Friday, June 19, 2015

If the Lamb's wedding supper is over, where's the Biriyani? Part #1


If you are an Asian, I need not to tell you that Biriyani is the main course in an Asian wedding feast. If you are not an Asian, may reframe the above question with the most desired dish / drink in your wedding feasts.

While we who believe in Fulfilled Eschatology tell people that the prophecies in the book of Revelation is fulfilled, they ask us: "Is it? If the wedding supper of the Lamb is done, when was it? Where was it?" What they look forward to is a literal wedding and a literal wedding supper, where they are the bride. To put it as kindly as I can, they are writing themselves into the Bible, as we will see soon.

You are cautioned that there may be certain points in this post that may vary from your closely held beliefs. Honestly, in the course of writing this post I had to reconsider and reevaluate a few things that I believed in.

When was the Lamb's wedding supper?

Unless one can convincingly prove that the marriage feast narrated in the parable of The Great Banquet in Matt 22:1-14 is not about the Lamb and His bride, we have the answer to the question: When was the marriage feast? I am sure you have read the passage several times, this time around, read it a bit more carefully.

Mat 22:2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
Mat 22:3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come
Mat 22:4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my failings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage
Mat 22:5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise
Mat 22:6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them
Mat 22:7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and BURNED UP THEIR CITY
Mat 22:8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy
Mat 22:9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage
Mat 22:10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests

Almost every reputed Biblical commentator (irrespective of their theological and eschatological leanings) is convinced that Mat 22:7 is about the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem by Roman armies. The Roman armies are equated to God's ("his") armies, just as Assyrian armies were termed as the rod of God's anger in Isa 10:5.

Let us step back from Mat 22:7 and observe what is stated in Mat 22:4: "I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my failings are killed, and all things are ready". If Mat 22:7 is about the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem, is it not abundantly clear that the dinner was ready even before 70 AD?

After the dwellers of the city were annihilated for refusing to be partakers in the wedding feast, the king instructed his servants to go to the highways and invite as many as they find to the wedding feast. Please do note that they are invited to be guests (the wedding was furnished with guests - Mat 22:10). Is it not self-evident that the guests cannot be the bride? Logically, even those dwellers of the city, who refused to partake in the wedding feast, were invited to be guests and not to be the bride. If it were the bride who backed out of the wedding, the wedding feast itself should have been called off, instead of looking for an alternative bride.

One may argue that the destruction of the city appears only in the gospel of Matthew and not in the parallel passage in Luk 14:14-24. They argue that everything has to be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If this precept has universal application, then the gospel of John, which has 92% dissimilarity with the rest of the gospels, should not be there in the Bible at all. There are incidents and details in the gospel of Mark (supposed to be the most accurate of synoptic gospels) which are not found in the other synoptic gospels.

Another strong argument against this conclusion could be: the destruction of the city has to happen in the future. This thought is based on the understanding that passages like Zechariah 12 to 14 have to take place in the future. A careful analysis of the passages reveals how anachronistic the thought is.

So, any study of the bride of the Lamb has to be based on the inalienable truth that the bride was ready before the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem coming down from heaven.

A proper understanding of Heb 12:22 tells us that the New or Heavenly Jerusalem has been here since the first century. If we analyze Rev 21, we see the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven.

Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband
Later in the chapter we see the following statements regarding gentiles (nations):
Rev 21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it [bride, New Jerusalem]: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it
Rev 21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there
Rev 21:26 And they [kings of the earth] shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it

We (present believers in Christ) are not the bride, we are the ones who walk in the light of it. (vs 24) We are the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5) who enter through the gates of the city, bringing the glory and honor of the nations to it.

New/Heavenly Jerusalem is the New Covenant.

Please do read the following passage, with me:
Gal 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman
Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise
Gal 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar
Gal 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children
Gal 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all
Gal 4:27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband
Gal 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise
Gal 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now
Gal 4:30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
Gal 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free

New/Heavenly (from above) Jerusalem stands for the New Covenant and we are children to the New Covenant. We are not the bride.

How about Ephesians 5?

Ephesians 5 is one chapter where the words wife, body and church appear together. Apart from comparing the relation between a man and his wife with the relation between Christ and his church, the passage does not say that the church is the wife or bride of Christ. On the contrary, it affirms that the church is the body of Christ.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word
Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish
Eph 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Eph 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church
Eph 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church
Chances are that you have a Bible translation which has her instead of it in Eph 5:25-27. The Greek word used is G846, (αὐτός, autos) which may be translated as any of the third person pronouns (he, she, it, his, hers, him, her, they, them and their.) Even in the same passage the words rendered as he (for husband and Christ) are the renditions of the same Greek word.

For the sake of completeness, 1Cor 12:12-31 also depicts the church as the members of the body of Christ.

to be continued in part #2,

In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

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