Taken up to heaven

The followers of the Lord Jesus are taken up into the sky, on their way to the Father's house of God. In this chapter, we will explore the Bible verses that speak of Jesus' followers being taken up to heaven and what they do in heaven during the Great Tribulation. In Chapter 7, we will examine which groups remain on Earth.

Taken or Left Behind

Before we study the people who are in heaven during the Great Tribulation, let's first look at Bible verses that talk about a distinction between those who live on Earth and those who live in heaven, or those who are taken and those who are left behind. Let's examine Matthew 24, where the Lord Jesus spoke about the Rapture of the Church.

"Just as the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:37-39)

In this text, it is mentioned that the Lord Jesus is coming, and His coming is likened to the days of Noah. Who were taken away during that time? They were Noah's contemporaries who perished in the flood. The word "took them all away" comes from the Greek word "ēren," which means to lift up, take up, receive, accept, or take away. It paints a clear picture: the flood came, and everyone was taken away from their place by the water, heading for destruction. In the book of Luke, we find a similar story, and Luke used the word "ap-ōlesen," which means to lose, destroy, or kill (Luke 17:27). We see a division: on one side, there's Noah and his family, and on the other side, there are Noah's contemporaries.

"Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." (Matthew 24:40-42)

In the following text, we see the same division. One is taken, and the other is left. Who is taken, and who is left behind?

Let's start with the Greek translations. “Taken” comes from the Greek word "para-lambanetai," which means to take near, carry along, receive, accept, or welcome. It's a different word than the word "took them all away" from verse 39, and in this text, it's not the ungodly who are taken away but the believers. The same Greek word is used in John 14:3: "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." This is used for the Lord's disciples. They are taken, while the unbelievers are left behind to face the Great Tribulation. The word “left” comes from the Greek word "ap-hietai," which means to send away or let go. In the context of a story, it can also be translated as forgive, forsake, abandon, or permit. The Lord Jesus' followers are taken by Him to heaven, and the unbelievers are left on Earth to experience the Great Tribulation. Matthew 24:40-42 corresponds to Luke 17:26-37.

In the book of Revelation, we see the same division. John wrote about two different groups: those who dwell in heaven and those who dwell on Earth. We will study this text later in this chapter.

"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:6-8)

This division arises because of the Rapture of the Church. Will you be taken to heaven during the Rapture, or will you be left behind on Earth?

Heavenly mansions

We have learned that the Lord Jesus is preparing a place for His followers in the Father's house of God. After He has prepared a place, He will return and take us to Himself.

"Let not your heart 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 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 14:1-3)

After the Rapture of the Church, we have a place in the house of God the Father. Where is this house located? I believe that 2 Corinthians 5 provides an answer to this question, as Paul talks about the current tent we dwell in (our bodies) and the future house or building of God in heaven.

"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, (...) Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:1-9)

When we come to faith, we become citizens of heaven. We are no longer earthly residents, but are sojourners from heaven.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body (...)" (Philippians 3:20-21)

This is a beautiful image presented by Paul. Today, we groan in our current bodies and eagerly await the house that God and the Lord Jesus have prepared for us. We want to be clothed with it, and today, we are still sojourners. This means that we live in the world but realize and know that we actually belong in heaven. In this life, we can proclaim God to the world and lead a life of obedience. At some point, earthly life ends, either through death or through the Rapture. The dead are kept in Paradise, waiting for the Rapture of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:52), so that we all receive new bodies. Then we are no longer sojourners but residents. Our current tent is transformed and made like the glorified body of the Lord Jesus. What a great wonder of God! When the Lord Jesus said He is preparing a place in His Father's house, it has a much deeper and more beautiful meaning than an ordinary earthly house. It cannot be compared to a house made by human hands, and we will not find this house on earth. This house is likened to a tent in the book of Revelation, which we will return too shortly. Are you looking forward to eternity with God in your new home?

During the Rapture, we will go to this new home and be residents. During the Great Tribulation, we will reside in heaven, where the Lord Jesus is. From heaven, we will witness extraordinary events and see God's intervention on earth.

The Book of Revelation

In the book of Revelation, we are shown future events, both on earth and in heaven. In this chapter, we will study the passages that show people in heaven and discover what we will be doing in heaven during the Great Tribulation. Revelation 1:1 shows that the things written in this book are future-oriented.

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John (...) " (Revelation 1:1)

The book of Revelation is not just any book; it is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus wanted us to have knowledge about the Great Tribulation and what is to come, so He revealed this to the apostle John. In verse 1, it speaks of things that will shortly take place. It pertains to the Day of the LORD, the Great Tribulation, and the moment when God intervenes on earth.

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day (...)" (John 1:10)

John received a command from the Lord Jesus. He was to write down what he had seen, what is happening now, and what must happen after these things. This is what John did. He first wrote about his encounter with the Lord Jesus (Revelation 1), then about what is happening now, the Church of Christ (Revelation 2 and 3), and finally about the time after the Church of Christ. It's noteworthy that the Church of Christ is not mentioned after Revelation 3. This is because the Church does not experience the Great Tribulation on earth.

"Rewrite what you have seen, both the things that are and the things that will happen after these things." (Revelation 1:19)

In chapters 2 and 3, John wrote seven letters to the churches, and this is the part that addresses what is happening now. This part of the prophecy continues until the day of the Rapture.

The Elders

After John had written the letters, he was taken into a state of spiritual ecstasy and shown things that would happen after the church age.

"After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald." (Revelation 4:1-3)

It's remarkable that right after the church age, John was called to go up to heaven. In the spirit, he passed through the open door and saw the throne of God. John saw heaven after the church age, which means the Church of Christ must be in heaven. Can we, through the eyes of John, see heavenly residents?

"Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones, I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (...) Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will, they exist and were created."' (Revelation 4:4-11)

Around the throne of God, John saw twenty-four thrones with elders sitting on them. They were wearing white robes and had golden crowns (or wreaths) on their heads. In the New Testament, the term “elders” always refers to people. These could be older individuals, elders in a church, or elders of the people of Israel. In any case, they are not angels or other beings. Even the characteristics of the elders show that they are human conquerors. They are wearing white robes and golden crowns. The Bible tells us who can wear white robes and golden crowns.

"You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."(Revelation 3:4-5)

"Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8)

"Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2:10)

The elders are believers, and they are in heaven during the Great Tribulation. It's noteworthy that John saw twenty-four elders. Where else do we find the number twenty-four in the Bible?

We find it in the time of David, as mentioned in 1 Chronicles 24. Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, had four sons, two of whom had no sons. Only the sons of Eleazar and Ithamar had descendants. The descendants of Eleazar consisted of sixteen family heads, and the descendants of Ithamar had eight family heads. Together, they formed twenty-four family heads. The casting of lots determined when each family head would serve in the temple. Their duties included:

"And the sons of Amram were Aaron and Moses. And Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons forever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister to Him, and to bless in His name forever." (1 Chronicles 23:13)

Not only were the priests divided into twenty-four groups, but the singers were also divided into twenty-four groups to make music in the earthly temple (1 Chronicles 25).

Back to the book of Revelation. What exactly do the elders do? We read that they sit on thrones, wear white robes, and have crowns on their heads. They prostrate themselves before God and worship Him. They can enter the Holy of Holies, the throne room of God, just as the descendants of Aaron could. The significant difference is that the elders are permanently allowed to come before God in heaven, whereas the high priest Aaron (or one of his descendants serving as high priest) could only enter the earthly temple once a year. Could it be that the twenty-four elders are priests and singers of God? And that they consist of twenty-four groups of believers, rather than twenty-four individual persons, similar to what we read in the book of Chronicles? Let's examine other passages that mention the elders.

"And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." (...) Then the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever." (Revelation 5:8-14)

In this Bible passage, several notable features stand out. Firstly, the elders have stringed instruments to make music for God. Secondly, they have golden bowls filled with incense, which represent the prayers of the saints. They function as priests before God. Thirdly, they sing a new song to the Lord Jesus, the One who is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals. In this song, they praise the Lord Jesus for what He has done for humanity. They were redeemed by His blood from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. God's people consist of individuals from every corner of the world, reflecting the diversity of nations and languages. In 2020, there were 196 internationally recognized states and around 6,000 languages in the world. I believe that these elders symbolize or represent all followers of the Lord Jesus from every corner of the world who, at the time of Revelation 5, have been taken up to heaven. Fourthly, the elders declare that people have been made kings and priests, and they will reign over the earth. This assertion aligns with what is said about the Lord's followers.

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people;" (1 Peter 2:9)

In 1 Peter, we read about a royal priesthood. The elders are priests, just like the descendants of Aaron. In Revelation 11, we see the twenty-four elders worshiping God.

"Then the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:16-18)

They call for the time when the dead (the unbelievers) will be judged and reward will be given to God's servants, the prophets, and the saints, as well as those who fear His name, both small and great. It is time to put an end to the horrors on Earth. Lastly, in Revelation 19, we read that the elders worship God again because His judgments upon the Earth are just.

"And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying: "Amen! Alleluia!"" (Revelation 19:4)

The twenty-four elders, representing or symbolizing believers, worship God during the Great Tribulation and are kings and priests of God.

New inflows

During the Great Tribulation, we read about new groups of people who come to heaven. These are the people who are martyred for their testimony about God.

"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed." (Revelation 6:9-11)

During the opening of the first four seals, John witnessed dreadful plagues. In the fifth seal, he saw souls under the altar in heaven. A human being consists of a soul, spirit, and body. These souls are not from members of the Church of Christ, as they received bodies during the rapture of the Church. These souls are those who, during the Great Tribulation, made a choice for the Lord Jesus and were martyred because of their faith and testimony for Him. During the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist will rule, and he will persecute the saints, resulting in many deaths. The souls cry out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" While today we are instructed to pray for our enemies, the Great Tribulation will be a time of judgment, and God will avenge His enemies. Only during the Great Tribulation is such a prayer from the souls appropriate. God tells them to wait a little while longer until all their brethren and fellow servants, who will be killed like them, have also been martyred, and their number is complete. This passage does not mention the living who, without dying, are taken up to heaven, as this has already occurred. Instead, it focuses on waiting until the remaining brethren are killed. Do you see the significant difference between the Great Tribulation and our grace period today? Today, following Jesus costs us nothing; everyone who believes is saved. During the Great Tribulation, it will likely cost you your life, as you may be killed by the Antichrist. This group is called souls because they did not receive bodies during the rapture of the Church. After the Great Tribulation, they will receive bodies, as described in Revelation 20. In these verses, an additional distinction is made for these souls, namely that they did not worship the beast and his image. Revelation 6 and 20 do not refer to the souls of believers who passed away before the Great Tribulation, but specifically to the souls martyred during the Great Tribulation who persevered in their faith in the Lord Jesus.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4)

In Revelation 7, we read more about these martyrs and others who come out of the Great Tribulation.

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:9-17)

During all the plagues and judgments, John is shown glimpses of encouragement. Despite all the suffering, people from every nation and language choose to give their lives to Jesus. Their number is so vast that it cannot be counted. While in chapter 6, they were offered white garments, in chapter 7, they have put on these garments and hold palm branches, a symbol of victory, in their hands. They are forgiven through the blood of Christ and, as a result, can wear white garments. They worship Him before God's throne. One of the elders asks John if he knows who this multitude is. John does not know, and the elder tells him that these are the ones who come out of the Great Tribulation and believe in the Lord Jesus. After their earthly sufferings, they are in the presence of God. Sometimes the trials and temptations of today can discourage us. Let this passage be an encouragement to us even today! One day, we will be with the Lord forever. I believe God shows this to John to encourage those who are living during the Great Tribulation and have come to believe in the Lord Jesus. The tribulations will last for at most seven years, but eternity lasts forever and is glorious.

Finally, John sees one more group of individuals. These individuals sing to the Lord, having overcome the temptations of the Antichrist on Earth. During the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist introduces a mark, allowing people to buy and sell. It seems attractive but is a deception. Anyone who takes this mark is eternally lost, with no way back. John sees people who have not taken this mark and believe in the Lord Jesus. They sing the song of Moses and thank God.

"And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested."" (Revelation 15:2-4)

First, those who have experienced the Rapture of the Church are taken to heaven. This is the first event just before the Great Tribulation. During the Great Tribulation, more and more souls of people who have overcome the Antichrist and have died or been martyred will enter heaven. They will receive new bodies after the Great Tribulation.

The Silence

Now, we return to God's judgments, and the seventh seal is opened by the Lord Jesus. As He does this, there is silence in heaven.

"When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour." (Revelation 8:1)

God is continually worshiped in heaven by His angels and servants. In this chapter, we read that there is silence for about half an hour. Worship ceases, and the heavenly beings say nothing; there is half an hour of silence. The exact meaning of half an hour and whether it lasts for thirty minutes is uncertain. Moreover, John does not write why there is silence. There are several possible reasons for this silence:

  1. Silence before the storm, as a realization of what the inhabitants of Earth will endure and how terrible it will be.
  2. An expression of reverence for God.
  3. A silence inherent in heavenly worship.
  4. God is still merciful for a brief period and delays the judgment trumpets in hopes that someone may still repent.

Other Bible verses do not mention this silence, so we do not know which reason is correct. What this text reveals, is that there is an awareness of what God is about to accomplish. The heavenly inhabitants know what time it is on God's agenda, and we may also know what God is planning to do. God desires to reveal things to people, whether they are Earth-dwellers or heavenly residents (Genesis 18:17).

Dwelling in Tents

On Earth, the Antichrist is wreaking havoc. He aims to destroy all the saints. The Antichrist cannot snatch us, the heavenly residents during the Great Tribulation, out of God's hand. During a battle between the archangel Michael's army and the devil's army, Michael prevails, and the devil is cast out of heaven. The devil is no longer present in the heavenly realms and is thrown down to Earth. Then the following is declared:

"Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." (Revelation 12:12)

This text speaks about the inhabitants of heaven. These are the ones who have experienced the Rapture of the Church and those who believe in Jesus during the Great Tribulation and have passed away. It's interesting to study the phrase 'who dwell in them' in Greek. In Greek, it reads 'skēnountas,' which literally means to pitch one's tent or (to live) in a tent. This word is found in Revelation 13, where the Antichrist blasphemes God, His tent, and the heavenly inhabitants.

"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven." (Revelation 13:6)

These verses do not refer to angels or other beings because 'skēnountas' is used exclusively for people and for God. This word also appears in Revelation 7:15 and refers to those who have come out of the Great Tribulation.

"These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them." (Revelation 7:14-15)

Believers in the Lord Jesus dwell with God and the Lord Jesus in heaven, in God's tent. In addition to these three texts, the Greek word 'skēnountas' is used two more times. One instance is in the past, where the Lord Jesus dwelled 'in bodily form' among people (John 1:14). Now, the roles are reversed, and Jesus does not dwell with the believers, but the believers dwell with Jesus. The second instance is after the Great Tribulation and is related to the new heaven and new earth, where God dwells among people.

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth (…) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God."" (Revelation 21:1-3)

We dwell with God in the tent. I don't think you should see this as a literal tent with pegs and canvas. It's symbolism and signifies that God will protect us and maintain an intimate relationship with His followers. In the past, a tent consisted of an open living area and a closed sleeping area. With all due respect, God has granted us access to His bedroom, the place where strangers do not enter, only confidants and family members. David longed for this place, for he said, 'For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock' (Psalm 27:5). Was this prophesied by David? When the Great Tribulation occurs, will He hide us in His tabernacle? And what does David eagerly desire to do in heaven?

"One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore, I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD." (Psalm 27:4-6)

Moreover, a tent is portable. Heaven is not our final destination; it is a dwelling place. After the Great Tribulation, we will lead Earth's inhabitants during the millennial reign, and then there will be a new heaven and new earth. Just as the tabernacle in Moses' time moved from place to place, we, with our heavenly tents, can also change locations.

The Victory Achieved

"The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." (Revelation 17:12-14)

The ten future great kings of the Earth surrender all their power to the beast, the Antichrist. In this chapter, we read that the Antichrist blasphemes the Lord Jesus and His followers. Now, the Antichrist wants to take it a step further and seeks to overcome them. It's noteworthy that this text states that the Antichrist and the kings will make war against the Lord Jesus and those who are with Him. Who are they? They are the called, chosen, and faithful. This is one group, encompassing the followers of the Lord Jesus. They are no longer on Earth, but are in heaven with the Lord Jesus and will overcome the ten kings.

"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. (…) His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. (…) Then I saw the beast, the kings of the Earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh." (Revelation 19:11-21)

The war is won by the Lord Jesus. He has achieved victory, and the Great Tribulation comes to an end. Following the Lord Jesus is His army, symbolizing the angelic hosts in heaven who, along with the Lord Jesus, engage in a battle against the beast. It's possible that believers may be included alongside the angels, or they might arrive a moment later when the battle is concluded. In any case, the army doesn't need to take action, for the Lord Jesus Himself conquers the kings.

The Wedding Feast

Finally, we celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb. Let's read the text concerning this.

"And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 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." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, 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."" (Revelation 19:6-9)

Before John wrote about the war of the Lord Jesus against the Antichrist, he wrote about the wedding feast of the Lamb. Let's study this text.

The Wedding
Firstly, it speaks of the wedding. This is an image of a man and a woman, where the man leaves his parents to be united with a woman, and they become one body.

"And the LORD God built the rib, which He had taken from Adam, into a woman, and He brought her to Adam. And Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man." Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24)

This is a beautiful text that applies to every man and woman. It is pleasing in God's eyes for a man to be joined to a woman, and they become one flesh. Marriage was not invented by humans but by God. This is one of the first covenants that God had written in the Bible. Today, marriage is not taken seriously by many. Some decide to live together first to see if it works out, and only marry after a few years. God states that marriage isn't about 'trying it out'; God says that a man shall leave his parents, cleave to his wife, and through this, they become one flesh. Physically, they become one through their union, and spiritually, they become one through their covenant. Marriage should be a place without physical or spiritual shame. It should be a safe place where there are no secrets, no fear of abandonment, and everything can be shared. It's a place of intimacy and security. Alongside earthly marriage, this text speaks of a great mystery between the church of Christ and Jesus.

"For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:30-32)

The mystery between the marriage of Christ and the Church is profound. God instituted marriage on Earth because it is a foreshadowing of a heavenly reality—the wedding feast of the Lamb. On Earth, we see, in marriage, a limited glimpse of our heavenly reality with Jesus. The mystery is profound; we cannot fully grasp how it will be. One thing is certain: it will be a glorious union where we have an intimate covenant relationship with our Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5:25).

The Lamb
Secondly, it speaks of the Lamb. That is the Lord Jesus, as mentioned in Revelation 5 and John 1.

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"" (John 1:35-36)

It is the wedding feast of the Lamb. It is primarily about the Lord Jesus; it's His celebration, and only afterward does the bride come into the picture. Jesus paid a high price to marry His bride. He purchased her with His blood and clothed her in clean and bright fine linen. The Lord Jesus is the Bridegroom, and He has chosen someone to marry. The King of kings and the Lord of lords has chosen someone who has the privilege of marrying the Creator of heaven and earth. This must be the greatest feast ever, incomparable to anything on Earth. So, who is the fortunate bride?

The Bride
Thirdly, it speaks of the bride. The bride is not an individual but consists of a group of people. In the Bible, two groups are called the bride of God (or the Lamb), and the first group is the Jewish people. The following text refers to the people of Israel.

"And it shall be, in that day," Says the Lord, "That you will call Me 'My Husband,' (...) I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD."" (Hosea 2:15-19)

This happens at the end of the Great Tribulation when the people of Israel flee to the wilderness, which is spoken of in chapter 3 as the paragraph concerning the male child. 'That day' refers to the following:

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt." (Hosea 2:13-14)

In the wilderness, the people of Israel come to know the Lord Jesus, and from there, they address the Lord Jesus as their Husband. What a marvelous wonder of God! Then, the Israelites will no longer rely on their own strength but on the strength of Jesus. This beautiful imagery is reflected in the Song of Solomon, which speaks of the love between a bridegroom and his bride.

"Who is this coming up from the wilderness, Leaning upon her beloved?" (Song of Solomon 8:5)

Besides the book of Hosea, there are more passages in the Bible that depict Israel as a woman or bride of God. Read, for example, Isaiah 54:5-8, 62:5, Jeremiah 2:2, and Ezekiel 16:8.

In addition to the people of Israel, another group is called the bride of God. It pertains to the Church of Christ. Paul wrote the following to the Corinthian church:

"For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:2)

Or, as Paul explains in the letter to the Ephesians:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)

In the book of Ephesians, it's explained that the Lord Jesus cleanses us with the washing of water (baptism), so that we can be presented before Him without spot or wrinkle. We become holy and spotless. Does this sound familiar from Revelation 19?

"And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." (Revelation 19:8)

Through the Lord Jesus, we are clothed in fine linen so that we can be presented before Him without spot or wrinkle. The fact that the followers of the Lord Jesus are spotless before Him is also emphasized in Ephesians 1:4, Philippians 2:15, Colossians 1:22, and Jude 1:24. These Bible verses make it clear that we should strive, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live blamelessly before the Lord Jesus, not only during the wedding feast of the Lamb but also in our present lives. As pure virgins, we await the Lord Jesus to take us as His bride. The second group consists of the followers of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus marries one woman, symbolizing the Church of Christ and the people of Israel.

In the book of Revelation, an angel shows John the bride of the Lamb. John saw a city coming down from heaven, and this city had characteristics of both Israel and the Church of Christ.

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also, she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:9-14)

Both the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the names of the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus are inscribed on the holy Jerusalem, the city of God. The bride possesses characteristics of Israel and characteristics of the Church, and together, they form one bride. We read that the marriage of Christ is a great mystery. With our earthly realities, we cannot fully comprehend the future expectations. Let's return to Ephesians 5:

"For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:30-32)

Adam was the first man created by God. God saw that Adam was alone, and He deemed it not good for him to be alone. God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and took a rib from him. From this rib, He created a woman, Eve. Thus, the first woman was formed from the first man, and through marriage, they were bound together. This is analogous to the relationship between the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12) and being the Bride of Christ. During the marriage feast of the Lamb, we become one with the Lord Jesus. Just as Paul wrote, "This mystery is profound," yet so beautiful.

The Invited Guests
During the marriage feast of the Lamb, there is mention of the invited guests to the supper.

"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."" (Revelation 19:9)

It's evident that this is not referring to unbelievers. They do not partake in the marriage feast of the Lamb and are not among the invited guests. They are either on Earth to wage war with the Lord Jesus or have been defeated by Him and are dead, awaiting judgment (I believe the marriage feast of the Lamb occurs before the final war, with unbelievers still on Earth).

Let's study the Bible and see where it speaks of a wedding and invited guests. This book highlights a few texts, but for a comprehensive view, you should read these Bible verses in context within the Bible.

"And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. (...) Then he said to his servants, "The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding." So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, "Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?" And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:1-14)

In this parable, we see a king arranging a wedding for his son. Likely, the king represents God the Father, and the son represents Jesus Christ. The King sent His servants to invite the guests. These servants could represent the prophets of the Old Testament or the disciples of the Lord Jesus, who called the Jews to come to the wedding feast of the Lord Jesus. The Jews, however, chose not to attend, which was a tremendous insult to God the Father. God declared that the invited guests were no longer worthy to enjoy His Son's wedding feast. So, He decided to invite others. The disciples were instructed to go to the crossroads of country roads. This wasn't like the intersections we know today, but a place where a street from the city reached its end and transitioned into open land (similar to an unpaved road). At this place, they would find many people, mostly beggars, impure individuals, and even robbers. These were not the people typically invited by a king to celebrate the wedding of his son. Jesus prophetically spoke of the Gentiles, the non-Jews. It was unthinkable for the Jews that Gentiles would be considered God's people and His children. The servants (disciples) invited everyone they could find, whether they were good or bad. In God's eyes, every person is sinful, and no one does good, yet this imagery helps us better understand the concept. The disciples invited beggars, impure individuals, and robbers, and all of them were allowed to celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb. Subsequently, God the Father “evaluated” those who had responded to His call. These are the ones who heeded the gospel of God. However, within the wedding hall, we find two groups. In this parable, all but one person had wedding garments. During that time, these garments were typically white (similar to Revelation 19:8?). Everyone was wearing clean, white clothes and had prepared for the wedding feast. One person, though, did not do this - he was a name-only Christian. Perhaps he always attended church or claimed to believe, but it was not in his heart. The consequence was that he was cast out from the wedding hall into darkness, an image of hell. I would like to add that after death, you cannot make a different choice. If you believe in Jesus, you will go to the marriage feast; if you do not believe in Jesus, you will go to darkness, a place of eternal lament and sorrow. After death, you cannot be moved from one place to another, not from heaven to hell, nor from hell to heaven. This wedding feast is a parable and does not need to happen literally. Nonetheless, the Lord Jesus used many truths and realities in His parables.

In this parable, the invited guests are the followers of the Lord Jesus, and they consisted of the Gentile nations because the Jews did not believe. The Jews, by the grace of God, are later reinstated as the bride. Let's continue with the next text about the wedding guests.

"Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast."" (Matthew 9:14-15)

In this Bible verse, the twelve disciples are referred to as the friends of the bridegroom. They are the invited guests of the Bridegroom. Lastly, we are compared to virgins waiting for the wedding feast. These virgins resemble bridesmaids and were likely between 12 and 18 years old, symbolizing wise believers who have enough oil (the Holy Spirit) and foolish believers who have too little.

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise, and five were foolish." (Matthew 25:1-2)

I believe that the invited guests of the wedding feast are the same people as the bride of the Lamb. While the bride of the Lamb is seen as all believers (Old Testament and New Testament) together, the invited guests of the wedding feast represent each individual member of the bride.

Are you looking forward to entering into an intimate relationship filled with love and security with the Lord Jesus? The wedding feast takes place during the Great Tribulation, and the marriage with the Lord Jesus lasts forever. A 90th-anniversary celebration (known as a granite anniversary) pales in comparison to this eternity.


During the rapture of the Church, a division occurs. On one side, there are the heavenly residents who have been taken by Jesus to the Father's house, and on the other side, there are earthly residents who have been left behind on Earth. Immediately after the rapture of the Church, we dwell with God in heaven. These are not ordinary dwellings, but special ones not made by human hands. We live in God's tabernacle and can enjoy His shelter and love. During the Great Tribulation, the souls of those who came to believe in the Lord Jesus after the rapture of the Church and who have overcome the Antichrist and the mark of the beast join the souls already in heaven. They await the souls of their brothers and sisters, and after the Great Tribulation, they receive imperishable bodies. At the end of the Great Tribulation, the heavenly residents overcome the ten kings and the Antichrist, and the thousand-year millennial reign on Earth begins. Shortly before or after this, the wedding feast of the Lamb takes place. The Church and the people of Israel marry the Lord Jesus, and they are Husband and wife forever.

This chapter is in the book A Revelation of the End Times. Read this book right now, so that you don't miss anything about the end times, live in expectation and your faith is increased. The rapture of the church is a special prophecy from the Word of God. Due to the many theories and ideas about this event, many no longer know what is and what is not Biblical. Timo Groot takes you through the Biblical data about the rapture and why the rapture is more relevant today than ever before. The rapture is the hope of escaping the terrible things that are going to happen on earth and is the moment when the church will see the Lord Jesus face to face in the father's house of God.

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