Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
The Son with His Wife
And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.
Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah.
And she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
At the end of Genesis chapter twenty-four, Abraham’s servant is seen removing the bride, Rebekah (whom he had procured for Isaac), from Mesopotamia. Isaac dwelt in “the south country” at this time; and when the meeting occurred between Isaac and Rebekah, it occurred in a “field” in the “evening” (vv. 62-65). Isaac met Rebekah at a place between her home and his father’s home. Isaac then took Rebekah to his father’s home and took her inside his mother’s tent. And it was inside his mother’s tent that she became his wife.
The different things foreshadowed by these events can clearly be seen in the antitype. The place and time are seen by the use of the words “field” and “evening.” “The field” is a reference to the world in Scripture (Matthew 13:38); and “evening” has to do with the end of the day. A more literal translation of “evening” from the Hebrew text would be, as evening approached. The day was ending, and the thought, in the antitype, would have to do with the end of the dispensation.
Though the meeting between Christ and His bride will occur “in the air” rather than upon earth or at His Father’s home (1 Thessalonians 4:17), it will be more closely associated with this world (“the field”) than with the Father’s home in heaven. And this meeting will occur as the dispensation draws to a close (in the “evening”).
Then, following events surrounding the judgment seat (not dealt with in the type in Genesis 24 [ref. Ruth 3 for details in this realm]), the Son will take His bride to His Father’s home and take her inside His mother’s tent. And there, inside the tent, she will become His wife.
In the type, Isaac’s mother was Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who had previously died. And “Sarah” in the overall type in Genesis chapters twenty-one through twenty-five typifies Israel. Thus, in the antitype, Christ’s mother is seen as Israel, the Father’s wife, whom the Father has set aside and views as dead throughout the present dispensation (cf. Hosea 5:13-6:2; Jonah 1:17-2:10; John 11:3-7, 25, 43, 44).
After Christians have been removed from the earth, the bride will be made known through events surrounding the judgment seat. The Son will then take His bride to the Father’s home, take her inside Israel’s tent, and she will there become His wife.
This is seen in Genesis chapter twenty-four through Isaac taking Rebekah into his mother’s tent (v. 67), it is seen in Ruth chapters three and four through Ruth remaining with Naomi while Boaz redeemed the inheritance at the gate of the city (3:18-4:10), and it is seen in the antitype in the book of Revelation through the inheritance being redeemed during the same time that God completes His dealings with Israel (chapters 6-18).
The same thing can also be seen during Christ’s earthly ministry in the parables that He gave in Matthew chapter thirteen. Christ reentered “the house” (a reference to Israel [vv. 1, 36]) before he gave the last three parables, which deal with this overall issue (ref. the author’s book, MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM, chapters 10-12).
Israel must be brought back into the picture, for the marriage can occur only one place — in Israel’s tent. Two central types in the Old Testament show this to be the case, and so do Matthew’s gospel and the antitype in the book of Revelation.
But what is so significant about Israel’s tent? Why did God establish the matter after this fashion in the types and the parables, requiring it to be brought to pass after the same fashion in the antitype? The answer is very simple.
Spiritual blessings are involved, which necessitates an Israeli connection of this nature. This union (Christ and His wife), in the antitype, is to result in spiritual blessings for all mankind as the King, with His consort queen, rules the nations (Genesis 22:17, 18; Psalm 2:6-9; Revelation 2:26, 27).
Spiritual blessings, seen after this fashion, are first introduced in Scripture in Genesis chapter nine. The three sons of Noah and their progeny are in view, and Shem is the only one seen to have a God; and, in order to receive spiritual blessings, Ham, Japheth, or their descendants would have had to dwell in the tents of Shem (vv. 24-27).
This is the reason why Abraham, a descendant of Shem (Genesis 11:10-26), could be called out of Ur to be the channel through whom the nations of the earth would be blessed. He was of the lineage which had a God, the lineage wherein spiritual blessings lay.
Thus, the things surrounding Abraham and his call draw from earlier foundational teachings surrounding Shem. The foundation was set in Genesis chapter nine; and, whether dealing with Abraham’s call in Genesis chapter twelve or with the bride in Genesis chapter twenty-four, matters are exactly the same.
In short, when spiritual blessings are involved, there has to be a connection with Shem and his lineage through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, i.e., a connection with the nation of Israel. Accordingly, the marriage has to occur in Israel’s tent. It can occur no other place and result in spiritual blessings for all mankind.
As seen by comparing the type in Ruth chapters three and four with the antitype in Revelation chapters six through eighteen, the marriage occurs during the time in which God completes His dealings with Israel, during Man’s Day. It will occur through the process of Christ redeeming the inheritance as He breaks the seals of the seven-sealed scroll (Revelation 5ff). And, as in the type, not only will the inheritance be redeemed through this process, but the bride will become the Lamb’s wife as well.
This is the scene with which one is confronted as he reads through Revelation chapters six through eighteen. And, when he comes to chapter nineteen, not only will all the terms set forth in the seven-sealed scroll have been met (the inheritance will have been redeemed, and the bride will now be the Lamb’s wife) but God will have completed His dealings with Israel during this same time as well.
Through the judgmental process used to redeem the inheritance, the armies of the nations of the earth, at the end of Man’s Day, will be gathered “to the battle of the great day of God Almighty.” The cities of the nations will fall, along with Babylon, the capital of the nations at the end of Man’s Day (Revelation 16:12-21). And at the time Christ returns, Gentile world power, existing among the rubble and carnage of that day, will be completely destroyed (cf. Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45). This is what is seen in the latter part of Revelation chapter nineteen.
But between the activities surrounding the redemption of the inheritance (which will result in the marriage of Christ to His bride inside Israel’s tent) and the time when the heavens are opened and Christ returns, there is a revealed and concluding event in heaven. Immediately following the activity inside Israel’s tent and immediately preceding the heavens being opened, the festivities surrounding the marriage of the Lamb occur (Revelation 19:7-9).
The Marriage Festivities
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come [‘came’], and His wife has made herself ready.
And to her it was granted to be arrayed [‘array herself’] in fine linen, clean and bright and white: 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.”
Events in Revelation 19:7-9 are not to be confused with the marriage, which will have already occurred. These verses have to do with the festivities that follow the marriage.
The bride will have previously been revealed through events surrounding the judgment seat (Revelation 1-3), and the marriage will have previously occurred at the time Christ redeems the inheritance (Revelation 6-18). Then, immediately preceding Christ’s return to take control of the domain that He will have previously redeemed (Revelation 19:11ff), time is set aside for the festivities surrounding the marriage of the Lamb (vv. 7-9).
These marriage festivities are dealt with several places in Scripture, more notably in Matthew 22:8-14; 25:1-13. There is nothing in these passages about the marriage itself. Rather, these passages deal solely with the festivities that follow the marriage. And the emphasis, as in the book of Revelation, is upon these festivities.
(The book of Revelation, as the parables in Matthew 22, 25, does not really deal with the marriage per se. Nothing is said in chapters six through eighteen [the time during which the marriage occurs] about Christ’s marriage to the bride who had previously been revealed at the judgment seat [chapters 1-3]. Rather, the marriage occurring in these chapters, through Christ redeeming the inheritance, is seen and dealt with elsewhere in Scripture. Following exactly the same chronology of events that would later be set forth in the book of Revelation, the marriage is seen and dealt with in biblical typology, in the book of Ruth.
In order to understand how the revealed bride in the book of Revelation [chapters 1-3] becomes the Lamb’s wife [chapter 19a], one has to go to the book of Ruth [chapters 3, 4]. The book of Revelation forms the capstone to all previous Scripture, beginning in Genesis. And an individual can’t begin reading Scripture in the book of Revelation and expect to arrive at any semblance of a correct understanding of this book, for he will have no foundation upon which he can build.
Rather, he is to begin where God began and understand foundational truths after the same fashion in which God revealed them. And when an individual with this type of knowledge of Scripture arrives at Revelation chapters six through eighteen, he will understand that which is occurring through Christ’s redemption of the inheritance [Christ’s marriage to the previously revealed bride], though it is not even mentioned in this part of the book. And this understanding will be derived, not from the book of Revelation, but from previous Scripture.
The person who has an understanding of the foundational truths from the Old Testament — knowing what is happening as Christ redeems the inheritance in Revelation 6-18 — probably wouldn’t give a second thought to the fact that there is no mention of Christ’s marriage to His bride in these chapters. Why should he? The marriage, occurring at this time, will have already been dealt with in previous revelation, and he would know this. He would be able to compare the types with the antitype, run all the checks and balances, and see exactly what is happening in this respect. For such an individual, it would be superfluous material to reread the matter in the book of Revelation.)
But because most Christians in the world today lack a background of this nature from Old Testament typology, man’s systems of biblical interpretation generally do not follow biblical guidelines at all when the marriage festivities in Matthew 22:8-14; 25:1-13; Revelation 19:7-9 are dealt with. And not understanding that which is being dealt with, individuals, more often than not, attempt to read eternal verities [eternal salvation, damnation] into events surrounding these marriage festivities; and any semblance of sound interpretation through comparing Scripture with Scripture is, as a result, thrown to the winds.
Within man’s system of biblical interpretation in this respect, the wedding garment is declared to be the righteousness of Christ (showing one’s eternal salvation), entrance into the festivities (through possessing a wedding garment) is declared to be synonymous with eternal salvation, and exclusion from the festivities (through lack of a wedding garment) is declared to be synonymous with eternal damnation.
But these are man’s thoughts and ideas, not those emanating from Scripture. Such teachings have nothing to do with that which is being dealt with in matters surrounding these festivities. The saved alone are in view; and from among the saved, two different groups are in view: 1) those forming the wife of the Lamb; and 2) those not forming the wife of the Lamb.
The former will be invited to participate in activities surrounding the marriage festivities. But this will not be the case with the latter at all. Rather they will be denied entrance into the place where these festivities will occur.
In Matthew 22:8-14, these two groups of individuals are dealt with in a parable having to do with the marriage festivities: There were “the guests [lit., ‘reclining ones’ (the bride)],” and there were the ones not allowed to enter into and participate in the activities attendant the bride (represented by the man appearing without a wedding garment, who was cast into the darkened courtyard outside the banqueting hall).
In Matthew 25:1-13, these same two groups of individuals are dealt with in another parable having to do with the marriage festivities, through presenting the activity of five wise and five foolish virgins: Those who had properly prepared themselves, the five wise virgins, were allowed to participate in the marriage festivities. But those who had not properly prepared themselves, the five foolish virgins, were denied entrance into the place where the festivities were occurring. They were left at a place outside the door leading into the festivities.
And the parable that follows — the parable of the talents — is given to explain and shed additional light upon the parable of the ten virgins. This parable begins with the Greek words Hosper gar, meaning “For just as.” These connecting words tell the reader that the parable about to follow is just like the parable that preceded. And this parable ends with the unfaithful servant cast into the darkness outside (v. 30).
Thus, in the explanatory parable of the talents, the place outside the door to the marriage festivities in the previous parable, the parable of the ten virgins, is seen to be exactly the same place outside the marriage festivities in Matthew 22:8-14 — the darkness outside, or the darkened courtyard outside the banqueting hall.
But in the final summation of the matter in Revelation 19:7-9, only things surrounding the wife are dealt with. Those not allowed to participate in these activities are not dealt with at this point in the book (as they are in Matthew 22, 25). Rather, the matter in the book of Revelation is set forth exactly as it is in the book of Ruth. In the type, from the book of Ruth, only the wife is dealt with at this point in the book. And the matter is the same in the antitype in the book of Revelation.
(For a full discussion of “The Outer Darkness,” refer to the Appendix in the author’s book, JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, [reprint edition].)
Following the marriage festivities, the heavens will be opened, and Christ will come forth on a white horse as the “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” He will return to the earth “with His mighty angels” and complete the overthrow of Gentile world power under Satan, along with the overthrow of Satan and his angels.
Man’s Day will end, and the Lord’s Day will begin (Joel 3:9-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 19:11ff). Then the way will be opened for Christ and His wife to ascend the throne — He as King, and she as consort queen.
There are numerous events connected with Christ’s return, both preceding and following the time when the heavens are opened in Revelation 19:11ff. This is the way in which the book of Revelation is introduced. It is a book about “The Revelation [Gk., Apokalupsis, ‘Revealing,’ ‘Unveiling,’ ‘Appearance’] of Jesus Christ…” It is a book about that day when He comes “with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him…” (Revelation 1:1-7).
The book of Revelation is a book dealing with Christ’s return, and Scripture deals with the overall subject surrounding Christ’s return in a manner quite different than man is usually inclined to view the matter. Man usually sees Christ’s return as a single event, occurring at a point in time (e.g., Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 1:7; 19:11ff). But Scripture deals with Christ’s return in a broader sense than this. The whole of the book of Revelation is about Christ’s return. Revelation 19:11ff simply records the apex of the matter.
And His return in this book begins with events occurring at least seven years prior to the time when the heavens are opened and He comes forth on a white horse. Events in this book begin with Christians being removed from the earth at the end of the dispensation, with events surrounding the judgment seat following (chapters 1-4). The book then continues with Christ’s redemption of the inheritance (chapters 5-18), God completing His dealings with Israel during Man’s Day (chapters 6-18), and the marriage festivities being brought to pass (chapter 19a). Only then is the apex reached, with the heavens being opened (chapter 19b).
All these things are inseparably connected with Christ’s return. This is why, for example, in Luke 17:30, 31, that an event occurring in the middle of the Tribulation (v. 31; cf. Matthew 24:15-22) is directly associated with Christ’s return to the earth at the end of the Tribulation (v. 30). This is also why resurrections and judgments occurring at “His appearing and His kingdom” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23; 2 Timothy 4:1) — though separated by time — are dealt with in these two singular senses, i.e., either at his appearing, or in his kingdom.
“His appearing” covers the whole of the time seen in the book of Revelation. Christians are raised from the dead and dealt with at least seven years prior to the time Christ returns to the earth, raises Israel from the dead, and deals with the Jewish people after a similar fashion to the way in which He had previously dealt with Christians. But yet, these events surrounding both Christians and Jews are included in the words, “His appearing.” And numerous other events, either immediately preceding or immediately following His return to the earth, leading into the kingdom, would be included in these words as well.
Again, there are only two spheres spoken of — “His appearing and His kingdom.” And everything beginning in Revelation 1:9 must fit into one sphere or the other.
There is only one return of Christ presented in Scripture. There is not a return for His Church preceding the Tribulation (sometimes erroneously referred to as “a secret return” for the Church) and another return following the Tribulation (where He will appear openly and visibly to the world). From a Scriptural standpoint, the Spirit removing the bride and Christ meeting His bride in the air is an event in connection with the only return of Christ that Scripture knows anything about — “Behold, He comes with clouds…” The manner in which the book of Revelation opens makes this very clear.
This is the place where numerous Christians have gone wrong, particularly as it relates to the timing of the rapture. Christians have looked at what Scripture has to say about Christ’s return and see a singular event which occurs at the end of the Tribulation. Then, seeing that the removal of the Church is an event occurring in connection with His return, they leave themselves without a choice other than to see the Church going through the Tribulation and being removed when Christ returns back to the earth at the end of the Tribulation.
This, of course, has no validity whatsoever in Scripture. This is simply not the way in which Scripture deals with Christ’s return. Relative to Christ’s return per se, it wouldn’t matter whether the Church was removed before or after the Tribulation. A time element of this nature has nothing to do with the matter, for a removal at either time would fall within the scope of the time that God has allotted for events surrounding Christ’s return to occur.
Rather, one will have to look elsewhere to find the timing of certain events of this nature. And, looking at both the types and the antitype bearing on the subject surrounding the removal of Christians at the end of the dispensation, the timing of what is often called “the rapture” can clearly be ascertained. The types (Genesis 5-8, 18, 19, 24; Ruth 3, 4) and the antitype (Revelation 1-19) clearly show two things occurring preceding the Tribulation: 1) the removal of Christians from the earth, and 2) the occurrence and completion of events surrounding the judgment seat.
Further, the same types and the antitype clearly show that all Christians will be removed at this time, not just a select group, with other Christians being left behind to go through the Tribulation. Solely from a Scriptural standpoint, the teaching that Christians — part, or all — will go through any part of the Tribulation has no validity whatsoever.
In the book of Ruth, a particular event occurred in chapter three before Boaz redeemed the inheritance and took Ruth as his wife in chapter four. Ruth (a prepared bride) appeared on Boaz’s threshing floor. Only then did Boaz redeem the inheritance and take Ruth as his wife.
In the book of Revelation, in the antitype, exactly the same sequence of events is seen. A particular event will occur before Christ redeems the inheritance and takes the bride as His wife. A prepared bride will appear on Christ’s threshing floor (at His judgment seat). Only then will Christ redeem the inheritance and, in the process, take the bride as His wife (which will occur during Daniel’s Seventieth Week, the Tribulation).
Then, in the book of Revelation, all seven churches are seen in Christ’s presence at this time, showing all Christians in His presence during events surrounding the judgment seat, preceding the time in which He redeems the inheritance (preceding the Tribulation). And the types show exactly the same thing (ref. chapter 12 of this book).
Understanding the reason why all Christians must appear before Christ at this time is simple. Aside from Christians having nothing to do with the Tribulation (which will be the last seven years of the previous dispensation, during which time God completes His dealings with Israel, not with Christians), events surrounding the judgment seat occur preceding the Tribulation (plainly shown from both the type in the book of Ruth and the antitype in the book of Revelation). And Scripture is quite clear that all Christians must be present, at the judgment seat: “…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10b).
(The fact that some Greek manuscripts and English translations have “judgment seat of God” in Romans 14:10 would have nothing to do with the identification of this judgment seat. The Father “has committed all judgment to the Son” [John 5:22], and it matters little whether the Son’s judgment seat is called the judgment seat of Christ or the judgment seat of God. It’s still the same judgment seat, with the same person doing the judging.)
Comparing type and antitype (Ruth 3, 4; Revelation 1-19), the clear teaching is that all Christians will be removed from the earth and appear before Christ’s judgment seat preceding the Tribulation, before the inheritance is redeemed and the marriage occurs. And the whole of the matter is in connection with Christ’s return, with the apex reached when the heavens are opened in Revelation 19:11ff.
It is a serious matter when Christians ignore that which has been laid down in Moses and the Prophets (cf. Luke 24:25-27; John 5:45-47), following teachings that are contrary to established foundations. One simply cannot ignore the foundations that God has set forth in His Word and expect to survive theologically. It is not possible.
The Messianic Era
After Christ returns back to the earth and completes His overthrow of Gentile world power, along with Satan and His angels, numerous events will occur preceding the beginning of the millennium. And these events, as well, must be viewed in connection with Christ’s return.
Again, everything beginning with the removal of the Church in Revelation chapter one to the end of the Messianic Kingdom in Revelation chapter twenty must fall within two major categories seen in Scripture — “His appearing and His kingdom.” This is the way in which Scripture sets the matter forth, and this is the way in which man must view the matter as well.
In the type in Genesis chapters twenty-four and twenty-five, after the son married Rebekah inside his mother’s tent, Abraham again took a wife. Abraham married Keturah, who bore him six sons (Genesis 24:67-25:2). Keturah was very fruitful in the realm where Sarah had been barren.
In the antitype, after the Son marries His bride inside Israel’s tent, the Father will restore His wife, Israel. And restored Israel will be very fruitful, unlike Israel in the past, represented by a fig tree with leaves, but no fruit (Matthew 21:18, 19).
The present restoration of a remnant to the land under a Zionistic movement is, of course, not the restoration spoken of in the type in Genesis 25:1, 2 or in other parts of Scripture bearing on the subject (e.g., Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Ezekiel 20:34-37; 36:24-28; 37:1ff; Matthew 24:30, 31). The present restoration is a partial restoration, in unbelief, which has occurred during the present dispensation, prior to the nation’s repentance. The restoration spoken of in Scripture has to do with the entire nation returning, in belief, following the nation’s repentance, which will occur not only following the present dispensation but following the fulfillment of Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy.
Nor can the nation return while Christ is exercising the office of High Priest, in the heavenly sanctuary, throughout the present dispensation. It is clear from the typology surrounding the cities of refuge in Numbers chapter thirty-five that Israel, as the slayer, has to await Christ’s completion of His present high priestly ministry before the Jewish people can return to the land of their possession.
(For a discussion of Numbers 35 in this respect, refer to the author’s book, LET US GO ON, Chapter 1, “From Aaron to Melchizedek.”)
For individuals to fail to recognize the truth concerning the present return of a remnant to the land is to fail to recognize that Israel is the slayer typified in Numbers chapter thirty-five. And for Israel to attempt to return while Christ is presently exercising His high priestly ministry during the present dispensation is, according to the type, to invite death and destruction upon the nation.
And the latter is exactly what is about to occur, for the Jewish people have attempted to return before the time, in an unbelieving and unrepentant state. In the middle of the coming Tribulation, a Jewish nation (as it is known today) will cease to exist in the Middle East. The remnant comprising the nation will be uprooted at that time. A segment of the nation will escape to a place in the wilderness, specially prepared by God for them (Revelation 12:6, 14); but the remaining Jews will either be killed or sold as slaves throughout the Gentile world, with the Jewish people worldwide coming under the sentence of death (cf. Exodus 1:8ff; Daniel 3:19, 20; Joel 3:6-8). And Jerusalem, throughout this time, will be “trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24; Revelation 11:2).
Nor will any attempts to effect Middle East peace be successful during Man’s Day. There is a problem that man fails to recognize, which has its roots going back 4,000 years in history. And, beyond that, only the One Who has brought about Israel’s present sickness, because of the nation’s disobedience, can effect healing (cf. Leviticus 26:14ff; Deuteronomy 28:15ff; Isaiah 1:1-26). Others can try, but they will all fail. Only the One Who has torn can heal (Hosea 5:13-6:2).
Peace will come only at the end of Man’s day, when “the Sun of righteousness” arises “with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2). These are the things seen in Abraham’s remarriage, which cannot occur until after the Son takes the bride as His wife, inside Israel’s tent.
(Note also in the type that Ishmael [the father of the Arabic nations surrounding Israel in the Middle East] died only after Abraham remarried [vv. 1, 2, 17]. In this respect, Middle East peace will be out of the question until the coming Messianic Era, when the man described in Genesis 16:12 will pass from the scene.)
And that is the way in which conditions will exist at the beginning of the millennium. The Father will have a restored wife; and the Son, who will be King over all the earth in that day, will have acquired a wife, allowing Him to rule and to reign in complete accord with the reason for man’s creation in the beginning and in complete accord with that which God established in the beginning relative to the man and the woman reigning together.
And Middle East peace, which man vainly attempts to effect today, will be brought to pass in that day — when the King, with His consort queen, rules the earth for 1,000 years.