The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
How the traditional Jewish wedding helps explain the return of Christ
The very first public miracle Jesus performed took place at a wedding. During the Wedding at Cana, He turned water into wine. Have you ever wondered why He stepped into this public ministry at a wedding?
Throughout the New Testament, God’s Word makes it clear that the traditions of a 1st-century Jewish wedding align with our relationship with Jesus. The relationship of bride and groom is used in multiple places to describe our relationship with Him, which is why there are multiple parallels between a Jewish wedding and the events of the end times.
The Father’s House
In a first-century Jewish wedding, the groom would leave his house and go to the house of his bride. After paying the price for the bride (a dowry known as a mohar), the marriage covenant would be established and the young man and woman became husband and wife. To symbolize that covenant, they would drink together from a cup of wine.
After establishing this covenant, the groom would then leave his bride at her home and return to his father’s house. They were still considered to be married, but would not live together or consummate the marriage sexually. At this point, the bride and groom would remain separated for around 12 months. During this time of separation, the groom prepared a dwelling place for the bride, typically in his father’s house. The groom could not return to get his bride until the father gave him permission.
Watching and Waiting
Meanwhile, the bride was waiting at home, preparing for the return of her groom. She knew generally when he would come back to collect her, but didn’t know precisely when that would occur—because the father made that decision. As the time drew close, however, she kept lamps burning, just in case. Jesus referenced this tradition when he told the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. It is a parable about being ready to meet Him, even though we know “neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13).
Because the bride didn’t know the exact time of her bridegroom’s return, his arrival was always preceded by a shout, which announced her imminent departure. With much fanfare, the wedding party would gather as the groom picked up his bride. Then they traveled together to the home of the groom’s father.
When the two arrived, they consummated their marriage in the bridal chamber he had prepared. Then they joined the wedding party waiting outside, and everyone would celebrate together for the next seven days.
The Marriage of the Lamb
I hope you see the parallels between this tradition and the prophecies throughout the Bible about the Rapture.
We have been saved, and are presented to Jesus as a pure bride. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul compares this to the betrothal or engagement process: “For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
Jesus has temporarily parted ways with us, to be with His Father. He is preparing a place for us there. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
Jesus said none of us knows the day or the hour of His return. The Son doesn’t even know, because the timing will be determined by God, the Father.
Even though we can’t predict the exact moment, we do have some idea of when He will return. This is because He encouraged us to keep watch and pay attention to the signs of His return. “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).
When the time comes, the Rapture will be announced with a shout, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Paul writes, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”
The passage in 1 Thessalonians then goes on to say we will be caught up and gathered with Him to “meet the Lord in the air.” Then, He will take us to the place He has prepared for us, His Father’s house, where we will celebrate.
The traditional Jewish wedding celebration would last seven days. After the Rapture, the world will experience seven years of tribulation. During that same seven-year period, believers will be celebrating the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
The last wedding in human history will be the marriage between God and His people, and it will take place in the New Jerusalem, the holy city, where “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
As we wait for this universe-transforming celebration, we should live in awareness that our Bridegroom is coming soon. We keep ourselves pure and holy. We know He prepares a place for us at His Father’s house, so we watch and wait for His return. As the multitude sings in Revelation 19:7, “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.”
Are you prepared?