Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he dwelt in the South.
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming. (Genesis 24:62, 63).
The work of Abraham’s servant didn’t end with the procurement of the bride and bringing about her readiness while in Mesopotamia. Rather, there was a final and concluding work, which had to do with removing a prepared bride from Mesopotamia and presenting the bride to an awaiting bridegroom. And the bridegroom is seen waiting (near the end of the day) at a particular place, between his father’s home and the bride’s home, with a view to meeting the one whom the servant had procured and made ready.
And exactly the same thing is seen in the antitype. The Spirit’s procurement of the bride and bringing about her readiness while on earth during the present dispensation is followed by a final and concluding work at the end of the dispensation. The Spirit will remove a prepared bride from the earth and present the bride to an awaiting Bridegroom. And the Bridegroom, at that time (at the end of the dispensation), will be waiting at a particular place, between His Father’s home and the bride’s home, with a view to meeting the one whom the Spirit will have procured and made ready.
In the type, Isaac’s bride was accompanied by other damsels at this time; and they rode upon the camels as they left Mesopotamia. Though the number of the camels is not given at this point in the type, the reference could only be to the same ten camels that the servant had previously brought into Mesopotamia (v. 10). “Ten” is the number of ordinal completion in Scripture, and individuals riding upon “ten camels” at this time would show ordinal completion in relation to those going forth to meet Isaac. That is, they all went forth — not only Rebekah, but all within the scope of that shown by the number “ten.” But only one would be presented to Isaac as his bride, whom Abraham’s servant had procured and prepared.
And it will be exactly the same when Christ’s bride is removed at the end of the dispensation. The bride will not depart alone. Rather, the bride will be accompanied by others, which Scripture clearly reveals will be all other Christians. As in the type, all will go forth together to meet Christ.
But also, as in the type, not all will be presented to Christ as His bride, whom the Spirit will have previously procured and prepared. Only those appearing in the antitype of Rebekah in that day will comprise the bride.
When the caravan of camels carrying Rebekah and the other damsels approached Isaac, Rebekah is seen arraying herself for meeting Isaac. “She took a vail, and covered herself” (v. 65b). Nothing though is said in the type about those accompanying Rebekah doing something of this nature.
This act performed by Rebekah in the type speaks volumes in the antitype, for the same will be true of Christians comprising the bride in that future day. They, as Rebekah, will be granted the privilege of properly arraying themselves for meeting Christ in relation to activities surrounding the bride and the Bridegroom.
(Scripture presents two ways in which a Christian can appear in Christ’s presence in that coming day. A Christian can either appear clothed, or he can appear naked [Revelation 3:18]. And note that which Matthew 22:11-13 reveals will befall any individual appearing naked in Christ’s presence in that future day.)
The bride, under the leadership of the Spirit, will have previously made herself ready to meet the Bridegroom. And, because of this, she will be allowed to array herself in that day (not “be arrayed,” as in the KJV, but “array herself”) “in fine linen, clean and bright”; and this “fine linen” is said to be “the righteousness of saints [‘righteousness’ is plural in the Greek text —lit., ‘the righteousnesses of the saints,’ or ‘the righteous acts of the saints’]” (Revelation 19:7, 8).
But the Spirit, at this time, will remove more than just a prepared bride in order to present the bride to an awaiting Bridegroom. The Spirit will remove all Christians — the complete one new man “in Christ.” Scripture is very clear concerning the all-inclusiveness of Christians in what is often referred to as “the rapture,” which will occur immediately following the Spirit’s completion of His work on earth during the present dispensation. The types clearly show this to be the case; and the antitype, which must follow all of the types in exact detail, shows exactly the same thing.
Numerous Bible students today attempt to see Scripture teaching that the bride alone will be removed at the time of the rapture, with the remainder of Christians left behind to go through either part or all of the Tribulation. Such a teaching though has no basis in Scripture. Scripture clearly reveals that all of the saved from the present dispensation — the complete one new man, comprised of both faithful and unfaithful Christians — will be removed from the earth into the heavens and be dealt with in judgment at the same time and place.
All Christians will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Scripture clearly reveals that “we must all appear,” and Scripture clearly reveals that this appearance will have to do with “a just recompense” being meted out — “that every one [not just a select few, but every Christian] may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (cf. Luke 19:15-26; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; Hebrews 2:1-3).
Mistaken interpretation surrounding the all-inclusive nature of the rapture is often made through either viewing one type alone (e.g., Enoch, in Genesis 5) or seeking to make verses that have nothing to do with the rapture apply to the rapture (e.g., Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10). Suffice it to say, Scripture must be interpreted in the light of Scripture. One part of Scripture must be interpreted in the light of both its context and related Scripture (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13; 2 Peter 1:20).
The whole of Scripture together presents the complete picture as God has set it forth in His Word. All the types bearing on a subject must be viewed together, along with the antitype. And Scripture must be interpreted contextually, not isolated and made applicable to the rapture when the context shows that the text has to do with something other than the rapture.
For example, relative to types, not only was Enoch removed preceding a time of destruction on the earth (the Flood during Noah’s day) but so was Lot, along with his family (preceding the destruction of the cities of the plain). Enoch would be looked upon in a somewhat opposite sense to Lot insofar as a walk by faith was concerned. But both Enoch and Lot are seen removed prior to subsequent destructions, and both must be viewed together in this respect. Then, the information gleaned from these two types can be seen within another frame of reference in Genesis chapter twenty-four, where all went forth to meet Isaac.
These three types, viewed together, present a far more complete picture of the rapture than does any one of the three set off by itself and viewed separate from the others. This is the picture — a word-picture — that God Himself has provided. And God has provided the material forming this word-picture, after this particular fashion, in order to teach His people that which He would have them know concerning the rapture and subsequent events.
And individuals going wrong at this point in Scripture invariably do so for two reasons: They either do not view the different types together (failing to see the complete picture), or they ignore the types altogether (refusing to view Scripture within the typical framework which God established).
Then, there are two central places in the New Testament (along with other related Scripture) that deal with the antitype of these Old Testament references to the rapture, presenting matters in exactly the same manner as seen in the types. And this must be the case, for once God had established these things in the types, no change could ever occur. The antitype must follow the exact pattern previously established in all the types bearing on the subject.
These two central sections of Scripture — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:9 and Revelation 1-4 — both deal extensively with the rapture and subsequent events (as these subsequent events pertain to Christians). Then, there are other Scriptures that deal with either the rapture or with these subsequent events, but not in the broad sense seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:9 and Revelation 1-4 (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 15:51-57).
Thus, putting the whole of the matter together in both Testaments, the complete picture can be viewed, exactly as God gave it, through only one means — through taking all related Scriptures in both Testaments and comparing scripture with scripture. All of the types in the Old Testament bearing on the subject must be studied in the light of all scripture bearing on the subject in the New Testament, or vice versa.
(Then, insofar as the rapture itself is concerned, another problem often manifests itself in biblical interpretation. As previously noted, individuals often use scriptures that have nothing to do with the rapture in order to teach certain things about the rapture.
One or all of three sections of Scripture are usually referenced — Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10. However, these Scriptures have nothing to do with the rapture and should never be used in this manner. The context, in each instance, clearly shows that things other than the rapture are in view.
For a detailed discussion of all three sections of Scripture in this respect, refer to the author’s book, HAD YE BELIEVED MOSES, chapter 13.)
The Ones “in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:9)
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, the Lord Himself is seen descending from heaven, though not coming all the way to the earth. Christ, after descending to a place above the earth, will “shout [lit., ‘issue a command’].” The voice of the archangel (Michael) will then sound, a trumpet will be blown, and “the dead in Christ” from throughout the dispensation will come forth.
Resulting from Christ’s command, “the dead in Christ” will be raised. Christ — Who is “the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25) — must be present to give the command in order for the dead to be raised (cf. John 5:28, 29; 11:25, 43). Then, living believers — those Christians alive at the end of the dispensation — will be caught up together with resurrected believers to meet the Lord in the air.
1) The Spirit’s Work at This Time
This is the time when the Spirit, in keeping with the type in Genesis chapter twenty-four, will remove all Christians from the earth (both the dead [resurrected] and those alive at that time). The work of the Spirit at the time of the rapture though will involve far more than the Spirit simply removing Christians from the earth.
The Spirit imparts life through breath (whether physical or spiritual). The principle regarding this matter was established in the opening two chapters of Genesis; and, once established, no change could ever occur in relation to the Spirit’s connection with life being imparted to man.
This is why the Spirit is seen as instrumental in Christ’s resurrection (Romans 8:11). He had to be the One breathing life into Christ’s physical body in order for life to be restored to that body. The Spirit had to act in this capacity, adhering to an established biblical principle, at the time Christ was raised from the dead.
When Christ descends from heaven and gives the command for the dead “in Christ” to come forth, to remain in keeping with the principle established in the opening two chapters of Genesis, the Spirit will act in this same capacity in conjunction with Christ’s command. The Spirit will breath life into those to whom the command relates — “the dead in Christ” — exactly as the Spirit did at the time Lazarus or anyone else was raised from the dead in the past, else they could not have been raised (Matthew 27:52, 53; Luke 8:55; John 11:43, 44; Hebrews 11:35; cf. James 2:26).
And when both the Son and the Spirit act in these revealed, respective manners, “the dead in Christ” will come forth. They will have to come forth, for the One Who is “the resurrection, and the life” will have given the command; and the One Who breathes life into those without life will have done His corresponding work.
Then there is the matter of both resurrected believers and those believers alive at that time being changed through the work of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:51ff). The dead will not only be raised but their bodies will be changed, along with a change occurring among living believers. The dead will be raised in bodies like unto the body that Christ possessed following His resurrection, and the bodies of living believers will be changed accordingly.
Both the raised dead and living believers — all “in Christ” — will be removed from the earth in what Scripture refers to as “spiritual” bodies rather than “natural [‘soulical’]” bodies (1 Corinthians 15:44-50). Christ possessed a “natural [‘soulical’]” body before His death at Calvary, but He was raised in a “spiritual” body at the time of His resurrection on the third day.
A “spiritual” body, in the preceding respect and the respect dealt with in 1 Corinthians 15:44-50, is not some type phantom, nontangible body. Rather, it is a body of flesh and bones (the same body that the person possessed at the time of death, or the same body that living believers will possess when Christ returns); but it is a body possessing a different type life-giving, animating principle. In the “natural [‘soulical’]” body, the life-giving, animating principle is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). But in the “spiritual” body, the life-giving, animating principle is the Spirit of God (Romans 8:11).
(Note, for example, Christ’s resurrection body. It was a visible, tangible body — the same body that had hung on the cross and that had been placed in the tomb [Zechariah 12:10; 13:6; Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 24:39; John 20:1-29]. Christ though now possessed a body with capabilities beyond the natural [Luke 24:31, 36; Acts 9:3-5]. He had “poured out his soul unto death” [Isaiah 53:12 (a reference to both life and blood; the life, or soul, is in the blood)]; and His blood is today on the mercy seat in the heavenly tabernacle [Hebrews 9:11, 12; 10:19, 20; 1 John 1:6-2:2]. And Christ today possesses a “spiritual” rather than a “natural [‘soulical’]” body, one with a different life-giving, animating principle.)
These things occurring at the end of the dispensation (Christ’s command, and the Spirit’s work in relation to this command) will take place in “a moment” of time, which will be as brief as “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
The word translated “moment” is atomos in the Greek text, a word from which we derive our English word “atom” and a word referring to something so small that it cannot be divided. The reference is to a particle of time so short that it cannot be divided into something shorter (e.g., brevity in time similar to that which man might think of today when referring to a microsecond — a millionth of a second).
Thus, the command by the Lord and all of the work of the Spirit in relation to this command will occur so quickly that Scripture simply uses a word (atomos) showing the most minute particle of time possible, with the brevity of this time illustrated by the quickness of “the twinkling of an eye,” allowing finite man to somewhat grasp the overall thought. And this will be done with a view to the Spirit removing the bride and presenting the bride to the Son.
The bride though will not be made known and presented to the Son until a time following events surrounding the judgment seat. It will only be through decisions and determinations emanating from the judgment seat that the bride will be seen as separate from the complete body of Christians, be allowed to array herself in fine linen, and be presented to Christ in the antitype of that seen through Abraham’s servant completing his work with Rebekah in Genesis chapter twenty-four.
In the type, Isaac is seen waiting for his bride “in the south country” (v. 62) — an apparent reference to his dwelling in the southern part of the land, south of the area where his father lived. And it was here that the meeting between Isaac and his bride occurred.
The same will be true when Christ meets His bride. God’s throne is north of the earth (cf. Psalm 75:6, 7; Isaiah 14:13, 14). Christ, when He descends from heaven, will be “in the south country” — in the southern part of His Father’s kingdom, as it would relate to the earth — south of the Father’s throne. And it will be here, as in the type, that the Spirit will lead the ones typified by Rebekah and her damsels to meet the one typified by Isaac.
Thus, when Christians are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, they will be caught up in one direction alone. They will be caught up toward the north, to meet the Lord at a place in the southern part of His Father’s kingdom.
(Note that this part of the type in Genesis 24 only provides a skeletal sequence of events from the time Rebekah saw Isaac to the time when she became his wife [vv. 64-67]. Events surrounding the judgment seat, among numerous other things, will have to be filled in through not only comparing other types but also through comparing all the things revealed in the New Testament relating to the antitype.)
2) The One New Man
Near the end of the past dispensation, God interrupted His dealings with Israel seven years short of completion, set Israel aside, and called an entirely new nation into existence. This new nation is not Jewish; nor is this new nation Gentile. Rather, this new nation is comprised of believing Jews and believing Gentiles, who have become new creations “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17); and these new creations “in Christ” form one new man (Ephesians 2:11-15).
During the present dispensation, God is dealing with this new man, not with Israel. And this new man — referred to as a nation (cf. Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10) — is exactly as Scripture describes. It is a nation completely separate from all other nations on earth — separate from either Israel or the Gentile nations (Galatians 3:26-29). And God has set aside an entire dispensation in which He will deal solely with this new man.
(In the preceding respect, there is absolutely no place in Christendom for distinctions to be made between saved Jews and saved Gentiles. Both are new creations “in Christ,” part of the one new man, wherein distinctions between those comprising this new man cannot exist [Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:11-15; 3:1-6].
But in Christendom today, completely contrary to Scripture, certain individuals from both groups [from saved Jews, and from saved Gentiles] attempt to form distinctions between the two groups. For example, there are congregations of saved Jews calling themselves “Messianic Jews” or “completed Jews” [both misnomers], distinguishing themselves from saved Gentiles. And there are groups comprised of saved Gentiles who look askance at saved Jews, somewhat forcing saved Jews to meet together in separate places, often referred to as “Messianic congregations,” distinguishing themselves from saved Gentiles.
All of this — by saved Jews or by saved Gentiles — forms no more than vain attempts to build up a middle wall that has been broken down by Christ Himself [Ephesians 2:14].
And, as well, there is absolutely no place in Christendom for the new creation “in Christ” to go back to the old creation in Jacob [cf. Isaiah 43:1, 7; 2 Corinthians 5:17] and attempt to bring things from this old creation over into the new [cf. Matthew 9:16, 17]. God has set Israel aside for a dispensation; and He is, today, dealing with the one new man “in Christ,” not with Israel. And for the one new man to go back to Israel [a nation set aside] and bring things having to do with this nation over into things having to do with the one new man [the Law, forms, ceremonies, etc.] is not only completely out of place but it serves to break down distinctions that God established between the two creations, adding to an already existing confusion.)
The Spirit of God is in the world today searching for a bride for God’s Son, with the search being conducted among those comprising the one new man. And once the Spirit has completed this work, the one new man will be removed, with a view to the one new man being dealt with in relation to the reason he had been called into existence. Then God will resume His dealing with Israel (during seven unfulfilled years, completing not only Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week but Man’s Day as well).
God’s dealings with both Israel and the Church (the new nation, the one new man “in Christ”) must be kept separate and distinct from one another. To have God dealing with either Israel during the present dispensation or the Church once God resumes His dealings with Israel is completely foreign to the way in which Scripture sets forth God’s dispensational dealings with man.
Israel has been set aside, and God is presently dealing with a new nation; and, following the completion of God’s present dealings with this new nation, He will remove this nation, turn back to Israel, and complete His dispensational dealings with Israel. The whole of the matter is that simple.
The one new man — comprised of those “in Christ,” all Christians — will be removed at the end of the dispensation. And this will be for reasons surrounding two nations — both the one new man and Israel. God will complete His dealings with one nation (the one new man), in the heavens, in relation to this nation’s calling; and God will complete His dealings with the other nation (Israel), on the earth, in relation to this nation’s calling.
The former nation possesses a heavenly calling and the latter an earthly calling; and it is only fitting that God will complete His dealings with each in the place to which they have been called.
The preceding is the clear teaching seen in both the Old Testament types and the New Testament antitypes. Biblical distinctions surrounding both Israel and the Church must be maintained, and Scripture must be allowed to speak for itself in that which has been revealed about both.
3) In the Lord’s Day
If the entire one new man “in Christ” (comprised of both faithful and unfaithful Christians living throughout the dispensation) was not removed at the end of the dispensation (as seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), Paul could not have written that which is recorded in the verses that immediately follow (5:1-9). These verses have to do with both faithful and unfaithful Christians, removed from Man’s Day and placed together at the same time and place in the Lord’s Day.
Man’s Day has to do with man upon the earth throughout a 6,000-year period. It has to do with that time when matters have been allowed to remain under Satan’s control, with man having his way and sway in the kingdom under Satan.
On the other hand, the Lord’s Day has to do with the Lord conducting affairs in His kingdom throughout a 7,000-year period. The Lord’s Day runs concurrent with Man’s Day, though not encompassing affairs on the earth during Man’s Day (when fallen man finds himself associated with Satan’s rule and reign). Only when Man’s Day ends, will the Lord’s Day encompass affairs on the earth; and it will do so for a succeeding 1,000 years (for Christ and His co-heirs will then rule and reign over the earth, in the stead of Satan and his angels).
Note that Abraham, following death, saw the Lord’s Day (John 8:56). This was almost 4,000 years ago, in the middle of Man’s Day, as it existed upon the earth. This could be true because Abraham, following death, no longer had a connection with Man’s Day upon the earth. Rather, he then found himself removed from Man’s Day and placed in the Lord’s Day.
And exactly the same thing would be true relative to Christians, whether following death during the present time or when Christians are removed from the earth at the time of the rapture. Events surrounding the rapture show this to be the case in no uncertain terms, with Christians removed from Man’s Day and placed in the Lord’s Day (while Man’s Day continues on the earth).
Christians removed from the earth at the time of the rapture will find themselves in the Lord’s Day (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4), though Man’s Day will still have at least seven years to run upon earth. And 1 Thessalonians 5:1ff clearly shows that the rapture (4:13-18) will include both faithful and unfaithful Christians. Both are seen together in the Lord’s Day, with faithful Christians experiencing “salvation” and unfaithful Christians experiencing “sudden destruction,” “wrath” (vv. 3, 9).
Only when Man’s Day ends — at the end of the Tribulation, at the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week — can the Lord’s Day replace Man’s Day upon the earth. At that time, Man’s Day will end on earth, and the Lord’s Day will begin on earth. This change will occur because the Lord will then reign supreme over the earth, with the whole of God’s affairs in His kingdom being brought under the scope of time referred to by the Lord’s Day.
(There is a common but fallacious interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 which relates these verses to individuals left behind at the time of the rapture, to go through the Tribulation [with the advocates of this teaching referring to the Tribulation as “the Day of the Lord,” or “the Lord’s Day”].
This though cannot possibly be correct, for the Lord’s Day will not begin on earth until after Man’s Day has run its course. It cannot begin until the Tribulation is over.
Scripture is quite clear concerning the time when the Lord’s Day begins on earth. The Lord’s Day begins on earth in connection with judgments at the time Christ returns to the earth [not at some point in time during the Tribulation, preceding Christ’s return], and the Lord’s Day will continue as long as this present earth exists. Time in relation to the succeeding new heavens and new earth, following the Messianic Era, is called “the Day of God,” when God will be “all in all” [Joel 2:27-32; 3:9-16; Mal. 4:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; 2 Thessalonians 2:2, 3; 2 Peter 3:10-13].)
All Seven Churches (Revelation 1-4)
Revelation chapters one through four present exactly the same thing as is seen in chapters four and five of 1 Thessalonians, though from a different perspective. This section of Scripture deals with John being removed from Man’s Day, placed in the Lord’s Day, and seeing the complete Church — all seven Churches in chapters two and three — appearing in Christ’s presence (1:10ff).
The description that John gives of Christ in chapter one (vv. 13-16) depicts a Judge, not a Priest. The girdle is seen about His breasts (where a judge would wear it), not about His waist (where a priest would wear it). And the various things about His description, viewed together — “fire,” “brass,” a “sword,” etc. — speak of judicial activity rather than priestly activity.
Christ, at this time, will have completed His high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (a ministry performed solely on behalf of Christians throughout the present dispensation, while they are on earth during Man’s Day). Completing His ministry, with the dispensation over, Christ will have come forth from the sanctuary; and, following events surrounding the rapture, Christ will sit in judgment upon those for whom He had previously ministered in the sanctuary — a judgment which will be executed in the Lord’s Day, not in Man’s Day.
For John to see this heavenly scene, he would not only have had to be removed from Man’s Day and be placed in the Lord’s Day but he would have had to be moved forward in time. And God moving man into a different time period in this manner is not something new in Scripture. Ezekiel, for example, had previously been moved both back in time and forward in time (Ezekiel 8:1ff; 37:1ff).
John, placed in the Lord’s Day and moved forward in time, records exactly what he saw. John saw all seven churches (singled out and dealt with in chapters two and three) in Christ’s presence. Those comprising all of the churches were present, even those comprising the worldly, carnal, lukewarm church in Laodicea (1:11-13, 20).
“Seven” is a number showing completeness. This number shows the completeness of that which is in view. The “Church” is in view, and the seven churches in chapters two and three, seen in Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Day in chapter one (with Christ appearing as Judge), can only depict one thing. This scene can only depict the complete Church — all Christians from throughout the dispensation, the complete one new man — appearing in Christ’s presence in heaven, in a judicial scene, in the Lord’s Day.
The types clearly show all Christians being removed together, at the same time. The antitype clearly shows exactly the same thing. And man, teaching on the subject, would do well to remain in accord with both.