before them, they have never attained to the righteousness necessary to complete the requirement.
This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that He could tell His servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; He sent His angel to make it known to His servant John, and John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close. (Revelation 1:1-3)(JB)
As the Son of God walked down from the “Mount of transfiguration” the three disciples who accompanied Him had had a question that all the disciples shared. Apparently the scribes had spoken to them about the fact that their ignorance of prophecy was going to be their undoing. The scribes informed the disciples that they were following an imposter. Their proof was found in the words of the prophet Malachi;
Remember the Law of My servant Moses to whom at Horeb I prescribed laws and customs for the whole of Israel. Know that I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before my day comes that great and terrible day. (Malachi 4:22-23)(JB)
The text at the beginning of this article describes the account of this dilemma. The disciples were reluctant to ask their Master about this fact in evidence used by the scribes from this prophecy. The scribe’s accusation seemed valid until these three disciples had this experience of witnessing the transfiguration and hearing the voice of God declaring this man to be His son, and in addition seeing Moses and Elijah speaking with Him. When asked about this by His disciples, Jesus proclaimed as a matter of fact, that an Elijah type person was coming and would restore all things; but an Elijah type prophet had already come and the accusers (the scribes) had not recognized him. The three disciples then knew their Master was speaking of John the Baptist. Herein lies a lesson for all; just because the “experts” miss some prophesied event because it does not fit their understanding, they are not released from the responsibility or consequences of their actions. The scribes did not recognize John the Baptist as the promised Elijah type prophet, because he did not fit their paradigm of expectation. Then matters were complicated when they did not recognize their Messiah, thus validating their rejection of Him based upon a misunderstood prophetic expectation.
The Master told His three disciples that an Elijah type prophet would come, who would accomplish the restoration. Revelation 1:1-3 (see above) also describes this person. The book titled “The Revelation” written by John who was an eyewitness disciple of the Son of God, could just as easily been called “The Preparation of the Bride for the Bridegroom”.
It is the bride that is described at the end of the book, and she is prepared and ready, dressed in her wedding gown, with all the accessories. Therefore it is fitting that the beginning of the book describes the initiation of the process leading up to the marriage supper of the Lamb, where the marriage of the Bridegroom and His bride takes place.
Blessed/happy is he/the man who reads the words of this prophecy. Remember earlier when I described the processes carried out which culminated in the marriage. When the father told his son he could go get his bride, the son would tell his servants to go on ahead of him to notify the bridesmaids he was on his way. In order to be a servant of the Son of God you must complete the qualification process. Not only must you keep the commandments of God, but you must know and live the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17). Righteousness is required to be a bondservant of God; therefore, the Elijah type prophet MUST complete the consecration process, there must be no lie found in his mouth, or in the mouths of his fellow bondservants, they are blameless (see Revelation 14:5). As this servant continues to learn the truth, he shares this truth with all who will listen (his fellow bondservants). This individual is represented as having been placed over God’s household. He is described as Faithful and Wise.
‘What sort of servant then is faithful and wise enough for the Master to place him over His household to give then their food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his Master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns.’ (Matthew 24:45-47)(JB)
This Elijah type prophet comes without signs and wonders, out of nowhere, completely unexpected. Like John the Baptist, he will be unknown or ignored by the present day “scribes” (the religious authorities). What is unique about his work is that he is emphasizing the authority and importance of the testimony of Jesus, over all other testimonies. Like the disciple John, he declares that any teaching that does not keep completely within the teaching of the Son of God, is a lie and must be completely ignored (see 2 John).
Jesus gave His angel the information for preparing His the bride and the marriage supper, and it pertained to a specific time in the future. Many religious scholars have declared Revelation to be completely symbolic, having no literal application in this world. Others claim that it was intended for the Jews at the time of their Roman persecution. Still others teach that it applies throughout all ages until the coming of the Messiah. All of these understandings are incorrect, and here is why.
Revelation is a prophecy, according to the word of God in verse two and throughout the rest of the book. God given prophecy has always had specific and literal meaning and application. Yes, there are symbols in prophecy, which are analogies to real accounts. Yet there has never been any indication from God that a prophecy was ever relevant to anything other than a revelation of future reality. Many pastors and religious teachers have declared the book of Revelation to be nothing more than a useful source of devotionals. They have also surmised that it was intended for the Jews and the persecution the endured under the Romans; this concept has been proven false due to the fact that the ‘Kingdom of God’ status has been taken away from them (Matt.21:43). The children of Israel were no longer the house of God (see Matthew 23:37-39). The “timeless” application of end time prophecy is refuted by the fact that those living at the end of days will experience the events of Revelation, and that the preparation of the bride takes place over a three and a half year period (time, times, and half a time)(see Daniel 12:7).
The next event of prophecy is the feeding of the fellow servants by the “faithful and wise” servant (Matt. 24:42-51). During the time when the faithful and wise servant is feeding his fellow servants the 144,000 are being numbered. They are being set-apart from the kingdom of the heavens for a specific use, they are the servants of the Bridegroom who will awaken the sleeping bridesmaids and prepare the wise of that group. The 144,000 are the priests of the kingdom of God.
In the sanctuary were four articles of furniture, all made of gold; a lamp-stand, an altar of incense, a table of the presence, and the ark of the covenant/testimony. Each article of furniture represented one element in the process which will finally accomplish the restoration described in God’s plan. The lamp-stand represented the Kingdom of God on earth; the flames on the lamps are the light of truth which is to emanate from it.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of Men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)(JB)
I turned around to see who had spoken to me, and when I turned I saw seven golden lamp-stands and, surrounded by them, a figure like a Son of Man, dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:12-13)(JB)
If Revelation applies to everyone in all ages, then it really applies to no one at any time. First and foremost, God only commands those over whom He has authority; only those who have made a promise to keep His covenant and obey the word of His testimony. Any instructions, admonitions, or corrections from God are directed ONLY to His Kingdom. The seven messages in Revelation chapter two and three are therefore directed to this Kingdom of the Heavens. The seven lamp-stands also testify to this fact. The messages to the seven assemblies are only applicable when the Kingdom of the Heavens is present. The understanding that there was no Kingdom of the Heavens in existence on earth until the end of the twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings, shows that the application of these messages would have relevance only after the end of this time period 1843-44 CE. The use of the lamp-stand symbol also confirms that these messages are directed specifically to the Kingdom of the Heavens.
The following is a list of the sequence of events leading up to the preparation of the Kingdom of the Heavens: there was no Kingdom of God on earth from the time the Son of God went back to His Father’s house to make the necessary preparation for the wedding feast until the time when the Kingdom of the Heavens separated themselves from the rock quarry (Dan. 2:44-45); God preserved the truth through His presence on earth, the promised Holy Spirit; the Woman described in Revelation 12 is this Holy Spirit, and She waited for the time foretold through the prophecy given to John – and at that time she joined those who were in the process of setting themselves apart for service to God; from the account of the ten bridesmaids (Matt. 25:1-13), we are told that when this happened only half (the five wise) brought the Holy Spirit with them (the Oil); at that time the ten bridesmaids did not fully understand their purpose, and being under the influence and powerful deception of the prophet of the great deceiver (who will be discussed later), they slipped into a drunken slumber; there was one of this number who was not asleep, who recognized the late hour, and began to study the words of the King, as recorded by His eyewitnesses. He shared this information with anyone who would listen, and their numbers started growing slowly and consistently (Matt. 24:42-51); these are the priests, and when this number reaches 144,000 they will awaken the sleeping bridesmaids and lead them to the marriage feast.
-To be continued-