Weddings! You've got to love them. They are special times in our lives full of love and expectation.
Our son, Jesse, recently popped the 'big question' to his beautiful girlfriend, Bree. It was an exciting lead up as we knew what the plan was and what our roles in it were but were unable to give any secrets away—despite the multiple times Bree visited with our family. Life went on as normal as far as she was concerned, but for us, we knew the day was fast approaching.
As it turned out, the plan worked, and Bree was completely surprised. The tickets to the performance in Brisbane we had bought for their birthdays served as a way to get Bree all dressed up and to the city with no clue as to what was coming. Following the concert, the couple strolled through the beautiful, landscaped gardens of Southbank with the lights of the buildings reflecting off the river, until they arrived at the perfect spot where Jesse asked the perfect question.
The photographer 'just happened' to be nearby and appeared in perfect timing, post the popping of the question, to take photos.
While this was happening, we had been able to organise to meet for dinner at Southbank with Bree's parents who were staying in Brisbane for a conference that very weekend. We 'just happened' to still be at the restaurant as Jesse and Bree 'just happened' to stroll towards us, faces beaming, to share the good news of an up-and-coming wedding. It was quite late by that time and one member of the family had to be woken up! (Every event needs a bit of humour).
Needless to say, we were all delighted! We were also relieved that the plan came off so well, with Bree none the wiser—just as it should be.
Now, as the wedding draws closer, preparations are in order. When the day comes, we will need to be ready with everything in place.
The greatest wedding yet to come
Weddings are very important to Jesus. He often spoke in parables regarding weddings. All references to weddings pointed to the wedding of the Lamb as spoken of in Revelation chapter 19 verses 7-9:
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God."
The wedding supper of the Lamb is the uniting of God's people with Jesus their Saviour. It will be the ultimate celebration in the most beautiful of places. We don't know exactly when it will be, but we need to be alert and make ourselves ready, so we don't miss out.
Jesus' parable of a wedding in Matthew chapter 25 explains about 10 bridesmaids who were waiting for the groom to arrive. Some were ready, some were not. The bridegroom was taking a long time in coming and they fell asleep while waiting.
'At midnight the cry rang out: "Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!" Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out." "No," they replied, "there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves."But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. "Lord, Lord," they said, "open the door for us!" But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I don't know you." Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.'
So how do we know when to be ready? Matthew chapter 24 verses 32-33 tells us:
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door."
Just as Bree knew that one day Jesse would ask her to be his wife, she was unaware of when the exact time would be. But she knew the time was growing close and her heart was ready and prepared to give the answer.
God has prepared an 'ark' for us, and we are to help as many people to be heart ready as possible, for sadly there will be a falling away which I think we are already seeing.
"At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24 verses 10-14)
Some will let go of the hope that is coming, and even scorn it.
'Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (1 Peter chapter 3 verse 4)
Matthew chapter 24 verses 36-41 tells us that many people won't see it coming.
"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father. As in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."
So, what will that day look like? 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 15-18 says:
"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. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
And again in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verses 51-52 tells us:
"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
And in Luke chapter 17 verse 24:
"For as the lighting that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the son of Man will be in His day."
With warnings we can be prepared, but what a disaster if we are not! This will not be a wedding to be locked out of, "For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again." (Matthew chapter 24 verse 21)
So now, as the groom looks forward to making his bride his wife, we prepare for the wedding, we keep watch, we gather what needs to be gathered, and give what needs to be given, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations."(Matthew chapter 24 verse 14)
It is not a time for sleeping but a time to celebrate, to send invitations, and prepare for a great feast.