For all followers of Jesus Christ, our most cherished gift that we receive is eternal life in the presence of our Creator, which is our blessed hope. This hope is built on the firm foundation that Jesus Christ laid when He died for our sin as the “Lamb of God” on a Roman torture device two thousand years ago.
The last night that Jesus spent here on earth He reassured His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled; you 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 to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3.
The night before Jesus died He told us that He planned on returning for us. However, the exact day and hour of His glorious appearing was not to be known by any man. It’s interesting how many scenarios have been postulated since His departure on both the exact date and circumstances surrounding His return. So, while His return to the earth has been prophesied, acknowledged by almost all denominations, and is believed to be imminent, we will all still need to wait patiently, keeping alert for the signs and clues Jesus left us with.
In the book “The Acts of the Apostles”, Luke records for us Jesus’ departure from earth in His new resurrected body. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadily towards heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:9-11.
This is a wonderful clue, especially when we illuminate Revelation 19:11 with its light. “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” This scene depicts the Lord as He returns on a white horse with the armies that are in heaven: the church, Old Testament believers and angels. This word picture of Jesus, the conquering King, returning on a white horse does not match the account given in the book of Acts where the angels told the apostles Jesus would return the same way He left.
The church (ekklesia) the “called out ones or assembly” were also affectionately known as “the bride of Christ”. Jesus alluded to this heavenly union many times during His ministry. When He told the parable about the ten virgins, when He poured wine to seal the New Covenant, when He paid the bride price, detailing a ritual bath or baptism, the idea that He was going away to prepare a place for us to dwell and the statement that He would return when the Father deemed it was time.
In the letter to the church in Thessalonica Paul writes “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
It is clear from scripture that this passage is a unique and separate incident from Christ’s Second Coming where He is riding on a white horse with all the armies of heaven riding behind Him. No, this event is the surprise return of the Bridegroom for His bride “the church” or “called out ones”. As in all ancient Hebrew weddings, the bride was to purify herself and be on the ready for the bridegroom’s surprise return. Then as He takes His bride back to the wedding chamber, the entire wedding party would follow for a great feast and celebration that would last many days.
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Because “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” Revelation 19:7-9. Ready or not the lord is coming for His bride!