Chapter 22 – Marriage and Eschatology

In almost every culture, the two most significant events in a man’s life are his birth and his wedding day. Jesus’ birth occurred at His first coming. Jesus’ wedding will occur at His Second Coming. Therefore, at its heart, eschatology is the study of the events leading up to Jesus Christ’s wedding. Since much of this book is about the parallels between marriage and Jesus’s relationship to the church, and since many Christians believe we are close to Christ’s return, eschatology felt like an important topic to include.


Competing Eschatological Views

While the next chapters are written from my own futurist/multiple-fulfillments perspective, I think you’ll find many of the concepts they cover are potentially applicable to all eschatological positions. For those who are unfamiliar, here are some competing eschatological views:


1)      Futurists believe many passages concerning the last days have yet to be fulfilled, including most of the book of Revelation, Matthew 24, and many Old Testament passages that seem to describe events such as the Battle of Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Millennial Kingdom.


2)      Preterists believe virtually all last days passages were fulfilled with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and/or the centuries that followed with the fall of the Roman Empire.


3)      Historicists believe many last days prophecies were fulfilled throughout church history, particularly in the Middle Ages through the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church.


4)      Multiple Fulfillment Advocates believe many last days prophecies have both legitimate past and future fulfillments because it is the nature of biblical prophecy to sometimes repeat or contain both spiritual and literal fulfillments.   


Unsettled questions that contribute to differing interpretations of last days passages include:


1)      Which events are literal and which are symbolic/spiritual?

2)      Have documented historical events already sufficiently fulfilled the passage?

3)      Will future events fulfill them “better” or more literally?

4)      Could there be more than one fulfillment of some passages?


The Most Important Eschatological Passage in Scripture

Have you ever noticed that possibly the most important passage of scripture concerning marriage is also possibly the most important passage of scripture concerning eschatology? Look at what Ephesians 5:25-27 says:


“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”


Jesus “presenting the church to Himself” is a description of Jesus’ wedding day and of His second coming. A parallel passage can be found in Revelation 19:7-8:


“‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”


The fulfillment of these two passages is what all of creation has been waiting for ever since the fall!


Marriage in the Last Days

Have you ever considered that marriages in the body of Christ could become especially beautiful in the last days? I have. Here’s why:


1)      The way we relate to others often mirrors our relationship to God. (1 John 1:7 & 4:20 are examples of this.) This is especially true of our closest and most important human relationship – our marriage.


2)      Scripture teaches that a remnant of believers in the last days will hold fast to their faith, lead many to salvation, and literally lay down their lives for the gospel.


3)      Since the relationship between Christ and His people in the last days will be purified in this way, this will likely be mirrored in Christian marriages.


In other words, perhaps the wedding between Jesus and His church will be foreshadowed in a special way through Christian marriages in the time leading up to His return. One Christian leader said this:


“…there is nothing more powerful on earth than family. It is the single most influential force for good (or evil) in human existence… This should come as no surprise because God created the family. At the very dawn of time, ‘God created man in His own image… male and female He created them.’ Of all the ways He could have chosen to inaugurate His creation, He chose to start with family. In fact, the Bible begins with a marriage in Genesis and ends with a marriage in Revelation. Marriage and family have always been central to what God is doing on planet earth.”


If this is true, that marriage and family are always central to what God is doing on planet earth, then what role will they play in the last days?


Revival or Apostasy?

Before continuing on the topic of marriage, I want to pause to address a question that may have arisen for some readers during the last section: Will the last days be marked by apostasy or revival? Will professing Christians fall away from the faith or will they grow strong and be purified?


Some ministries focus mostly on the darkness and deception of the end times, while others focus mostly on the steadfastness and holiness of the church. However, both are present in scripture and it would be imbalanced to only teach one.


Here are some passages about the darkness and apostasy:


1)      Paul said there would be “apostasy” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.


2)      Paul said many “will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” in 1 Timothy 4:1.


3)      Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 that “most people’s love will grow cold”, referring to love for God, which nonbelievers do not have to begin with.


4)      Isaiah 60:2, often applied to the last days, says darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples”.


5)      Revelation 13:12 says, “the earth and those who dwell in it” will “worship” a false, antichrist system.


6)      Revelation 14:8 says this system will make “all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality”.


By contrast, here are some passages about revival and the faith and holiness of God’s people:


1)      Daniel 11:32-33 says “the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many…”


2)      In Matthew 13:24-43, Jesus describes a great harvest of wheat and tares. He explained, “the harvest is the end of the age”, the wheat is “the sons of the kingdom”, and the tares are “the sons of the evil one”. Then He gave the order: “Allow both to grow together until the harvest”. This implies a growing, or maturing, of both groups at the end of the age.


3)      In Revelation 14:14-16, an angel said, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe”, then Jesus swept a sickle over the whole earth and reaped a great harvest, which symbolizes a harvest of souls. Since Jesus always works with and through His bride on the earth, it is reasonable to conclude the church will play a part in reaping this harvest. The same applies to the next two passages.


4)      Another last days passage, Zephaniah 3:13-14, says, “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”


5)      Revelation 7:9-14 describes “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” that successfully comes through the tribulation as followers of Jesus Christ.


It should come as no surprise that scripture portrays the end time church as mature and holy because historically the light of the church has always shined the brightest when darkness and deception were the greatest. As was seen in the early church or in the Dark Ages, whenever there has been heavy persecution of believers that forced them to choose between Christ and reputation, possessions, or their lives, those who stood firm were purified and became great lights.


Since believers will be heavily persecuted in the last days, even unto death (ex. Matthew 24:9, Revelation 6:11, 12:11, 13:7-10), it is to be expected that those who hold fast will grow in faith and holiness as a result. This could even apply regardless of one’s view on the timing of the rapture because gradually increasing birth pangs could have a similar sifting effect. It could also apply from the perspective of preterists or historicists since there is no reason times of darkness and persecution could not happen again. Even today as moral pollution increases in the west, many are falling away from the faith, but others are growing stronger and becoming bright lights.


Marriage As God Intended

We discussed previously how the potential for husband-wife partnerships to impact the world was handicapped shortly after the fall when Satan introduced polygamy, which endured throughout the Old Testament. In the church age, monogamy has been restored, but until just recently women have still been mostly disallowed from expressing their ministry gifts due to cultural norms.


Pastors who say women must not be permitted to teach or exercise any authority in the church base the entire position on one verse (1 Timothy 2:12) in which the word often translated “man” should probably be translated “husband” in light of the immediate context, as well as the full testimony of scripture. Examples of women ministering or exercising authority in scripture include:


·         Aaron’s sister Miriam (Ex 15:20)

·         Huldah (2 Kings 22:14)

·         Anna (Luke 2:36)

·         Paul permitted women to prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:5)

·         The four daughters of Philip were called prophetesses (Acts 21:9)

·         Debra was a political and military leader in Israel (Judges 4)

·         Phoebe was a deacon (Romans 16:1)

·         Junia was an apostle (Romans 16:7)


Today it is becoming common for women to teach, preach, write, and hold various other positions of influence in the body of Christ. Possibly for the first time since the fall, the co-laboring partnership God created husbands and wives to function in together is no longer hindered by unbiblical traditions. This is an exciting moment in history. There is incredible power when husbands and wives labor together in unity.


We see in the church today examples of women freely expressing their ministry gifts and, in some cases, having a more visible impact than their spouse. Beside them, we see proud husbands lifting them up, supporting them, and encouraging them. What an incredible picture of Jesus and the church. Jesus laid a foundation for His bride to build upon and, in one sense, have an even greater impact than Him. This is why He said it is to our advantage that He went away and that we will do greater works than Him (John 16:7, John 14:12). This did not mean that anyone besides Jesus would ever be sinless or the Savior, but that God’s purposes would be more effectively advanced through the empowerment of His bride rather than Jesus exercising all authority unilaterally.


Although men are generally more accomplishment-oriented, women, in one sense, are uniquely equipped for stewarding authority since they are naturally more relational and relationship is the highest value of God’s kingdom. Plus, women are “weaker” (1 Peter 3:7) and God’s “power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). However, women were also created to be covered, served, and empowered by their husbands in order to realize their full potential. This ingredient has been mostly missing from many generations throughout history. Perhaps it will be on special display in the days prior to Christ’s return.


Heralds of the Second Coming

God chose women as the first witnesses to herald Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:9-10). Similarly, Psalms 68 suggests women will also be among the preeminent voices declaring His return. The passage contains several elements related to the second coming – Jesus riding through the wilderness leading heavenly armies; a great earthquake; all the wicked melting like wax and perishing; Jesus taking His throne in Israel forever (vs. 1-3, 7-8, 16-17). All of this imagery parallels passages in Revelation and other parts of scripture that describe the Battle of Armageddon and the second coming. But notice what it says in verse 11. Who does it say will proclaim the good news of the second coming? Who does it say will replace the wicked kings of the earth in their positions of authority? “The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host; kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home will divide the spoil!” Women, wives, and faithful mothers will be at the forefront of proclaiming Christ’s return and among those given authority in His coming kingdom. 


The Proverbs 31 Woman

We discussed earlier how stewarding authority has to do with wisdom and there seems to be a special connection in the Bible between women and wisdom. It was the desire for wisdom, pursued in a forbidden way, which caused Eve to disobey. And in the book of Proverbs, a book all about wisdom, wisdom is personified as a woman (chapters 3-4, 8-9) and it famously culminates with a woman in Chapter 31.


However, what is not commonly recognized about Proverbs 31 is that its last verse speaks specifically about the last days. It states:


“Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”


Notice the key elements:


1)      The “product of her hands” refers to garments she made (vs. 13), which represent her righteous works.


2)      Her “works” praising her in the gates represent eternal rewards.


3)      The “gates” represent the gates of the enemy, which are immediately converted into gates of Christ’s kingdom upon His return.


The only other time in the Bible where a woman is rewarded in the gates with garments symbolizing righteous works is at the second coming of Christ in Revelation 19:7-8:


“‘…for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”


In context, this passage takes place immediately before the Battle of Armageddon, when the “gates” of the enemy are overwhelmed. God described this moment to Abraham in Genesis 22:17, saying, “Your seed shall possess the gates of their enemies”, and Jesus foretold it to Peter in Matthew 16:18, saying, “The gates of Hades will not overpower [the church].” When Jesus Christ condemns Satan to hell and takes His place in Jerusalem as the King of Kings over the earth, the enemy’s gates will essentially be converted into heaven’s gates, and the saints will receive their eternal rewards.


I realize the Proverbs 31 “gates” also refer to historical city entry points where elders sat and conferred honor upon worthy recipients. However, for me, the five-point parallel between Proverbs 31:31 and Revelation 19:7-8 is enough evidence to infer a valid last days application.


The Last Eve

If Jesus is the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:21), this makes the church the last Eve. Just as the last Adam overcame where the first Adam fell, the last Eve will overcome where the first Eve fell.


The first Eve did not abide under her husband’s covering. She did not trust God’s word. She obeyed Satan’s suggestion. The last Eve, the church, will do the opposite – reject Satan’s suggestions, abide under her husband’s covering, and trust God’s word.


The first Eve was deceived into pursuing good things in a forbidden way – wisdom, opened eyes, discernment of good and evil, and to be like God. The last Eve will desire these things as well, but she will trust God to fulfill them.


Of course this has applied to saints throughout church history, but perhaps this victory will be uniquely reflected through godly wives in the last days. Perhaps some of the most beautiful wisdom and discernment will come through women.



In the next chapter we will discuss the relationship in scripture between marriage and overcoming the fear of death.